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NC State Wolfpack vs. Syracuse Orange Prediction and Preview

NC State Wolfpack vs. Syracuse Orange Prediction and Preview: Ryan Finley

NC State Wolfpack vs. Syracuse Orange Prediction and Preview: Ryan Finley

TheNC State Wolfpack will try to shrug off their first loss of the 2018 season as they will be back on the road this week to play the Syracuse Orange. The Clemson Tigers crushed the Wolfpack 41-7 in Death Valley last week.

Syracuse won its last game against the North Carolina Tar Heels in an overtime thriller 40-37. The win put the Orange one victory away from making its first postseason appearance since 2013.

Since joining the ACC, the Orange have a 1-4 record against the Wolfpack. Their lone win came in their first season in the conference in 2013.

NC State at Syracuse

Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 27 at 7 p.m. ET
TV: ESPN2
Spread: NC State -2.5

Three Things to Watch

1. Who will start at quarterback for Syracuse?
This week, Syracuse coach Dino Babers had to answer questions about who his starting quarterback will be this weekend. But Babers is choosing not to provide the answer to the question until game day.

"We've got two good quarterbacks," Babers said. "I think we should treat that position like any other position. ... The really cool thing is our guys only care about getting our sixth win."

Eric Dungey started last weekend's game against the Tar Heels, but he struggled to get the Orange offense going. Babers brought in freshman Tommy DeVito, who threw for 181 yards and a career-high three touchdowns. It was DeVito's pass to Ravian Pierce that gave the Orange the 40-37 victory in overtime.

There's a chance that both Dungey and DeVito could both play against the Wolfpack, especially if things begin slowly on Saturday.

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2. Can Ryan Finley bounce back?

Finley had his worst game of the season in last weekend's loss against Clemson. He threw for only 156 yards and zero touchdowns with two interceptions.

"It's one game. That was the message (even before the game)," Finley said. "It wasn't all or nothing. It's just one football game, and we're 5-1. We got a lot — half the season — left. So it's not the end of the world, but it was a bad loss, and we are a better football team (than we showed)."

Finley came into last week leading the ACC in passing with more than 324 yards per game. He will look to get back to form against a Syracuse defense that's 94th in the nation.

3. Orange defense
As previously mentioned, the Orange defense has not been great this season as they're giving up an average of 416.4 yards per game. They will be up against a Wolfpack offense that's 12th in the country in passing yards, averaging 311.7 yards through the air.

The big question is will starting cornerbacks Chris Fredrick and Scoop Bradshaw play on Saturday, Both players are questionable, and the Wolfpack have one of the best receivers in the nation in Kelvin Harmon. If Fredrick and/or Bradshaw are out, the Orange defense will face a tall task.

Final Analysis

No matter who is behind center for the Orange, they have the offense to keep up with the Wolfpack. Saturday's game will come down to which team can make more stops. While the Wolfpack defense isn't among the top 20 in the nation, it is certainly better than the Orange defense.

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This game has shootout all over it as Ryan Finley should regroup after a rough week at Clemson. Advantage goes to NC State in this one, despite being on the road.

Prediction: NC State 41, Syracuse 38

— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, the Miami Herald and the Palm Beach Post and is a reporter for Pro Player Insiders. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.