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NC State vs. Syracuse Prediction: ACC Atlantic Teams Collide in Top-20 Showdown

Orange come into this game undefeated and looking to snap three-game losing streak to Wolfpack.

There is a big game in the ACC this weekend that could have significant conference bowl implications when NC State visits Syracuse on Saturday afternoon. 

The Orange (5-0, 2-0 ACC) have yet to lose a game this season as Dino Babers has fans thinking about a big bowl appearance. To get there, Syracuse will likely have to get a win this weekend against its toughest opponent yet. The Wolfpack's (5-1, 1-1) lone loss this season came on the road against undefeated Clemson.

Both teams have fairly equal stats coming into the game when it comes to scoring offense and scoring defense, but this game could be a bit of a defensive battle. Here is what you need to know about this weekend's ACC top-20 showdown in the dome.

No. 15 NC State at No. 18 Syracuse

Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 15 at 3:30 p.m. ET
TV: ACC Network
Live Stream: fuboTV (Start your free trial)
Spread: Syracuse -3.5
Tickets: As low as $34 on SITickets.com*

When NC State Has the Ball

The big question for NC State this week may be the health of quarterback Devin Leary. Head coach Dave Doeren has been reluctant to provide any update after the starting quarterback suffered a shoulder injury last week in a win against Florida State. If Leary is unavailable or ineffective, the Wolfpack may have to scramble to get some offense. Jack Chambers would be the next option at quarterback for the Wolfpack, but the running game would have to carry more of the offense. The good news for NC State is running back Demi Sumo-Karngbaye (5.8 ypc, 3 TDs) should be available after getting dinged against Florida State. NC State will be facing the ACC's top-rated defense, and the rushing defense has been phenomenal, so nothing will come easily. Syracuse is No. 1 or 2 in the conference in all four major categories and is top 10 nationally in scoring (14.0 ppg, tied for ninth) and total (271.6 ypg, 10th) defense. 

When Syracuse Has the Ball

The Syracuse offense is coming off a 59-0 thrashing of FCS Wagner two weeks ago and has the benefit of having last weekend off. The Orange can gain an advantage in the trenches against a less-than-fearsome NC State defensive front. If the Syracuse offensive line does its job, then Sean Tucker should add to his 546 rushing yards this season and quarterback Garrett Shrader should have little problem picking and choosing his targets. Shrader's numbers may not be as prolific as some of his peers, but he leads the ACC in completion rate (71 percent) and has a sparkling 10:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. The Orange are averaging 38.4 points and 441.6 yards per game this season, but this will be their toughest defense faced. NC State is right behind the Cuse in both scoring and total defense on the ACC leaderboards and has a conference-best 11 takeaways, including nine interceptions (tied for seventh in FBS).

Final Analysis

Expect a relatively lower-scoring game than either of these teams is really used to. NC State was locked in a tight contest with Clemson a couple of weeks ago but the Tigers managed to make some plays to pull away. Although Syracuse doesn't have Clemon's firepower, the Orange have been building plenty of confidence at home this season. The Orange create an opportunity late to put the offense in a position to create some distance for the win.

Prediction: Syracuse 24, NC State 20

Podcast: Complete Week 7 Preview, Predictions, and Picks Against the Spread + Latest in Coaching News 

— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @KevinOnCFB, on Instagram, on TikTok, and Like him on Facebook.

*Price as of publication.