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NC State vs. Wake Forest Football Prediction and Preview

NC State vs. Wake Forest Football Prediction and Preview

NC State (NCSU) vs. Wake Forest (WF) Prediction and Preview

On Saturday, the ACC's longest continuous rivalry will resume as the NC State Wolfpack will meet the Wake Forest Demon Deacons for the 113th time.

NC State (4-3, 1-2 ACC) had last weekend off after losing to Boston College, 45-24, in Chestnut Hill on Oct. 19. The Wolfpack have had their struggles this season, but the team still has a chance to get closer to bowl eligibility with a victory against the Demon Deacons.

Just like NC State, Wake Forest also is also coming off a bye week after its 22-20 win against Florida State on Oct. 19. The Demon Deacons are 6-1 overall through seven games, 2-1 in the ACC, and are ranked No. 23 in the AP Poll.

NC State owns a 66-40-6 advantage in a series that dates back to 1895. However, Wake Forest has won each of the last two meetings.

NC State at Wake Forest

Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 2 at 12 p.m. ET
TV: ESPN
Spread: Wake Forest -7.5

When NC State Has the Ball

On Saturday, redshirt freshman Devin Leary will start at quarterback against Wake Forest. He will be the first redshirt freshman to start at quarterback for NC State since current Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson did it back in 2008.

Leary did play extensively in the Wolfpack's loss against Boston College. In that game, Leary threw for 249 yards and three touchdowns in relief of then-starter Bailey Hockman. Leary was a four-star recruit out of high school in southern New Jersey and was thought to be the heir apparent to Ryan Finley, who is now the Cincinnati Bengals' starting quarterback.

The good news for NC State is that Wake Forest has struggled to defend the pass this season. The Demon Deacons rank 106th against the pass, giving up 257.6 yards through the air on average.

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Also, Wake Forest will be without one of its best defenders for the rest of the season. Linebacker Justin Strnad had surgery last week to repair a torn biceps tendon. He was the Demon Deacons' leading tackler with 69 on the year.

When Wake Forest Has the Ball

Through seven games, the Demon Deacons are currently on pace to break school records in passing yards, total offense, points, first downs, and total offensive plays.

Wake Forest ranks fifth in the country in total offense, averaging 523.9 yards per game. They're also scoring 37.1 points per game, which is 18th best in the nation.

Unlike in previous seasons, the Wake Forest offense can hurt opponents in a multitude of ways. Quarterback Jamie Newman has been one of the better quarterbacks in the ACC this season, throwing for 1,772 yards and 17 touchdowns with only five interceptions. Newman missed the Deacons' last game because of a shoulder injury but the bye gave him a chance to rest and heal up. If he's unable to go on Saturday, Sam Hartman will get the start under center.

Wake Forest also has arguably the best receiver unit in the conference. Sophomore Sage Surratt and redshirt senior Scotty Washington have a combined total of 85 receptions for 1,404 yards and 16 touchdowns this year. Surratt's 881 yards are the fifth most in the FBS. Kendall Hinton has also been solid in the slot, catching 37 passes for 404 yards and a touchdown.

Final Analysis

Wake Forest, at least record-wise, is the second-best team in the ACC. The Deacons have already beaten a couple of teams (Florida State, Boston College) that defeated NC State this season.

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With a young quarterback like Leary on the road in his first start, it is hard to predict how he will perform. However, he did play well at Boston College in relief. The biggest concern for the Wolfpack will be: Can they score enough points to hang with the Demon Deacons? In Wake Forest's only loss this season, it took 62 points from Louisville to defeat them.

It may not take 62 points to pull off the upset, but NC State may have to score over 40 points, something they've done only once this season, against Western Carolina. With all of their weapons offensively and the fact that they're at home, it is difficult to bet against the Demon Deacons.

Prediction: Wake Forest 41, NC State 30

— 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.