NC State had a bit of a surprising 2014 season. The Wolfpack went from three wins in 2013 to eight and a St. Petersburg Bowl victory over UCF in head coach Dave Doeren’s second season.
This season, not a lot of experts are giving NC State much of a chance to win the ACC Atlantic Division. In the ACC preseason media poll, the Wolfpack were picked to finish fourth in the division behind Clemson, Florida State and Louisville.
While NC State doesn’t have the toughest of schedules, quarterback Jacoby Brissett and company will need to pull off some upsets if they are to shock the world and win the Atlantic. Here are NC State's 12 regular season games, ranked from the easiest to the toughest matchup.
12. Sept. 12 vs. Eastern Kentucky
Eastern Kentucky finished the 2014 season 9-4, but the Colonels find themselves at No.12 because they are an FCS opponent. The game will be in Raleigh, so NC State should have little to no problem defeating Eastern Kentucky.
11. Sept. 5 vs. Troy
There wasn’t a lot to celebrate for Troy in 2014, as the team won only three games. Sophomore quarterback Brandon Silvers should improve from his 18-touchdown season, but the Wolfpack defense should be able to contain him and the rest of the Trojans at home in the season opener.
10. Sept. 26 at South Alabama
Only three starters return on offense for South Alabama this fall. Head coach Joey Jones said the Jaguars are as deep and talented as they have ever been. The problem is they will have a difficult time scoring points and stopping NC State.
9. Sept. 19 at Old Dominion
Old Dominion will be one of the youngest teams in the nation in 2015. The Monarchs will return only 10 seniors on a team that has 105 players. Old Dominion could be a player in Conference USA, but the Wolfpack should win by double digits.
8. Oct. 24 at Wake Forest
Last season, Wake Forest’s offense averaged 216.3 yards per game, which was the lowest in the nation. Head coach Dave Clawson will have more talent in his second year in Winston-Salem, but probably not enough to keep the Demon Deacons from finishing in last place again in the Atlantic Division.
7. Nov. 21 vs. Syracuse
The Syracuse defense gave up an average of 349.2 yards per game last season, which put them 26th in the nation. The bad news is the Orange will have to replace seven of their eight leading tacklers from a year ago. With the game in Raleigh, this is a contest NC State should win.
6. Nov. 7 at Boston College
Head coach Steve Addazio has done a great job in his two years at Boston College, as the Eagles have been bowling each season. Boston College should have one of the best front sevens in the ACC. On paper, NC State should win this game due to the Eagles’ lack of experience Boston College has, but this will not be a cakewalk.
5. Oct.3 vs. Louisville
Louisville will have to replace some of its best players, including All-ACC wide receiver DeVante Parker. The Cardinals’ defense should be strong again, so that will make for a good test for NC State.
4. Nov.28 vs. North Carolina
Rivalry games are always tough and North Carolina coming to Raleigh won't be any different. Despite being destroyed 35-7 by the Wolfpack last season, the Tar Heels have enough offensive weapons to make this season’s matchup very entertaining.
3. Oct. 9 (Friday) at Virginia Tech
While there are questions about the Virginia Tech offense, the defense is once again expected to one of the best in the ACC. The game in Blacksburg will be played on a Friday night, so NC State will certainly have its work cut out for them in one of the louder home environments in the nation.
2. Oct. 31 vs. Clemson
During ACC Media Week in July, Clemson was named the favorites to not only win the Atlantic Division but also to win the entire ACC. If you have followed the Tigers throughout the years, they tend to lose games they are not supposed to. Strange things usually happen on Halloween in college football and Clemson will be on the road for this one.
1. Nov. 14 at Florida State
Florida State lost a number of last year’s starters to the NFL during the offseason. The Seminoles also will break in a new starting quarterback in either Sean Maguire or graduate transfer Everett Golson. Whoever is the starter, he will have a lot of talent surrounding them. Doak Campbell Stadium has been a house of horrors for NC State, who hasn’t won in Tallahassee since 2005.
— 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, Pro Player Insiders and is a reporter for Sports Talk Florida. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.