Coming into last season, many people didn’t have any expectations for the NC State Wolfpack as they were coming off a 3-9 season in 2013. Things have changed in 2015 as Dave Doeren's team enter the season coming off an 8-5 record in 2014 and some experts think the team could be a dark horse in the ACC Atlantic Division.
Last season, Troy finished with a 3-9 record and a 3-5 record in the Sun Belt Conference. Quarterback Brandon Silvers will lead the Trojans offense, which finished 100th in the nation in yards per game. The quarterback threw for 1,836 yards, 11 touchdowns and just three interceptions.
In his first season after transferring from Florida, Jacoby Brissett was the primary reason for the turnaround of the Wolfpack last season. The quarterback threw for 2,606 yards and 23 touchdowns, with just five interceptions. Brissett also added in 529 yards and three rushing touchdowns.
This will be the first time NC State and Troy have met on the football field. In his first two seasons at NC State, Doeren has a 2-0 record in season openers.
Troy at NC State
Kickoff: 6 p.m. EST (Saturday)
TV Channel: ESPN3
Spread: NC State -23
Three Things to Watch
1. Can NC State continue where the Wolfpack left off offensively?
NC State won four out of its last five games to end the 2014 season. The key to the success of NC State late in the season was balance on offense.
The Wolfpack running game averaged 204.5 yards per game last season and the team returns a deep stable of running backs. Shadrach Thornton led all NC State running backs with 907 yards last season. In addition to Thornton, Matt Dayes led the team in touchdowns and is the top returning receiver.
2. Can Troy make a game out of it?
One of the strengths of Troy is running the football. Both Brandon Burks and Jordan Chunn combined for 1,089 yards and nine touchdowns last season.
At times, NC State had problems stopping the run last season, as the team finished 65th in rushing defense (168.4 ypg). If the Trojans can run the ball effectively, they have a chance to make things interesting on Saturday.
3. Wolfpack secondary
NC State's secondary has the potential to be one of the best in the nation. That unit returns all five starters, led by safety Hakim Jones. In 2014, Jones led the Wolfpack in tackles with 80. Sophomore safety Josh Jones led the team in interceptions with four.
Troy was considered one of the worst teams in the Sun Belt Conference last season and the Trojans aren’t expected to be much better in 2015. They finished 107th in total defense, as they gave up an 454 yards per contest in 2014.
Brissett and the NC State offense should have a field day against one of the worst defenses in the country. While the Wolfpack still need to find some playmakers at receiver, their game against Troy should be an easy win to start the 2015 campaign.
Prediction: NC State 42, Troy 17
— 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.