It’s Homecoming weekend and the Cardinals will welcome in the NC State Wolfpack. These teams don’t have a long history of competition but they aren’t strangers either. They have played four times and the Cards lead the series 3-1. The last time these teams faced each other was in the 2011 Belk Bowl. It was the the Wolfpack that came out victorious against the Cards in that one 31-24. Louisville is 3rd with a 3-2 conference record in the Atlantic division and NC State is in last place in the Atlantic division with a 0-3 conference record.
The Wolfpack dropped to 3-4 on the year after losing to Boston College 30-14 at home last weekend. The Wolfpack have lost three straight games to Florida State, Clemson, and now Boston College after winning the first four games of the season. The Wolfpack are allowing an average of 28.7 points per game on the season, but they have given up 56, 41, and 30 points in their last three games. The NC State offense is averaging 30.9 points per game. The Wolfpack are producing an average of 225 passing yards and 188 rushing yards per game.
North Carolina State has suspended seven players for this game on Saturday. Among the suspended players are linebacker Jerod Fernand, safety Josh Jones, receiver Johnathan Alston, receiver Jumichael Ramos, defensive lineman Justin Jones, defensive lineman Pharoah McKever and cornerback Mike Stevens. This will really hurt a Wolfpack team that has struggled due to depth issues already this season.
Leading this Wolfpack offense is QB Jacoby Brissett who has thrown for 1,573 yards with 14 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. This guy is a very heady quarterback and can be dangerous if he gets time to pick apart the defense. Like our Cardinals the Wolfpack has a stable of good running backs that they will throw against the defense Saturday. Leading the way in this group is RB Shadrach Thornton who has rushed for a team-high 423 yards with 7 touchdowns, Matt Dayes who has rushed for 309 yards with 3 touchdowns, and Tony Creecy who has 228 yards with 1 touchdown.
They have six players with over a hundred yards receiving. Leading the way is WR Bo Hines who has 347 yards with 1 touchdown, RB Matt Dayes who has 240 yards with 4 touchdowns through the air, TE David Grinnage who has 200 yards with 1 touchdown, WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling who has 200 yards with 1 touchdown, and Bra’Lon Cherry who has 146 yards with 3 touchdowns.
NC State 2014 OVERALL FBS RANKINGS
The Cardinal defense is allowing only 14.1 points per game, which ranks 3rd in the country. In the Cardinals last three wins they have allowed 3, 10, and 6 points. This NC State team will try a lot of quick snaps, hot routes and screen passes against our defense in order to try and keep our guys off balance. They will run all three of their running backs all day and have a veteran front line blocking for them. I don’t think they will faze our #1 ranked defense and it will be business as usual for our guys.
Their defense is where they will be hurt the most by the player suspensions. Linebacker Jerod Fernandez had led the team with 58 tackles, and also had a team-best two interceptions. Safety Josh Jones had 38 stops, one sack and an interception. Defensive linemen Justin Jones and Pharoah McKever and cornerback Mike Stevens also had been solid contributors who will sit Saturday. Even with these suspensions they will still be pretty solid up front and look for their big DE Art Norman to create some havoc. This NC State defense has been a team all season who has used a lot of shifts, stunts, and zone blitzes. With them having to make up for some losses I expect them to add some new wrinkles this weekend to try and stop the Cards attack.
The Cardinal offense hasn’t been too tough to stop this season The offense is averaging 31 points per game, 229 passing yards and 141 rushing yards per game this season. The guys have struggled to find any type of consistency, but we learned this week that we may see a special package featuring Reggie Bonnafon while Gardner will get the start. We could also see the return of DeVante Parker to the line-up. Regardless this should be another good weekend for the Cardinal offense to find some type of groove before facing some tough defenses the rest of the way.
Emotions will be high as they always are during homecoming weekend and Papa Johns will be rocking with a sold out crowd. With the way our defense is playing and the lack of depth that NC State has struggled with I don’t think this one will ever be in doubt. I also think we could see the offense finally have a breakout weekend. This isn’t going to be a very good weekend for the Pack.
The Beak Prediction:
Louisville 34 NC State 9