Teams: Syracuse Orange (2-2, 0-0) vs. NC State (3-1, 1-0)
Day & Time: Saturday, September 30, 2017, 12:20 p.m. ET
Field: Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh, N.C.
Line: Started out at Syracuse +13, and it’s bounced back and forth from around 11 to 13 since.
TV/Streaming: RSN (see full affiliate list here)
Radio: Syracuse IMG Network, WAER 88.3, Sirius 93/XM 193
NC State blog: Backing the Pack
Rivalry: 9-1 in favor of the Wolfpack
Current Streak: NC State, 3
First Meeting: Syracuse first trekked down to Raleigh in 1972, and fell 43-20 to a pretty good NC State team. That Pack team went 8-3-1, won the Peach Bowl and finished in the top 20. A young Jim Boeheim probably joined the team on the trip and panned the local Denny’s in a scathing travel log for the Daily Orange.
Last Meeting: Without Eric Dungey, the Orange offense sputtered against NC State at the Carrier Dome last year. SU was never really “out of it” until the later stages, so it just sort of mimicked most of the unwatchable matchups these teams have had since 2013. The 35-20 loss created some pretty negative feelings about where things were headed from there.
Head Coaches: SU: Dino Babers (2nd year, 6-10), NC State: Dave Doeren (5th year, 28-27)
Coach Bio: Last week, Doeren earned his first top-25 win while at NC State -- something astounding when you really think about it. He’s struggled mightily in ACC play (10-23), but easy/smart scheduling in non-conference play has kept him afloat this whole time. Before he arrived in Raleigh, he was 23-4 in two years at Northern Illinois. He spent time at Wisconsin, Kansas, Montana and USC after wrapping up a playing career (and grad assistant tenure) at Drake.
Last Year: Narrow misses led to a 4-5 start for NCSU, then the Wolfpack rebounded to a 3-1 finish (starting with a win over Syracuse). State had an average offense, but an excellent defense, allowing just over 350 yards and around 23 points per game. Just 21 teams amassed more sacks than the Pack did in 2016.
Last Game: NC State put that excellent defense to work against Florida State and its freshman quarterback, James Blackman. Four sacks and a fumble recovery combined with another efficient day from Ryan Finley to get the Wolfpack enough points to outlast a ‘Noles comeback effort. As mentioned, it was State’s first top 25 win, and the program’s first win over FSU since 2012.
"Fear Me, I've Killed Hundreds of Timelords": It feels like Jaylen Samuels has been there for a decade, doesn’t it? But in any case, he’s still the team’s best player. In four games this year, he has 284 receiving yards, 49 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. We’ll need to keep track of wherever he is on the field.
If Syracuse Wins: The bowl dream is still alive, and that means the close loss to LSU actually did amount to something. Syracuse is progressing forward and we can celebrate what progress looks like in what will still be a very interesting -- albeit nerve-wracking — season.
If Syracuse Loses: Not to panic, but a 2-3 record with games against Miami, Florida State, Louisville and Clemson still to play certainly sounds... challenging if we’re thinking of a 6-6 season at all. Never say never, but definitely say unlikely.
Fun Fact No. 1: As you recall, George McDonald was once the offensive coordinator at Syracuse from 2013 to mid-2014. We were rarely pleased with him and his unblocked bubble screens. When he departed, he was less than pleased. He’s been the wide receivers coach at NC State for the past few years and that’s worked out well enough, I guess. I’m still expecting a letter in the mail at some point.
Fun Fact No. 2: When Boeheim initiated his war against the ACC’s Southern Corridor, he started with a Denny’s critique -- one that was met by former NC State coach Mark Gottfried with some “popping off.” Gottfried (who’s actually from Ohio) got plenty defensive about the ACC’s roots and its culinary preferences. Entertainingly, there are actually more Denny’s in Syracuse than there are in Raleigh. The next time Greensboro wants to get mouthy, they can steal that one on the house.