Location: Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh, North Carolina
Kickoff: Saturday, September 8th, 2018, 12:30 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports South
Betting line: Georgia State +24.5, Over/Under 57.5
The season opener is in the books and Week 1 for both of these teams saw them escape with wins in a close game against a top five FCS opponent. Now they look to their next game with different goals in mind.
For NC State they look to dust off a shaky performance against James Madison and establish themselves to challenge Clemson for the Atlantic division this year. The offense is led by returning starter Ryan Finley, a Boise State transfer that’s slowly but surely creeping up draft boards. He leads a high-powered passing attack that looking for a dominant start before they get into the meat of their conference schedule.
For Georgia State they come off of a thrilling last-minute victory against Kennesaw State. While the offense wasn’t running at it’s peak, JUCO-transfer Dan Ellington was able to lead a game winning drive to pull it out in the end. They now head to a hostile environment in Raleigh looking for their first win ever against a Power Five team.
Keys to the game for the Wolfpack
Get the passing game going early
While the team as a whole struggled against JMU, Finley had a great game against them with 309 yards 2 TDs and zero picks. NC State’s aerial attack is their strength and while the their top target from last week, Jakobi Meyers, is a game-time decision to play they have more than enough weapons to make up for his absence. If the offense gets rolling early, the Wolfpack should be able to make it hard for GSU to keep up.
Defense must take advantage of an inexperienced O-line
The Panthers O-line is not a group that lacks experience but their play on the field is contrary to that. Dan Ellington was under constant duress against KSU and sacked three times. Ellington is the main playmaker for an offense that’s still looking for a running back to step up. Pressure on Ellington early would stop this offense before it got started.
Keys to the game for the Panthers
Score early and take the crowd out
Last week James Madison was in a one-score game with NC State. They were the first to score and put pressure on the Wolfpack to respond. An early score from the Panthers could do a lot to settle the team down in a hostile environment. Plus with the weapons NC State has, they’ll have to be able to score if they want to keep up.
Find a running game
Against a Power Five team the Panthers can’t just put the ball in Ellington’s hands and expect a victory. It has to be a team effort. Last week, Elington was the leading rusher while the Panthers’ running backs had a minimal impact on the game. The Panthers don’t have just one starter and instead operate by committee. No one in the group really distinguished themselves against Kennesaw State. The next best running performance after Ellington was 10 carries for 18 yards. GSU is hoping that one of the backs will step up and take pressure off of Ellington to make plays.
The Panthers started their season off on the right foot, but a shaky o-line and struggling running game will leave them unable to keep pace with a strong offense from the Wolfpack. If the game remains close at halftime, I can see the Panthers sticking around in the second half and putting the Wolfpack on upset alert. Ultimately I think Ryan Finley is too much for the Panther secondary and NC State wins big at home.
Georgia State 14 NC State 41