Dave Doeren and the 5-3 NC State Wolfpack come off of an upset win against the Clemson Tigers to face the Miami Hurricanes. Mario Cristobal and the Miami squad are 6-2 after a nailbiter win against Virginia. Both the Wolfpack and the Hurricanes are 2-2 in conference play, and this primetime game in Carter-Finley stadium is crucial to keep any hopes of an ACC title alive. Miami enters the contest as five-point favorites. The total is set at 45. This matchup pits one of the best ACC offenses against one of the best ACC defenses.
NC State vs. Miami: How do the Wolfpack Win?
The Wolfpack are hanging on to conference contention by the coattails of two players. Payton Wilson was named a preseason All-American and is 2nd in the Power Five in tackles. Wilson has dominated the position all season, highlighted by a pick-six which was the game-deciding touchdown against Clemson. On the offensive side, Kevin Concepcion has been electric and the majority of the offensive production. Concepcion has 42 catches for 493 yards and six touchdowns. Two explosive plays led to touchdowns of his in the Clemson game, and he is averaging 11.9 yards per touch. If the Wolfpack wants to beat an explosive Miami offense, these two have to have big games again.
Outside of Wilson and Concepcion, the Wolfpack have been mediocre. Despite Concepcion, the Wolfpack passing attack has not excelled. Quarterback MJ Morris has been decent but is only completing 56.5 percent of passes. In addition, he has had struggles running the ball despite his physical build and speed. Morris runs for a measly 0.8 yards per rush, and the team as a whole sits at 3.8 per attempt. The defense has been strong, creating turnovers and limiting scoring. Aydan White has locked down opposing receivers, and Davin Vann has played well on the interior with 4.5 sacks and six tackles for loss.
If the Wolfpack hopes to calm the storm of Tyler Van Dyke and the Miami offense, the stars of the defense have to show up. Wilson and White need to continue to be dominant, and Vann has to create pressure on Van Dyke. The Hurricanes like to throw, so the rest of the Wolfpack secondary will have to be at their best to limit big plays. On offense, NC State cannot afford to turn the ball over. Concepcion will likely need to break out a couple more big plays. In addition, the Wolfpack are desperate for another offensive playmaker to break out.
NC State vs. Miami: Can the Hurricanes Wreak Havoc in Raleigh?
The Hurricanes have a great quarterback in Van Dyke. He has thrown for 1884 yards and 16 touchdowns and is completing passes at a 70 percent clip. Van Dyke is a true pocket passer and has an electric receiver in Xavier Restrepo. Restrepo enters this weekend with 648 yards and four touchdowns. The Hurricanes can run the ball as well, with Henry Parrish Jr. and Donald Chaney Jr. both averaging more than five yards per attempt. The offense scores a whopping 35.4 points per game but will be tested by a Wolfpack defense in a notoriously difficult stadium to travel to.
On the defense, the key has been the lack of run-game production against them. The opponents are only averaging 86.9 rushing yards per game against Miami. Kameren Kinchens will likely be the first safety taken in the 2024 NFL Draft. Kinchens is second on the team in tackles, had a pick-six last week, and is electric in both pass coverage and as a tackler. In addition, the defense creates big plays often. As a whole, the unit has 12 turnovers and 28 sacks. Kinchens has three interceptions, and Rueben Bain Jr. has 6.5 sacks on the year. In order to beat NC State, Miami’s defense will need to create turnovers and keep the Wolfpack behind the chains to get the offense back on the field.
Final Outlook and Score Prediction
This game includes one of the best cornerback vs. receiver matchups all season. Restrepo and White will test each other big time. The key to this game will be how well the rest of the Miami offense can produce against the Wolfpack defense. Van Dyke will have to decide whether or not he wants to test White, a feat that few quarterbacks have even attempted this season. On the other side, NC State has its work cut out for them. Miami creates drive-crippling plays at a high rate, and doing so against a meddling offense will make it hard for the Wolfpack to score enough points in this game.
As a whole, Miami is just slightly better in each facet of the game. NC State has the edge at linebacker and Cornerback, but the Hurricanes will win everywhere else. Expect another low-scoring affair in Carter-Finley, with the Hurricanes likely outscoring the Wolfpack due to a turnover or a drive starting with great field position. Once again, the Wolfpack will need some explosive plays and likely a defensive score to win this one.
Final Score: Miami 24-NC State 20