A year ago, NC State defeated South Alabama 35-13, the first-ever game for the Jaguars against a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent.
This year, South Alabama will travel to Raleigh for a rematch in its first-ever game as an FBS school. The Jaguars may be playing football a level up now, but the result should be about the same in this contest.
Still, nothing is guaranteed until they blow the whistle. Let's take a closer look at this ACC versus Sun Belt showdown.
Where: Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh, N.C.
When: Saturday, September 15 at 6:00 p.m. ET
Listen: Sirius 135
Betting Line: NC State (-31.5), according to Covers
South Alabama Injuries (via USA Today)
RB Brandon Ross, Knee, Out for Season
CB Qudarius Ford, Knee, Out
NC State Injuries (via USA Today)
OT Robert Crisp, Undisclosed, Questionable
South Alabama is in its first season as an FBS member, so I think it is safe to call them underdogs. However, NC State, a team many thought could make some noise this year, hasn't looked very good to start the season either, with a 35-21 loss to Tennessee and just a 10-7 win over UConn.
Something has to give. I'm guessing it will be the South Alabama defense. A lot.
Top 25 Implications
None to report. Unless NC State can pull off some upsets in the ACC this season, neither one of these teams will be ranked this year.
What They're Saying
Heather Dinich of ESPN believed NC State would be an ACC dark horse this year. She believed NC State coach Tom O’Brien when he raved about his team's depth and experience.
Has her opinion changed?
Instead, this is the most experienced and deepest team O’Brien has had: A 10-7 win over Connecticut in which Glennon was sacked six times. David Amerson being burned for two touchdowns against Tennessee. Four turnovers against the Vols. Fifty-four rushing yards against Uconn.
Yeah, I would say her opinion has changed. She added the following:
Unexpected weaknesses were exposed in both games. The most shocking might be the play of the offensive line, which is O’Brien’s forte, and the poor play of Glennon in the opener. Connecticut’s front seven had no trouble shedding blocks from a line that was missing injured starting left tackle Robert Crisp.
Perhaps the Wolfpack will impress her against South Alabama. Given the talent disparity in this contest, they better.
South Alabama Player to Watch: The Secondary
A year ago, NC State quarterback Mike Glennon was 17-for-20 with 274 yards and four touchdowns against South Alabama, carving up the Jaguars' secondary with relative ease.
If South Alabama is to stand any chance in this game, they'll need to do far better against the pass. Keep an eye on players like B.J. Scott, Tyrell Pearson and Darrius Morrow. If they can cause a few turnovers and stymie the NC State passing attack, this one could be much closer than expected.
NC State Player to Watch: Mike Glennon, Quarterback
We already know Glennon had success against South Alabama a year ago. We also know that he was sacked six times against UConn last week and threw four interceptions against Tennessee.
So will we see Glennon dominate like a year ago, or will he continue to struggle? Will he dominate or will the NC State passing game stall once more?
I'm guessing the former for each question. Glennon will end his funk on Saturday.
Key Matchup: NC State Offensive Line Against South Alabama Front Seven
It would certainly help if tackle Crisp could play. His presence was definitely missed against UConn, and keeping Glennon on his feet is very much a key for the Wolfpack.
But if the passing game once again stalls, NC State will need to establish a rushing attack with running back Mustafa Greene. NC State can't give South Alabama momentum by struggling on offense early in this game.
They need to consistently win in the trenches and beat up the Jaguars, lest the underdogs begin to think they stand a chance.
NC State should win this one easily. I have the Wolfpack pulling away early and never looking back, winning 41-17.
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