With the ACC championship game all but wrapped up at the top of the North and South divisions, the rest of the league is left to battle it out. That's the case this week with the North Carolina State Wolfpack and the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, who find themselves in similar spots in Week 11.
Two straight losses leave the Wolfpack at a pedestrian 5-4. The same goes for Wake Forest, which won against Boston College in Week 11 but still has four conference losses on the season.
Both teams need wins to become bowl eligible, and both are running out of chances with quality opponents still ahead in the final two weeks of the season.
Here's everything to prime you for this ACC matchup, including television information, what to watch for and a prediction for who will earn a trip to go bowling in 2012.
When: Saturday, November 10 at 3 p.m. ET
Where: Carter-Finley Stadium; Raleigh, North Carolina
Watch: ACC Network, ESPN3
Betting Line: NC State -9.5 (according to Sports Book)
Injury Report (courtesy of USA Today)
|Terence Davis||WR||Shoulder||Ques Sat - 11/5/12|
|Steven Chase||T||Knee||Ques Sat - 11/5/12|
|Dylan Heartsill||G||Back||out for season - 10/31/12|
|Devin Bolling||T||Suspension||Out indefinitely - 10/26/12|
|Duran Lowe||S||Suspension||Out indefinitely - 10/26/12|
|Antonio Ford||G||Leg||out for season - 10/12/12|
|Matt James||WR||Collarbone||Out indefinitely - 9/19/12|
|Neil Basford||TE||Achilles||out for season - 8/31/12|
North Carolina State
|Jarvis Byrd||CB||Thigh||Ques Sat - 11/5/12|
|James Washington||HB||Knee||out for season - 10/30/12|
|Forrest West||DE||Ankle||out for season - 10/26/12|
|Zach Allen||G||Leg||out for season - 10/6/12|
|Jacob Kahut||DT||Knee||out for season - 9/28/12|
|Michael Peek||LB||Knee||out for season - 8/27/12|
Key Storyline: Let's Go Bowling
Each squad needs a win to salvage bowl eligibility. For Wake Forest, chances are really running out with a road game against Notre Dame and then a tough Vanderbilt squad in the final week of the season. This will be their best shot at getting to the postseason, even if they are on the road.
North Carolina State is in a similar position, as they get Clemson in Week 12 and Boston College in the final game. Winning isn't as imperative, but you can bet Tom O'Brien would rather have seven wins than six. This is a game that the Wolfpack should be dying to win, especially coming off two losses in games they should have won.
BCS/Top 25 Implications
None; each team is just fighting to play spoiler and make a bowl at this point.
What They're Saying
NC State coach O'Brien addressed the media on Monday with the impending bowl eligibility issue on the line, and two losses hanging heavy on his head. Here's some of his quoteboard, as reported by Scout.com's Derek Medlin:
"A lot of people are sore and a lot of people are tired, but it's the mental aspect... we have to accept the fact that we have to play at a certain level each and every week. We can't just go out and think we can just play the game and win."
After the Wolfpack scored just six points against Virginia, O'Brien was at a loss as to where his team went wrong on Saturday.
"Somewhere between Thursday and Saturday something changed. You talk to the offensive coaches, they thought they had a really good week of practice. There was enthusiasm, they were sharp, and then we went out and there were a lot of guys on offense that didn't play very well. That's as bad as we played offensively all year."
Here's what he had to say about preparing for a very consistent Wake Forest team, and what the basis of its success has been over the years.
"One thing about good coaches, they have a system, they believe in their system, they work their system, and they make little adjustments but they don't make kitchen sink adjustments and change everything. That's where you have success in this profession."
Wake Forest Player(s) to Watch: DTs Nikita Whitlock and Tylor Harris
Both men play the nose guard position for this 3-4 defense, and both have wreaked havoc at certain points this year. Whitlock is a redshirt junior, but he's caught the eye of several NFL scouts with his ability to get into the backfield.
Harris, a true freshman, is the bigger of the two and has a bright future so far. But don't discount Whitlock, who has a very Jay Ratliff-type presence about him on the field. If Wake Forest can get pressure on QB Mike Glennon, it could be a long day in Raleigh.
North Carolina State Player to Watch: QB Mike Glennon
It's been fairly simple for North Carolina State this year. If Mike Glennon stays away from interceptions, they win. If he doesn't, they lose. He's had a good year with over 2,600 yards and 20 touchdowns, but the picks keep costing him.
The only exception to that rule was the 17-16 thrilling win over Florida State. In all four of NC State's losses, Glennon has tossed two or more picks. Against a defense only allowing 28 points per game, can he give his team a chance to win without turning the ball over?
Key Matchup: WR Michael Campanaro vs. Wolfpack Secondary
Campanaro went off in Week 10, catching 16 balls for three touchdowns in his team's win over Boston College. NC State has a huge challenge on its hands slowing down the 5'11" receiver, who leads the team in all receiving categories this season, despite missing two games.
If Wake gets an early lead, expect them to continue to try and find open space for Campanaro, who is one of the most explosive and Wes Welker-esque receivers in the ACC, especially considering his size. The 16 catches tied an ACC single-game record, so you can bet he'll be a point of emphasis for the coaching staff this week in practice.
Wake Forest has won five of the last seven matchups between the two. With NC State fading at the wrong time and Demon Deacons aching for a bowl berth, the road team pulls off the upset in this one.
Wake Forest 27, NC State 21
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report's Breaking News Team.
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