WAKE FOREST (-2.5) 28 No Carolina St. 23
NC State has rebounded from their ugly 3-7 opening night loss to South Carolina (just 133 total yards of offense at 2.4 yards per play) and mistake free quarterback Russell Wilson had a great game last week in the Wolfpack's 38-31 win over a good Pitt team.
Wilson has broken the record for most consecutive pass attempts without throwing an interception and he's thrown just 1 pick in 390 career passes heading into this game (none as a starter). Wilson will probably have to be mistake free to have a chance to win this game because Wake Forest looks like the better overall team and the Demon Deacons are at home.
Wake Forest is just 2-2 but their only two losses were by 3 points to a good Baylor team and by 3 points in overtime at Boston College last week in a game in which they averaged 7.5 yppl and allowed just 5.5 yppl (-2 in fumble margin hurt). For the season the Demon Deacons have out-gained their opponents 6.1 yppl to 5.4 yppl against a tougher than average schedule of teams that would combine to out-gain an average team 5.4 yppl to 5.1 yppl.
The only thing keeping Wake Forest from potentially being at least 3-1 is turnovers, as they were -3 in TO margin in their 3 point loss to Baylor and -2 in TO margin in their OT loss to BC (they were +2 in a 7 point win over Stanford and might have lost that game otherwise).
NC State has out-gained their 4 opponents 5.9 yppl to 3.9 yppl, but they've also played two horrible Division 1AA teams in Murray State and Gardner Webb and an average team would out-gain their schedule 6.0 yppl to 4.7 yppl - so they've only been 0.7 yppl better than average while Wake has been 1.0 yppl better than average from the line of scrimmage. NC State obviously has an advantage in projected turnovers with Wilson projected to throw 0.2 interceptions and Wake QB Riley Skinner to throw1.0 picks, but Wake Forest has an advantage in special teams and is at home. Skinner has also been particularly good this season, averaging 8.3 yards per pass play (against teams that would allow 5.6 yppp to an average quarterback).
My math model favors Wake Forest by 5 points even with a projected -0.9 in turnover margin and NC State applies to a negative 48-102-2 ATS situation if they remain a favorite.
I'll consider Wake Forest a Strong Opinion at -1 or better. I'd take Wake Forest for a 2-Star Best Bet at +3 or more.
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