After NC State's season opening 7-3 loss to South Carolina it looked like their season would be another mediocre year. Now things are looking way up for the Wolfpack after two blowout wins over Division 1-AA teams and and a gritty comback win over a tough Pittsburgh team.
The main reason the Wolfpack have won their past three games has to be Russell Wilson. Wilson is now second in the NCAA in touchdown passes, despite throwing none in the Wolfpack's first game. He has thrown for four touchdowns in each of the past three games. He is only five touchdowns from passing his total of 17 from last season. He could get into the 30's this year.
Wilson needs to get more media attention. The dude is an absolute beast, both through the air and on the ground (he had 91 rushing yards against Pittsburgh). When you hear the elite quarterbacks in the NCAA come up, you never hear Wilson's name. He is second in the country in touchdown passes and hasn't thrown an interception in almost 300 pass attempts. Doesn't that qualify as an elite quarterback? The scary thing is that he is only a sophomore. NC State has a very bright future with him behind center.
One thing that looked promising all year for the Pack until the Pitt game was their defense. They only allowed 28 points combined in the first three game, then allowed 31 to Pittsburgh last Saturday. However, the defense didn't allow any long drives, the longest being six plays. They did give up many big plays on the ground and through the air though, which could be a big problem when a speedster like Clemson's C.J. Spiller is on the other side of the ball.
Besides the few big plays NC State gave up, their defense was pretty good though. They forced the Panthers into three straight three-and-outs down the stretch and made some great plays to stop a late touchdown by Pitt when they had the ball deep in NCSU territory because of a turnover.
NC State has all the tools to represent the ACC Atlantic in the ACC Championship and possibly represent the ACC in the BCS for NC State's first time ever. While that might be very optimistic, the Pack should be in the hunt all year long in a pretty weak division.
There is no team in that division that somebody can clearly say is better than the Wolfpack right now. There might be, and the Wolfpack will undoubtedly lose some conference games, but right now they are playing better football than any division foes.
The teams that have the best chances at challenging NC State are probably Florida State and Clemson. Florida State has looked good only in the BYU game, where they inexplicitly exploded for 54 points. They have only looked good in that game though. Clemson is also inconsistent.
Consistency is where NC State can really hurt opposing teams because Russell Wilson is always money, especially about turning the ball over. Their defense is also one of the best in the country as of now, so they are always going to be in games. Remember, the Wolfpack are one play from being a 4-0 team.
The other teams in the Atlantic include Boston College, Wake Forest, and Maryland. None of these teams are going to win the division. Clemson destroyed BC, Wake has lost some games they should not have lost already, and Maryland is just bad this year. Those teams will not win the ACC Atlantic division.
NC State really should be the favorite of the teams left. Florida State would be the pick to an average fan, but the Seminoles are very flawed and are very inconsistent. Clemson and NC State will battle it out for ACC Atlantic supremacy and a trip to Tampa for the ACC Championship and possibly a trip to a BCS bowl.
Prediction for NCSU @ Wake Forest: NCSU 27-Wake 17