Tim Leonard (5-0) Syracuse 27, NC State 20
This game is so huge. It honestly feels like its worth two wins tonight for Syracuse based on where it falls in their season. And the same can be said about NC State. These are two teams that have underwhelmed since the loss of star quarterbacks last year. While DeVito has struggled at times, Syracuse is still in a much better spot at the position. The key to this game will be how the Orange offensive line fares against a Wolfpack defensive line that sacked Florida State eighth times last week. If center Sam Heckel returns to the lineup that could change everything. Despite being on the road, give me the Orange in a close one. Based mostly on the fact, NC State is super young and still lacks identity at quarterback.
Jonathon Hoppe (4-1): NC State 41, Syracuse 27
Like most, I’ve become more and more skeptical of this year’s team as the season has gone one. The bye week gave us time to examine the Orange from top to bottom. Frankly, it would be hard to be excited about the findings. While there is plenty of season left for SU, the team has been rather pedestrian through its first five games. Both a check of the stats and the good old fashioned eye test agree. Against NC State, establishing a run game will be crucial. That will be tough to do against Larrell Murchison and the talented Wolfpack front. Let’s not forget, Syracuse has struggled on the road under Dino Babers. The moment will likely be too big for the Orange in front of a packed house at Carter-Finley Stadium.
J.D. Raucci (4-1) Syracuse 31, NC State 27
These teams are similar in a lot of ways. They’ve got the same record (3-2). All three of their wins have come against subpar competition (Liberty, Western Michigan, Holy Cross for SU & East Carolina, Western Carolina and Ball State for the Wolfpack). They’ve both got at least one dynamic edge rusher that has the ability to wreak havoc (Alton Robinson/Kendall Coleman & James Smith-Williams). On paper, it’s a pretty even matchup and although NC State is a 4.5-point favorite, some of that can be attributed to the fact that it’s a primetime home game. I think the difference in this game will be the offensive weapons both teams have. Despite the tough start to the season for him, Tommy DeVito has shown that he can compete at this level. On the other side, redshirt freshman Bailey Hockman will be making his first career start for NC State as the Wolfpack continue to try to figure out the quarterback carousel. Syracuse has reliable backs in Moe Neal and Abdul Adams and some great options at wideout with Trishton Jackson and Taj Harris. The Wolfpack, on the other hand, lost a pair of 1,000-yard receivers and a 1,000-yard rusher from a season ago and haven’t been able to recuperate that talent. If SU can get on the board early, the Orange should be able to pick up their first ACC win.
Thomas Shults (4-1) NC State 34, Syracuse 30
After a couple of easy victories prior to its bye week, Syracuse seemed to be gaining momentum. But when the Orange head down to Raleigh for their Thursday night matchup, they’ll meet a Wolfpack team that doesn’t make many mistakes. On the season NC State has given up just six sacks and thrown two interceptions. Sure quarterback Bailey Hockman will be making his first career start, but he’s outplayed Matthew McKay for the job. Hockman can rely on an experienced offensive line – the youngest starter is a redshirt sophomore – and a talented receiving corps led by Emeka Emezie. And on defense NC State is fourth in the ACC with 18 sacks. So far this season defenses have burned past SU’s inept offensive line to sack Tommy DeVito 18 times – the third most in the conference.
Gill Gross (4-1) Syracuse 20, NC State 17
Who would’ve thought before the season that Syracuse and NC State would go into the Week 7 match-up a combined 0-5 against Power Five opponents? Oof. It’s not surprising that State is down this season. The Wolfpack’s troubles stretch beyond the quarterback position, where they lost stud Ryan Finley without a viable replacement. They also lost their offensive coordinator, a 1,000 yard rusher, their top-two receivers and three starting offensive lineman. Yikes, right? The only thing that’s troubling for Syracuse is a mismatch in the trenches. Defensive tackle Larell Murchison is averaging a sack per game and helping NC State to the 6th best rushing defense in the country. The suspect SU offensive line will have its hands full. Expect a low-scoring slog to be decided by turnovers. I’ll take the Orange to extend their takeaway streak to 20 and win the game in Raleigh.