Wake Forest vs NC State: The NC State Wolfpack can clinch their fifth winning season in a row on Thursday when they host the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at 7:30 p.m. ET. The latest Wake Forest vs. NC State odds show the host Wolfpack as 17-point favorites. The over-under, or total number of points Vegas thinks will be scored, is 69. NC State can clinch its fifth winning season in a row, while Wake needs two victories to attain bowl eligibility.
The game is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on ESPN in select areas (coverage map here). If the game is on in your market and you don’t have cable or can’t get to a TV, you can still watch a live stream of the game (or DVR it) on your computer, phone or streaming device by signing up for one of the following cable-free, live-TV streaming services.
The fast-rising Las Vegas prognosticator has turned a profit in every sport, but he’s tremendously adept at sniffing out spread winners in college football. And when it comes to picking for or against Wake Forest, Cimini is an amazing 8-1 all-time since joining SportsLine. He also nailed the lone NC State pick he’s ever made. Overall, he’s hit on 15 of his last 21 picks college football picks, a whopping 71.4-percent cash rate. Anyone who has followed him is way, way up.
Cimini knows the Wolfpack (6-2) bounced back from a two-game losing streak in which they allowed 92 points to Clemson and Syracuse by beating Florida State by 19 last Saturday. Offense is the strong suit of the Deacons, a unit that ranks 10th in the country at 323 yards passing per game. NC State faces a Wake Forest defense that is allowing 273 yards passing and 221 yards rushing per game — the Deacons rank 115th out of 130 FBS teams in each category.
There were high expectations on returning starting QB Ryan Finley, and the senior has reached them. He’s completed 67.8 percent of his passes for 16 TDs and six INTs; last year he completed 65 percent with 17 TDs. His offensive line has played lights-out because Finley has been sacked just four times all season.
Wake Forest: Freshman quarterback Sam Hartman started all nine games this season, setting school freshman records for touchdown passes in a season (16) and total offense yards (2,259) before suffering a season-ending leg injury in last week’s loss to Syracuse. Hartman is the 12th Wake Forest player lost for the season, and it’s made an already challenging season all the more difficult for Dave Clawson. The Deacs have NC State, Pitt and Duke left on the schedule, needing to go 2-1 in that stretch in order to guarantee a third straight bowl appearance. That’s a tough task even for a healthy Wake Forest roster this season, and an absolute uphill battle given the current makeup of the depth chart.
NC State: This is a huge statement game for quarterback Ryan Finley, Dave Doeren and NC State. Nearly two dozen ranked teams have lost in the last two weeks, resulting in the Wolfpack entering this Thursday night nationally-televised stage with a top-15 ranking. With Louisville, North Carolina and ECU left on the schedule, this is without a doubt the largest audience that NC State will have before the end of the regular season, and a dominant win would go a long way in validating that ranking in the minds of a national college football audience.
When NC State has been at its best this year, it’s had one of the best offenses in the ACC. Finley is a proven producer who gets to flash that NFL potential when linking up with Kelvin Harmon and the rest of a deep wide receiver room. That passing game has opened up things for freshman Ricky Person and a rushing attack that likely represents the starting point for the post-Finley era. If everything is clicking on Thursday for Finley and the offense, there will be more confidence in buying this group as one of the best teams outside of the national championship race.
Game prediction, picks
Wake Forest’s depth issues existed long before losing its quarterback, and it’s the pass defense in particular that I think will run out of gas early against Finley and the NC State receivers. Because it’s a rivalry game, there might be some resistance early, but I’m picking the Pack to make that statement and win big.