South Alabama (1-1) at NC State (1-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 15, 6:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Carter-Finley Stadium (57,583) -- Raleigh, North Carolina. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: South Alabama 1-1, NC State 0-0. Away Record: South Alabama 0-0, NC State 1-0. Neutral Record: South Alabama 0-0, NC State 0-1. Conference Record: South Alabama 0-0, NC State 0-0. Series Record: NC State leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: For the second straight season the South Alabama Jaguars and the NC State Wolfpack will meet up at Carter-Finley Stadium in the third weekend of the season, as the teams collide this Saturday in Raleigh.
This time around will be a bit different as South Alabama made the move from the FCS to the FBS this season. Now as a member of the Sun Belt Conference, the Jaguars are, at least in name, at the same level as the Wolfpack, a team they lost to 35-13 last season. So far in its first two games as an FBS program, South Alabama is 1-1, with the win coming against FCS opponent Nicholls State last weekend.
NC State has played a pair of games away from Carter-Finley Stadium to open the 2012 campaign and has split those decisions. First the Wolfpack were downed 35-21 by Tennessee in a neutral site game at the Georgia Dome. Last weekend NC State got into the win column by squeaking out a 10-7 win on the road against Connecticut.
Last season's matchup was the only previous meeting between these two programs.
Though South Alabama won against Nicholls it wasn't because of a stellar offensive showing. The Jaguars scored only nine points to take a six-point decision (9-3) and were only able to record 279 yards of total offense.
The Jaguars did not score a touchdown in the game and needed a pair of field goals from Michel Chapuseaux in the second half to break-up a 3-3 tie at the break. Chapuseaux connected on 3-of-4 field goal attempts to account for the team's entire scoring output.
With such a poor offensive outing it was difficult to find any top performers on the roster. Demetre Baker rushed for 75 yards, which was a game-high, but needed 20 carries to do so. C.J. Bennett completed just over half of his pass attempts (11-for-20) to produce 111 yards through the air.
Luckily for South Alabama its defense did not have such a sluggish game against Nicholls. The Jaguars were dominant all day allowing only 118 total yards in the game. The effort was the fewest yards allowed by a South Alabama squad since surrendering only 88 in 2010.
The Jaguars beat up the Nicholls front line and held the squad to only 22 yards on 25 rushing attempts and also recorded six sacks and 14 tackles for loss. With so much pressure forced on the backfield the Jaguars benefited from some errant passes, intercepting a pair, while also holding Nicholls to a 2- for-12 success rate on third down.
Pat Moore was constantly in the backfield as he recorded team-highs in tackles for loss (3.5) and sacks (2.5) in the game. Jake Johnson led the team in total tackles (eight) and also had a sack and 2.5 tackles for loss.
It was just as ugly an offensive day for North Carolina State in its 10-7 win over UConn last Saturday. Although the Wolfpack did manage to get into the end zone the final tally for the squad was the lowest since a 14-10 loss to Boston College last season. It was also the least amount of points scored in a win by NC State since 1999.
Overall the Wolfpack managed to put up 258 total yards in the game, mainly passing. Mike Glennon completed exactly half of his pass attempts (15 of-30) for 204 yards and a touchdown. Glennon didn't have lots of time to throw most of the day as he was sacked six times.
Part of the reason for Glennon constantly being under heat was the lack of a running game. With the Wolfpack managing only 54 yards on 41 carries, the Huskies were able to pin back on passing downs and aggressively go after Glennon.
Much like South Alabama, NC State's offense got just enough done thanks to a stellar effort from the defense. The Wolfpack held UConn to only 239 yards of total offense and was especially strong against the run. Overall the Huskies were only able to accumulate 35 yards on the ground with a 1.1 yards-per-carry average.
NC State also played its best when the pressure was highest, stopping UConn on a pair of fourth downs and holding the Huskies to a 2-for-12 effort on third down.
Coming into the season it was the secondary that was supposed to anchor the Wolfpack defense and although not as dominant in yielding yards, the unit lived up to the billing with three interceptions by the team, including one by star cornerback David Amerson who set an ACC record with 13 picks last season.
Although South Alabama has made big changes with its move to the FBS, there won't be much altered in the result this time around against NC State. With a swarming defense and the offense likely to respond after a weak outing against UConn, the Wolfpack should put up an easy win in this home opener.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: NC State 34, South Alabama 3
09/12 10:40:14 ET