NC State (3-1) at Miami-Florida (1-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 29, 12:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Sun Life Stadium (76,100) -- Miami, Florida. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: NC State 2-0, Miami 1-0 Away Record: NC State 1-0, Miami 2-1. Neutral Record: NC State 0-1, Miami 0-0. Conference Record: NC State 0-0, Miami 2-0. Series Record: Miami leads, 7-5-1.
GAME NOTES: The NC State Wolfpack will open their conference schedule on the road against the Miami-Florida Hurricanes at Sun Life Stadium on Saturday.
After losing in a neutral site matchup against Tennessee in the first week of the season, NC State has ripped off three straight wins, with the most recent being a 52-14 rout of The Citadel. The Wolfpack scored early and often with touchdowns in five of the first six drives building a 35-point lead heading into the half. This game marks NC State's first game in ACC play after going 4-4 last season in-conference.
Miami is the current leader in the ACC Coastal Division with a 2-0 record after rallying for a 42-36 overtime win over Georgia Tech last weekend. Mike James scored three of his four touchdowns in the fourth quarter and overtime including the game-winning 25-yard run. The Hurricanes have won both of their first two conference games on the road. Miami also split its ACC slate last season with a mark of 4-4.
There have only been three meetings between these squads as members of the ACC since Miami joined the conference in 2004. It is the 14th all-time meeting between the squads which has been fairly competitive, as Miami holds a 7-5-1 edge.
As an offensive team NC State has been near the bottom of the ACC in production even when including the 52-point outburst against The Citadel. Overall the Wolfpack are ranked eighth in the conference in total offense (391.0 ypg) and scoring (28.5 ppg).
Mike Glennon has been serviceable at quarterback for the Pack with 982 yards passing, six touchdowns and a 53.4 completion percentage. However his 133.8 passing efficiency is seventh in the conference due to four interceptions.
The Pack are still seemingly trying to find a go-to back in the running game although after his performance against The Citadel, Shadrach Thornton clearly seems like a good option. In just his first game of the season, Thornton carried the ball 21 times for 145 yards and two scores, making him the lead rusher for the team this season. Tony Creecy (31 carries, 130 yards) and Mustafa Greene (28 carries (101) have had the bulk of the responsibility up to this point. It remains to be seen if Thornton will get extended playing time against tougher competition.
Quintin Payton (17 receptions, 338 yards) has been a big-play threat for the Wolfpack in the passing game with his 19.9 yards-per-reception average the second best mark in the ACC among receivers who have at least 12 receptions.
Defensively, NC State has been a strong unit, allowing the fourth fewest yards per game (325.8), while being the third best scoring defense (15.8 ppg). As expected it is the secondary led by All-American cornerback David Amerson that has been the strength of the defense with the squad allowing 827 yards through the air, while collecting a conference high six interceptions. Amerson has three of those interceptions, while safeties Brandan Bishop (27) and Earl Wolff (23) lead the team in tackles.
Miami is scoring 33.5 points and gaining 428.0 yards of total offense this season, while relying more heavily on the pass (1,076 yards) than the run (636). This is surprising for an Al Golden squad.
The heavy passing is also perplexing considering the up and down play of quarterback Stephen Morris. The signal caller has just a 123.4 passing efficiency this season by completing 62.0 percent of his passes for 1.069 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions. Morris did have a spectacular game against Georgia Tech though, throwing for 436 yards and two scores on 31- of-52 passing.
Five different receivers have at least 11 catches this season for Miami, led by Phillip Dorsett, who has hauled in 21 balls, for 273 yards and a touchdown.
In terms of rushing the ball the Hurricanes have a nice tandem in James and Duke Johnson. James has had the most carries (47 attempts, 253 yards, 3 TDs) while Johnson has been able to pick up more yards (40 attempts, 326 yards, 4 TDs). James was the more utilized back against Georgia Tech, with 89 yards rushing and four total touchdowns.
After giving up 36 points to Georgia Tech, Miami is currently ranked above only Wake Forest in scoring defense (33.3 ppg) and total defense (452.3 ypg) which is a weakness that could catch up to the Hurricanes quickly if things do not improve.
Defensive leaders for Miami include Shayon Green, who has a team-high 28 tackles on the season and Anthony Chickillo, who has a team-high 4.0 tackles for loss and is tied for the team-high with a pair of sacks.
Miami's major weakness has come on the defensive side of the ball this season leaving the Hurricanes susceptible to a loss against some of the ACC's strong offenses. Luckily for Golden's squad NC State is not one of those teams, although Morris and the offense will struggle against the Wolfpack's secondary. In the end the Hurricanes' run game and homefield advantage will push them over the top.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Miami-Florida 27, NC State 24
09/26 10:36:27 ET