After a hard-fought victory over the Virginia Cavaliers last week, the Miami Hurricanes (6-2) are hitting the road this Saturday to face the NC State Wolfpack (5-3). Having achieved playoff eligibility, the Canes could potentially break into the top 25 with a win this weekend, while keeping their ACC championship hopes alive. However, this matchup will be a challenge as they confront one of the most hostile road environments in the ACC during a prime-time 8:00 PM night game. The last time Miami played a road night game, they suffered a 41-31 loss to North Carolina.
Key to Victory:
The key to success for the Canes hinges on Tyler Van Dyke’s performance. Since ACC play commenced, his penchant for throwing interceptions has made victories difficult. TVD must capitalize on what the defense offers and avoid exclusively targeting Xavier Restrepo when other players are open. Despite the offensive line allowing zero sacks and pressures last week, decision-making was subpar. An improved TVD is crucial, and a comeback performance against a team he has historically dominated is anticipated.
My X-Factor for this week is Shannon Dawson. Defensive coordinators seem to have adapted to his 3WR sets, often dropping 6-8 players into coverage and leaving the middle field vulnerable. Dawson has two talented tight ends, Riley Williams and Elijah Arroyo, who could inflict significant damage over the middle and help disperse defensive backs. Until now, Miami has primarily used their tight ends for blocking. Adjustments from Dawson could prove pivotal.
Keep an Eye On:
North Carolina State is not a top-tier team. Their quarterback, Brennan Armstrong, has tallied five passing touchdowns and six interceptions this year, with a completion rate of 58.8%. Armstrong is also a threat on the ground, having accumulated 286 rushing yards this season. As seen last week with Virginia, mobile quarterbacks can still trouble the Canes. Their standout offensive player, Kevin Concepcion, has had a respectable year with 42 receptions for 493 yards and six touchdowns. Nevertheless, they lack an elite offensive threat that poses significant matchup problems.
Defensively, the narrative changes. The Wolfpack boasts one of the best linebackers in the ACC, Payton Wilson. With 89 tackles, four sacks, and two interceptions this year, Wilson is a force to be reckoned with. Miami needs to be wary of Wilson’s game-changing ability to capitalize on turnovers.
Although the victory against Virginia was lackluster, the Canes managed to secure a win. I predict that Miami will deliver a stronger performance this week and emerge victorious. I anticipate that Miami will address their turnover issues at quarterback, and their potent offense—when not undermined by interceptions—should overpower NC State. With the Wolfpack lacking offensive firepower, I foresee a dominant performance from Miami’s defense, particularly in stifling the running game and pressuring Armstrong. A victory here would bolster Miami’s confidence ahead of a critical showdown with the #4 ranked Florida State, potentially setting up a clash of top 25 teams on national television in Tallahassee the following weekend.
Final Score Prediction: Miami 27, NC State 20
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