As we countdown to kickoff in August, we’re going to be doing a team-by-team preview each week over the summer. SU will continue its 2018 ACC schedule when it plays NC State on Oct. 27.
TOP 25 FINISH: For just the third time in the last 20 years, NC State finished in the top 25 in 2017, compiling a surprising 9-4 record and a 52-31 win over Arizona State in the Sun Bowl. The No. 23 Wolfpack also broke the stranglehold of the dominance of Florida State and Clemson in the competitive Atlantic Division, finishing second to the Tigers. To maintain the momentum, head coach Dave Doeren is going to need to rely on a potent offense to cover for a defense that lost the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in defensive lineman Bradley Chubb. “Five years ago we had zero wins in the ACC, this year we tied the school record,” Doeren said. “Five years ago we had no draft picks, this year we broke the school record. So the progress is there. Everyone sees it.”
» Related: UNC Tar Heels — 2018 Syracuse Football preview
WHO TO WATCH FOR: Though NC State set a school record by having seven players selected in the 2018 NFL Draft, Doeren scored a huge offseason coup by retaining sixth-year quarterback Ryan Finley. All he did in 2017 was throw for 3,518 yards and 17 touchdowns, while completing 65.1 percent of his passes. He will have an all-star trio to throw to, headlined by Kelvin Harmon, Jakobi Meyers and Stephen Louis. “In my opinion, [we have] the best trio wide receiving corps in the country,” Finley said. “Just can’t speak enough words about how hard they work and just kind of how they approach the game and the level of preparation they put into the game and obviously very talented.”
PREDICTION: As much as the Wolfpack will be able to run up the scores against opposing teams, its defense needs to replace Chubb and seven other starters from 2017. The secondary is also suspect, having finished 104th in college football in passing yards allowed. But it’s offense should allow the Wolfpack a chance to stay atop the Atlantic Division. SYRACUSE 35, NC STATE 47.
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