After a mistake-filled season-opening loss, North Carolina State looks to bounce back and rescue a season some felt would carry it further than its ever been when Marshall visits Saturday night. The Wolf Pack, who some believed had a chance at earning a College Football Playoff berth, allowed an opening kickoff return for a touchdown and fumbled at the wrong time in their 35-28 loss to South Carolina.
There are positives surrounding N.C. State as junior quarterback Ryan Finley is coming off a game in which he set a school record for completions (45) and threw for a career-high 415 yards. The Wolf Pack also outgained the Gamecocks by more than a 2-to-1 margin with Preseason All-America defensive end Bradley Chubb leading the way, prompting South Carolina coach Will Muschamp to tell reporters: “Their front seven is as good as we’ll see this year.” The Thundering Herd, selected to finish fourth in the Conference USA East Division this season, opened with a 31-26 victory over Miami (Ohio) behind a pair of kickoff returns for touchdowns by junior running back Keion Davis — the first in school history to accomplish the feat. “I’m going to enjoy this one for about an hour and 15 minutes. We have a great challenge ahead of us in Raleigh,’’ Marshall coach Doc Holliday told reporters.
TV: 6 p.m. ET, ESPN3. LINE: North Carolina State -24
ABOUT MARSHALL (1-0): The defense also played a big role against Miami as sophomore cornerback Chris Jackson returned an interception 72 yards for a touchdown. Junior quarterback Chase Litton passed for 208 yards last week and has 5,425 for his career, moving him into 10th all-time in Thundering Herd annals, and has thrown a touchdown pass in all 22 career games. Redshirt freshman wide receiver Willie Johnson caught seven passes for 88 yards after totaling four and 52 in an injury-shortened 2016 campaign.
ABOUT N.C. STATE (0-1): The Wolf Pack are hurting in the secondary as junior safety Freddie Phillips Jr. sustained a season-ending Achilles injury last week and sophomore safety Trae Meadows left the team because of a personal matter, joining senior cornerback Mike Stevens (knee) on the sidelines. Wide receiver Kelvin Harmon’s sophomore season got off to a fast start with 10 catches for 114 yards while junior running back Nyheim Hines handled matters on the ground with 81 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. Senior linebacker Jerod Fernandez is also a key factor on defense as evidenced by his team highs of nine tackles — four solo — last week.
1. N.C. State senior OG Tony Adams was named ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week after helping the Wolf Pack gain 504 yards while participating in all 103 snaps.
2. Wolf Pack junior OT Will Richardson will not play as he completes his two-game suspension for violating team rules last spring.
3. N.C. State won all three previous meetings, which occurred in 1991, 1993 and 1995.
PREDICTION: North Carolina State 42, Marshall 21