North Carolina State Wolfpack Odds to win ACC with Expert Betting Predictions
Head coach Dave Doeren worked miracles in his two year at Northern Illinois, going 23-4 and making the Orange Bowl the second year. So when he came to the ACC in 2013 expectations were high. And he has improved a NC State team that was in pretty rough shape when he took over. The problem, though, is that improvement has been slow and has yet to show up dramatically in the standings. Five years is as much as a guy is going to get at most programs without a breakthrough, so Doeren really needs to make some meaningful progress or he'll be the former head coach of the Wolfpack. The team has the pieces to improve. However, will it all be enough?
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2016 in a Nutshell
The team was 7-6, but they should have been much better. They had three losses that will haunt them. They lost to an East Carolina team in Week 2 that went on to finish an ugly 3-9. After opening 4-1 they had eventual National Champion Clemson against the ropes but missed a field goal and lost in overtime on the road. And they lost at home to a lousy Boston College team that had only one other conference win. If they had won even two of those three games then Doeren wouldn't have to worry about anything this year. It's a game of inches in so many ways.
Aside from tight games, their issue was that they lost to the best teams they played - Florida State, Louisville and Miami. The ACC is getting stronger, so the team needs to improve significantly just to catch up to the crowd - never mind to gain any ground.
Key Additions and Departures
The offense went through some big changes last season - a new offensive coordinator and shifts in key personnel. This year things are more stable. Coordinator Eli Drinkwitz, a Gus Malzahn disciple, is back for his second year, and he will be working with a pretty good QB in Ryan Finley for a second year. Four starting linemen return, the running game is in good shape, and they return a healthy group of solid receivers. This is an offense that is well poised to be improved from last year. Really, if they aren't significantly improved offensively then something is wrong. And there is definitely room to improve - the passing game was decent, but on the ground they have a lot of work to do.
The defense last year was solid overall and elite against the run. They were a much-improved unit. And chances are good that they will be solidly better this year. They return all five top guys from a very good defensive line and their three top linebackers. Such strength up front does create some issues, though. Teams won't run against a team that strong, so the secondary is going to be challenged a lot. The team lost their top three safeties, and a corner, so they will be relying on young players to hit the ground running and become effective quickly. There are going to be growing pains, and it isn't overly dramatic to say that those changes will dictate how the season turns out. If they can find some game in reasonably short time then the team will be fine, and that dominant front seven will be able to flex their muscles. If the secondary doesn't gel, though, then opposing offenses can afford to become one-dimensional, and Doeren might as well call his realtor.
North Carolina State Wolfpack Schedule Analysis
They open against South Carolina on a neutral field - a game that should be tougher than it is because the Gamecocks are going through some serious issues. That's a winnable game but not a gimme. Games against Marshall and Furman next, though, are gifts. They'll likely lose at Florida State but should beat Syracuse at home. Louisville will be tough after the Cardinals crushed the Wolfpack last year, but at least NC State gets them at home this time. Then it's two coin flip road games - at a Pitt team that should regress offensively and at a Notre Dame team that is hard to judge until we see them on the field after the debacle of last season. Clemson is probably a loss, though the possibility of a championship hangover and a rough QB transition exists, and that defensive line could make things interesting on the new starter. And then there is a good chance for the team to win out - Boston College, at Wake Forest, and North Carolina is not exactly a brutal stretch of games. The path to bowl eligibility is quite clear. The problem is that every win beyond that will be tough, and this team will have to be improved on both sides of the ball if they want to make any real improvement from last year. This is a pretty tough schedule for a team that could really use an easier one.
2017-18 North Carolina State Wolfpack Betting Odds and Trends
BetOnline has NC State at +15000 to win the national title, which places them ahead of just three teams among the 36 that have listed odds. They are the sixth choice to win the ACC at +2200, but Florida State has a chokehold on the conference at -110. They are the fourth choice to win the ACC Atlantic at +1400, but again Florida State is running away with things at -150. There is no value to be found in any of those prices. The win total sits at 7.5 wins, with the "under" a mild favorite.
The team was a very solid 9-4 ATS on the season and a particularly strong 5-1 ATS in the first six games. The under had a 7-5-1 edge on the season, and the team went under in the last five regular-season games.
2017-18 North Carolina State Wolfpack Predictions and College Football Picks
I like the experience, but I hate the schedule, and I am just not as optimistic as I would like to be. Eight wins feels like the top of what I would be comfortable expecting, and six or seven wouldn't be a surprise, either. I would expect a new coach next year.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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