Thursday, January 18, 2018
The 2018 NC State football schedule was released yesterday. My quick prediction is for an overall 8-4 record and a 4-4 record in the Atlantic Coast Conference. There is no in-depth basis for this, just a gut feeling.
It will be Dave Doeren's sixth season, and, though he loses several excellent and key players, the Wolfpack should not only return a lot of good athletes, but it should also now be in a position to reload instead of wait another five seasons for a good team.
State has five home games in its first six, and program excitement should be at a season peak after the Wolfpack starts 6-0. Though not the easiest of non-conference games, tilts at home versus James Madison (Sept 1) and Georgia State (Sept 8) should be definite wins. There is no way in you-know-what that the Wolfpack program should ever lose to either of those.
With the team riding high from a two-game winning streak, West Virginia comes to Raleigh (Sept 15). The Wolfpack ekes out a third win. Interesting note: The Mountaineers current stadium in Morgantown is pretty much a duplicate of Carter-Finley Stadium, at least the original parts of both. When the program decided to build a new stadium in the late 1970s, NC State's stadium and plans were the basis for new digs. The Wolfpack will see it first hand in 2019. But I digress.
Next State travels to the state of West Virginia to play at Marshall (Sept 22). It's a tough road trip, but again, there is no way the program at Marshall should be as good as the program at NC State, especially in Doeren's sixth season of reloading and not rebuilding. The Wolfpack gets its fourth victory, all non-conference.
Now, for the start of tough stuff, the ACC schedule. First up is Virginia (Sept 29). It's a home game, the crowd should be rowdy and supportive, and the team should respond with a fifth straight win. The same for the next week when Boston College (Oct 6) plays in Carter-Finley Stadium. After six games, the Wolfpack should be 6-0, 2-0, heading into the final six games.
There are just two additional games in October, at Clemson (Oct 20) after an open date and at Syracuse (Oct 27). In my humble opinion and without knowing how good or bad Syracuse will be, NC State drops two straight and, after eight games, rests at 6-2 overall and 2-2 in the ACC.
The remainder of the schedule brings Florida State (Nov 3) and Wake Forest (Nov 8 and a quick turn-around) to Raleigh. Here's where science enters in: the Seminoles have a new coach and will be feeling its way along in 2018, and there is no way the Wolfpack should lose two in a row to Wake Forest. If Florida State is average, and if the Wolfpack doesn't take the Deacons too lightly as the Pck did last year, NC State gets two solid conference wins and is 8-2 and 4-2.
To make my math work, the Wolfpack loses at Louisville (the Cardinals need the home conference win to round out a good season) and at North Carolina (which can't possibly lose three in a row to what is now the Tar Heels biggest conference rival) to complete the season (8-4 and 4-4) and heads to a lower ACC tie-in bowl to play a directional team.
That's after coming off the 2017 disappointing (yes, disappointing because the Wolfpack left a lot on the table in the two conference losses, Clemson and Wake Forest, and one non-league game, South Carolina) 9-4, 6-2, Sun Bowl winner season.
Maybe 8-4 sounds good, but 4-4 in the ACC does not. So, after the 2018 season, the Wolfpack, under Doeren, goes to 42-34 overall and 19-29 in the ACC.
Your thoughts about my thoughts? You can agree, disagree and/or post a comment in the comment section below!
If you didn't notice, the Wolfpack has seven home games: Season tickets are on sale now. Click "Wolfpack football season tickets" for more information.