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College Football Predictions: No. 27 North Carolina State Wolfpack

North Carolina State is a bit of a throwback when it comes to putting together a team.

While teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference and around the country are seeing players transferring in and out at a fast and furious pace, the Wolfpack aren’t relying on the transfer portal to remain competitive.

Rob Kinnan - USA TODAY Sports

Former Maryland receiver Darryl Jones is the most prominent incoming transfer while defensive linemen Terrell Dawkins and Ibrahim Kante are the outgoing transfers who have seen the most playing time.

North Carolina State (+800) is currently tied for third in the odds to win the ACC title according to the college football picks. The Wolfpack (+425) are second in the odds to win the ACC Atlantic Division.

North Carolina State (+10000) is tied for 21st in the odds to win the national championship according to the sportsbook.

North Carolina State Wolfpack

  • 2021 record: 9-3
  • 2021 conference record: 6-2
  • Head coach: Dave Doeren
  • Odds to win conference title: +800

The defense was one of the best units in the ACC a season ago. The Wolfpack led the conference in third down defense. North Carolina State finished second in the ACC in scoring defense, third in rushing defense and passing defense and tied for second with 15 interceptions.

All but three of the top 18 tacklers are expected to be back for the upcoming season.

Leading tackler Drake Thomas (99 tackles, six sacks, three interceptions) and Tanner Ingle (82 tackles) lead the list of returnees.

Ingle is joined in the secondary by Derrek Pitts, Jakeen Harris, Tyler Baker-Williams, Shyheim Battle and Devan Boykin. With the way teams throw the ball in the ACC, having an experienced group of defensive backs is crucial.

Cory Durden and Davin Vann are a pair of 300-pound defensive tackles who combined for nine tackles for loss and 7½ sacks last season.

The Wolfpack lost two of the three players who had at least five sacks in 2021, so reconfiguring the pass rush will be a top priority. Isaiah Moore could be a more expanded role at linebacker.

North Carolina State will miss All-American offensive lineman Ikem Ekwonu, who was the first offensive player selected in the 2022 NFL Draft. The Wolfpacks return the other four starters – Derrick Eason, Grant Gibson, Dylan McMahon and Bryson Speas.

Quarterback Devin Leary completed 66 percent of his passes for 3,433 yards with 35 touchdowns and five interceptions as a sophomore. He has 51 touchdown passes and just 12 interceptions in three years with the Wolfpack. In the nine wins last season, Leary had 28 touchdown passes and just two interceptions compared to seven TD throws and three interceptions in the three losses.


The top two rushers (Zonovan Knight and Ricky Person) are gone. That leaves Jordan Houston as the top returning runner thanks to his 83 yards on 20 carries, with more than half of them coming in a win over Boston College. Delbert Mimms is another running back to keep an eye on. NC State was 11th in the ACC in yards per carry in 2021 so the Wolfpack will try to become more effective at running the ball.

Trent Pennix has moved from running back to tight end. He had 16 catches for 236 yards as a sophomore and could be in line for a bigger role this season.

Leading receiver Emeka Emezie is gone. Thayer Thomas (596 yards on 51 catches), Devin Carter (31 catches, 556 yards), Porter Rooks and Christopher Toudle all return to provide talented options for Leary along with Jones, who had 49 catches during his four seasons at Maryland.

North Carolina State brings back kicker Christopher Dunn, who was 13 of 19 on field goals and 48 for 48 on extra points. The Wolfpack lose Trenton Gill, who led the ACC in yards per punt and was fourth in percentage of touchbacks on kickoffs.

2022 N.C. State Outlook

North Carolina State’s chance to post a 10-win season ended when the Holiday Bowl against UCLA was no match for the global pandemic and was canceled. A rare defensive meltdown in a loss to Wake Forest was all that stood between the Wolfpack and a spot in the ACC title game.

The expected regular-season win total is at 8½ for North Carolina State, with the odds at -155 for the Wolfpack going over according to the college football odds.

Could a 10-win season be in the cards for the Wolfpack? The non-conference schedule should help with the three non-ACC games against Football Bowl Subdivision opponents coming against teams with a combined record of 15-22 a season ago. North Carolina State is currently a 10-point favorite in the season opener against East Carolina as the Wolfpack look to win their first game of the year for the fifth consecutive time.

Opening conference play on the road against preseason ACC favorite Clemson will not be easy. North Carolina State doesn’t have to play the three teams with the best odds to win the ACC Coastal Division (Miami, Pittsburgh and Virginia).

Something of interest to those who bet online: Four of North Carolina State’s last six games in 2021 went over the total.

2022 N.C. State Schedule

  • Sept. 3 at East Carolina
  • Sept. 10 vs Charleston
  • Sept. 17 vs Texas Tech
  • Sept. 24 vs UConn
  • Oct. 1 at Clemson
  • Oct. 8 vs Florida State
  • Oct. 15 at Syracuse
  • Oct. 27 vs Virginia Tech
  • Nov. 5 vs Wake Forest
  • Nov. 12 vs Boston College
  • Nov. 19 at Louisville
  • Nov. 25 at North Carolina

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