Week 13 College Football: NC State vs #18 UNC preview, how to watch, and more

After dropping out of Top 25 NC State travel to Chapel Hill to take on their rival North Carolina Tar Heels

North Carolina State wolf pack (7-4) at #18 North Carolina State Tar heels (9-2)

How to watch:

  • Date: Saturday 25 November
  • time: 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Channel: ABC

Betting stats:

  • Spread: UNC -6.5
  • Above under: 56.5 points

the match:

It’s Rivalry Week, a celebration of college football that embraces centuries of unsavory traditions for athletics programs across the country to end their regular seasons. In one of North Carolina’s most historic pairings, NC State and UNC-Chapel Hill are set to tie the day after Thanksgiving on a hot afternoon.

On the road to payback for last year’s historically humiliating performance, the Tar Heels enter the game as the favorites – featuring a Heisman quarterback and a high-powered tackle. UNC’s Drake Maye is a true star in the making in Chapel Hill. Combined with his talented receiver, Josh Downs, the Tar Heels offense has been nearly unstoppable all season.

As great as they’ve been for the better part of the year, UNC employs a “live by the sword, die by the sword” mentality that has seen the Tar Heels drop games to fewer opponents when Maye and Downs are out. Evidenced most in UNC’s loss to Georgia Tech a week earlier that halted top ten team dreams – when the Tar Heel offense stalls, the rest of the team goes with it.

Unlike their archrivals, NC State has seen success this season despite their lackluster offense. Aside from a pair of stellar performances from freshman quarterback MJ Morris, the Wolfpack’s biggest killer has been his play under center. Prior to his injury, Devin Leary had performed well below expectations. Alumnus transfer Jack Chambers showed he wasn’t the same threat he was at Charleston Southern against the Power-Five schedule. With Morris missing time to an injury last week, NC State had to dig at the same level of its scouting squad as the starting quarterback — the same Ben Finley Wolfpack fans have been remembering since 2020.

Despite never-ending injuries and poor offensive performances, the Wolfpack’s defense has kept this team at shooting distance throughout the season. If Morris misses another match this week, the outcome of Friday’s game will rest solely on the shoulders of the defence. In this likely scenario, creating a turnover and putting NC State’s standout kicker Chris Dunn in a favorable field position to get points on the board will be the keys to success.

The scenario is completely reversed from last season’s encounter. NC State was the team that received all the preseason hype in 2022 and fell short of expectations. The Tar Heels entered the year as a question mark in the ACC and made the most of their schedule save for losses to Notre Dame and Georgia Tech a week earlier. However, as is the nature of rivalry games, none of these come to fruition on Friday. Chapel Hill or Raleigh, favorite or underdog, title contender or underperformer; All external factors fly off the table every year in this historically malevolent confrontation.

Players to know:

Michael Allen – NC State, RB

Statistics for 2022: 210 yards, 5.5 yards to carry, longest rush – 36 yards

Injuries are an unfortunate part of the sport, but with newbies steadily losing time comes the opportunity for young talents to show their makings. In the case of Michael Allen, Demie Sumo-Karngbaye’s continued absence has opened the door for more off-field picks – and he’s done more with them than many could have expected. Consistently cutting runs for big gains and beating any defender brave enough to get in his way, Allen could put up another fine display if Sumo-Karngbaye wastes more time.

Drake Thomas – NC State, LB

Statistics for 2022: 80 total tackles, 13 TFL tackles, 5.5 sacks, four passes defensed

Captain of one of the conference’s best defenses, Drake Thomas, is Drake to watch out for on the defensive side of the ball. May clearly deserves credit as an elite threat from the quarterback position, but he has yet to see a fullback like Thomas this season. Known for terrorizing opposing signal callers, Thomas will be more determined than ever to get his hands on his school’s least favorite QB.

Drake May – North Carolina, QB

Statistics for 2022: 3,614 yards, 39 touchdowns, four interceptions, 68.8% completion percentage

Going into the season, little was known about the direction the Tar Heels offense was heading in following the departure of Sam Howell. While Sky High might not have seemed like a viable option at the time, it certainly is the case now – all thanks to Drake Maye. To make matters worse for NC State, with the few things he can’t accomplish with his arm, May makes up with his legs tenfold. The dual threat quarterbacks have been this defense’s weakness all season, and May is the best of the bunch.

Josh Downs – North Carolina, WR

Statistics for 2022: 77 receptions, 878 receiving yards, 11.4 yards per reception, 11 touchdowns

Among the Wolfpack’s defensive struggles this season, the easiest to notice outside of the portable quarterback is shutting down opposing pass players. Syracuse, Wake Forest, and even Boston College have ripped up the pack’s defense for big yards with the hands of their top receiving talent. North Carolina’s Josh Downs may be the best of them all, and he more than makes up for his quiet performance in last year’s game on Friday.

Major injuries:

  • Devin Leary: NC State, QB: Shoulder injury outside

  • Jalen Mitchell: NC State, right linebacker: Undisclosed injury, questionable Saturday

  • Owner Cunningham: Louisville, QB: Suspicious shoulder injury

  • Savion Jackson: NC State, DE: Knee injury off saturday

  • Anthony Smith: NC State, WR: Unreported injury, out

For more college football coverage, like our NC State preview, visit amNY Sports

NC State kicker Christopher Dunn
Center fielder Christopher Dunn celebrates with the team after kicking and catching an onside kick during their last home football game of the season against UNC-Chapel Hill at Carter-Finlay Stadium on Friday, November 26, 2021. The Wolfpack won 34-30. (Photo) Technician: Griffin Bryant)

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