South Carolina (0-0) vs. NC State (0-0) | Saturday, September 2 | 3pm ET
Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC
South Carolina is looking to improve on a six win season from a year ago under first year Head Coach Will Muschamp. The Gamecocks have a ton of young, promising talent and already seem to be a better team than last year on paper. Can they start the season off right for the third year in a row and jump to 1-0?
NC State seems poised to cause some trouble in the ACC. They have a strong defensive line and return quarterback Ryan Finley who threw for over 3,000 yards a season ago. Can the Wolfpack start out with a win against an SEC foe?
How NC State can win
NC State is going to rely on its defensive line, there’s no doubt about it. It is one of the best in the country, with starter Bradley Chubb as its star. Chubb is a powerful pass rusher who had 10 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss. Yes, he’s big time.
He and his fellow defensive unit will look took ambush the Gamecock’s offensive line and get to quarterback Jake Bentley early. This will help take some pressure off quarterback Ryan Finley, and allow the Wolfpack to move the ball with good starting field position.
How South Carolina can win
Well, as stated above, Bradley Chubb is going to have an impact. Yet, this is still a very winnable game for South Carolina. If they can contain Chubb just enough and pop off some big plays early, they can pull out a W.
Essentially what a Gamecock win will come down to is how this talented offense will perform. Jake Bentley will have to get rid of the ball early and avoid taking sacks. He can use his playmakers on the outside such as Deebo Samuel, Bryan Edwards, Shi Smith, and tight end Hayden Hurst.
Look for long, methodical drives by the Gamecocks with a couple of shot plays to catch the Wolfpack off guard.
Key Matchups to Watch
South Carolina offensive line vs. NC State defensive line: It’s going to be interesting to see how the Gamecocks come out and defend one of the best defensive lines in the country.
Jake Bentley vs. NC State pass rush: Bentley is coming off of a strong freshman season and continues to stir up a lot of buzz as a passer. Let’s see how Bentley does under potential duress all game.
Wolfpack secondary vs. Deebo Samuel: Samuel led the team with 783 yards last season and is a versatile weapon. The secondary for the Wolfpack lost three starters from last season, so it should be interesting to see how they hold up against Samuel.
Gamecocks 23, NC State 17
Make it three opening night wins in a row for South Carolina. Their defense is improved and should have a lot of energy with linebacker Skai Moore returning. Their offense is loaded with weapons and could expose an unproven NC State secondary.