Wolfpack must find balance

Scouts, Inc., examines the Miami-N.C. State matchup and sees the Hurricanes making enough plays to win.

Originally Published: October 21, 2004
By Todd McShay | Scouts, Inc.
Miami is the only unbeaten team left in the ACC, which means it currently controls its own destiny. However, N.C. State knows it can get right back in the race with an upset over the Hurricanes on Saturday night, and has the benefit of playing at home.

Who: Miami (3) vs. N.C. State
When: Sat., 7:45 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Where: Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh, N.C.

This matchup might lack offensive fireworks, but there won't be a better defensive showdown in college football this weekend. The Hurricanes rank 11th nationally in total defense and seventh in scoring defense. The Wolfpack rank first in total defense and 17th in scoring defense.

Miami narrowly escaped a loss last Thursday night. It took a 34-point second-half performance to overtake No. 18 Louisville, and keep the Hurricanes in the national title hunt. QB Brock Berlin should have loads of confidence following his 308-yard three-touchdown passing performance. However, the close win may have exposed some weaknesses in the defense.

If Miami is to remain unbeaten in its first season in the ACC, and maintain its No. 2 BCS ranking, Berlin needs to build on last week's performance. Also, the defense must bounce back against a Wolfpack offense that ranks 72nd nationally in scoring.

N.C. State is coming off an emotionally-charged win over Maryland. If the Wolfpack is to pull off the upset, it must get a strong performance from RB T.A. McLendon, who is listed as probable following a hamstring injury he suffered in the first series of last week's game.

Furthermore, QB Jay Davis needs to show the ability to exploit the weakness in Miami's pass-coverage that Louisville unveiled with its wide-open attack last week. If McLendon is unable to go and/or Davis fails to take advantage of favorable matchups in the passing game, N.C. State doesn't stand a chance.

Todd McShay

ESPN Senior Writer