NC State vs. James Madison fearless prediction and game preview.
Date: Saturday, September 1
Game Time: 12:00 pm ET
Venue: Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh, NC
NC State (0-0) vs. James Madison (0-0) Game Preview
This should be very, very, very interesting.
East Carolina fans went crazy at the notion that their team might lose last year’s opener to a mere FCS team – and then James Madison came up with a 34-14 win.
The Dukes went on to go 14-0 before losing the FCS national championship to North Dakota State, and now they’re ranked No. 2 to start the season.
They’re not going to be fazed or intimidated in any way by playing a Power Five team, especially one that’s doing as much reloading as NC State.
The Wolfpack get this landmine, and then get Georgia State before dealing with a showdown against West Virginia. They can’t look at this as a mere tune-up – they’re going to have to show up.
One Reason Why James Madison Will Win
The James Madison secondary led the FCS in pass defense and interceptions – the defense as a whole was outstanding at coming up with takeaways – and it should be amazing again with a phenomenal corner tandem of Rashad Robinson and Jimmy Moreland returning.
The NC State passing game should be a major strength, but the Dukes should be able to hold their own.
The bigger problem for the Wolfpack is on the other side of the ball, losing eight starters including star defensive end Bradley Chubb. The secondary allowed way too many big plays last season, and now it has to go against what should be another ultra-efficient passing attack.
One Reason Why NC State Will Win
Yeah, the James Madison secondary is great, and the team will be terrific, but it’s about to go against a special passing game.
Ryan Finley is an NFL-caliber quarterback who’ll be right up there in the race to be the top passer off the board in the 2019 draft, and he has a loaded receiving corps to work with.
Part of JMU’s greatness at taking the ball away came from an unstoppable pass rush, but the Wolfpack pass protection will be great, the ground game will be fine, and Kelvin Harmon will be among the ACC’s best receivers.
As for the defense, yes, there are some big losses, but the State D line has the talent to be great again in a hurry. As good as the Duke offense was, it had a few issues in pass protection, and it should against the Pack, too.
What’s Going To Happen
NC State will get out with a win, but it’ll have to work for it.
Finley will spread the ball around well and get the ball out of his hands in a hurry, but most of all he’ll limit the mistakes.
JMU lived on takeaways at times, and as long as the the Wolfpack are a -1 in turnover margin or better, all should be fine.
It’s not going to be a breezy scrimmage, but NC State will show that it really is going to be good again.