NC State is coming off a 7-6 season that wasn’t all that impressive. The Wolfpack took advantage of an easy non-conference slate to start out 4-0. They then proceeded to go just 3-6 over their last 9 games. That included an ugly 28-51 loss to Mississippi State in the Belk Bowl.

The three ACC wins came against Wake Forest, Boston College and Syracuse. Nothing to get excited about there, as those three combined to go 3-21 in conference play.

The Wolfpack weren’t the only team to take advantage of an easy schedule in 2015. However, it does limit expectations going into 2016, even with 14 starters back.

NC State will be heading into their 4th season under head coach Dave Doeren. They are not a legit threat to win the Atlantic, but a third straight bowl appearance is within reach.

Last Season
ACC (Atlantic)
ATS Record
Points For
Points Against
3-5 (4th)
2016 Schedule
DateOpponentSpread (Est.)Win Chance
9/3William & Mary
9/10@ East Carolina
9/17Old Dominion
9/24Wake Forest
10/1Notre Dame
10/8@ Clemson
10/15@ Louisville
10/22Boston College
11/5Florida State
11/12@ Syracuse
11/19Miami (FL)
11/25@ North Carolina
Estimated Wins: TBD

NC State figures to get off to another strong start in 2016. They open with non-conference games against William & Mary, East Carolina and Old Dominion. Followed by a home game against Wake Forest to kickoff ACC play.

They do at least get one challenge outside of the conference, as they host Notre Dame on Oct. 8. This will be the start of a brutal stretch to end the year.

After taking on the Irish, they have to travel to Clemson and Louisville in consecutive weeks. They then have to host BC and FSU before going to Syracuse. NC State closes out the year with a home game against Miami and then has to travel to UNC.

The big concern here is the conference portion of the schedule. They draw two of the top teams out of the Coastal in Miami and North Carolina. Plus they have to go on the road to face both the Tigers and Cardinals out of the Atlantic. There’s a good chance they will only be favored in three ACC games.

Roster Breakdown

NC State has 6 starters back on offense, but will have to replace Jacoby Brissett at quarterback. Brissett only threw for 2,662 yards, but completed 60% of his attempts with 20 TD’s to just 6 INT’s. He also had 370 yards and 6 touchdowns rushing.

The frontrunner to take his job is Boise State transfer Ryan Finely. His addition makes sense, as the Wolfpack added Boise State offensive coordinator Eli Drinkwitz. The other option is sophomore Jalan McClendon.

The Wolfpack get back leading rusher in senior Matthew Dayes, but he may not be the starter for long. All eyes are on red-shirt freshman Johnny Frasier, who was a big time recruit out of high school. Either way the duo should give NC State their best rushing attack in the Doeren era.

There’s also some talent back at wide receiver. The Wolfpack return 1st-Team All-ACC wide out Jaylen Samuels. Plus, get back experienced senior starters in Bra’Lon Cherry and Jumichael Ramos.

The big concern on this side of the ball comes up front on the offensive line. NC State only returns two starters and loses its star in Joe Thuney.

Defensively things are looking a little better, especially along the defensive line. While they lost All-American defensive end Mike Rose, they are loaded with talent. Two juniors will be the focal point in tackle B.J. Hill and end Bradley Chubb. They also get back junior tackle Kentavius Street.

At linebacker the Wolfpack will have an experienced bunch led by juniors Airius Moore and Jerod Fernandez. They also get back promising sophomore Riley Nicholson and senior Dravious Wright.

The secondary loses talented corner Juston Burris and starting safety Hakim Jones. However, the loss of Burris will be eased by the return of senior Jack Tocho from injury. They also get back senior safety Josh Jones, who has started 19 games in his first two seasons.

Regular Season Win Total
ACC Championship Odds
National Championship Odds
Odds Courtesy of 5Dimes
Season Predictions

While there’s reason to be optimistic for NC State fans, I think 2016 is going to prove to be a long season. Especially after the first month. I have the Wolfpack opening the year 4-0, only to go 1-7 over their final 8 games.

I don’t see this team beating Notre Dame, Florida State or Miami at home. The same can be said for road games against Clemson, Louisville and UNC.

That leaves a home game against Boston College and road game at Syracuse. I have them splitting those two. Keep in mind that game against the Orange is sandwiched between huge home games against FSU and Miami. The contest against the Eagles also comes in a tough spot. It’s after two brutal road games and with the Seminoles on deck.

Even if they win both of those games, that has them at just 6-6, which is right on par with the win total that’s been set.

2016 Projections
ACC (Atlantic)
ACC Record
Overall Record
Win Total Prediction
More College Football Predictions