college football picks NC State at U-C-F 9-11-10

September 10, 2010


DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 11th, 7:30 p.m. (et)

FACTS & STATS: Site:Bright House Networks Stadium (45,323) — Orlando, Florida. Television:CBSCS. Home Record: NC State 1-0, UCF 1-0. Away Record: NC State 0-0, UCF 0-0. Neutral Record: NC State 0-0, UCF 0-0. Conference Record: NC State 0-0, UCF 0-0. Series Record: UCF leads, 1-0.

GAME NOTES: The UCF Knights gun for their first 2-0 start under head coach George O’Leary, as they host the NC State Wolfpack in a non-league bout this weekend at Bright House Networks Stadium.

The Knights put themselves in position for another fast start courtesy of a 38-7 season-opening win over South Dakota, a FCS program, on Saturday. The 38 points were the most for UCF in an opener since beating Louisiana Tech 64-30 back in 1998. While the Knights have had good success in openers under O’Leary, they have yet to start 2-0 under the coach, who is now in his seventh year with the program.

On the flip side, NC State also took care of business against a FCS program in its opener, tallying a 48-7 win over Western Carolina on Saturday. It marked the first season opening win under fourth-year head coach Tom O’Brien, who guided the Wolfpack to 5-7 finish last year.

NC State and UCF have met one prior time on the gridiron, with the Knights capturing a 25-23 victory in the season opener for both teams in ’07.

QB Russell Wilson picked up right where he left off in ’09, as he threw for 306 yards and four TDs in NC State’s opening win over WCU. It marked the fifth career 300-yard passing game for Wilson, who completed 21-of-31 tosses. T.J. Graham was his favorite outlet, pulling in six balls for 96 yards and two scores. Prior to the game, Graham had just one career TD pass, as he set new personal bests in catches and receiving yards. Redshirt freshman Dean Haynes paced the ground attack with 69 yards and a score on 13 carries, while true freshman Mustafa Greene added 35 yards and a TD on 10 totes.

Defensively, NC State gave up 87 yards and a touchdown on the opening drive before shutting the door on WCU. For the remainder of the game, the Wolfpack permitted just 102 yards while keeping WCU without a point. The defense surrendered a total of just nine first downs, while coming up with four sacks. Terrell Manning led the charge with a 10-tackle effort, and Dwayne Maddox got into the mix with seven stops and a sack.

Rob Calabrese has been the opening week starter in each of the last two years, but he is hoping history doesn’t repeat itself. The junior QB has yet to finish a season as the starter due to a lack of production and confidence. Calabrese though, looked like a different player on Saturday, when he completed an efficient 12-of-15 pass attempts for 176 yards and a score in a 38-7 win over South Dakota. He showed good poise and confidence, and A.J. Guyton was his top target with eight receptions for a career-high 127 yards and a score. TB Jonathan Davis also enjoyed a career game, as he rushed for 107 yards and a score on 20 carries, helping UCF amass 231 yards on the ground. Davis is filling in for Brynn Harvey, who is still recovering from off-season knee surgery after rushing for 1,109 yards and 14 TDs in ’09.

UCF did a good job on the defensive side of the ball, although the unit somewhat disappointed with failing to force a turnover and recording just one sack. Still, the Knights held South Dakota to a mere 220 total yards, including just 104 through the air. Lawrence Young, a proven playmaker, accounted for the team’s lone sack, to go along with a pair of TFLs.

Both teams are coming off expected wins, but this will be a much bigger challenge for each program. Wilson will be the best player on the field, so look for him to make the difference and lift NC State to the win in what should be a tight game.


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