NC State Wolfpack vs. UCLA Bruins
Date: December 28th
Time: 8:00 PM
Location: Petco Park
Line: State -2
The time is finally here. Tuesday night, State takes over Petco Park in San Diego for their Holiday Bowl matchup against UCLA. There is no doubt, this has the chance to be a great game with a bounty of mojo for next season.
For this game preview, we’re breaking it down over five categories. (Also keep in mind, players are fluid with everything going on. If someone talked about below drops, sorry.)
Offense – Advantage UCLA
If you look at UCLA’s final seven games, they were a completely different team. They went 5-2 during that stretch, with their losses being by three to #10 Oregon and then losing at eventual PAC-12 champion Utah.
The last three games of the season, however, is where the offense found their groove.
They averaged 49 points per game, while averaging 518 total yards of offense. That, my friends, is ridiculous. They ended the season ranked 16th in the country in scoring offense. The catalyst for the offensive explosion, was from their QB, Dorian Thompson-Robinson (who shall now be referred to as DTR). The senior ended up with 2,400 passing yards, 600 rushing yards and 30 combined TDs to 6 INTs. DTR singlehandedly changed the trajectory for this Bruins’ season.
UCLA’s running back Zach Charbonnet, also had a solid season. He rushed for 1,137 yards (13 TDs), while also being the team’s third leading receiver in receptions. His healthy 5.6 yards per carry are going to give State trouble Tuesday.
Receiver-wise, UCLA is very similar to State. Steady contributors, that is slightly top-heavy. Wide receiver Philips and TE Dulcich are the top players to watch.
State is no slouch on offense, but the real concern is how long will it take them to find their rhythm. We’ve seen too often this year, State needing second half adjustments to get going. Now we’re going to stick a month-long break in there?
It’s reason for concern.
Should also be interesting to see is Bam Knight plays. Beyond NFL Draft talk, he noted that his ankle injury was giving him enough problems he may skip the Holiday Bowl. Regardless, Leary is going to have to show up again. Make his reads, take a few deep shots and try to really spread this UCLA defense out. We’re going to need 6-7 deep in receiving help for this one.
Defense – Advantage State
We know it. They know it. The world knows it. State defense is for real.
They should be well-rested and in a better spot health-wise than at any point in the last three months. Add to that the overwhelming motivation for this game into next season, and this could be a special night for the guys. All that said, they still have to deal with a high flying Bruins offense.
Can they pressure and contain DTR? Will this LB crew be able to slow down Dulcich, while cleaning up the run game. Safeties will be a huge key for a win also.
UCLA’s defense is “fine”. They’re giving up a touchdown more per game than State. They struggle to get pressure in the backfield, even though they blitz a high percentage of snaps. Add to that, they’ll be without their top and fifth best tackler and that only hurts them more.
This game will all come down to their DB performance.
Nationally, they rank 110 out of 130 teams in opponent passing yards per game. That said, their DB’s play hit or miss football. They cause INT’s and that group alone, has triple the number of forced fumbles than State has as an entire team.
If Leary and company can eliminate turnovers and have success through the air early, State will take a massive step towards lifting that trophy.
Special Teams – Even
UCLA is sneaky good in the return game. Three touchdowns on the seasons (2 punts | 1 KO), they rank in the top-ten nationally for return ability. Luckily for State, Wolfpack have the leg advantage.
While we don’t necessarily need to see Gill a lot tonight, his ability to pin opponents will be crucial. As for our returning chances? Let’s just hypothetically say Bam is a go, he’ll pull off a 40 yards return tonight.
Have to make any and all field goals in a game like this. Dunn is the slightly better kicker in this matchup.
Coaching – Even
There is a reason that Chip Kelly seems to be courted by another university every four months or so. But until that late season run, things in LA weren’t great. When his offensive mind is hot, his team is a tough matchup for anybody.
Doeren has proved a lot of haters wrong this year. He got big wins and had his team on the cusp of an ACC Championship appearance. This game could be another step in showing he’s pushing to the top of the conference, from a coaching perspective. We also want to note and recognize Tony Gibson and remind everyone in the Athletic Department, to give this man a damn extension.
Overall Team Depth and Experience – Slight Advantage State
It’s a biased take, but State has the pieces to be a winner in this Bowl. They have a good enough offense to put up points and a defense, that when hungry, can go toe-to-toe with anyone. They are healthier, more focused and have more to prove with this game than the Bruins.
Can they finish this season right?
Greatest Bet of All-Time
This game will be close for a good portion. It’ll be an offensive showcase, with defenses just tying to keep it together. We think State will get the win, but the best play for this game is the over.
The line is currently set to 59.5. That will be destroyed this game.
UCLA down the stretch averaged near 50 points per game. State was nearly 40. Just put your house on it and try to enjoy the ride.
WATCH: A day in the life with NC State QB Devin Leary
Ever wondered what it’s like to be NC State QB Devin Leary? Well, this is as close as you’re going to get to finding out.
Mitchell Pehlke, a YouTuber who focuses on giving his followers an inside look at athletes and their sports, headed down to Raleigh to catch up with Leary prior to the upcoming season. Check it out as Leary walks Pehlke through a day in the life of an NC State football player.
Check Out Adidas’ Ultraboost 1.0 NC State Colorways!
Adidas has revealed their Ultraboost 1.0 NC State Colorways today!
— NC State Athletics (@PackAthletics) August 15, 2022
With early access, it looks like they will be available on August 29th.
NC State Ranked 13th in 2022 AP Preseason Poll
The 2022 AP Preseason Poll is out, and NC State ranks 13th headed into a season where the expectations are extremely high for the Wolfpack. This marks the first time the Wolfpack have been ranked in the AP Preseason Poll since 2003, and ties the highest preseason ranking in school history (1975).
- Ohio State
- Notes Dame
- Texas A&M
- Oklahoma State
- NC State
- Michigan State
- Ole Miss
- Wake Forest
The AP voter and the Coaches were in one accord, with the Wolfpack ranked 13th in the 2022 Preseason Coaches Poll.
This marks only the 7th time NC State has started the season in the AP Preseason Poll. Sadly, the last 4 times the Wolfpack were ranked in the AP Preseason Poll, they finished the season unranked.
2022: (Final: ?)
2003: 16th (Final: NR)
1993: 25th (Final: NR)
1989: 24th (Final: NR)
1975: 13th (Final: NR)
1974: 18th (Final: 11th)
1973: 17th (Final: 16th)
The Wolfpack have finished the season ranked in the AP Poll 14 times:
NC State spent 10 weeks in the AP Poll in 2021, which marks the most weeks the Wolfpack have been in the AP Poll in a single year since the 2002 season (16 weeks).
The Wolfpack finished the season ranked for the final 7 polls, now making it 8 straight with the Preseason Poll released, marking the longest streak since 2002, when NC State was ranked in 12 straight.
The highest the Wolfpack have ever been ranked in the AP Poll was 3rd in 1967, when NC State was 8-0 in Week 8.
NC State 2022 Record Watch: Defense
As we quickly approach the 2022 college football season, here’s a look at a few Wolfpack players that have the potential to move the ranks of the NC State record book, if they produce like they have in past seasons.
Junior Linebacker Drake Thomas currently has 11.5 career sacks. If he were to match last years total of 6, Thomas would finish the season with 17.5 sack, which would rank 9th all-time at NC State
1. Bradley Chubb 26
2. Mario Williams 25.5
3. Tyler Lawrence 24
4. Art Norman 23.5
5. Carl Reeves 22.5
6. Manny Lawson, 21
6. Mike Jones 21
8. Willie Young 20.5
9. Ray Agnew – 17
9. George Anderson – 17
Thomas also primed to finish in the top-10 in career tackles for loss. Currently, Thomas has 27 career tackles for loss. In 2021, he picked up 13.5 tackles for loss, making up almost half his career total. If Thomas were to match last years total of 13.5, he would finish with 40.5 career tackles for loss, which would rank 7th all-time. Super Senior Isaiah Moore has 28.5 tackles for loss, and he was on pace for 10 prior to injury in 2021. If he were to match that pace in 2022, Moore would finish with 38.5, which would rank 9th all-time.
Linebacker Isaiah Moore and Safety Tanner Ingle are taking full advantage of the extra year of eligibility that was granted to players due to Covid-19, playing their 5th year on the college football field this year.
Moore currently has 259 career tackles. Prior to injury in 2021, Moore was on pace to have 86 tackles in 2021. If he were to match that pace in 2022, he would finish this season with 345 career tackles, placing him in 9th place in school history.
Ingle currently has 228 career tackles, tallying 82 in 2021. If Ingle were to increase that number by 5 in 2022, he would finished tied for the 15th most tackles in NC State history.
As a disclaimer, none of the people above had the opportunity to play 5 years of college football on the field. If Moore and Ingle move into the record books at seasons end, there will be an asterisk beside their names.