Photo Credits: SeatGeek
This Thanksgiving NC State fans will again be immersed in the annual tradition of rivalry banter, anticipating the clash with in-state rivals the UNC Tar Heels. The stage is set for another classic showdown between the two storied programs this Saturday.
Despite early-season challenges and multiple quarterback changes, the Wolfpack have found their rhythm at the right time. With standout QB MJ Morris opting to redshirt for the rest of the season, graduate transfer Brennan Armstrong will again take the reins.
Conversely, the Tar Heels started the season strong with six consecutive wins, climbing to #10 nationally. However, losses against Virginia and Georgia Tech, followed by a loss to Clemson, dashed all ACC championship aspirations. Highly touted NFL prospect Drake Maye has yet to look like himself as of late and needs to return to old form as the Tar Heels face a challenging end to the season.
Both teams, boasting 8-3 records, are on divergent paths heading into Saturday’s matchup. The Wolfpack aim to capitalize on their momentum, fueled by an electric Carter Finley crowd.
Every time the Wolfpack lace it up against the Tar Heels, there is more at stake than simply a tally in the win or loss column. The players and fans are competing for ultimate bragging rights. Recent matchups have been nail-biters, with the Wolfpack winning the last two meetings by a combined seven points. This includes a thrilling double OT victory at Chapel Hill last year.
What to watch for on Saturday
For the Wolfpack to find success, they must effectively halt UNC’s running game – especially the explosive Omarion Hampton. While Hampton leads the rushing charge, containing quarterback Drake Maye’s mobility is equally crucial. The Wolfpack defense aims to limit UNC’s time of possession and excel in third-down situations.
NC State’s strategy remains grounded in its successful ground-and-pound approach. The UNC defense, vulnerable against the run, will have trouble preventing a solid performance from Michael Allen and Kendrick Raphael. These running backs will create favorable down-and-distance scenarios for the Wolfpack offense.
As players and fans gear up for this highly anticipated matchup, both teams have much at stake – including their battles for respective bowl games. Carter-Finley promises to be a packed house, hosting another classic rivalry showdown at 8pm on Saturday.