KICKOFF: 7:30 p.m.
TV: ACC Regional Sports Network (NESN+, YES), WatchESPN
ANNOUNCERS: Evan Lepler (play-by-play), James Bates (color analyst), Lauren Jbara (sideline)
RADIO: UConn IMG Radio Network; Varsity Network App; 97.9 ESPN Hartford, WINE 940 AM, WGCH 1490 AM, WICC 600 AM, WAVZ 1300 AM, WATR 1320 AM WILI 1400 AM and 95.3 FM
ANNOUNCERS: Mike Crispino (play-by-play), Wayne Norman (color analyst), Adam Giardino (sideline)
RECORDS: UConn (1-3), NC State (3-0)
LAST WEEK: UConn was walloped by Michigan, 59-0; NC State beat Texas Tech, 27-14
POINT SPREAD: NC State -38
OVER/UNDER: 49.5 (odds via DraftKings)
SERIES HISTORY: The UConn Huskies and NC State Wolfpack have met two previous times on the gridiron. The Wolfpack hold a 2-0 record.
PREGAME PRESS CONFERENCE(S): NC State head coach Dave Doeren; UConn head coach Jim Mora
WEATHER FORECAST: Raleigh, NC
Fun With Numbers
1,065: Number of days between FBS wins for UConn (as of game day). It is also the number of days since its last FBS road win
2,199: Number of days elapsed (as of game day) since UConn has beaten a Power 5 school
405: Rushing yards by Nathan Carter, which is good for sixth in FBS
49: Tackles by Jackson Mitchell, which leads the country
68.7: Rushing yards allowed per game by NC State this season, which is eighth-best in FBS
12: Consecutive games won by NC State at Carter-Finley Stadium
3: Number of times NC State’s opponents have been in the red zone this season
6: How many times UConn has played back-to-back ranked opponents
What to watch for
Into the teeth
UConn’s game against NC State marks the beginning of the end of the Huskies’ brutal mid-season stretch, which finishes Oct. 2 against Fresno State. The Wolfpack might not have the top-end talent level that Michigan possesses, but they have a solid offense and a salty and extremely experienced defense. The defensive backfield, a strength for NC State, is led by sophomore Aydan White, who had a breakout performance against Texas Tech in Week 2 with a pair of interceptions, a sack and a tackle for loss, earning him national Defensive Player of the Week honors from the Walter Camp Football Foundation.
The offense is led by Devin Leary, a solid and experienced quarterback who won’t lose the Wolfpack the game. He’s had a slow start to the year, but there’s no better antidote to a struggling passing game than a defensive backfield that’s struggling even more, and the Huskies have allowed over 270 yards passing in each of their three games against FBS opponents this season.
The prodigal son (might) return
UConn could receive some help at the quarterback position this week, with the addition of Brayden Zermeno, a former preferred walk-on at Arizona. The bigger news, however, is the move was apparently made as a result of Tyler Phommachanh’s upgrade to “available,” according to head coach Jim Mora. Zermeno will practice with the scout team, freeing up Cale Millen and Phommachanh to take more reps with the offense.
If this is indeed an improvement in status, hopefully Phommachanh will get some game reps at least in garbage time for some live action, if not share snaps with Zion Turner, who (understandably) looked out of his depth against one of the top defenses in the country last week.
Improvement in the trenches
Out of the few positives — or rather, not massive negatives — UConn can take from their drubbing at the hands of Michigan, most of them lie on the offensive and defensive line. Despite being outmatched up front both physically and in terms of talent, UConn’s offensive line was able to generate some movement up front against a stout defensive line, generating 86 of their 110 total yards on the ground.
It was a similar story on the defensive side of the ball: Brandon Bouyer-Randle continued to get his legs under him as a UConn player, causing problems for Michigan in the backfield, albeit on an inconsistent basis. Bouyer has been most effective on blitzes, especially when paired with pressure from the defensive backfield. If UConn wants to make Leary uncomfortable, Bouyer-Randle and Co. getting after the quarterback will be essential.
More like the unremarkable teams unit
A team as talented as Michigan needed no help against UConn on Saturday, but the Huskies were nice enough to give the Wolverines a leg up even when they didn’t have the ball. UConn special teams spotted Michigan 14 points on special teams, including a punt return for a touchdown and a blocked punt that gave the home side the ball deep in UConn territory. It’s an easy enough facet of the game to overlook, but UConn will have an even tougher time against quality opponents like NC State if the Huskies continue to make mistakes on special teams.