NC Football Previews: Wolfpack, Seminoles jockey for position; ECU, UNCC pursue first win

NC State-FSU matchup might be do-or-die for Atlantic Division rivals

NC State coach Dave Doeren congratulates his players after a touchdown Saturday against Furman at Carter-Finley Stadium. (Rob Kinnan / USA TODAY Sports)

NC State at Florida State
Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, Fla.  |  Saturday, noon  |  ESPN2/ABC

Preview: The Noles and Pack will be battling to emerge as the top challenger to Clemson in the ACC Atlantic Division, after Louisville lost to the Tigers last week.

Players to watch: James Blackman will become the first true freshman to start at QB for FSU since 1985. NC State defensive lineman Darian Roseboro had a big day against Furman, leading the team with nine tackles, including two tackles for loss and a sack.

Fast fact: With cancellations and reschedulings due to Hurricane Irma, this will be FSU’s first game since Sept. 2. This is the Seminoles’ longest gap between regular season games since 1983. It’sFlorida State’s latest home opener since Sept. 24, 1977, and the latest in the year they’ve waited for their first win since the 1976 team lost its first three before winning on Oct. 2.   

What to expect: In their first test of the season, the Pack lost to South Carolina. A win over FSU in its second test would help wash away that disappointment. 

— Shawn Krest

East Carolina at UConn
Pratt & Whitney Stadium, East Hartford, Conn.  |  Sunday, noon  |  ESPNU

Preview: This game was originally scheduled for Nov. 4, but was moved to help the AAC make up games postponed by Hurricane Irma. The change could be advantageous for the 0-3 Pirates, since UConn (1-1) was picked to finish last in the AAC East. It’s being played on Sunday because of stadium availability.

Players to watch: Senior Bryant Shirreffs, who began his career as the Wildcat QB at NC State, is in his third season as the Huskies’ starter. He is completing 69 percent of his passes this season. ECU WR Trevon Brown has touchdown catches of 95 and 76 yards in the last two games.

Fast fact: The Pirates are 4-0 in games played on Sundays, with wins against Tulsa in 2009 and 2010, UCF in 2008 and Boise State in the 2007 Hawaii Bowl.

What to expect: Despite its dismal performance in its first three games, ECU has a realistic shot at starting conference play with a win against equally flawed UConn.

— Brett Friedlander

Charlotte vs. Georgia State
Jerry Richardson Stadium, Charlotte  |  Saturday, 6 p.m.  |

Preview: The 49ers (0-3) are still looking for their first win this season after a loss to NC A&T in their home opener last week. Georgia State, which began playing football three years earlier than Charlotte in 2010, is also winless at 0-2.

Players to watch: WR Workpeh Kofa caught six passes for 110 yards and a touchdown for the 49ers last week against A&T. Panthers RB Taz Bateman rushed for 100 yards on a school-record 29 carries in last week’s loss at Penn State. He ranks second in the Sun Belt Conference in all-purpose yardage.

Fast fact: Georgia State’s first-year coach Shawn Elliott was an assistant at Appalachian State during the Mountaineers’ run of three straight FCS national championships from 2005-07.

What to expect: This figures to be a high-scoring game between two defensively challenged teams. Charlotte is allowing 38 points per game while Georgia State has been burned for 36.5 in its two losses.

— Brett Friedlander