NC State was a 33-yard field goal away from taking down No. 3 Clemson two weeks ago. The Wolfpack then went on the road and got trounced by a far superior Louisville team — now No. 5 in the AP Poll — by a final score of 54-13 … and it wasn’t even that close.Luckily for the Pack, it returns home this week to the friendly confines of Carter-Finley Stadium. Dave Doeren and Co. also face theoretically their easiest ACC opponent this season in Boston College. Then again, BC is hungry for a conference win after coming up short against Georgia Tech and Syracuse already this season.Saturday’s game should be a battle of attrition, with both teams possessing solid defenses — well, NC State did before the Louisville game. Before the opening kickoff on Saturday at noon, here’s a look at five things to watch between NC State and Boston College.Finley FlounderingThe days of touting Ryan Finley as one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the country are over. Earlier this season, the Boise State transfer led the country in completion percentage en route to a 3-1 start. Over his last three games, however, Finley’s best completion mark has been 51.6 against Louisville.While that isn’t the only reason for NC State going 1-2 during that span, it’s played a huge part. After not throwing an interception through the first five games of the season, he’s now thrown four over the last two games compared to just two touchdowns — both of which were after being down 44-0 against the Cardinals.It doesn’t get much easier this week against Boston College’s pass defense, which ranks behind only Clemson and Louisville in the ACC. He may be facing the gauntlet when it comes to pass defenses in the conference, but Finley is failing the Power Five test to this point in the season.Boston College is badBreaking news! This Boston College team isn’t any good. Like, at all. Even for those who think BC has just had bad luck against strong ACC teams, the only reason the Eagles have three wins is due to weak competition. UMass, Wagner and Buffalo aren’t exactly top-tier programs.Sure, it’s great to point out that the Eagles ranks No. 1 in total defense and No. 7 in the country in that same category. Pssssst … Look at their defense in the conference. Yeah, they drop from first to 12th with a staggering 438.5 yards allowed per game.Then again, NC State ranks 13th in that same category with 466.7 yards allowed per game in ACC play. Let’s just say Louisville didn’t help that number.What separates them? NC State actually has a competent offense with 391.3 yards per game in the conference. Boston College ranks last in that category with 245.5 yards per game. Expect both defenses to play well on Saturday, but the Wolfpack’s offense will ultimately decide this matchup.Wright racking up forced fumblesWhile some players are taking exception to Dravious Wright’s hard-hitting style (ahem, Wayne Gallman), the nickel back is ranked inside the top 10 this season in forced fumbles.With three already through the first seven games, Wright leads the team in the category and ranks fourth in the ACC and 10th nationally. Along with Wright, both Shawn Boone and B.J. Hill have a pair of forced fumbles, none of which knocked Clemson’s leading running back out of a game.Harmon finding a home in the end zoneFreshman receiver Kelvin Harmon has just 12 catches this season, but three of them have resulted in touchdowns. That’s a clip of one touchdown per every four touches. Seems like he should be targeted more, right?Jaylen Samuels, the team’s leader in receiving touchdowns, has four thus far. He’s also rushed for three more scores and has a TD per every 7.4 touches on the year, which is up from his clip of 7.6 touches last season.After lighting it up all offseason during scrimmages, Harmon hasn’t been relied upon heavily to this point. With the offensive struggles at Louisville and a solid Boston College secondary on the other side, look for Harmon to make his impact felt yet again in the red zone with attention paid to Samuels and Matt Dayes.Quarterback assassinAt the start of the season, Bradley Chubb tallied zero sacks through the first three games. After making a number change during the offseason to wear No. 9, Mario Williams’ old number, it was a far cry from what the junior defensive captain expected this season.Since the bye, let’s just say he’s turned the corner.Over that four-game span, Chubb already has more sacks this year (6.0) than he did his first two seasons (5.5). He’ll have a tough task against the BC offensive line, which ranks 18th in the nation with just 1.14 sacks allowed per game. But with Chubb on the other side, it’s been hard to contain him recently.
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With Major League Baseball spring training opening across Florida and Arizona, the North State Journal is continuing its look at the state of North Carolina’s contribution to MLB.Last week, we looked at home grown players […]