1. NC State is constantly the ACC preseason darling. After this week's tough loss to Clemson, how are fans feeling about the progress of this team?
I think after some time to reflect on the season as a whole after a couple of really emotionally draining weeks, I think the fans are still feeling pretty good about how this season has gone. They only have one conference loss, and a double digit win total is still on the table if the Pack wins out and wins their bowl game. So, while a trip to the ACC Title game is likely out of the question now (we're literally at Lloyd Christmas "so you're telling me there's a chance levels" - Florida State ain't going to beat Clemson), this season can still be something special.
2. Ryan Finley has quietly become the best non-Lamar Jackson quarterback in the ACC, what makes him so lethal?
I've talked about this a lot this season, but Finley simply just doesn't make a lot of mistakes. He's the steady hand that guides the offense, and has done so pretty effectively this season. The last couple of weeks he has had some difficulty, but that's to be expected against the number three and number four teams in the country. He is completing over 65% of his passes on the season, and has thrown fifteen touchdowns to just three interceptions. Finley isn't a real flashy type of quarterback like say Baker Mayfield, but he's certainly attracting a lot of attention from NFL types with his tremendous ability to manage games effectively and keep the chains moving on offense.
3. Bradley Chubb rightly gets a lot of attention for the play of the NC State defense, talk a bit more about his supporting cast.
Chubb is the centerpiece of the defensive front, no doubt. But don't sleep on the rest of that defensive line. Kentavius Street, Darian Roseboro and others help key a lot of the success for Chubb, because you really can't double team anyone on the defensive front of the Wolfpack. Having a well balanced defensive line has allowed Chubb to have a season where he has 17.5 tackles for loss, 7.5 of those being sacks. They're all just incredibly strong and quick on the snap. The linebacking corps is a huge component for how successful the Wolfpack defense has been this year. Jerrod Fernandez and Airius Moore often find themselves in the middle of every play. It certainly shows for Fernandez, as he's leading the team in tackles this season with 73 total.
4. Finley has a solid arsenal of weapons, tell us a little about some of the playmakers on offense that we should watch out for
There are three players on offense that are crucial to the Wolfpack being successful. From the receiving side, every Boston College fan should keep an eye on Kelvin Harmon. Harmon is quietly having a breakout season, and has had some catches this season that have literally made my jaw drop. There's no doubt in my mind he will be a starter in the NFL in the near future. With three games left to play, he has 799 yards - a thousand yard season is certainly within reach for him.
In the backfield, you have to start with Nyheim Hines. Much like Harmon, he's enjoyed a bit of a breakout year, though he has struggled in the past two games, much of that due to the ankle injury he sustained during the Notre Dame game. If he is not 100%, it makes the Wolfpack offense far less dynamic. A win over BC will only happen if they're able to get Hines rolling again, in my mind.
Finally, there's the Wolfpack's jack of all trades, Jaylen Samuels. While he's listed as a tight end, Jaylen is a tight end in name only. He can lineup at any offensive position on the field and have tremendous success. This season he's really done it all - lined up in the backfield, been split out wide, run a lot of underneath routes; however, he's especially lethal when the Wolfpack gets into situations where it's second down and short. Because Samuels can really do it all, it's hard for opposing defenses to key in on him. He also has a bit of a fear factor to him because of this, and is used as a decoy from time to time (much to the chagrin of Wolfpack fans).
5. Prediction time, what have you got?
This is an incredibly important game for Dave Doeren. While emotions have been running high for the past couple of games, this is the type of game that his team needs to win to keep this season's momentum going. Since 2005, NC State has won in Chestnut Hill just once, that being two years ago in 2015. I think we'll see a team that's angry that they let another opportunity to beat Clemson slip away, and will channel that into a win against BC behind a strong performance by Finley and Kelvin Harmon. I like the Pack to win, 28-17.