Go 'Over' As NC State Visits East Carolina In Likely Shootout

NC State Wolfpack Take The Field

Friday, September 9, 2016 2:49 PM GMT

It's only Week 2 of the new college football season, but I can make an argument that NC State better win Saturday's game at East Carolina if they want to play in a bowl game. Here's your free College Football pick.

Finley Shines In Wolfpack Debut
NC State coach Dave Doeren entered this season on a bit of a hot seat after ECU slipped to 7-6 last year. The Wolfpack are 19-20 under Doeren, a former Northern Illinois coach, following last week's 48-14 victory over FCS school William & Mary. The Wolfpack had to replace their excellent starting QB from last year, Jacoby Brissett, who is now with the Patriots

Ryan Finley a graduate transfer from Boise State, started the opener, winning a battle against Jalen McClendon. A reason Finley decided to transfer to NC State was that new quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator Eliah Drinkwitz held the same positions as Boise State last year. Finley started the Broncos' first three games in 2015 before suffering a season-ending injury.

Finley looked sharp against William & Mary, completing 17-for-21 for 174 yards and two touchdowns. The Wolfpack had 521 yards offense and 28 first downs. McClendon did play and was 6-for-9 for 88 yards with an interception and added six carries for 5 yards. Matthew Dayes rushed 23 times for 138 yards and two scores. Jaylen Samuels rushed for two scores and caught one. The Wolfpack scored touchdowns on four of their first five possessions.

William & Mary, meanwhile, had only 168 yards of offense. If you throw out William & Mary's two scoring drives, it was held to 38 yards on 32 plays in the other 10 drives. The Wolfpack gave up just two first downs on those other 10 drives, both by defensive penalty. NC State lost only three defensive starters off the 2015 team.

Finley, to no surprise, already has been named the starter for this week. So why do I think this game could be crucial for NC State's bowl hopes? They play another weakling next week in Old Dominion and then should also beat visiting Wake Forest on Oct. 1. But after that, there's only one guaranteed win left: Oct. 29 vs. Boston College. The Wolfpack face five teams currently ranked: Oct. 8 vs. No. 18 Notre Dame, Oct. 15 at No. 2 Clemson, Oct. 22 at No. 13 Louisville, Nov. 5 vs. No. 3 Florida State and Nov. 19 vs. No. 25 Miami. Plus there are trips to Syracuse and North Carolina.

NC State is 1-0 ATS on college football odds and 0-0-1 O/U.

Shop For Live Odds On NC State vs East Carolina

Montgomery's Debut A Success For Pirates
East Carolina is an American Athletic Conference team that slipped to 5-7 last year, but it was a moderate surprise that the school fired Coach Ruffin McNeill. He played for East Carolina under Pat Dye in the late 1970s, and was 42-34 at his alma mater with one bowl victory. He took the Pirates to three straight bowls from 2012 to 2014.

Shortly after dumping McNeill, the school replaced him with Duke offensive coordinator Scottie Montgomery. Duke averaged 32 points in Montgomery's first season as a coordinator and 30.5 points last season. This is his first head coaching gig.

The Pirates won his debut 52-7 over West Carolina. Quarterback Philip Nelson threw for 398 yards and five touchdowns while also rushing for a score in his East Carolina debut. Nelson hadn't played in a game since the 2013 Texas Bowl with the University of Minnesota. Nelson sat out last season for ECU after being expelled from Rutgers in 2014. Anthony Scott rushed 11 times for 120 yards and a touchdown. Zay Jones caught 10 balls for 180 yards and a score, and Scott added nine catches for 90 yards and two TDs. ECU's 688 total yards of offense were the school's most since a 70-41 win over North Carolina in September 2014. ECU's 52 points tied the most in a season opener.

East Carolina was hoping to join the Big 12 but was told that wasn't happening recently. Perhaps the school should apply to the ACC considering it has won five straight against the conference. Last year, ECU beat Virginia Tech 35-28.

East Carolina is 1-0 ATS on college football picks and 1-0 O/U.

Series History
NC State leads 16-12 but East Carolina has won the past two meetings and seven of the past 11. The most recent meeting was on Nov. 23, 2013 in Raleigh and ECU won 42-28 behind three TD passes and two rushing scores from Shane Carden, probably the best quarterback in East Carolina history. ECU led 35-7 entering the fourth quarter so it was hardly a fluke.

I Absolutely love the 'over.' Take NC State. The Wolfpack are 10-1 ATS in their past 11 September games. ECU is 1-4 ATS in its past five after a win of at least 20 points. The 'over' is 4-0 in ECU's past four non-conference games and 4-1 in its past five vs. the ACC.

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College Football Free Picks: Over 57 (-105) & NC State -5.5 (-105)
Best Line Offered: at Heritage

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