ESPN.com’s recently released Football Power Index (FPI) for 2021 is a measure of team strength that is said to be the best predictor of a team’s performance in the future. With that, the index gives North Carolina state football a percentage chance of beating each team on their schedule.
The metric predicts the Wolfpack will be the nation’s No. 41 team. It also gives the Pack a rating of 5.6, which is the “expected point margin over an average opponent on neutral ground.”
REIT predicts NC State set to play nation’s 48th toughest schedule, expert says Phil Steele, to win 6.5 games and drop 5.5 contests.
The index gives the Pack a 0.0 percent chance of going 12-0, a 0.9 percent chance of winning the ACC Atlantic Division, and a 0.3 percent chance of winning the. ACC championship game. It also gives the Wolfpack a 76.8% chance of winning at least six games to become bowl eligible.
Here are the metric predictions for the outcome of each match:
September 2 vs. South Florida – 85.5% chance of winning
Opponent’s FPI Rank: 95th
Total opponent’s projected gains: 4.2
South Florida entering second year under the direction of head coach Jeff Scott, formerly offensive co-coordinator and wide receivers coach at Clemson. The first year was a rebuilding year for the Bulls. The program went from 1 to 8 overall and finished in last place in the American Athletic Conference in 2020.
September 11 at Mississippi State – 33.6% chance of winning
Opponent’s FPI Rank: 24
Total opponent’s projected gains: 6.8
For the first two weeks of the season, the Wolfpack will face two teams entering the second year under the guidance of a new head coach. Much like South Florida, so is the state of Mississippi, which is entering second year under the direction of the head coach. Mike leach and its anti-aircraft system.
The Bulldogs were 4-7 overall and tied for last in the SEC West Division in 2020, but FPI gives the 2-1 Pack a chance to come out of Starkville with a win.
Sep 18 vs. Furman – 96.3% chance of winning
Opponent’s FPI Rank: N / A
Total opponent’s projected gains: N / A
NC State’s only FCS opponent on the schedule is also the one the REIT predicts has the best chance of winning. Furman did not receive an FPI rating as it is not an FBS team. The Paladins played their 2020 seven-game season this spring, so their clash with the Wolfpack in Week 3 will mark their 10th contest of the year.
September 25 vs. Clemson – 9.7% chance of winning
Opponent’s FPI Rank: 2nd
Total opponent’s projected gains: 12.0
NC State’s toughest game of 2021, according to the REIT, will be in Week 4 at home against Clemson, who is ranked second in the country by metric. The Wolfpack will draw the Tigers early, and the game will mark the first real road conference test for the pre-season ACC favorites. Clemson has won 15 of the last 16 Textile Bowl games.
October 2 vs. Louisiana Tech – 90.5% chance of winning
Opponent’s FPI Rank: 110th
Total opponent’s projected gains: 5.5
The Bulldogs are the lowest ranked of the 11 FBS opponents in the Pack this fall according to ESPN’s FPI. Going forward, the metric gives NC State a greater than 90% chance of winning in Week 5, which is the best chance of any FBS clash this fall.
October 16 at Boston College – 45.9% chance of winning
Opponent’s FPI Rank: 50th
Total opponent’s projected gains: 7.1
Boston College will mark the second road clash of the season for the Pack, and also the third in which it is expected to lose according to the REIT. NC State was selected to finish second in the ACC Atlantic division in the league’s expected preseason order of arrival, and the Eagles were scheduled to finish third. Regardless of the outcome of the Wolfpack Conference opener against Clemson, this game at Chestnut Hill will have major implications for the ACC Atlantic Division standings when all is said and done.
October 23 in Miami – 17.7% chance of winning
Opponent’s FPI Rank: 10th
Total opponent’s projected gains: 8.9
After an exciting 44-41 game in which the Hurricanes won in Raleigh in 2020, NC State will travel to Hard Rock Stadium this fall for a rematch. Miami was selected to finish second in the ACC Coastal Division in the league’s expected preseason order of arrival. The Hurricanes are one of two FPI top 10 ranked opponents for the Pack entering the season, and this game is considered the Wolfpack’s second toughest competition by metric.
October 30 vs. Louisville – 59.4% chance of winning
Opponent’s FPI Rank: 43rd
Total opponent’s projected gains: 6.6
This match shows the weight of having an advantage on the field according to the REIT. The Cardinals are ranked 43rd nationally according to the FPI, just two places behind the Wolfpack. The metric predicts Louisville will win 6.6 games while the Pack are expected to claim 6.5.
Still, NC State has a more than 59% chance of winning their second leg against the Cards. The fact that the game is taking place at Carter-Finley Stadium probably provides an oscillation of around nine percentage points. In other words, the REIT sees this as a big blow.
Nov 6 at Florida State – 42.4% chance of winning
Opponent’s FPI Rank: 44th
Total opponent’s projected gains: 5.9
After a 3 to 6 campaign the first year under the direction of the head coach Mike NorvellFlorida state will be looking to revert to the program’s normal winning methods in 2021. As fall approaches, many college football experts are unsure of what to do with the Seminoles. The roster has the talent to win eight games, but the schedule has gone from 13 to 20 in the past three seasons. Florida State is ranked three places behind NC State according to the REIT, but the metric gives the Seminoles the edge with home court advantage.
November 13 at Wake Forest – 51.0% chance of winning
Opponent’s FPI Rank: 56th
Total opponent’s projected gains: 6.4
The Demon Deacons are ranked 15 spots behind the Wolfpack according to the REIT, but they are in the same stadium with a predicted 6.4 wins this fall. This ACC rivalry in the state has gone back and forth under the head coaches Dave doeren (NC State) and Dave clawson (Wake), with the home team traditionally leading the way. NC State is a small favorite to take care of the business of Truist Field, but only has a 51% chance of winning.
November 20 vs. Syracuse – 87.0% chance of winning
Opponent’s FPI Rank: 96th
Total opponent’s projected gains: 3.5
Expectations in 2021 are low for Syracuse after a 1-10 season last year. The Orange was chosen to finish in last place in the ACC Atlantic Division in the expected conference order of arrival for the preseason. The Wolfpack narrowly avoided what would have been a big upheaval in the Carrier Dome last November, claiming a 36-29 victory. Now the Orange will have to return to Raleigh for the penultimate game of the season.
According to the REIT, NC State has a better chance of beating Syracuse than any other ACC opponent this season.
Nov 26 vs. North Carolina – 36.2% chance of winning
Opponent’s FPI Rank: 14th
Total opponent’s projected gains: 8.6
Of the Pack’s four opponents ranked in the Pre-Season REIT Top 25, NC State has the best chance of defeating rival UNC in the regular season finale by metric. The Tar Heels have won the last two games, so the Wolfpack will be thirsty for revenge at Carter-Finley Stadium regardless of the results of the first 11 games. Tar Heels present ACC Preseason Player of the Year and Heisman Trophy Contender Sam howell at quarterback, and Carolina was to win the CCA Coastal Division in the league’s expected preseason order of arrival. Once again, UNC will be difficult.
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