No. 16 NC State hosts Texas Tech in matchup of 2-0 teams

No. 16 NC State hosts Texas Tech in matchup of 2-0 teams

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By The Associated Press

Texas Tech (2-0) at No. 16 North Carolina State (2-0), Saturday, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)

Line: N.C. State by 10 1/2, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

Series record: N.C. State leads 4-1.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

This is a nonconference power-conference matchup with the Wolfpack as one of the Atlantic Coast Conference favorites and the Red Raiders from the Big 12. N.C. State has won 11 straight home games since November 2020 and is facing a Texas Tech team that was picked to finish ninth in its 10-team league, but upset then-No. 25 Houston last week under new coach Joey McGuire.

KEY MATCHUP

N.C. State’s defense against Texas Tech’s offense. The Wolfpack returned 10 defensive starters from last year’s team, which ranked 14th in scoring defense (19.7). The experience in that unit will be tested against a Red Raiders team that has the country’s top passing attack (411.0 yards per game).

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Texas Tech: QB Donovan Smith. The third-year passer took over the starting job after a strong relief performance in the opener against Murray State after starter Tyler Shough went down with a shoulder injury. Smith threw for a career-best 350 yards and a pair of TDs to go with a rushing score in the Houston win.

N.C. State: LB Payton Wilson. Wilson was an all-ACC performer and one of the nation’s top tacklers in 2020, but he missed most of last season due to a shoulder injury. Then he exited the opener against East Carolina early with an upper-body injury and missed last week’s win against Charleston Southern, though coach Dave Doeren said Wilson should be ready to go this week.

FACTS & FIGURES

Texas Tech’s double-overtime win against Houston marked the program’s first against a ranked non-conference foe in the regular season since beating No. 20 Arizona to start the 1989 season. The Red Raiders had lost 13 straight of those games. … This is the first meeting in the series since N.C. State’s 49-21 win against Texas Tech in September 2003, back when Philip Rivers was in his final season as the Wolfpack’s quarterback before a long NFL career. … Preseason ACC player of the year Devin Leary accounted for six touchdowns to tie a Wolfpack single-game record in the Charleston Southern win. … N.C. State defensive back Tyler Baker-Williams has two interceptions and is one of just 24 players in the Bowl Subdivision ranks to have multiple picks so far this year.

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More AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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