This lays out pretty simply.
South Carolina’s offense is the stronger side of the ball with Jake Bentley and a mess of playmakers. N.C. State’s defense has a monstrous line and strong set of linebackers.
On the other side, USC’s defense is a work in progress while N.C. State’s offense has a competent and solid passing game and a running game looking to replace a bell cow back.
N.C. State has a good chance to be able to take some kind of advantage of the Gamecocks’ defense, and everything the new players can provide will be key.
So it will likely fall to the South Carolina offense to score enough to make a solid defensive performance hold up.
To do that, USC tackles Malik Young and Zack Bailey, both in new spots, need to give Bentley some time. If he gets it, the N.C. State secondary is very green, especially with starting cornerback Mike Stevens out, and USC could go for 35-plus points.
At the moment, it’s a nasty defensive front against a Gamecocks line needing a big step forward. With that in mind, there’s a good chance USC’s attack is a little boom and bust, which might not be enough.
Prediction: N.C. State 33, South Carolina 28