After opening the season away from Carter-Finley Stadium for the first time since 2017, the NC State football team will be back in Raleigh this weekend to play host to Charleston Southern.

The Wolfpack survived a Week 1 scare against East Carolina by the skin of its teeth, winning 21-20 thanks to a pair of late missed kicks from the Pirates. NC State really didn’t play up to its expectations out of the gate, but a win is a win.

Now the level of competition declines steeply for the Pack, as NC State will look to focus on itself against a Football Championship Subdivision opponent. It will be an opportunity for the Wolfpack to fix some of its issues from the season opener, find a rhythm offensively and maybe even get some reserves in.

Here’s what to expect:

The Buccaneers

Not only is Charleston Southern an FCS team, it’s also not a particularly good one.

The Buccaneers went 4-6 in 2021 and were outscored 87-35 against 2 Football Bowl Subdivision opponents, though one of those was eventual national champion Georgia. In Week 1 of 2022, Charleston Southern gave up a 50-burger to Western Carolina in a 52-38 loss.

Offensively, Charleston Southern had to make a change at quarterback this offseason. Why? Because starter Jack Chambers – who threw for nearly 2,500 yards and ran for 477 more last year – now is at NC State.

The Buccaneers moved the ball through the air relatively well last Saturday, though. Quarterback Ross Malmgren threw for 392 yards and 5 touchdowns. On the ground the Buccaneers had 89 yards, with no individual going for more than 60.

The issue for Charleston Southern in Week 1 was its defense. The Buccaneers gave up 52 points to Western Carolina. The Catamounts threw for 433 yards and 6 touchdowns, while also running for 183 yards. Western Carolina scored on 8 of its 16 drives.

The thing Charleston Southern’s defense did do well was force turnovers, as the Buccaneers had 2 interceptions and 2 recovered fumbles.

The Wolfpack

This week is about one thing and one thing only for the Pack: self improvement.

NC State played very far from its expectations at ECU, as a Wolfpack team hoping to win an ACC title this year needed the best of luck to get past the Pirates.

But now the Wolfpack has the perfect opportunity to come home and regroup. The big spotlight for the Pack will be on the offense and Devin Leary. NC State scored just 2 touchdowns as an offense against ECU, as Leary completed just 52% of his passes on a mediocre day.

But now he will get to go against a Charleston Southern defense that allowed more than 400 passing yards a week earlier, and that’s exactly what the doctor ordered. The Pack will look to get Leary settled and also get more receivers than just Thayer Thomas involved in the passing game.

Demie Sumo-Karngbaye had a big breakout day at running back for the Pack in Week 1, and he’s is going to get an even heavier workload this weekend.

Defensively, NC State should hope to keep its course and stay healthy. Linebacker Payton Wilson left the ECU game early and is an unknown for the Charleston Southern game, though the Pack certainly doesn’t need him to play.

The prediction

In an FBS-vs.-FCS game the FCS team rarely wins, especially when the FBS squad is ranked and experienced like the Wolfpack.

With all due respect to the Buccaneers, this really shouldn’t be a game. The Pack should have every opportunity to fine tune things ahead of a Power 5 game against Texas Tech next week. NC State also might get the opportunity to get Chambers some action against his former team.

The line for this one opened at 44.5 for the Pack, and a blowout is coming.

NC State 53, Charleston Southern 7