Despite the NC State Wolfpack’s tendency to disappoint in recent seasons, Saturday’s win over Marshall is evidence that NC State is a top contender for the ACC’s number two spot. The team has worked as a cohesive unit to keep their undefeated record intact; both offense and defense have performed exactly when they were needed. This is critical for State, as last year’s untapped potential could often be traced back to an offense that failed to capitalize or a defense that couldn’t finish. The Wolfpack’s newfound balance, coupled with the ACC’s abysmal performance during Week 4, is enough reason to believe that this is the year NC State can finally do it: finish second in the conference.

Saturday’s win over Marshall showed a Wolfpack that capitalized on all of its established offensive strengths. Senior quarterback Ryan Finley threw for 377 yards and a touchdown, running back Reggie Gallaspy II ran for 88 yard and two touchdowns, and even State’s kicker showed promise on special teams. After the heartbreak that was the 2016 season, the Wolfpack brought aboard Christopher Dunn, who went three-for-three on Saturday, including a 32-yarder. Jarius Morehead’s 57-yard pick six, along with an already exceptional defensive showing, was enough to put the Pack 17 points ahead of Marshall for a cool 37-20 victory. While impressive individual performances for NC State players is nothing new, the cohesion of the play on Saturday is enough to spark hope that this year’s early season excitement isn’t (once again) delusional.

Despite NC State’s solid performance, ACC teams had little to brag about as the weekend ended. Louisville was steamrolled by Virginia, Wake Forest’s powerhouse offense was dismantled by Notre Dame, and Virginia Tech was overcome by ODU (who the Pack beat in week one). Even the weather seems to be eager to see the Wolfpack succeed, as Hurricane Florence ruined the planned game with West Virginia, who would have undoubtedly posed the biggest threat to the team this season.

As an NC State student and fan, I am skeptical to predict a storybook season for the Pack. That being said, everything right now seems to be working in the team’s favor, and I can’t help but feel a sliver of legitimate optimism as NC State moves into Week 5.

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