NC State, Wake on opposite ends of the one-score spectrum


We’ve discussed in this space before just how important outcomes in one-possession games can be for a team. Every school in the ACC has now played nine games; each team has participated in at least two one-possessions games (final results within eight or fewer points). As you can see from the results below, teams with winning records normally find success, even with a slim margin of error.

Atlantic Division

TeamRecordOne-Possession Record
Wake Forest6-33-1
Florida State6-32-2
NC State4-51-4
Boston College4-51-2

Coastal Division

TeamRecordOne-Possession Record
Virginia Tech7-22-0
North Carolina7-23-0
Georgia Tech5-42-1

Year 4 for Dave Doeren at NC State has been all about missed opportunities, and that’s exactly what’s drawn out here. Four of the Wolfpack’s five losses have been of the one-score variety, including heartbreakers in recent weeks over Clemson and Florida State.

Since Doeren arrived in Raleigh, NCSU has competed in 12 one-score games, losing seven of them. The Pack went 3-0 in one-possession games in 2014, which was easily the best season of Doeren’s tenure.

Wake Forest is headed back to a bowl game for the first time since the 2011 season and could post its first winning record since 2008. The Deacons have already won six games, and three of those victories have been by seven or fewer points.

The Demon Deacons score 21.3 points per game on offense, which is 13th in the ACC, but their defense, which allows 18.4 points per game (No. 2 in the ACC) is tight in the red zone. They’re also No. 1 in the conference in turnover margin (+8).

It’s stuff like this that makes a major difference in close game.

For historical context: In 2006 — the greatest season in Wake Forest program history — the Demon Deacons went 11-3, won the ACC and made it to the Orange Bowl. They also went a perfect 5-0 in games decided by one score.

It’s obvious that these results are influential. They can be the difference between a winning or losing season, bowl or no bowl, and employment or time to update the resume.

That said, there are a couple interesting trend-buckers, too. Only two ACC teams — Miami and Pittsburgh — have winning records for the season and losing records in games decided by eight or fewer points. On the flip side, one team — Syracuse — has a winning record in one-possession games (2-0) but a losing overall record (4-5).

As a division, the Atlantic has been much better in one-score games: 15-9 (62.5 percent). This is heavily influenced by Clemson’s 5-0 record in one-possession affairs. Meanwhile, the Coastal is 34-29 (54 percent) overall and 11-12 (47.8 percent) in one-score games.