The South Florida Bulls will visit the North Carolina State Wolfpack on Thursday September 2nd in the opening game of the 2021 college football season for both teams. Last season South Florida was 1-8 overall and 0-7 in the AAC. Jordan McCloud is a transfer quarterback from Arizona but will be pushed by Cade Fortin who transferred from North Carolina. four of last season's top five receivers are back, led by Bryce Miller, who last season had 33 receptions. At running back Kelley Joiner rushed for 368 yards last season while Brian Battie will see plenty of action.
The South Florida defense gave up 40 points and 441 yards per game last season and put very little pressure on the opposing quarterback. The strength of the defense will be its linebacker corps left by Dwayne Boyles and Antonio Grier who last season combined for 103 tackles. The front four will be led by Calvin Pinkney at nose guard and Thad Mangum at one tackle but the weakness is at defensive end. The secondary gave up too many big plays last season and will be led this year by Daquan Evans after three members of the secondary left via the transfer portal.
North Carolina State was 8-4 last season and exceeded the expectations of everyone after going 4-8 in 2019. Devin Leary played only three games last season before a broken leg and this year is expected to start at quarterback. Wide receiver Emeka Emezie caught 47 passes for 738 yards last season and returns for a senior year to play alongside Thayer Thomas, who scored eight touchdowns last season. Bam Knight, who rushed for 788 yards last season and Ricky Pearson Jr, who rushed for 643 yards last season are both back.
The North Carolina State defense lacked consistency last year but has plenty of experience returning. Linebacker Payton Wilson had 108 tackles last season for North Carolina State, which led the ACC. Wilson will be joined by eight other starters from last season. The Wolfpack defense ranked in the top 15 in sacks and was in the top 30 in interceptions, but gave up too much on the ground allowing 314 yards rushing to Virginia Tech, 326 yards to North Carolina and 288 to Kentucky.