Jackson has played just five quarters over the past two weeks but has made the majority. Their lone loss came against Clemson. Stopping (or even slowing) Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson will be a huge part of remaining in the rankings after this week.
The Cardinals have spent the past two games since that loss earning lopsided wins against Kent State and Murray State by a combined margin of 97-13. Louisville's pass defense isn't atrocious but ranks 44th in expected points added (EPA) per game. Defending their turf against a ranked opponent - and one with the defending Heisman Trophy victor at quarterback - would be a huge boost to the team's postseason prospects. He's completed 64.0 percent of his passes for 1,636 yards, 13 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.
We've got a fantastic game on Thursday night between two ACC Atlantic rivals. In four years as coach, Dave Doeren has yet to win more than three conference games in a season and suddenly, with his best team, there's a chance the Wolfpack could be in the mix for a division title.
The 4-1 Wolfpack, who returned to the AP Poll for the first time in seven years at No. 24 this week, host No. 17 Louisville on Thursday night. The Cardinals won at North Carolina in Week 2, which was their only other ACC contest in the first five weeks other than Clemson.
The Wolfpack are 4-1 for the second-straight season but are looking for redemption following year's last post-4-1 meltdown, which started with an overtime loss to Clemson and demolition at the hands of Louisville.
The Wolfpack have rebounded from an opening-week loss to SC to jump into the top 25, but they'll need a big victory in primetime to stay there. Does Louisville win a big game on the road or does North Carolina State win this one as a home underdog? The Cardinals have won all three matchups between the two programs since they joined the ACC in 2014.