As I was putting together my ACC Atlantic Division prediction, I got to NC State and for the first time in a number of years I was really paying attention to the Wolfpack. As recently as the middle of last year, I thought Tom O’Brien was going to be at best on the hotseat entering 2013 and at worst fired. The Wolfpack were 2-3 and coming off a 45-35 home loss to Georgia Tech that wasn’t nearly as close as the score indicated. From 2007-2009 the Wolpack won 5, 6, and 5 games with 1 bowl game. Sure 2010 was 9 win season, but I figured that was due to the brilliance of QB Russell Wilson.
Something happened on the way to O’Brien getting on the hotseat last year. They went on to win 6 of their last 8 games, including victories over Clemson, and a decent Louisville team, and for the 5th year in a row a win over North Carolina. 5 wins in 5 years over your most fierce rival certainly helps with Wolfpack fans. The second half of last season has renewed optimism in Raleigh that Tom O’Brien may have figured this thing out.
He returns 3000 passer Mike Glennon, who is one of the best QB’s in the ACC. The offensive line has experience and should be pretty good. All-America CB David Amerson leads the defense. As I’ve said before, if I had to pick a darkorse in the ACC it would be NC State. There’s a little game Friday night that can really make a statement that the NC State program is moving forward. The Wolfpack open the season with Tennessee Friday night.
This game hasn’t nearly really received the attention it deserves. Both teams Tennessee and NC State are looking to build some early season momentum. The Volunteers aren’t the team they once were. This used to be one of the country’s elite programs. Now they are a middle of the road SEC team with coach in Derek Dooley who’s on the hotseat and they just suspend their best receiver Da’Rick Rogers. It is not a vintage Tennessee team, but that doesn’t mean a NC State win won’t open some eyes.
The Wolfpack are a program that’s been under the radar since QB Phillip Rivers moved on, but there’s potential there. The Wolfpack were 4th in the ACC in attendance despite the slow start, so the fanbase is ready for a winner. There have been 17 wins the last two years and 2 consecutive bowl wins. In the ACC, only Florida State has back to back bowl wins the last 2 years like NC State. That’s a winnable Friday night game against Tennessee that can really set the Wolfpack up for a solid season.