Oct 16, 2021; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack quarterback Devin Leary (13) passes the ball during the first half against the Boston College Eagles at Alumni Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

No. 18 NC State eyes revenge against struggling Miami

Maybe this time it will be different for North Carolina State.

The 18th-ranked Wolfpack (5-1, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), winners of four consecutive games, will visit the Miami Hurricanes on Saturday night.

NC State has lost the past three meetings, including a 44-41 defeat in Raleigh last year. Miami trailed by 10 points early in the fourth quarter of that contest.

The Hurricanes (2-4, 0-2) are struggling badly this season. Miami’s defense has more holes than Pebble Beach, and the offense is without star quarterback D’Eriq King, who is sidelined for the year due to a shoulder injury.

Miami has lost six straight games against Power 5 opponents, but NC State is just a 3-point favorite.

“I can’t control the lack of respect we seem to get,” Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren said. “Our team recognizes that people don’t think we’re good.”

Wolfpack quarterback Devin Leary is completing 67.3 percent of his passes and has thrown for 15 touchdowns while getting intercepted just twice.

NC State’s 1-2 running back punch of Zonovan Knight and Ricky Person Jr. has scored eight total touchdowns. Knight leads the team with 503 rushing yards and a 6.1 average.

Miami’s defense, which has had trouble stopping the run, does not match up well with NC State’s big and physical wide receivers, either, including 6-foot-3, 215-pounders Devin Carter and Emeka Emezie. Thayer Thomas, who is 6 feet and 195 pounds, is also a tough out.

Emezie leads the Wolfpack in receptions (34) and yards (377). Carter is second on the team in yards per catch (17.2), and Thomas leads in TD receptions (four).

Meanwhile, with King out, Miami has turned to second-year freshman quarterback Tyler Van Dyke.

He is 0-2 as a starter against FBS opponents, but he was close to winning both games. Andres Borregales missed a 33-yard field goal on the final play of a loss to Virginia. Then, last week at North Carolina, Miami was in position for a game-tying, chip-shot field goal or a possible winning TD when Van Dyke’s pass was deflected and intercepted. The result was a 45-42 loss.

“Tyler can rip the ball,” Miami coach Manny Diaz said. “What he’s learned these past two weeks is that he can do it.”

In his two ACC games, Van Dyke has completed 35 of 74 passes for 467 yards, with two TDs and three interceptions. He also has rushed for 42 yards.

Besides Van Dyke, Miami’s offense is led by running back Jaylan Knighton and wide receiver Charleston Rambo.

Cam’Ron Harris tops Miami in rushing (409 yards, 5.8 average), but he sustained a season-ending leg injury against the Tar Heels. The faster Knighton stepped in and had 165 scrimmage yards.

Rambo leads Miami in receptions (35) and yards (422).

Diaz also announced that wide receivers Dee Wiggins (62 career catches, including 31 last year) and Mark Pope (52 career catches, including 33 last year) have left the team. Both players struggled with drops and combined for just four catches this year as younger receivers passed them on the depth chart.

–Field Level Media

Nov 28, 2020; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA; Boston College Eagles running back Pat Garwo III (24) runs against the Louisville Cardinals during the second half at Alumni Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

No. 22 NC State, Boston College face off rested after byes

No. 22 North Carolina State is entering a challenging stretch of the season after an open week on the schedule.

That’s fine with the Wolfpack going into a meeting with Boston College on Saturday night in Chestnut Hill, Mass.

NC State (4-1, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) has plenty left to prove, according to coach Dave Doeren.

“That means we’re really focused on the present,” Doeren said. “It does matter that four of the next five are on the road, but what matters more is that we just take this week for what it is. Let’s be the best that we can be this week. We’ll worry about next week next week.”

The Wolfpack already have knocked off ACC kingpin Clemson, yet a path toward a league championship is filled with potential pitfalls.

That’s why the team spent time focused on improvement during its week off.

“I think we’re a team that wants to get better. That’s the biggest thing,” Doeren said. “We’re a very close group of guys. They play hard for each other.”

Boston College (4-1, 0-1) is also coming off an open date. It hasn’t played since falling 19-13 to then-No. 25 Clemson on Oct. 2.

“We’ve got to finish,” Eagles coach Jeff Hafley said of what would make a difference in trying for a special season.

Now Boston College has a homecoming game, going into a second game in a row against a nationally ranked opponent.

“We’ll stick together and we’ll be better,” Hafley said. “We can play with anybody, anywhere in any venue, any time of the night.”

Boston College running back Pat Garwo III is averaging 93.8 yards per game on the ground. That has helped as the Eagles have transitioned to Dennis Grosel (four touchdown passes, four interceptions) as the starting quarterback.

“They’re doing a good job of making the offense fit their QB and not turning the football over, not hurting their defense,” Doeren said.

But NC State is tops in the ACC in total defense and rushing defense. The Wolfpack have given up just one rushing touchdown this season.

The Eagles have racked up 300 passing yards seven times in 16 games under Hafley. Doeren said Boston College receiver Zay Flowers, who leads the Eagles with 23 catches for 345 yards, is a difference-maker.

NC State’s lone loss came in its only road venture, at Mississippi State.

“We’ve got to do a great job of being focused and executing,” Doeren said. “There’s a lot of things that win football games on the road. Turnover margin is critical.”

Since joining the ACC, four of Boston College’s top 10 scoring totals in conference games have come against the Wolfpack. This season, the Eagles are averaging 35.6 points per game.

Boston College leads the series 10-7, including 7-3 in home games. The Atlantic Division teams didn’t play each other last year because of the restructured pandemic-related schedule, so Boston College’s 45-24 homecoming win in 2019 marks the last meeting.

This will be Boston College’s first home game on a Saturday night since Clemson visited in November 2018.

–Field Level Media

NC State quarterback Devin Leary (13) passes near Clemson defensive end Myles Murphy (98) during the fourth quarter at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, N.C., September 25, 2021.  The Tigers lost 27-21 in two overtimes game at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, N.C., September 25, 2021. Leary  was 32-44 for 238  yards and four touchdown passes.

Ncaa Football Clemson At Nc State

Fresh off big win, No. 23 N.C. State hopes to maintain momentum

The No. 23 N.C. State Wolfpack look to avoid a letdown when they host the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs Saturday in Raleigh.

N.C. State (3-1) ended an eight-game losing streak against Clemson when they upset the then-No. 9 Tigers 27-21 in overtime last Saturday. Now they’re heavy favorites against Louisiana Tech (2-2).

“People are going to talk about trap games and letdowns and all those kinds of things. I’ve already addressed that with our team,” coach Dave Doeren said. “This game is about being better than we were last week. That’s our goal, to be a great football team. Great football teams don’t step backwards.”

The Wolfpack earned the right to celebrate after their first win over a top-10 opponent since beating No. 3 Florida State 17-16 in 2012.

Quarterback Devin Leary completed 32 of 44 passes for 238 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. Devin Carter had two touchdown catches and Emeka Emezie had a career-high 14 catches for 116 yards and a touchdown.

The Wolfpack converted 11 of 21 third downs, but there are issues to correct. N.C. State was penalized 11 times for 105 yards and kicker Christopher Dunn missed three field goals, including one at the end of regulation.

The N.C. State defense held Clemson to 10 first downs on the day and just 14 points in regulation.

“They have some great players on the defensive side of the ball. They have a very solid scheme in what they do,” Louisiana Tech coach Skip Holtz said. “They’re a 3-4 defense in what they do, and they run it very, very well. They’re very gap-sound in what they do and they’re not giving up a lot of yards.”

The Bulldogs enter off a 24-17 Conference USA win over North Texas.

Quarterback Austin Kendall, who started the first three games, was scratched before the game and Aaron Allen started in his place, leading a pair of first-quarter scoring drives. JD Head also saw action and threw his first touchdown pass but left with hip soreness.

Holtz said early in the week he hopes to have Kendall back on Saturday, while it looks like Head is out.

Marcus Williams Jr. ran for two touchdowns in the first quarter, including a 42-yard dash to make it 14-0. He finished with 73 yards on 17 carries.

“You look at Marcus Williams, he’s running hard, he’s running tough, and I think if we gave him the ball 25 times a game, he would eclipse the 100-yard mark every week,” Holtz said, “and I think he would be one of the better backs in this league statistically.”

Meanwhile, wide receiver/punt returner Smoke Harris had seven receptions and returned a punt a career-long 67 yards.

“They really should be 4-0,” Doeren said of the Bulldogs. “They lost on the last play of the game to SMU on a pretty freak-show ricochet play on a Hail Mary. They had a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter against Mississippi State and lost.”

Saturday was the best defensive showing of the young season by the Bulldogs, who are giving up 33.3 points per game and 6.0 yards per play.

“The defense played a really solid football game for us in only giving up 17 points,” Holtz said. “Even with that, they were stuck with a couple short fields with a blocked punt and a fumble at our end of the field.”

The teams are meeting for the second time. The Wolfpack posted a 40-13 win to open the 2013 season.

Louisiana Tech is 4-47 against ranked competition, with the last win coming over No. 25 Navy in the 2016 Armed Forces Bowl.

–Field Level Media

Sep 18, 2021; Clemson, South Carolina, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei (5) waits for the snap against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets during the second quarter at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

Slipping in polls, No. 9 Clemson visits hungry NC State

After a close call last week in a 14-8 victory against upstart Georgia Tech, No. 9 Clemson hopes to continue its recent mastery over North Carolina State Saturday in an early Atlantic Coast Conference Atlantic Division showdown in Raleigh, N.C.

Clemson has won 15 of its last 16 games against the Wolfpack, including eight in a row. The teams had played every year since 1971 until the series was suspended last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Clemson outscored the Wolfpack 96-17 in their previous two games in 2018 and 2019, but the Tigers are only a 10-point favorite this week.

“We want to compete with everybody, particularly a team that’s won the league as many times as they have,” N.C. State coach Dave Doeren said. “They’ve got bragging rights. They’ve earned that.”

Clemson (2-1, 1-0 ACC) is built around a defense that returned nine starters, and that experience has been evident through the first three games. The Tigers have the only FBS defense in the nation that has not allowed an offensive touchdown this season.

It marks the first time that Clemson has not allowed an offensive touchdown in the first three games of the season since 1950, but Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is guarded about his team’s first true road game of the season.

“We’ve got a huge challenge this week going on the road against a very good N.C. State team,” Swinney said. “They’re complete. This has got to be one of the most experienced teams in college football. They play hard, they play tough.”

N.C. State (2-1, 0-0), which is coming off a 45-7 victory against FCS opponent Furman, has been led by quarterback Devin Leary, who has passed for 794 yards and six touchdowns against two interceptions.

Running back Zonovan “Bam” Knight is fourth in the ACC in rushing at 99.3 yards per game.

“Offensively their quarterback is a baller,” Swinney said. “He’s an excellent thrower, he’s athletic, he moves around, he can run well. They’re very physical in the run game with two great running backs.

“Their defense — they look like us on tape. They’re stingy; they’ve not allowed a rushing touchdown all year.”

Clemson, meanwhile, has struggled offensively following the departure of quarterback Trevor Lawrence and running back Travis Etienne to the NFL. The Tigers are averaging only 22 points per game — about half of what they averaged last season en route to a sixth straight ACC title and College Football Playoff appearance.

Quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei has struggled, completing only 59.3 percent of his passes with two interceptions and one touchdown. Freshman running back Will Shipley has had an instant impact with 168 yards and four touchdowns over the last two games, but senior backup Lyn-J Dixon on Monday announced that he’d be transferring from the program.

After last week’s uninspiring performance against Georgia Tech, the Tigers dropped to No. 9 in the polls, but Doeren isn’t buying major slippage from Swinney’s program.

“It’s more about us,” Doeren said. “They’re going to have what they have, have the coaches they have, the salaries they have, the fans that they have, all of it. Clemson is a very proud place and they should be.

“We’re going to celebrate who we are here, celebrate our fans and the city of Raleigh, what we have to talk about. I think sometimes you get too caught up in comparisons. The bottom line is we want to be the best we can be here, and to be the best N.C. State possible we have to go out, not beat us and play as hard as we can for each other, see where that puts us.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 11, 2021; Starkville, Mississippi, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack quarterback Devin Leary (13) reacts during the fourth quarter against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

NC State limps into Furman faceoff

North Carolina State has plenty of areas to fix going into Saturday night’s game against visiting Furman in Raleigh, N.C.

Finding the solutions in a hurry would be a good idea for the Wolfpack (1-1).

“Our guys will stick together and battle back,” N.C. State coach Dave Doeren said. “It’s going to be a really good learning experience for us.”

NC State suffered a 24-10 loss at Mississippi State last week. So the Wolfpack has just one more tune-up before Atlantic Coast Conference play begins.

It’s the first of consecutive meetings against visitors from the state of South Carolina. Next week, reigning ACC champion Clemson arrives.

Yet there’s no reason for the Wolfpack to be looking past this week because of the improvements needed. That’s especially the case for an offense that sputtered so often last week – and then had hiccups in clutch situations.

“You’ve got to make your layups,” Doeren said, offering a basketball analogy. “I thought there were several that we didn’t make offensively.”

NC State received devastating news about standout linebacker Payton Wilson, who exited the Mississippi State game with an apparent shoulder injury and will be out for the rest of the season, Doeren said Monday. The Wolfpack also lost safety Cyrus Fagan for the remainder of the year. Both players will undergo surgeries.

Furman (2-0), which is No. 25 in the Football Championship Subdivision coaches’ poll, has racked up victories against North Carolina A&T and Tennessee Tech. Last week’s 26-0 blanking of Tennessee Tech marked the first shutout for the Paladins since 2004.

“Our defense will have to play really well (again),” Furman coach Clay Hendrix said of this week’s task. “We have to find a way offensively to score some points and give our guys a chance. It will be a huge challenge for us.”

NC State is counting on maturity in reacting to its setback. Quarterback Devin Leary said the approach from several teammates has been encouraging.

“All those guys were just speaking up that we are going to bounce back,” Leary said. “We’re going to learn from our mistakes. That’s the maturity of our team coming out.”

The Wolfpack also lost its second game of the 2020 season on the road (to Virginia Tech) and turned it around in a hurry.

“We’ve got to understand that we’ve got to be consistent every week,” defensive back Tanner Ingle said. “I feel like we’re going to do a good job of doing that considering how much we’ve been through as a team.”

Furman quarterback Hamp Sisson was the Southern Conference’s top offensive performer in the first week of the season when his 362 passing yards marked the second-most in the program’s 117-year history. Then last week, kicker/punter Timmy Bleekrode booted four field goals, including a 51-yarder, and was named the league’s Special Teams Player of the Week.

Furman holds an 8-5-4 record against NC State. The only meeting since 1985 came with the Wolfpack’s 49-16 romp in 2017. This will mark the sixth straight matchup in Raleigh, though the Paladins left with victories in 1976, 1984 and 1985.

“Those were some fun times,” said Hendrix, who was a Furman player for those mid-1980s meetings. “One of our goals is to win an FBS game every year. Our kids will be excited. That’s one thing I really don’t have a concern about.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 24, 2020; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack quarterback Bailey Hockman (16) passes the ball in the third quarter at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

NC State looks to lock in against skidding Syracuse

North Carolina State struggled defensively in consecutive losses to North Carolina and Miami.

The last two games, however, have gone better for North Carolina State’s defense. The Wolfpack look to continue producing on the defensive end Saturday afternoon when they visit last-place Syracuse.

The Wolfpack (6-3, 5-3 ACC) enter Saturday with two straight wins after allowing a combined 92 points to the Tar Heels and Hurricanes. Before that two-game stretch, NC State had not allowed more than 29 points since a pair of high-scoring games in the first two weeks of the season – a win over Wake Forest and a loss to Virginia Tech.

Since losing to Miami, the Wolfpack have allowed 36 points while beating Florida State and then top 25-ranked Liberty. On Saturday, the Wolfpack eked out a 15-14 win over the Flames when linebacker Vi Jones blocked a 39-yard field goal with 1:18 remaining.

The blocked field goal came on a night when NC State’s defense allowed 279 yards while registering three sacks and three takeaways. The defense compensated for an offense that struggled at times by converting 4 of 14 third downs and committing nine penalties.

“Defense, obviously, was really, really good tonight,” Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren said. “The three takeaways, the fourth-down stop, blocked field goal to win it, they carried us. It was awesome to see those kids rise up against a really good Liberty offense.”

NC State’s next challenge is not letting up against an opponent ravaged by injuries and has the least effective offense in the ACC. Syracuse (1-8, 1-7 ACC) lost quarterback Tommy DeVito to injury five games ago and has sputtered offensively with an offense that ranks last in the conference in scoring (16.2 points), rushing yards (86.7) and passing yards (163).

“They are always a tough team when we play them up there,” Doeren said of Syracuse, which scored 51 points against the visiting Wolfpack in 2018. “It’s a team that will play hard and have an edge to them.”

In Friday’s 30-0 loss at Louisville, quarterback JaCobian Morgan exited with an apparent head injury after being sacked in the third quarter. Morgan completed 5 of 12 passes for 40 yards and one interception while getting sacked three times before the injury.

Morgan’s status remains unknown for NC State, but Syracuse is desperate to halt a six-game losing skid. The Orange have been outscored 207-93 since beating Georgia Tech on Sept. 26.

In last Friday’s loss, Syracuse finished with 137 yards, got seven first downs, and crossed midfield just three times. The defense, which started five freshmen, allowed 26 first downs and was on the field for more than 41 minutes.

“Those guys got twice as many plays as us, our defense was out there twice as many times,” Orange coach Dino Babers said ‘It gets to be disappointing, obviously, not being able to produce on one side of the ball. It gets extremely frustrating.”

North Carolina State leads the all-time series 11-2. The Wolfpack totaled eight sacks in a 16-10 win at Raleigh last season.

–Field Level Media

Oct 10, 2020; Clemson, South Carolina, USA; Miami Hurricanes quarterback D'Eriq King(1) runs through warmup drills before a game against the Clemson Tigers at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

No. 11 Miami begins stretch drive at N.C. State

Coming off an open weekend on the schedule, there’s a good feeling about what No. 11 Miami has accomplished so far.

But there’s much more work to be done for the Hurricanes, beginning against host North Carolina State on Friday night at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, N.C.

“We feel good to be at this part of the season and to be at 5-1,” Miami coach Manny Diaz said. “It promises to be an exciting and challenging stretch run.”

The Hurricanes (5-1, 4-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) recovered from a loss at top-ranked Clemson for home victories against Pittsburgh and Virginia before enjoying a bye week.

NC State (4-2, 4-2) also had an off week and is trying to get back in the groove after its three-game winning streak was snapped on Oct. 24 against then-No. 14 North Carolina. This will mark the Wolfpack’s fourth game against a ranked opponent.

“We had enough time for the coaches and the players to hit the reset,” NC State coach Dave Doeren said.

Miami quarterback D’Eriq King, a transfer from Houston, averages 283.7 yards in total offense per game. He has thrown for 11 touchdowns with four interceptions, and rushed for 301 yards and two more scores.

“A large part of it is because of D’Eriq,” Diaz said of the team’s success. “I think every week our players believe we have a chance to win because he’s our quarterback.”

King said: “It’s November. A lot of memories [are] to be made in November.”

Diaz is a former NC State assistant coach, spending six seasons under ex-coach Chuck Amato from 2000-05.

The Wolfpack departed its last game on the wrong side of a 48-21 result to the rival Tar Heels along with lots of bodies that needed to recover physically.

“I think the most important thing in defeat is how you respond,” Doeren said. “I think that’s something this football team takes a lot of pride in. We’ve handled a lot of adversity this year, and this team has stuck together through all of it. I don’t expect it to be any different moving forward.”

NC State running back Ricky Person Jr. is expected to be in action after sustaining a concussion at North Carolina.

The biggest question looming for NC State could come at quarterback, where junior Bailey Hockman has started in place of injured Devin Leary. Even with Leary likely out for the rest of the season following surgery for a broken leg, Hockman’s status is challenged because of the potential of true freshman Ben Finley.

“It’s Bailey’s opportunity,” Doeren said. “He has been through a lot. I know he’s excited to lead the football team and he’ll do a great job for us.”

Finley, the younger brother of former Wolfpack quarterback Ryan Finley, showed moments of promise in relief during the North Carolina game. Finley threw a touchdown pass and was intercepted twice, though one of the pick-offs was a pass that was bobbled by a receiver in the end zone before it was snatched by a North Carolina defender.

The Wolfpack were not shy about having Finley throw the ball. He was in the game for 33 snaps, completing 13 of 20 passes.

In four games this season, including one start, Hockman is completing 58.6 percent of his throws for 531 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions. He’s been sacked seven times.

NC State’s 3-3-5 defensive alignment could be a new wrinkle for the Hurricanes to attack.

“It’s different,” King said. “They do a good job of kind of disguising what they’re in.”

Miami and NC State haven’t played since 2016. The teams have met only five times in ACC play. Only one NC State player ever appeared in a game against Miami.

This will be the sixth outing in seven games that the Hurricanes are in a primetime kickoff slot.

For Miami, this begins a stretch of three road games in a four-game span. NC State, meanwhile, will be in the first outing of a season-ending span that consists of four home matchups in five games.

–Field Level Media

Nov 30, 2019; Raleigh, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels head coach Mack Brown looks on during the first half against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at Carter-Finley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

No. 14 North Carolina bids to rebound vs. No. 23 NC State

An annual matchup between North Carolina State and North Carolina always carries certain intrigue for the rivals.

This one, however, holds some extra zing.

For the first time in 27 years, both teams own spots in the national rankings when they meet. The clash comes Saturday afternoon in Chapel Hill, N.C.

“I think we’ve been overrated,” North Carolina coach Mack Brown said. “I think they’ve been underrated.”

The No. 14 Tar Heels (3-1 overall, 3-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) are coming off a 31-28 setback at Florida State, and they went tumbling nine spots in the polls following the loss.

No. 23 North Carolina State (4-1, 4-1) has won three games in a row. It will be only the third time ever that both teams are rated at the time they meet.

“I know how big this game is to NC State, former players, boosters, alums, all those things,” Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren said. “So I take a lot of pride in being able to deliver that to our fan base.”

North Carolina’s first setback of the season could serve as a wake-up call. Brown said there are important lessons coming from the result.

“We walked in a little cool and then got hit right in the mouth and had to stop that surge and then respond back in the second half,” Brown said. “That’s something that we’ve got to do. We’ve got to learn how to handle that.”

NC State is in another transition.

Quarterback Devin Leary, who suffered a broken leg in the third quarter of the Wolfpack’s 31-20 win over Duke, could miss the rest of the season following surgery. Bailey Hockman, who started the first two games of the season, is back in a starting role.

Hockman had mixed results last month in his starts, which came about after Leary missed considerable preseason practice time because of quarantine related to coronavirus contact tracing. Hockman sizzled in the beginning of the opening victory against Wake Forest, then fizzled fast the next week at Virginia Tech. He has thrown for three interceptions and two touchdowns this season.

“He needs to trust the protection when it’s there and give his receivers time to get open,” Doeren said. “If things break down, he needs to use his feet, because he can run.”

The Tar Heels, who allowed two Florida State players to rush for more than 100 yards, will have to be aware of NC State running backs Ricky Person Jr. and Zonovan Knight. Both players average more than 90 all-purpose yards per game.

North Carolina didn’t surrender a second-half point in the Florida State game. Cornerback Storm Duck will remain out for this week’s game with an injury.

NC State linebacker Payton Wilson, who’s coming off a 19-tackle, two-interception outing against Duke, initially committed to North Carolina before changing his mind. He’ll play for the first time at Kenan Stadium, which is in his home county.

“He’s going to continue to make more and more plays,” Doeren said. “One thing about Payton is he plays as hard as he can play.”

NC State had won three straight games in the series until North Carolina’s 41-10 romp last year. Still, the Wolfpack have prevailed in their past three trips to Chapel Hill.

The past six seasons, these teams met on the final weekend of the regular season, but the revised 2020 schedules put this collision earlier.

This is NC State’s fourth road assignment across a five-game stretch, but its next three contests are at home in Raleigh.

–Field Level Media

Dec 27, 2019; Bronx, New York, USA; Wake Forest Demon Deacons head coach Dave Clawson coaches against the Michigan State Spartans during the second quarter of the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Wake Forest talking ‘title’ before visiting Wolfpack

It might seem early in the season for such a conversation, but Wake Forest appears ready to talk about a certain championship.

The Demon Deacons are determined to repeat as the mythical Big Four champions, signifying the top team among in-state Atlantic Coast Conference teams.

That quest begins Saturday night against host North Carolina State at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, N.C.

This will mark the season opener for NC State, which had a surge in coronavirus cases late last month, causing the postponement of a matchup at Virginia Tech.

The Wolfpack are looking to bounce back after a miserable 4-8 campaign in 2019.

Wake Forest (0-1, 0-1 ACC) could use the diversion in attention toward the in-state rivalry after suffering a 37-13 setback to No. 1-ranked Clemson in last Saturday night’s opener.

“I think there’s a lot of positives to build on,” coach Dave Clawson said after the takedown at the hands of the Tigers. “… We had very few penalties. We didn’t turn the ball over. We just had some missed opportunities. We had a lot of good players play a lot of football for the first time.”

Meanwhile, the Wolfpack players are anxious to take the field.

“We have a little bit of rust,” NC State tight end Cary Angeline said. “I definitely think we’re ready for Wake Forest. … A few weeks back, we didn’t know if we were going to play.”

Seeing Wake Forest play last weekend only made the Wolfpack hungrier to be in a game. It also provided a chance to observe the first opponent with a scouting mindset.

The Demon Deacons have won the past three meetings with NC State. The only time Wake Forest has won four straight in the series came from 1951-54.

Among positives this week, Clawson said the Demon Deacons mostly avoided the injury bug in the Clemson game. He said multiple players should be available who missed the opener because of injuries or coronavirus-related tests.

“Hopefully we can be close to full strength as we try to start defending our Big Four championship,” he said.

Last year, Wake Forest posted home victories against North Carolina, NC State and Duke. That was the first time the Demon Deacons swept those opponents since 2007, though for many recent seasons they didn’t face North Carolina because of post-ACC expansion scheduling.

NC State is 6-1 in openers under coach Dave Doeren. This will be the first opening game against an ACC foe with Doeren in charge.

NC State announced this week that redshirt junior linebacker Isaiah Moore will wear jersey No. 1, which goes to a player displaying special character and leadership. He’s also a team captain.

“Isaiah has led our team both athletically and socially,” Doeren said. “He is a great person, player and teammate. He has overcome many obstacles and continues to shine in the face of adversity as a leader who brings strength to the Pack.”

Wake Forest receiver Taylor Morin, a redshirt freshman, racked up team bests with nine receptions for 93 yards in the Clemson game. He scored the team’s only touchdown on a 1-yard pass from third-string quarterback Mitch Griffis late in the game.

Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman, who’s in his third season, has never played against NC State.

NC State has new coordinators with Tim Beck (offense) and Tony Gibson (defense).

“He has done a good job of making it easy on us,” Angeline said of Beck.

–Field Level Media

Sep 28, 2019; Tallahassee, FL, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack head coach Dave Doeren with his team before the start of the game against the Florida State Seminoles at Doak Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

NC State-Virginia Tech game rescheduled after positive tests

Atlantic Coast Conference foes North Carolina State and Virginia Tech will meet Sept. 26 instead of Sept. 12 because of positive COVID-19 tests among NC State athletes, the league announced Wednesday.

The move comes two days after NC State reported it suspended all athletic-related activities because of 27 positive tests within the athletic department. Not all of those who tested positives were athletes.

“We appreciate the ACC and Virginia Tech working together in partnership to move this game to a mutual open weekend,” said Boo Corrigan, the Wolfpack athletic director.”There’s no blueprint for what we’re all trying to navigate and we are grateful for everyone’s collaboration to make this work.”

The Wolfpack now will open the 2020 season on Sept. 19 against Wake Forest at home, then travel to Blacksburg, Va., the following week.

“The ACC created a league schedule with flexibility to adjust games if needed,” NC State coach Dave Doeren said. “There are going to be times teams must adjust based on what is best for the health and safety of the players and staffs involved. This move provides our team and staff the time needed to prepare and reacclimate after pausing our practices.”

–Field Level Media