Thursday, October 26, 2017

NC State in Top 15 Clash with Notre Dame

Saturday’s game will mark only the third time that NC State and Notre Dame have met on the gridiron and the second regular-season meeting between the two teams. The teams faced off following the 2002 campaign in the Toyota Gator Bowl when the Wolfpack capped off the winningest season in school history (11-3) with a 28-6 victory over the 11th-ranked Irish. That was the only time NC State has won a game involving two teams that had 10 wins entering the game.

Last season’s game was epic in that it was playing as the outer bands of Hurricane Matthew passed through North Carolina. On the day that NC State celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first game in Carter-Finley Stadium, the two teams slugged it out in the driving rain, but a blocked punt return by FS Dexter Wright gave the Pack a 10-3 victory.

The Irish have never scored a touchdown against the Wolfpack.

NC State has moved up to No. 14 in the Associated Press poll this week, No. 15 in the Amway Coaches’ Polls. It’s the highest ranking for the Wolfpack since the 2nd week of the 2003 season when the Philip Rivers-led NC State squad ranked 14th. The Wolfpack has already racked up a pair of wins over ranked teams this season, a 27-21 win at 12th-ranked Florida State and a 39-25 victory over No. 17 Louisville. The next two contests will also be against ranked teams: No. 9 Notre Dame and No. 7 Clemson.

This season marks the first time the Pack has defeated two ranked ACC foes in the same season since 2006, the first time it has beaten two ranked foes since 2010, and the first time it has defeated two ranked teams in the regular season since 2008. The Wolfpack last beat three ranked teams in a season in 1992 (No. 15 Iowa, No. 18 Clemson and No. 25 Wake Forest).

For only the sixth time in school history, and the first time since the 1992 Gator Bowl, NC State will be in a matchup of two top-15 programs when the Pack travels to Notre Dame this weekend. A top-15 matchup in the regular season has not happened at NC State since the 1980 ACC matchup with North Carolina.

Notre Dame Stadium (Photo Credit: Daniel Hinton)

NC State’s 6-1 start in 2017 ties as the third-best for a Wolfpack squad since joining the ACC in 1953. The Oct. 14 win over Pitt marked the first time NC State has opened the season 4-0 in ACC play in 15 seasons. In 2002, the most successful season in school history, the Wolfpack opened 4-0 in the ACC and went on to 11 victories. The 2002 campaign was the last time an NC State squad posted a six-game winning streak as well. The Wolfpack started off 9-0 that season.

 What the Coaches are Saying

NC State coach Dave Doeren
"We’re playing an excellent football team. Played great Saturday night against their rival, USC. They’re a physical football team. It’s going to be a great game to watch as a fan. You’re getting to watch the sixth-ranked rushing offense at Notre Dame against the sixth-ranked rushing defense of NC State. Great head-to-head, heavyweight battle right there."

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly
"(We're) playing arguably one of the hottest teams in college football right now. North Carolina State has won six in a row. Dave Doeren has done a great job with this football program. Extremely balanced is the thing that stands out to me. Offensively, (they're) top 25 in a number of categories. Incredibly no turnovers on offense. Ryan Finley has done an incredible job this year. He's got great weapons in Samuels and Hines. On defense, Chubb, Hill, (they're) sixth in rushing. A great challenge for our football team coming up this Saturday."

Game Info

14/15 NC State (6-1, 4-0 ACC) vs. 9/10 Notre Dame (6-1)
Notre Dame Stadium
South Bend, Ind.
Kickoff: 3:30 pm