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The game against Clemson on Oct. 20 is shaping up to be huge for North Carolina State and could have national implications.
The depth of it will depend on what the Wolfpack does this week. Boston College visits Carter-Finley Stadium over the weekend looking to keep its perfect record in Raleigh against Dave Doeren’s N.C. State teams intact.
It is the big game before the big game.
N.C. State’s win in its ACC opener against Virginia puts the Pack in a good spot. At 4-0 overall, Doeren’s squad is now nationally ranked for the first time this season and has a wonderful opportunity in October to create separation in the league while taking the program’s perception to a high level.
Doeren is only interested in one thing at the moment.
“It’s not like I sit in there and talk about, ‘How do you guys feel about being this?’” Doeren said. “We don’t talk about it with our guys. All that peripheral stuff we’ll talk about it at the end of the year. I know it’s important — it is, but right now it’s not a part of our conversation. (Boston College) will be the best team we’ve played, there is no doubt.”
A LOOK AT THE EAGLES
Defensively, the Eagles have issues. Boston College is allowing almost 27 points per game and gave up 35 Saturday in a home win over Temple.
The overall record stands at 4-1 on the season and Boston College has one road ACC win within the state of North Carolina already. The Eagles outlasted Wake Forest, 42-34, in a Thursday night showdown in Winston-Salem on Sept. 13.
Boston College’s offense has scored 226 points in five games this season and is keyed by sophomore running back A.J. Dillon. The 245-pound tailback has rushed for 652 yards in 2018 and his bruising style has opened up the passing game when teams decide to load the box.
“Offensively they are scoring 45 points per game and are very physical,” Doeren said. “They have a lot of experience. There are 18 starters back when you look at their offense and defense. They are getting behind a lot of people because of the focus on Dillon. The O-line has all five starters back.”
Now in his sixth season at N.C. State, despite winning two of three against the Eagles in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, Doeren has never beaten Boston College in Raleigh.
“I know every time you play them you better be physical,” Doeren said. “You better not beat yourself because they don’t. The times we have beat them we’ve been able to run the football against a very active front and create explosive plays. Defensively we’ve created takeaways in those games. Every year is a new year so you have to earn it.”
A win for N.C. State over the Eagles would be huge. It will not be easy, but it would help set the stage for greater days ahead.
“We’d be 5-0 going into a bye week which would be awesome for our guys,” Doeren said of a win Saturday. “It would be a very good start to the season and then we’d get into the bye, go through what we’ve done and really, really reflect, then get ready for what’s next. Our focus is the five-day grind. We have five days to be the best us we can be, best coaches, best players, best program. Then we get a little bit of a break. I’d love to go into that break feeling good.”
PERSON OF NOTE
N.C. State finally got the running game it has craved Saturday against Virginia. Freshman running back Ricky Person topped the 100-yard mark for the first time in his college career in the Wolfpack’s 35-21 victory
Person’s 108 yards on 14 carries included several plays where the newcomer made defenders miss — a big problem for N.C. State’s ball carriers in the first three games.
The youngster deferred credit.
“Special shout-out to my offensive line,” Person said. “ If it wasn’t for them, I probably wouldn’t have had an incredible game like I did today.”
Doeren saw it a little differently.
“I thought the line and tight ends did a lot for the backs, but there was a lot of yardage after contact that Ricky deserves, too,” Doeren said. “We have to continue to get better down the field with our receivers. I think, as an offense, that’s one area we have to continue working on. We’re getting on people and sustaining those blocks. Obviously, Ricky was a huge part of that win.”
The worrying from N.C. State fans along with the criticism of the running game from pundits have found their way into the Wolfpack’s locker room.
It was a motivating factor Saturday against the Cavaliers.
“We’ve been taking a whole lot of criticism from the internet, from everybody else saying that we can’t run the ball,” Person said. “We just played with a little chip on our shoulder. We were like, ‘Let’s just show people that we can run the ball.’”’
ECU ON THE SCHEDULE?
The Wolfpack will be playing on Dec. 1, one way or another.
N.C. State has added a potential 12th regularseason game and the Wolfpack has turned to East Carolina to fill the void left in the schedule after Hurricane Florence forced the cancellation of a home game against West Virginia on Sept. 15.
The contest against the Pirates will kick off at noon due to a concert scheduled at nearby PNC Arena that evening.
“This replacement game makes sense for both schools,” N.C. State Director of Athletics Debbie Yow said in a statement released by the school. “N.C. State lost a home game and ECU lost a road game due to Hurricane Florence. We’re pleased to be able to secure this 12th game for both our fans and our team.”
The game will only be played if both teams do not qualify for their respective conference title games, which are to be held on the same day.
“While we remain focused on ACC play, we’re glad to schedule this game should it be needed,” Doeren said.
The schools also extended their series to include games in 2025 (Raleigh) and 2028 (Greenville). N.C. State and East Carolina will open the 2019 campaign against each other in Carter-Finley Stadium and the Wolfpack will travel to Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in 2022.
The Pirates have defeated N.C. State in each of the last three matchups between the two schools.
In its statement announcing the potential matchup, both schools confirmed that there will be a joint effort to assist those impacted by Hurricane Florence should the game take place, with more details to be divulged at a later date.