RALEIGH — Good N.C. State teams have lost at Wake Forest in the past 10 years, as have not-so-good N.C. State teams.
There have been close games and not-so-close games in Winston-Salem. The result has been the same the past four times the two Big Four teams met on Wake's home field and six of the past seven times: a Demon Deacons win.
The Wolfpack hasn't won at Wake Forest since 2001 and only once since 1997. The two teams meet for the 105th time today (3:30 p.m., Fox Sports Net) in Winston-Salem.
"That's a long time to not win at a place," said N.C. State senior tight end George Bryan.
So even though the Wolfpack (1-0) beat Wake 38-3 last season in Raleigh, it was State that spent the week trying to forget recent history.
Fifth-year Wolfpack coach Tom O'Brien is 0-2 with N.C. State in Winston-Salem, and winless in all 10 of his Atlantic Division road games. His reasoning for the two most recent losses at Wake is simple: "The team that plays the best wins," O'Brien said.
In 2009, N.C. State lost 30-24, 38-18 in 2007 and 27-19 in 2005. Go back to 2003, and you're examining an unforgettable 38-24 loss in quarterback Philip Rivers' senior year in Winston-Salem.
Rivers' sophomore year brought a 17-14 win in 2001, the last time N.C. State beat the Deacs on the road.
Wake coach Jim Grobe is 5-5 against the Wolfpack with a 4-1 home mark. His predecessor, Jim Caldwell, won only 12 ACC games in eight years, but two came against State in Winston-Salem.
Both O'Brien and Wolfpack center Cam Wentz credit the overall strength of the Wake program under Grobe, who had the most successful three-year stretch in school history from 2006 to '08, winning 28 games, including the 2006 ACC title.
"They have had good teams, and they still have a good team,"Wentz said.
The Demon Deacons have suffered consecutive losing seasons, with a 3-9 finish last year, and opened the season with a tough overtime loss at Syracuse on Sept. 1.
They led 29-14 in the fourth quarter but allowed Syracuse to score the game's final 22 points en route to a 36-29 overtime loss.
Sophomore quarterback Tanner Price threw for 289 yards and three touchdowns to stake Wake to the fourth-quarter lead, but he injured his left knee and sat out the last 11 minutes.
Grobe was disappointed in how Wake responded when Price left the game, and backup Ted Stachitas (who started three games last year) came in.
"I thought that our intensity level really went down after Tanner's injury," Grobe said. "And that just can't happen."
Grobe said Price would be ready for today's home opener for the Deacs. Price, who threw for 1,349 yards in nine starts as a freshman with seven touchdowns and eight interceptions, impressed O'Brien with his performance at Syracuse.
"He was a freshman playing last year. He has learned from that," O'Brien said. "He looks like a whole different kid."
State held Wake's offense in check last year in Raleigh, for 188 total yards, and Wolfpack quarterback Russell Wilson threw for 300 yards and accounted for four touchdowns.
That was a redemption game for Wilson, who had struggled in the 2009 loss at Wake. Wilson's NCAA-record streak (379 attempts) without an interception ended early in N.C. State's six-point loss in 2009. He threw a second pick in the end zone with a chance to win the game late.
"It was a close game," said senior receiver T.J. Graham. "We had plays we should have made."
And for 10 years running, State has had the same lament after each visit to Winston-Salem.
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