N.C. State is ranked No. 25 in Sports Illustrateds national college football preview. SI is high on the combination of quarterback Mike Glennon and the Wolfpacks veteran secondary.
The AP poll comes out Saturday. N.C. State was not ranked in the USA Today Top 25, the coaches preseason poll. Thats fine with senior safety Earl Wolff, who prefers the Pack to remain under the radar.
Wolff remembers the last time the Pack was ranked in the major polls, during the 2010 season.
Every time we made the top 25, we lost, Wolff said. It was crazy. The only time we won was the bowl game.
Wolff has a good memory. State started the 2010 season unranked and reeled off a 4-0 start to reach No. 23 in the AP poll. Ranked for the first time, the Pack lost at home to Virginia Tech.
Three weeks later, N.C. State was again ranked No. 23 after a home win over Florida State. After the FSU win, State promptly lost to Clemson, followed by two weeks out of the rankings, and two wins over Wake Forest and North Carolina. The Pack reached No. 21 after the UNC win and then lost the regular-season finale at Maryland.
After beating West Virginia in the Champs Bowl, State finished the season at No. 25.
We want to be up there at the end of the season, Wolff said. Its fine if the voters want to ignore us until then.
Meet the Blue Devils
DURHAM Duke will host its annual Meet the Blue Devils Saturday at 6 p.m. in the Pascal Field House, the teams indoor practice facility, which is adjacent to Wallace Wade Stadium.
Fans will have the opportunity to tour the field house, which opened in 2006 thanks in large part to a $6 million donation from Bob Pascal, a former Duke football player. Attendees will also receive a 2012 team poster and have the opportunity to collect autographs.
Parking will also be free in the Grounds lot off Bassett Drive.
Free safety battle one of UNCs fiercest
CHAPEL HILL Asked recently to identify the fiercest position battles of North Carolinas preseason, first-year Tar Heels coach Larry Fedora said he could name 11 such position battles on defense and 11 on offense.
Its an old coaching cliché that no starting spot is ever spoken for, but thats truer for some positions than others. Almost three weeks into the preseason, one of the competitions that has pleased Fedora the most is the one thats ongoing at free safety.
Sam Smiley and Darien Rankin, two redshirt freshmen, are fighting for the starting job. Smiley entered the preseason atop the depth chart, but his advantage might be negligible.
Thats a good thing, because theyre battling, Fedora said. Each of them wants that job, and so that makes each one of them better, that theyre both fighting for it and the other one is trying to outdo the other one.
Both Rankin and Smiley redshirted a season ago. Rankin, from Salisbury, arrived at UNC as one of the top 25 prospects in the state, according to Rivals.com. Smiley played quarterback at Raines High in Jacksonville, Fla., but converted to the defensive backfield after arriving at UNC.