Good memories in games like this are easy for South Carolina to dial up.
N.C. State either has to go back a ways or use recent stumbles in similar situations as motivation.
The old conference rivals will get together again at 3 p.m. (ESPN, Watch ESPN App, ESPN3.com) at Bank of America Stadium to kick off the 2017 season.
The Gamecocks haven’t lost a game to a team from the state of North Carolina (9-0 vs. FBS opponents) this century, including a 2-0 mark against N.C. State. They’re unbeaten in season-openers at Bank of America Stadium (2-0).
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N.C. State has lost its past two games with South Carolina (the season-opener in 2008 and ’09), its past four openers with Power 5 opponents and its last game in Charlotte.
The history between N.C. State and South Carolina might not matter to the current players but that last trip to Charlotte, a 51-28 loss to an SEC team (Mississippi State) in the 2015 Belk Bowl, still does.
“Every time I see the (Carolina) Panthers play or think about that stadium, I think about the Belk Bowl and how we didn’t execute and do the things we needed to do,” N.C. State junior running back Nyheim Hines said.
This will be the second game in a row N.C. State will get to use the Belk Bowl loss as motivation. The Wolfpack wanted to avoid a repeat performance, against an SEC team, in the Independence Bowl last year and ended up breaking a five-game losing streak to the SEC with a 41-17 win over Vanderbilt.
For South Carolina, it’s another chance for second-year coach Will Muschamp to inch out of Steve Spurrier’s shadow. Spurrier went 8-0 against N.C. State, UNC and ECU between 2007 and 2015. Spurrier averaged nearly 10 wins per year from the 2010 season through the 2014 season.
His last team opened the 2015 season with a 17-13 win over UNC in this stadium and he quit five games later. That South Carolina team finished 3-9. The Tar Heels went on to win the Coastal Division and post an 11-3 record. That gives you an idea of how Spurrier was able to get his team ready for these types of games.
South Carolina drummed N.C. State 34-0 in a home game to start the ’08 season, which was Russell Wilson’s first start for the Wolfpack (albeit cut short by a concussion). The Gamecocks edged N.C. State a year later in Raleigh for an ugly 7-3 win.
Muschamp’s first team beat ECU 20-15 in Columbia, S.C. to help them finish the regular season 6-6 and reach a bowl game.
N.C. State’s last win over South Carolina came in Lou Holtz’s first game with the Gamecocks in 1999. The Wolfpack won an ugly, rain-soaked game 10-0 at Carter-Finley Stadium. South Carolina would finish winless (0-11) in Holtz’s first season.
The Wolfpack beat Texas, 23-20, in the opener that year and opened the 2001 season with a 35-14 home win over Indiana. That’s the last time it has started the season with a win over Power 5 opponent.
N.C. State dropped the 2012 opener to Tennessee, 35-21, in Atlanta, which set the tone for a disappointing season and started the wheels in motion for coach Tom O’Brien’s dismissal.
Like that game, this feels like another chance for N.C. State to prove itself in a milepost game.
“Like last year, beating an SEC team, would be great for our program,” fifth-year coach Dave Doeren said.
This is Doeren’s first opener against a major opponent. His first four teams beat Louisiana Tech, Georgia Southern, Troy and William & Mary to open their respective seasons.
Doeren isn’t ready to place any more weight on the outcome of the game than next week’s home opener against Marshall.
“If we win the game, everyone is going to say that,” Doeren said. “If we lose, you’re going to go, ‘Is the season over? No, it’s not, it’s a long year. We’d love to be 1-0 coming out of it.”
Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio