Strange things happen when Florida State and N.C. State get together at night in Raleigh.
At least they did the last two times the Seminoles and Wolfpack met under the lights at Carter-Finley Stadium.
Coming into Saturday night’s matchup (7 p.m., ESPNU) with No. 19 FSU (5-3, 2-3 ACC) on a three-game losing streak, the Wolfpack (4-4, 1-3) is hoping it can rekindle some of its night magic.
“You get pretty jacked for a game like this,” N.C. State center Joe Scelfo said. “I know there’s some history with Florida State and N.C. State.”
It didn’t take long for Scelfo, a graduate transfer from South Alabama, to learn about the Wolfpack’s upsets of FSU. In 2010, N.C. State trailed No. 16 FSU 21-7 at the half in a Thursday night home game. Quarterback Russell Wilson led a 13-play, 70-yard drive to put the Wolfpack up 28-24 with 2:40 left.
FSU drove all the way down to N.C. State’s 4-yard line in the last minute of the game but quarterback Christian Ponder bumped into his own running back and fumbled the ball back to N.C. State.
In 2012, N.C. State came back from a 16-0 halftime deficit to knock off the No. 3 Seminoles in a Saturday night home game. Quarterback Mike Glennon got hot in the second half and threw for 219 yards and a pair of touchdowns, the last one a 2-yarder to Bryan Underwood with 16 seconds left, to notch the upset.
That was N.C. State’s last win over a ranked opponent. It nearly knocked off No. 3 Clemson on Oct. 15 this season but lost 24-17 in overtime.
If we win this week, it kind of erases all of the negative that has been happening for us.
N.C. State running back Matt Dayes
The Wolfpack has lost its past two games (54-13 at Louisville and 21-14 to Boston College) in different fashion.
“If we win this week, it kind of erases all of the negative that has been happening for us,” senior running back Matt Dayes said.
N.C. State is 0-8 against ranked opponents under coach Dave Doeren, but he has had only one home night ACC game in his four-year tenure.
In Doeren’s first season, the Wolfpack lost 26-14 to No. 3 Clemson in a game best remembered for Underwood’s 83-yard touchdown run being incorrectly blown dead by line judge Richard Misner.
N.C. State has a 7-1 record under Doeren in home night games but all the wins have been against lower level Division I teams and Conference USA member Old Dominion.
Only four players on N.C. State’s current roster played in the Clemson night game in ’13. Dayes is one of them. He had six carries for 16 yards. He remembers Underwood’s play and one other thing about that game.
“I remember the fans were into it,” Dayes said.
N.C. State has played its past four games at either noon or 12:30 p.m. The early start beats waiting around the hotel all day, Dayes said.
“I love noon games,” Dayes said. “You get in, you get out.”
Scelfo also said he likes the early starts. He does understand why the fans prefer the later kickoff.
“If I was a fan, I’d love night games,” Scelfo said. “You got more time to tailgate.”
Scelfo redshirted his first year at South Alabama in 2012. As the scout team player of the week, he got to travel to the Jaguars’ night game on Sept. 15 at N.C. State.
The atmosphere was different from what Scelfo was used to at South Alabama and in the Sun Belt conference.
“I remember looking around thinking: this is college football,” Scelfo said of his first trip to N.C. State in 2012. “I was like, ‘Whoa, this is awesome.’ ”
Scelfo will get to experience it from the other side but he’s hoping for a similar ending for the Wolfpack.
Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio