A look at the best, and worst, parts of N.C. State’s football schedule, which was released by the ACC on Tuesday:
Save the date: The Wolfpack gets 2016 national champion Clemson at home on Nov. 4. That’s a big deal, unto itself, but the Wolfpack also owes the Tigers a bit of payback after a 24-17 overtime loss at Death Valley this past October.
N.C. State had Clemson down, with only a 33-yard field goal keeping the Wolfpack from the upset, but couldn’t close the deal.
The Tigers, 14-1 last season, will still have all kinds of talent on defense, including local prodigy Dexter Lawrence at defensive tackle, but they are rebuilding on offense with the losses of quarterback Deshaun Watson, running back Wayne Gallman and receiver Mike Williams to the NFL.
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Road trip: N.C. State opens the season in Charlotte, with South Carolina (6-7), and that is a good way to kick off the season but it goes to Notre Dame (4-8) for the first time in program history on Oct. 28.
The Wolfpack has won the only two meetings with the Fighting Irish, part-time ACC members. N.C. State beat Notre Dame 10-3 in a hurricane last season and 28-6 in the 2003 Gator Bowl.
Buckle up: This is the first time since Louisville joined the ACC that N.C. State doesn’t have to play a combination of Atlantic Division heavyweights Louisville-Clemson-Florida State in consecutive weeks.
Still, a trip to Tallahassee, Fla., on Sept. 23 kicks off a critical three-game stretch in the division. The Seminoles, 10-3 a year ago, will likely open the season in the top 5 nationally and as ACC favorites. N.C. State hasn’t won there since 2005.
The Wolfpack then returns home to play two games in a six-day span. Syracuse (4-8), in its second season under coach Dino Babers, is sandwiched between the trip to Florida State and a Thursday night home game with Louisville (9-4) and 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson.
Jackson has tormented the Wolfpack defense the past two seasons and only figures to get better with age.
Take a breather: It’s tough to dress up the nonconference games you need to qualify for a bowl game under any circumstances. Marshall is more interesting, than say South Alabama, but the Thundering Herd went 3-9 a year ago.
Furman is the lone former Division I-AA opponent on the schedule. The Paladins did beat N.C. State at Carter-Finley Stadium in 1985 and a later the Wolfpack hired their coach (Dick Sheridan).
Still, after opening in Charlotte with South Carolina, the home fans get Marshall and Furman in consecutive weeks. That’s not exactly a ton of fun.
Danger!: You could call the trip to Boston College (7-6) on Nov. 11 a “trap” game or a prime spot for an emotional letdown, after hosting Clemson the previous week, but it doesn’t matter the circumstances, or the sport, N.C. State can’t seem to beat Boston College. It doesn’t even matter if the Eagles are really bad, as they have been more often than not, when the two teams meet.
There’s something about the red-and-white that brings out the best in Boston College. Maybe it’s the curse of Tom O’Brien but the Eagles are 8-4 against the Wolfpack since joining the ACC in 2005 and 5-1 at home.
It doesn’t get any easier the next week for the Wolfpack with a trip to Wake Forest (7-6). N.C. State has lost six of its past seven trips to Winston-Salem.
Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio
2 vs. South Carolina (at Charlotte)
23 at Florida State
14 at Pitt
28 at Notre Dame
11 at Boston College
18 at Wake Forest
25 North Carolina