NC State

A first for NC State: Wolfpack to host No. 1 team in football

N.C. State head coach Dave Doeren gives the Wolfpack sign to the fans after the Pack's 49-17 victory over South Florida at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.
N.C. State head coach Dave Doeren gives the Wolfpack sign to the fans after the Pack's 49-17 victory over South Florida at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. ehyman@newsobserver.com

N.C. State is used to hosting the No. 1 team in the country in men’s basketball. Twice since 2011, the Wolfpack has faced the No. 1-ranked team in Raleigh.

But the No. 1 team in college football playing at N.C. State? It has never happened.

Florida State’s trip to Carter-Finley Stadium on Saturday will be the first. The Wolfpack has played 410 home games since The Associated Press started ranking college football teams on a weekly basis in 1936 but never against No. 1.

After Saturday’s 42-0 win against Presbyterian, N.C. State quarterback Jacoby Brissett said the Wolfpack will be ready for the challenge of the Seminoles.

“We can’t wait,” Brissett said.

N.C. State has faced the No. 1-ranked football team only three times (compared 31 times in men’s basketball). The Wolfpack lost at No. 1 North Carolina in 1948 (14-0 to Choo Choo Justice and the Tar Heels) and lost at Florida State in 1995 (77-17) and ’99 (42-11).

N.C. State, 4-0 for the first time since 2010, does have a track record of success against the Seminoles at Carter-Finley Stadium. N.C. State beat No. 3 Florida State 17-16 in 2012 and No. 16 Florida State 28-24 in 2010.

This is a step up in competition for the Wolfpack after four nonconference games. Florida State, the 2013 national champions, is 3-0 and has won 19 consecutive games.

For N.C. State, it’s a chance to show how much progress the program has made since last year’s 3-9 campaign, which included an ugly 49-17 loss in Tallahassee.

“You say it’s just another game, but this is a big game for us as a program,” junior defensive end Mike Rose said. “We’re putting the pieces together. We need to go out there and show the world that we can play with the Florida States of the world.”

Rose blocked a punt during N.C. State’s win against the Seminoles in 2012. That’s the last time Florida State lost an ACC game. It also was the fifth time in eight games that N.C. State knocked off the Seminoles in Raleigh.

Coach Dave Doeren said history is nice, but it will not be a factor Saturday. He did say playing at home can have its advantages.

“We’re going to have a great atmosphere and I know our fans are going to show up and make it hard,” Doeren said. “It’s a great opportunity and challenge for our football team.”

So far, against opponents outside the ACC, N.C. State has shown tremendous improvement on offense. The Wolfpack is averaging 502 yards per game, which is the best in the ACC, and has rushed for 248.7 yards per game – an improvement of 86 yards per game from last season.

Brissett, who threw a touchdown pass in relief against the Seminoles as a freshman at Florida in 2011, was confident N.C. State’s offense can continue to make strides, even as ACC play begins and the No. 1 team in the country comes to town.

“I feel like we have the playmakers to play with any team,” Brissett said. “We just have to translate it each week from the practice field to the playing field.”

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