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2-0 ACC start, top-25 football ranking: Is it logo mojo for NC State?

Can NC State break Louisville's hex on them?

NC State was 'cremolished' last year by Louisville and are 0-3 against the Cardinals since they joined the ACC. The News and Observer's Joe Giglio answers whether the Wolfpack can fare better on Thursday night.
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NC State was 'cremolished' last year by Louisville and are 0-3 against the Cardinals since they joined the ACC. The News and Observer's Joe Giglio answers whether the Wolfpack can fare better on Thursday night.

Tuffy has been on N.C. State’s white helmets, the gray ones, and he will be on the black helmets on Thursday night. His black eyes, white fangs and red hat are also painted at midfield at Carter-Finley Stadium.

N.C. State coach Dave Doeren is on “Team Tuffy” for a good reason.

“If we win, I guarantee we will wear it the next week,” N.C. State coach Dave Doeren said. “I’m very superstitious.”

N.C. State has won four straight games and enters Thursday’s game with Louisville at 2-0 in the ACC for the first time since 2006.

Doeren’s team is ranked for the first time, No. 24 in both national polls, primarily because of the standout play of defensive end Bradley Chubb and the scoring exploits of Jaylen Samuels.

But if there’s a little logo mojo involved, why change now?

NC State head football coach Dave Doeren talks about the Wolfpack's upcoming game against Louisville during a media availability Monday, October 2, 2017.

The Wolfpack wore its primary logo, the block “S,” on its helmets in the first two weeks of the season. N.C. State lost the opener to South Carolina, 35-28, on Sept. 2. It had the block “S” on its helmets for a 37-20 home win over Marshall the next week.

Then Tuffy made his first appearance of the season, on a white helmet, in a 49-16 win over Furman (more on how the Paladins relate to this logo history in a minute).

N.C. State wore the same white helmets, with Tuffy on both the sides, in a 27-21 road win at Florida State on Sept. 23. The Wolfpack switched to its gray, military-themed uniforms for Syracuse and also kept Tuffy on the gray helmets.

Given how close in likeness the primary logos of N.C. State and Syracuse are, it was a smart move by Doeren and N.C. State’s marketing department.

“I think it makes us unique,” Doeren said. “It’s a brand nobody else has.”

Syracuse and Pac-12 member Stanford both use a version of the block “S” on their football helmets. N.C. State is the only “Power 5” conference school with the Wolfpack nickname.

The university even legally trademarked the nickname (one word, no space) in 1983. The same year, the school trademarked the cartoonish “Strutting Wolf” logo, although it was first used in 1965.

Tuffy is the head from the “Strutting Wolf” logo, not to be confused with “Mr. Wuf,” N.C. State’s mascot, or Tuffy II, a Tamaskan puppy who is on the sidelines for home football games.

Louisville linebacker Stacy Thomas talks about the Cardinals upcoming Thursday night game against the NC State Wolfpack at Carter-Finley Stadium.

This is the first time N.C. State has regularly used any variation of a Wolfpack logo on its helmets. There was a curved “S” in the 1960s, replaced by a block “S” (without the letters “NC”) during Lou Holtz’s tenure in the 1970s.

When Dick Sheridan was hired from Furman in 1986, he brought the Paladins’ diamond logo with him and the Wolfpack wore a diamond-shaped “nSc” until Chuck Amato’s first season in 2000.

Amato preferred the current version of the block “S” and the school adopted that as its primary logo across the athletic department in an effort to consolidate its brand. The basketball team has used Tuffy on the court at PNC Arena the past two seasons.

Doeren has used the Tuffy more and more. When the weather turns cold, he wears a sweatshirt with the logo on the front.

“For us, from a branding standpoint, I think it really draws attention to what N.C. State is,” Doeren said.

Louisville's Lamar Jackson talks about the Cardinals upcoming game against the NC State Wolfpack during a media availability Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017.

Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio

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