State Now

NC State will be home a lot to start the 2018 football season

N.C. State head coach Dave Doeren (right) has a few more reasons to smile with his new five-year contract.
N.C. State head coach Dave Doeren (right) has a few more reasons to smile with his new five-year contract. ehyman@newsobserver.com

N.C. State sees plenty of Carter-Finley Stadium in the first half of its football schedule this season.

The Wolfpack plays five of its first six games at home, with the lone exception being a trip to Marshall on Sept. 22.

Coming off a 9-4 season, Dave Doeren’s sixth N.C. State team plays James Madison, Georgia State and West Virginia over the first three weeks – all at home. Home ACC games with Virginia and Boston College follow the trip to Marshall.

For the fourth season in a row, the Wolfpack will play a non-Saturday game. Wake Forest’s visit to Carter-Finley will be played on Nov. 8, a Thursday night.

Best game

Florida State, Nov. 3: N.C. State’s win over the Seminoles in Tallahassee last season propelled the Wolfpack to a six-win ACC season, a major accomplishment for Doeren’s program. The injury-plagued Seminoles proved not to be the Atlantic Division behemoth they normally are. That doesn’t figure to be the case again in 2018, so this game will be pivotal to where N.C. State’s season goes as Doeren tries to build on last season’s successes.

Toughest stretch

November: The Florida State game starts a key stretch for the Wolfpack. After facing the Seminoles, N.C. State welcomes Wake Forest to Carter-Finley Stadium five days later for a Thursday night game. That will also be the Wolfpack’s final home game of the season. Both games should have great atmospheres and the Wolfpack needs wins in both. The 30-24 loss on Nov. 18 at Wake Forest was a lowlight to an otherwise strong 2017 season. After playing those two games in five days, N.C. State closes the regular season at Louisville and at UNC. Not an easy stretch for a team that will be angling for a better bowl position.

Must win

Syracuse, Oct. 27: The Wolfpack lost its first-ever conference game with the Orange in 2013, Doeren’s first season at N.C. State, but has reeled off four wins in a row against Syracuse since then. Stuck in between the road trip to Clemson and the home game with Florida State, this appears to be a classic trap game for the Wolfpack. That’s especially true because Syracuse went 4-8 last season. But one of those wins was against Clemson at the Carrier Dome. Upsets happen.

One to skip

Georgia State, Sept. 8: A home game against a Sun Belt Conference team should be an easy win for a program like N.C. State. Yes, I know LSU suffered a humiliating loss to Troy at home last season. But Georgia State, which lost 56-0 at Penn State last season, isn’t that kind of team. The Panthers went 7-5 last season, beating Western Kentucky 27-17 in the Cure Bowl. After the excitement of the season-opener against James Madison and with the showdown against West Virginia set for a week later, N.C. State fans who are of the mind to take a week off should hit the beach this weekend.

NC State schedule

Sept. 1

James Madison

Sept. 8

Georgia State

Sept. 15

West Virginias

Sept. 22

at Marshall

Sept. 29

Virginia

Oct. 6

Boston College

Oct. 13

OPEN

Oct. 20

at Clemson

Oct. 27

at Syracuse

Nov. 3

Florida State

Nov. 8

Wake Forest

Nov. 17

at Louisville

Nov. 24

UNC

  Comments