College Football: State ready to move forward

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 10, 2008

By Aaron Beard
Associated Press
RALEIGH ó North Carolina State finally has its first ACC victory, though it had to wait until November to get it. Now the Wolfpack is left to find a way to salvage what’s left of a frustrating regular season.
Sure, N.C. State (3-6, 1-4 ACC) could still become bowl eligible if it wins its final three games. It also has the chance to sweep the four other instate Football Bowl Subdivision programs, which could be a morale and recruiting boost. Then again, the last three games are against ACC teams still in the hunt for ACC division championships.
It’s hardly an ideal setup, but the Wolfpack figures there’s no point worrying about that now.
“The players realize we’re (3-6) and we need to get going,” quarterback Russell Wilson said Monday. “We realized it before, but we just kept coming up on the short end before.”
At the very least, N.C. State can point to last season’s late push from a 1-5 mess to a team that came within a victory of bowl eligibility for motivation. It also has a weekend win at improving Duke, which ended a six-game league losing streak dating to last year, to take some momentum into Saturday’s game against Wake Forest.
From there, N.C. State travels to North Carolina before closing the year at home against Miami. Both teams are tied atop the league’s Coastal Division.
Beating the Demon Deacons and Tar Heels would allow the Wolfpack to complete a mythical “state championship.” N.C. State also beat East Carolina earlier this year and is the only team to play each of the other four North Carolina-based schools.
“I think it has a great impression on the players,” said linebacker Nate Irving, a native of Wallace. “So to be able to beat all of them would give us bragging rights for the year. Everybody on the team wants to accomplish that.”
Coach Tom O’Brien said he hasn’t mentioned the state-title idea to his players, opting instead to keep the motivation simple.
“I don’t know where that’s come from,” he said. “I think they’re aware of it because it’s been said by a lot of people to them. My goal is to win one game at a time until the end. Now when we get to that, we can talk about it.
“The focus has been to win football games. I said a week ago, ‘We might can win all four, we might can lose all four.’ Now we’re down to, ‘We can win all three or lose all three.’ “