Opportunity knocks for N.C. State
Posted August 27, 2012
If you listen closely, you just might hear it. Opportunity is knocking for N.C. State's football team.
Admittedly, that's a tired old idiom, but let's face it... it's been a long time since the Pack opened a season with a statement win. Try 13 years - State opened the 1999 season with a 23-20 win at #16 Texas.
Since then, there have been a couple of heart-breakers (a 20-16 loss to Virginia Tech in '05 and a 7-3 loss to South Carolina in 2009, both in Raleigh), a head-scratcher (a 25-22 home loss to Central Florida in 2007), and a number of wins in which the Wolfpack was heavily favored.
And let's try to forget the game down in Columbia which saw Russell Wilson carted off to an ambulance.
But now, a chance to make some noise has arrived in the form of a season-opening, only-game-that-night showdown with Tennessee.
Mind you, this is not the Tennessee of Payton Manning, or even Tee Martin. But this is still Tennessee, one of college football's most storied programs.
Only seven division-1 programs have more wins than the Volunteers - seven. This is a name-brand school, in terms of football. And while NC State certainly doesn't need to "put itself on the map," a little positive exposure on the national stage never hurt a football team.
And then there's the issue of the slow starts which have plagued the 'Pack in recent years. Except for 2010, Tom O'Brien's teams have stumbled out of the gate - starting 1-5 in 2007, 2-6 in 2008, 3-5 in 2009 and 2-3 in 2011. State can ill-afford to let that history repeat itself.
One game might not define a season, but this will be an important test for a team with hopes as high as NC State's. Tom O'Brien has depth and experience the likes of which he hasn't enjoyed since coming to Raleigh. He has a top quarterback in Mike Glennon, and arguably the nation's top defensive back in David Amerson.
But he needs a statement win to fuel its momentum, and there's one to be had Friday night in Atlanta.