The Wake Forest-N.C. State football series dates back to 1895, when the two North Carolina powerhouses battled to a 4-4 tie on October, 19th, 1895. The Demon Deacons and Wolfpack will meet for the 109th time tomorrow at high noon in Winston-Salem. Head coach Dave Doeren and his Pack will take the two hour trip west on I-40 with the hopes of winning in Winston for the first time since October 6th, 2001.
Jacoby Brissett will attempt to do something that Philip Rivers, Russell Wilson, Mike Glennon, and several other quarterbacks failed to do, and that's win in Winston-Salem. Since that 17-14 victory in 2001, N.C. State has come west 6 times and headed back to Raleigh with 6 losses.
To put that in perspective, N.C. State has won at every other ACC venue except for Boston College (joined ACC in 2005).
The past 15 years have been quite odd when you look at the record and the scores. The Wolfpack leads 8-7 since the turn of the century, but have only once in Winston-Salem, which compared to the overall series record of 64-38-6 is quite the contrast.
The Wolfpack crushed the Deacs 42-13 last year, continuing a horrid streak of in Raleigh for Wake Forest since the 25-23 victory in 2006. The home team has won the game that past 8 years.
N.C. State comes into the game with a 4-2 record, but an 0-2 ACC record, falling to Louisville and Virginia Tech earlier this month. The Wolfpack, like seemingly every other opponent that Wake has played this year, is coming off of a bye in which they had time to rest injured players and clear their heads.
The Deacs come off a 50-14 thrashing at the hands of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, and hope to ease the sting of that loss with a victory over another in-state rival in the Wolfpack.
The aforementioned senior QB Jacoby Brissett has started all six games for the Pack, accumulating 1,105 yards on 68.9% of his passes. He has 8 touchdowns and only one interception (a late game throw against Virginia Tech that effectively didn't mean anything). The 69% completion percentage is first in the ACC and 8th nationally.
Supplementing the passing game is junior running back Matt Dayes, who has rushed for 588 yards on 109 carries (5.39 YPC) and 10 touchdowns. He has taken on a heavier workload since Shadrach Thornton was dismissed from the team stemming from an arrest after striking a pedestrian with a scooter. Freshmen running backs Reggie Gallaspy II and Nyheim Hines (who chose N.C. State over Wake Forest) have also proved to be capable backups.
The high-flying offense that showed against the non-conference portion of the schedule has been stifled a bit since ACC play began, and Coach Doeren will no doubt want it to get back on track against a defense that allowed 50 points last Saturday night.
The Pack offense averages 402 yards per game (67th nationally), with 206 coming on the ground (27th nationally), and 196 through the air (91st nationally).
On the defensive side of the things N.C. State has been one of the best in the nation at 247.8 yards per game. It's worth noting that the ACC has some ridiculous defenses this year, with three of the top four nationally, four of the top ten nationally, and seven out of the top thirty nationally.
The 100 yards per game rising is 12th nationally, and 148 passing is 8th nationally. Needless to say, the Wake Forest offense has yet another tough task in front of them. I'm not a gambling man (ok yes I am), but the under of 46 seems to be a very safe bet in my opinion.
Overall N.C. State is probably the better team, as they are slightly further ahead in the rebuilding process than Wake Forest is. When you add in the fact that the Deacs started with less than what the Pack had, the talent level and experience difference is even more glaring. It's cliche to say, but when State comes to Winston you can throw the record out the window because it's probably going to be a close game. The Deacs need to win to have any chance at reaching a bowl game, and coming off of an ass-whooping last weekend I fully expect Coach Clawson and crew to bring everything they have tomorrow.
It should be an entertaining game on a beautiful fall day in October. If you are heading out to tailgate we would love for you to stop by. We tailgate right in front of the Annex by the visitors parking lot. Wake and State fans alike are welcome! If you want to get in touch with me then you can slide into my DM's on Twitter @BSD_RaJohnston, or just stop by the only tent that has a "Win The Tailgate" banner.