For NC State, It’s “All In Or Get Out”
It’s difficult to call a game that features a reeling NC State (3-2, 0-1) against No. 3/4 Florida State (5-0, 2-0) a must-win. And it’s not. But the Wolfpack needs to start playing better, and quickly.
Senior safety Earl Wolff said the team had a players-only meeting on Sunday after the 44-37 heartbreaking, mistake-riddled loss at Miami. The message from the older players that spoke was: if you’re not all in, get out.
“I feel like a lot of guys think just because they have two more years, three more years, then it’ll be all right. Like I said, we were just trying to make sure everybody was on the same page, everybody was all in,” Wolff said. “We’re trying to get everybody on the same page that most of the older guys are on.”
And the team meeting concept seems appropriate, since the entire team contributed to the loss last week. NC State’s offense might have put up 664 yards, but they turned it over five times. The defense gave up big play after big play.
The worst part of it? NC State head coach Tom O’Brien’s teams are generally known for not beating themselves. And O’Brien said that no one in NC State’s locker room believes they got beat – they believe they beat themselves. ” We lost, and we’ve got to figure out a way not to beat ourselves before we get a chance to win against a good football team,” O’Brien said.
Fortunately for O’Brien, who on Monday still appeared befuddled at how his veteran-laden team could make mistakes like jumping off-sides on a Miami field goal attempt, his team has a history of beating teams it shouldn’t. Just last year, after a disappointing loss at Boston College, a hot Clemson team ranked 7th in the nation came to Carter-Finley Stadium and left with a 37-13 loss.
And the NC State players, both because of that history and their confidence in themselves, truly believe they can beat the Seminoles, which is half the battle.
“We have a big challenge coming up this week. Last year, against Clemson it was kind of the same situation and I feel like we overcame that, so we can overcome this,” Wolff said. If we stick with (Florida State) and we win, it could really put us back where we need to be.”
Moments in Florida State-NC State history: In NC State’s final game in Riddick Stadium in 1965, NC State beat Florida State 3-0. In 1998, NC State beat No. 2 FSU in Carter-Finley Stadium, 24-9. It was the Wolfpack’s first win over a team that highly-ranked since 1967. In 2001, NC State was the first team to knock off Florida State in Tallahassee since the Seminoles joined the league in 1991. And if this video proves anything, it’s that Phillip Rivers really does have the weirdest throwing motion ever:
But 2002 is probably the oddest chapter in the history of this rivalry. Quarterback Adrian McPherson replaced an ineffective Chris Rix, and he was playing quite well. But when they traveled to NC State, he completed just 8-of-20 passes for 80 yards, missing open receivers and taking several sacks. Turns out, he might have been a bit distracted: he had been arrested the night before for theft and forgery of a blank check, and he was dismissed from the team days later.
It turns out that McPherson had been gambling on games and had a significant gambling debt. There was speculation that he was point-shaving against NC State. For what it’s worth, McPherson is still adamant that he didn’t gamble on Florida State games, much less throw a game. But this SI.com story (which includes a lot of “not saying, just saying”) suggests it’s very possible.
Prediction: NC State, 31-27. From the beginning of the year, I said that if FSU came into this game undefeated and NC State had two or more losses, I would pick NC State to win this game. It’s pretty much the most ACC thing ever. That’s my analysis.