NOTES: Pack, Heels Set To Battle

Saturday's game will mark the 102nd meeting in the series between the Wolfpack and the Tar Heels.

The rivalry, which began in 1894, is the Wolfpack's oldest among ACC teams and the fourth-most played series in the ACC.

When the series began, the two teams actually played twice a year for several years (1894, 1899 and 1901). The series moved to an annual basis for 1919 through 1943 and then after a three-year hiatus, the Wolfpack and the Tar Heels have played every year since 1947 with one exception. In 1952, the game between the two teams was cancelled because of a polio outbreak on UNC's campus.

The Tar Heels hold a 63-32-6 overall mark over the Wolfpack, including a 34-18-2 advantage in Chapel Hill. However, NC State has won the last five meetings between the two teams and four of the last six at Kenan Stadium.

Tom O'Brien and company will be going for their sixth straight win against the rival from the next county over when they head to Kenan Stadium on Saturday. The Wolfpack has defeated the Tar Heels each of the past five years, tying State's longest previous winning streak over UNC.

O'Brien posts the highest winning percentage against UNC of any coach in NC State history.

The 19th century was all UNC. The 20th century was more even. But in the 21st century, the Pack has definitely ruled.

The Tar Heels posted a 6-0-1 mark against the Wolfpack in the 1800s, then posted a 53-24-5 mark in the 1900s. But since the year 2000, NC State has won eight of 12 games against UNC, including four at home and four on the road.

Although the final scores against UNC have ended up in the Wolfpack's favor in each meeting between the two teams under Tom O'Brien, the scores have been fairly close. The average margin of victory for State over Carolina in three of those meetings was four or less points.

NC State head coach Tom O'Brien is in some elite company, as he ranks 20th among the winningest active coaches in the BCS ranks. In his 16th campaign as a head coach, O'Brien posts a career record of 111-76. Eleven of his 15 teams have advanced to postseason bowls. Only 27 of the 120 coaches in the BCS have posted at least 100 career wins.

When the nation's top-ranked teams have faced a Wolfpack squad under Tom O'Brien, they usually aren't ranked as high the following week. NC State posts an 8-5 record against teams ranked in the top-25 under O'Brien.

The FSU game two weeks ago marked the second time that the Wolfpack has hosted a top-10 foe at home during O'Brien's tenure. Seventh-ranked Clemson visited Carter-Finley last season and left with a 37-13 defeat at the hands of the Pack.

In the history of college bowl games, no head coach has ever posted a winning percentage better than NC State head coach Tom O'Brien. During his 15 years as a head coach at Boston College and NC State, O'Brien has won .800 of his bowl games, posting an 8-2 postseason slate.

During his 15 years as a head coach, Tom O'Brien has mentored 23 assistant coaches. Seven of those have gone on to become collegiate head coaches. Three of his former protégés are now head coaches in the Atlantic Coast Conference: Al Golden at Miami, Mike London at Virginia and Frank Spaziani at Boston College. In other words, the Tom O'Brien coaching tree makes up a third of the entire league.

NC State has won each of its last two games in a rather dramatic fashion - mounting come-from-behind scoring drives in the victories over third-ranked Florida State and at Maryland. Even in the loss to Miami, the Pack scored on a late drive to tie the game with 1:58 left, but then allowed the Hurricanes to score to win the game.

Quarterback Mike Glennon has been calm, cool and collected in the fourth quarter in ACC play this season, completing 39 of 70 passes (55.7%) and averaging 147.7 yards passing (443 total). He's executed six scoring drives in the fourth quarter of the last three games (throwing for four TDs) and although he's thrown two INTs (both against Miami), one was on a Hail Mary pass to end the game.

NC State is off to a 2-1 start in ACC play in 2012, a mark which ties as the best under Tom O'Brien. The 2010 squad, which ended the season ranked 25th nationally, boasted a 3-1 start in league action.

Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Bryan Underwood is the ONLY wide receiver in the NCAA that has a TD reception in every game this season. Underwood has set a new school record with a TD catch in seven consecutive games, two behind the ACC record (Herman Moore, UVA 1990).

The most diminutive member of the NC State wide receiver corps at 5'11, 174, Underwood ranks second on the team with 22 catches this season, but he leads the team and ranks fifth in the ACC in touchdown scoring. He is one of only two non-kickers in the ACC to lead their team in scoring (Georgia Tech's Tevin Washington is the other).

Five of his seven scoring grabs have been for 33 or more yards. His most memorable, however, is the two-yard reception with 16 seconds left to play to give the Pack a victory over No. 3 Florida State.

Last season he scored on a 33- and a 79-yarder at Virginia and this season has caught TDs for 44 and 46 yards.

Wolfpack sophomore placekicker Niklas Sade was definitely a ‘smooth operator' in the win at College Park last week. Sade hit the winning field goal, a 43-yarder, with just 32 seconds left on the clock. It was the first time a Wolfpack kicker had hit a game-winner in regulation since Steve Videtech against Maryland in 1994.

Sade, who ranks eighth in the ACC in kick scoring this week with 6.3 ppg, got off to a somewhat rocky start this season, but has definitely turned it around in the last four games. In the first three outings of 2012, Sade hit just 2-5 of his field goal attempts, missing from 39 against Tennessee, from 44 at Connecticut and from 39 against versus South Alabama.

In the last four games, however, he's nailed all five of his attempts - including a career-high 50-yarder to tie the game at Miami in the final minutes and the game-winner against the Terps (which incidentally would have been good from much further that 43 yards out).

Sade has also connected on 23 of his 24 point-after attempts this season and had a streak of 60 consecutive going before an early snap at Miami caused him to miss. That streak was the third-longest in school history.

NC State's rushing attack has been a bit up-and-down this season. The reason behind the ‘down' could be that the Wolfpack has faced three teams that ranked in the top 10 nationally in rushing defense at the time the games were played - Florida State, Maryland and Connecticut. In those three games combined, the Pack rushed for a total of 160 yards - an average of 53.3 yards per game.

Rushing for less than 100 yards in a game hasn't had too negative of an impact, however, as State has won all three of those contests!

In the four games that the opponent was not ranked in the top-10 nationally, the Pack has rushed for an average of 188.0 yards an outing. (Tenn – 119, South Ala. – 127, The Citadel – 282, Miami – 224).

The good news for the Pack, however, is that the final five opponents rank an average of 76th in this week's NCAA rushing defense rankings, with only one school ranked in the top-50.

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