One Streak Down, a Couple More Stand in the Way

After four hours of emotionally-wringing football last Saturday, the 2003 NC State football team was finally able to celebrate something previous renditions of the Wolfpack hadn't been able to do since 1991: beating the nemesis North Carolina Tar Heels at Carter-Finley Stadium.

A victory at home over your most hated foe is always sweet, but it's more delectable when you've gone without for so long. (Sort of akin to enjoying a banana split after weeks of dieting.) Keep in mind, many of the current State players were in elementary school the last time Pack fans were able to celebrate a win over UNC at home.

Because of karma or odds or whatever, sports tend to involve streaks. The State-UNC series has been like that: Carolina's wins come in bunches, then the Pack's, then UNC again. For Pack fans scoring at home, State has won three of the last four and two in a row. Carolina fans will say the Heels have won eight of the last 11. You're both right.

The Pack finally got that 12-year, home-losing-streak-to-UNC monkey off its back last week. Just a week later, State will try to do something else it hasn't done in an even longer period of time: beat Georgia Tech in Atlanta. Not since 1988 has NCSU come away from Atlanta with a win. In fact, State has won just twice ever at Grant Field.

But that's not reason enough to get motivated for the game. As far as the current Pack players are concerned, the revenge factor can come from the fact that it was Tech that came into Carter-Finley last season and tripped up the Pack - which was (a streaking) 9-0 entering the game.

The streaks - or potential to break streaks - don't end there. Chuck Amato (as NCSU's head coach) and Philip Rivers have never beaten Maryland. The Terps have won three in a row over the Pack. State will get its shot at the Turtles on November 22 in Carter-Finley - Rivers' last chance to one-up Maryland.

State has also lost four straight regular season road games. The Pack hasn't won a regular season game on the road since last year's 38-6 spanking of Clemson on October 24. So a win over Tech this weekend would break a couple of streaks.

Not all streaks are bad for NCSU, however. After all, the Pack will look to up its streak of wins over Florida State to three in a row - and two in a row on the road. Which is a lot better than State has fared in Atlanta lately.

A win over the Ramblin' Wreck could be a sign of a special season: another monkey off the Pack's back with games at home against Connecticut and Clemson and then a short trip to Duke could leave the Pack 7-2 before a visit by the pesky Virginia Cavaliers. That's the kind of streak you want to be on the winning side of.

Upon further review ... Apparently only about two people in the world seriously thought NCSU running back T.A. McLendon would play against North Carolina. One was yours truly. The other was UNC coach John Bunting. Bunting, in his haste to prepare as adequately as possible for the NCSU offense, worked out several of his scout team backs as No. 44 (McLendon's number), only to see the Pack sophomore never get on the field (or hold his helmet, for that matter). Instead, Amato went with the mighty mite, Josh Brown, who juked and sprinted for 89 yards and two scores - while the injured McLendon jumped for joy on the sidelines. Apparently Bunting was tricked after all.

'Now' ACC Standings

1. Florida State: Noles looked unstoppable last week.
Then again, they were playing Duke. 2. NC State: A win over your archrival is always a good thing; nonetheless, the Tar Heels' ability to move the ball - and the ability for every other opponent so far to move the ball, for that matter - has to concern Chuck Amato.
3. Virginia: If not for a questionable decision by Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe to go for it late in the game while nursing a three-point lead (instead of attempting a field goal), the Wahoos very well could be 2-2 right now. However, a win's a win, and the Cavs may be hitting their stride.
4 (tie). Maryland and Wake Forest: Deacs let one slip away in Charlottesville, while the Terps continue to get better each week, which is a scary thought considering NCSU gets the Terps in late November (shudder). 6. Clemson: Tigers got a well-timed week off to prepare for Maryland. A win would do wonders for Tommy B's job security.
7. Georgia Tech: Ramblin' Wreck owns NCSU in Atlanta (see above). But is the talent of Reggie Ball enough to keep the streak alive?
8 (tie). Duke and North Carolina: Despite yet another loss, the Heels are at No. 8 - with a bullet. The skills of Darian Durant and Jawarski Pollock alone should mean UNC wins a couple of games this year ... and one could be against the Blue Devils, who all of a sudden are playing like the Blue Devils after a promising start to the season.

'Later' ACC Standings

1 (tie). Florida State and Miami
3. Virginia Tech
4. NC State
5. Virginia
6 (tie). Maryland and Wake Forest
8. Clemson
9. Georgia Tech
10 (tie). Duke and North Carolina


This Week's Predictions:

NC State at Georgia Tech: A BCS game is still within reach for the Pack, but it can't have a letdown against teams it should beat. Tech falls into that category.

State 38, Tech 17

Virginia at North Carolina: Talk about bad timing for the Heels. One week after giving up a boat-load of yards and points to NCSU, Carolina gets to face another stellar QB in UVa's Matt Schaub - who was able to work out his kinks against Wake last Saturday. It could/should be another long day for the UNC defense. "The" University 42, Carolina, 21

Clemson at Maryland: The Tigers are playing with confidence. The problem is, so are the much better Terps. Boys from the Old Line State 32, Clemson 14

Also ... Miami 48, West Virginia 14 and Virginia 36, Rutgers 10

Prognostication Record This Year (as far as picking the correct winner goes): 27-5


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