Over the next three contests, the Wolfpack will face some frightening demons. A priest is not necessary for State to rid itself of these ghosts, but smart football could very well do the trick.
First up on Thursday night is the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
It's been a long time since the Pack won a game in Atlanta that wasn't a Peach Bowl. In fact, in all probability most of the State players don't remember when the Pack last beat the Jackets there. It was 1988. Ronald Reagan was president of the United States. The Soviet Union was still a superpower. A Fish Called Wanda and Bull Durham had movie audiences laughing.
That's a long time to go without success. Unfortunately, the Pack doesn't have recent history against Tech to use for confidence either. The Jackets have won four games in a row in the series, including last year's 24-14 win in Raleigh.
And one week to the day after tackling the Great Tech Problem, State hosts Clemson.
Last year, turnovers and penalties (sound familiar?) haunted the Pack in Death Valley. The aforementioned Davis threw five interceptions, yet State still had a chance to pull out the win, but on the final play of the game the QB threw a pass that was picked off to preserve the Tigers' 26-20 win.
In Davis' defense, he did throw two TD tosses in the first half that were negated by illegal formation penalties.
The terrifying trifecta ends with a visit to Winston-Salem on Oct. 22 when the Pack takes on Wake Forest. Sure, State beat Wake last year, but the Pack needed overtime to do it. The fact of the matter is any State fan who EVER says they feel good about their team going into Groves Stadium is a liar.
Two seasons ago, a pretty decent quarterback named Philip Rivers led his 11th-ranked team into Winston and limped home with a 38-24 loss (and it wasn't even that close).
The bright side to all of this is Amato himself: The Chest is 4-1 against the Demon (shudder) Deacons.
But if State is to right the ship and make something of this season, it all starts on Thursday in that den of dead dreams that is Dodd Stadium.
"I don't think too much about the past," wide receiver Sterling Hicks said at last week's press conference. "All I'm thinking about right now is what we can do next Thursday night."
It should start with bedtime prayers on Wednesday night.
ACC Football Rankings - One Man's Unimportant
1. Virginia Tech: I'll say it: Hokies are the best team in the nation.
2. Florida State: Bobby's offense is picking up steam at the right time.
3. Miami: Quietly the Canes have regained some momentum.
4. Boston College: Only blemish on Eagles' slate so far? A loss to FSU. Not bad.
5. Georgia Tech: Jackets have had some time to stew about getting thumped by VPI.
6. Maryland: Maybe the Fridge has figured out what makes his guys tick.
7. Virginia: Wahoos appeared to be making great progress before taking on the Terps - and taking a tumble.
8. North Carolina: Far and away the best team in the Carolinas. And that's not even a put-down.
9. Wake Forest: Deacs pulled out a gutsy win over Clemson.
10. Clemson: Tigers can't seem to catch a break.
11. NC State: Based on talent, the Pack should be much higher than this.
12. Duke: Same old story for the Blue Devils.
This week's predictions
NC State at Georgia Tech (Thursday): State's in a must-win situation, whereas Tech is playing loose and confident. Tech 27, State 17
Wake Forest at Florida State: This one will be closer than the final score will show. FSU 38, Wake 28
Marshall at Virginia Tech: The Thundering Herd invades Blacksburg, but the only thing thundering is the roll Tech is on. VPI&SU 44, Marshall 26
Virginia at Boston College: Cavaliers have to put the loss at Maryland behind - just in time to hit the road again. BC 20, UVa 17
Maryland at Temple: This one should be over before the end of the first quarter. Maryland 50, Temple 14
Duke at Miami: This one also should be over before the end of the first quarter. Miami 34, Duke 6
North Carolina at Louisville: The Tar Heels have a way of sticking around with teams that are superior to them. Why would this one be any different? Louisville 35, North Carolina 32
This year's record so far (based upon picking the correct winner): 8-4. (Should have known better than to pick State to beat UNC when the Pack is favored.)