Lail: Welcome Back To Earth

We should've seen this coming.

Anyone who is an NC State fan should know to expect things like this. It's right there in the NC State Fan's Manual - General State Statue 3.07.87: "State Fan(s) shall show restraint and rein in positive feelings following a Wolfpack victory, no matter how historic the implications. Such actions may irritate the Creator and result in short-lived gratification."

In other words, don't get too excited after a big win. It's the Pack, after all; a humbling defeat is probably right around the corner.

Of course, very few State fans pay attention to this rule. (What? You didn't know there was a fans' manual?) In fact, it's almost become a State fan trait to completely ignore this rule in practice, though not in theory. (Most Pack fans tend to expect bad things to happen to their team - especially when good things have just happened.) Putting this theory to practice tends to be easier said than done, however.

Case in point: In the days following State's 20-15 upset win over Florida State in Tallahassee, the message boards and talk radio shows were alight with Pack fans saying (or writing) that State had finally found its running game, its mistake-free QB and a defensive front that had seemingly been missing for the first two months of the season. One email after the FSU game that was sent around cyberspace showed a two-minute-plus video montage (nicely done, by the way) showing the horrendous "highlights" from the UNC and Clemson losses, with scrolling text stating how the Pack "was on life support" and that "people were talking" (presumably about staff or roster changes and not just about the latest episode of "My Name is Earl"). The video then spotlighted saviors Marcus Stone and Andre Brown, proclaimed that "The Pack Is Back," and then shows the many highlights from the win over the Seminoles.

And then, with a thud, the inevitable happened. State went up to Beantown and basically laid an egg, losing to Boston College, 30-10. That in and of itself is not surprising; the Eagles were on a two-game losing streak and had the Pack at Alumni Stadium on a cold, autumn night. Now the Pack has to win two games in a row to be bowl-eligible.

"It's a difficult situation for a lot of teams in this league that are sitting in the same boat," State coach Chuck Amato told the Greensboro News & Record following the BC loss. "We just have to be concerned about who we play next week and get to 5-5 and then who we play the following week after that to get to 6-5."

The next contest is a should-win game. The Pack faces a decent Middle Tennessee State at home on Saturday. But looming the following week (also at home) is State's archrival-if-there-was-no-such-thing-as-UNC: the Maryland Terrapins. The same Terrapins that absolutely love to crush the Pack's hopes and dreams - especially when the game is in Raleigh.

"We have to win on out to get bowl eligible so we have to keep a confident attitude," freshman phenom Brown told the News & Record.

Having the right attitude is one thing. Converting that attitude over to action is another.

ACC Football Rankings - One Man's Unimportant Opinion
1. Miami:
Canes need a hiccup by either Southern Cal or Texas to play for the national title.
2. Virginia Tech:
Hokies can salvage some major respect with a win in Charlottesville.
3. Florida State:
The Noles are falling fast.
4. Georgia Tech:
Yellow Jackets could catch Miami by surprise.
5. Clemson:
After Miami, the hottest team in the ACC.
6. Boston College:
Eagles stopped the bleeding with an impressive win over an unimpressive Wolfpack.
7. Virginia:
The enigmatic Cavs (score 5 points vs. UNC, 51 against Temple) put together a complete game in Atlanta.
8. Maryland:
Gutsy win in Chapel Hill.
9. North Carolina:
The Heels, like the Wolfpack, need to win two to go bowling. The Heels are talented enough to beat Va. Tech. But do they have the confidence to pull it off?
10. NC State:
Last place in the division: Not good.
11. Wake Forest:
Obviously Miami is better than Wake, but the Canes' 30-point win was still a little surprising.
12. Duke:
A win over UNC wouldn't make a complete season by any means, but it sure would feel good to the Blue Devil seniors.

This week's predictions
Middle Tennessee State at NC State:
MTSU isn't a bad team (just ask Vandy), but with its back against the wall, the Pack has to come out strong. There's way too much at stake. State 45, MTSU 13

Boston College at Maryland: The ACC's Battle of the North. The Terps are flying high: but Eagles fly higher. BC 32, Maryland 28

Clemson at South Carolina: For a long time (i.e.: since the beginning of time) this game has only had meaningto folks in the Palmetto State. Not anymore. South Carolina 24, Clemson 17

Duke at North Carolina: Just like NCSU, UNC has way too much at stake to take this game lightly. (Like the Heels would anyway.) Carolina 28, Duke 10

Virginia Tech at Virginia: The question is whether Vick & Co. can rebound to earn Commonwealth supremacy. Beamer should have the Gobblers up for this one. VPI 35, UVa 27

Georgia Tech at Miami: If the Canes aren't careful, the Jackets could sneak up and ruin any hope for a national title. Miami 32, Tech 17 This year's record so far (based upon picking the correct winner): 15-4.

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