DUNLAP CATCHING ON
Junior wideout John Dunlap has quickly emerged as the go-to receiver the last three ball games. He has caught 10 passes for 136 yards and three touchdowns over the last three contests after having just one reception for 21 yards in the first two games of the year.
Dunlap has been a favorite target of quarterback Daniel Evans, as the two connected on the first touchdown of either's career with a 21-yard strike against Southern Miss. The duo have connected seven times for 124 yards and three touchdowns since Evans got his first playing time at quarterback in the fourth quarter against USM.
NC STATE VERSUS WAKE FOREST
NC State and Wake Forest will meet for the 100th time this Saturday on the gridiron since the series started in 1895.
The Wolfpack holds a 60-33-6 advantage in the series and leads 6-4 in the last 10 matchups. Wolfpack head coach Chuck Amato is 4-2 against the Demon Deacons after losing in Winston-Salem last season, 27-19.
NC State has not lost to Wake in Carter-Finley since 1984 and it is the second oldest rivalry for the Wolfpack. Though the Deacons and Pack have played more times, NC State played North Carolina in 1894.
AJ FEELING A-OK
AJ Davis was back in the lineup against Boston College and Florida St. after missing the previous two contests and all but 11 plays of the opener with a hamstring injury. The redshirt-senior is a cornerstone of the Wolfpack defense and had played in all 36 games of his career until the injury forced him out.
Davis is the most experienced player on the defense with 1,622 plays in his career, and second-most overall on the team behind center/guard Leroy Harris.
Davis started the BC contest and quickly set the tone with an early pass breakup, one of two on the night for the cornerback. He was a key part of the Wolfpack defense that held Boston College's quarterback Matt Ryan to just 149 yards in the air after averaging nearly 300 yards in the first three games this season, tops in the ACC.
Davis was perhaps even better against Florida State, recording three PBUs and four tackles while holding talented wideout Greg Carr to just one catch on the game.
Davis now has five PBUs in the last two contests.
LAST TIME IN RALEIGH
When the Pack and Deacons last met in Raleigh at Carter-Finley Stadium, the two teams staged a classic. The 2004 contest went to overtime before NC State prevailed, 27-21, as six of the 10 overtime games the Wolfpack has played have been against ACC foes.
The Demon Deacons led 14-0 at the half before NC State exploded in the third quarter for three touchdowns to take the lead heading into the final quarter.
Wake Forest's Micah Andrews scored on a 1-yard plunge with nine minutes remaining to send the game into overtime. Wake got the ball first and missed a 34-yard field goal, and the Pack's TA McLendon ran four straight times, including an eight yard touchdown for the game winning score, his second touchdown of the game.
In his first two starts at quarterback, redshirt sophomore
Evans, who would rank fourth overall in passing efficiency if he had enough attempts to qualify, he is however ranked fourth in efficiency in ACC games only.
He has completed 28-of-53 passes for 369 yards with four touchdowns and just one pick in two games for an efficiency rating of 132.4.
Evans also ranks fifth in the conference in ACC games only in passing yardage per contest at 184.5.
NC STATE TOPS IN DIVISION
With its impressive 2-0 start in conference play, the Wolfpack is currently one of two teams still undefeated in ACC play and is in sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Division.
Georgia Tech is the only remaining undefeated team as they lead the Coastal Division with a 3- 0 record. NC State will host the Yellow Jackets on Nov. 4 in Raleigh.
His nine tackles were the second most of his career after having 14 stops last season against Middle Tennessee St. Morgan, who was described as the team's best coverage safety by defensive coordinator Steve Dunlap, made a diving interception after fellow rover Garland Heath tipped a pass from FSU's Drew Weatherford to seal the win with just over two minutes left in the game.
WOLFPACK IN REDZONE
The team has had its struggles in the redzone this season on both sides of the ball. Heading into the Florida St. game, NC State had made just seven trips into the redzone and scored five times (four TDs, one FG). The defense had allowed 14 scores (nine TDs and five FGs) in 16 chances inside the 20-yardline.
Those numbers took a backseat to the impressive performance from the team against the Seminoles.
The offense produced a season-high five trips inside the redzone against FSU and scored three touchdowns and a field goal while the defense allowed three trips and held them to just one touchdown and two field goals.
It was the first time all season that NC State had more trips inside the redzone than its opponents.
GERON GOT IT DONE
Redshirt freshman receiver Geron James (pronounced JERE-uhn) caught just two passes for 14 yards, including an 11-yard touchdown, last season before missing the remainder of the year and receiving a medical redshirt.
He added a 10-yard touchdown in the third quarter with the Pack down 10 to trim the lead, then snared a 24 yarder in the fourth.
James registered career-highs of four catches for 91 yards against the Noles.
KNOCKING OFF RANKED TEAMS
So far in college football this season the upsets have been few and far between. Only six times in six weeks did a unranked team knock off a ranked opponent, and NC State has done it twice!
When the Wolfpack beat Boston College it became just the fourth unranked team all season to defeat a ranked team before knocking off Florida State for its second win over a ranked team in as many games.
ANDRE BROWN FOR 1,000
With his 113 yards versus FSU, the second straight year he went over 100 yards against the Noles, he became just the 21st player in Wolfpack history to rush for 1,000 career yards, and the eighth fastest to reach that mark.
Brown had just 13 carries and 42 yards in his first five collegiate contests, but is averaging 16.2 carries a game and 92.5 yards on the ground in the last 11 games.
Brown has scored seven rushing touchdowns in his last 11 games and had just one, against Eastern Kentucky, in his first five games.
EVANS DEFEATS PAIR OF RANKED
Evans became the first Wolfpack quarterback (dating back to 1970) to play against and defeat two ranked opponents in his first two career starts.
The redshirt sophomore earned his first career start on Sept. 23 against No. 20/21 Boston College and led the Pack to the dramatic win with a touchdown pass on the game's final drive.
In his second start Evans was perhaps even better, throwing for 190 yards and three touchdowns against No. 17/16 Florida State, including the game winning score in the fourth quarter.
ROLL IN THE TANK
DeMarcus "Tank" Tyler had a monster game against Boston College with a career-high 13 tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack and a forced fumble.
When Wolfpack linebackers Pat Lowery and Lerue Rumph combined to stop short-yardage specialist Brian Toal behind the line on fourth down late in the game before the final, game-winning drive, it was Tyler who perhaps saved the day.
He got quick penetration at the snap and pushed the center back into Toal, who hesitated in the backfield to allow the linebackers to make the stop. After his impressive performance, espn2's Ron Franklin said Tyler "was a man among boys" on the field.
Tyler followed that up with six tackles against Florida State, including a tackle for loss. On the season, Tyler is second on the team with 40 stops and leads the team with seven tackles for loss. His two sacks are tied for second on the team and he has pressured the quarterback three times.
Chuck Amato preaches to his team that they must win the turnover battle each week. The Wolfpack is currently ninth in the ACC in turnover margin at -7, forcing a league-low five turnovers and losing 11.
NC State has turned that around in the last two games after having 10 turnovers in the first three games combined.
In the wins over Boston College and Florida St., NC State has just one turnover, a Daniel Evans interception on fourth down late in the Boston College game.
Opponents capitalized off of the Pack's miscues in the first three games, scoring 27 points off of turnovers. That accounts for 40% (27 of 67) of the total points allowed in the first three contests. NC State did not allow a score after the late interception against BC.
CUTTING IT CLOSE
Chuck Amato has now coached in 50 ACC contests since taking over the Wolfpack program in 2000, posting a 25-25 record in those contests.
In 28 of those 50 games, the final outcome has been decided by a touchdown (seven points) or less, 32 have been decided by eight points or less and 36 have been decided by 10 points or less.
His ACC record includes a 14-12 mark at home. The Wolfpack has lost just four conference games by double digits at home in the past seven years. In 14 home ACC wins, six have been by double digits, and the other eight have been by seven or less points, including the two-point win over BC and the four-point triumph over FSU.
Under Amato, NC State has lost by 20-or-more points just three times and by more than 10 points just seven times in ACC games.