Notebook: Pack, Blue Devils Battle in Durham

NC State (2-6) faces Duke (4-4) in a huge conference game for both teams. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30, and the game will not be televised but is available to view online at ESPN360.

The series with Duke began in 1924 and the two teams played every year except once - in 1944 - until 2003. The Blue Devils hold a 35-39-5 overall record, however, NC State holds a 28-10-3 advantage against Duke since 1963.

NC State has also won the last 10 meetings - and 13 of 14 dating back to 1990 - with the Blue Devils' last win coming in a 21-20 decision in 1993. The 10 game win streak is the longest Wolfpack streak in the series.

When the two rivals play, the outcome isn't decided until late in the fourth quarter or into overtime. Eleven of the last 17 contests have been decided by eight points or less, with an amazing nine being four points or less, including a tie in 1988.

Despite NC State winning the last 10 meetings, seven of the wins during the current streak have been by eight points or less, including five by four points or less.

When NC State plays Duke on Saturday, it will close a a rare stretch during the football season that saw the Wolfpack play only two games in 34 days.

After playing Boston College on October 4, NC State had the next Saturday off as it prepared for the Thursday, October 16 game against Florida State. The Pack played at Maryland on November 25, before its true bye week with no game on November 1.

The only other time that NC State played just two games in a 34 day stretch was in 1995, between October 1 and November 3. NC State played at Alabama on October 7, and at Duke on October 21 of that year.

NC State's injury troubles were well documented in 2007, with 13 starters missing time in 44 total games, with six starters missing multiple games.

So far during 2008, NC State has already had 12 starters - including projected starters - miss playing time because of injury for a total of 56 games. All 12 of the players have each missed multiple games because of injury.

Redshirt freshman starting quarterback Russell Wilson returned to the starting lineup against Clemson after suffering a concussion in the second quarter of the opening game loss to USC. He played one snap - as a holder on an extra point - against William & Mary in the second game. He missed the South Florida loss with an undisclosed injury, but is now cleared and has started the last two games.

Redshirt senior tight end Anthony Hill was out indefinitely after suffering a pectoralis strain after playing in the opener and catching his first pass since 2006. Hill missed all of 2007 with a knee injury but returned to action against BC.

Hill's replacement in the starting lineup for the second game against William & Mary, Matt Kushner, suffered a season-ending knee injury in the contest.

Redshirt junior Jamelle Eugene, the team's starting tailback heading into the season, missed the first three games of the year after leading the team in rushing and being named team MVP in 2007.

Junior wideout Donald Bowens, the team's top returning receiver by yardage and per catch average in 2007, was diagnosed with lower back stress fractures that will keep him sidelined in 2008. Bowens was a lock to start.

Clem Johnson, a junior college transfer who could have started at safety for the Pack to open the season, broke his jaw in the team's second scrimmage and missed the first four games of the season, but saw his first playing time against USF before notching his first career interception against BC.

Johnson was slated to start for injured safety Javon Walker, who had knee surgery and is out for the year after being injured in the Miami game late in the 2007 season.

Starting defensive tackle Alan-Michael Cash - who O'Brien called the teams best lineman this season - and the Pack's most experienced offensive lineman, Curtis Crouch, each missed three games this season but returned to action against FSU.

Redshirt sophomore linebacker Nate Irving, arguably the ACC's Defensive Player of the Year after the first four games this season, has missed three games now with an ankle injury. He returned for the FSU game after missing a pair of games before reinjuring his ankle and missing the Maryland game.

In addition, redshirt junior tailback Toney Baker had knee surgery prior to the 2008 opener and is out for the season. Baker suffered a season-ending knee injury after starting the 2007 opener against Central Florida last season.

Russell Wilson has an active streak of 117 straight passing attempts without throwing an interception. That streak spans Wilson's last four games, as his last pass attempt at Clemson was picked off. That is the longest such streak for the Wolfpack without an interception since Philip Rivers went 126 attempts in 2003, and is the fifth-longest streak in school history dating back to 1970. Wilson needs just 10 passing attempts to hold the second-longest streak in school history.

Quarterback Russell Wilson has put up impressive numbers in his young career despite missing two full games, including most of the season opener, with injuries. Wilson has thrown for 900 yards and completed 57.3% of his passes with eight touchdowns to only one interception on the season. He leads the ACC in passing efficiency at 127.3. That mark ranks fifth nationally among all freshman signal callers and would rank 11th all-time in school history for a single season.

Wilson has been even better over his last four starts, completing 71-of-117 for 796 yards, 60.9% completion percentage and eight touchdowns to zero picks. That translates to an impressive 140.4 passer efficiency rating.

Only three NC State football players on the current roster have earned three letters heading into this season: Curtis Crouch, Andre Brown and J.C. Neal.

In addition to that, only eight players - including six starters - have 1,000+ snaps in their career. To put that into perspective, over the last three seasons (2005-07) NC State has averaged 702 offensive snaps a year and 835 defensive snaps a year.

Freshman wideout T.J. Graham has instantly added speed to the Wolfpack. Graham is returning punts and kicks for NC State and his 809 yards in kickoff returns is the fourth most nationally. That yardage total is also a NC State school record for a single season and already ranks 11th for a career. He ranks fourth in the ACC and 26th nationally in kick return average.

Against BC, Graham returned his first kickoff for a touchdown, a school-record 100-yard sprint.

Graham ranks fourth in the ACC in all-purpose yards at 133.6 yards-per-game, the top mark for all freshmen in the ACC and the fifth-best freshman mark nationally. He has had over 100 yards in kickoff return yardage in five games, including 163 kickoff return yards against USF, the third most in school history for a single game and the second highest total for a freshman. Only Greg Golden's school record effort of 175 yards against Pittsburgh in 2001 bested Graham's total.

Graham won the North Carolina 4-A title in the 100 and 200 meters with times of 10.44 and 20.82, respectively. He also posted the nation's fastest time in the 200 meters at one point during the season. In 2007 while at Wakefield HS in Raleigh, Graham finished third nationally in the 100 meters at the Nike Nationals.

Senior running back Andre Brown has been a solid all-purpose back for NC State in his career. He became just the 10th player in school history to amass 2,000+ career rushing yards after running for 73 yards in the win over No. 15 ECU, including the last 26 yards in overtime and the game-winning 10-yard scamper.

He now has 2,203 rushing yards and 19 rushing touchdowns, both good for ninth in school history. Brown needs just 277 yards to move into eighth all-time at NC State in rushing yards.

Brown also ranks 12th in school history with 3,071 all-purpose yards.

He is just the fifth NC State player to have 2,000+ rushing yards and 500+ receiving yards in a career, joining standouts Ted Brown, Willie Burden, Ray Robinson and T.A. McClendon.

The senior from Greenville, N.C. ranks second in the ACC among active players in career yards and is third in career rushing touchdowns.

Walk-on football players can usually provide support for a program during practices as scout team players, but sometimes those players can become important pieces of the puzzle on gamedays. Senior Robbie Leonard, a former walk-on, has provided a strong presence in the linebacking corps in his first season as a linebacker.

Leonard, who was a defensive back in his first few years on campus after walking on to the program, has started every game at strongside linebacker in 2008 after making the position change in the spring. He has responded by posting 58 tackles, second on the team, and recovering a team-high two fumbles. Leonard also has 3.5 tackles-for-loss and led the team with a career-high 13 tackles against Florida State.

Pack Pride Top Stories