Notebook: Pack, Canes Tangle in Finale

NC State (5-6, 3-4) faces Miami (7-4,4-3) in the team's final regular season game. Kickoff is scheduled for 12:00, and the game will be televised on Raycom.

NC State will face the University of Miami for the 13th time on Saturday, although it will be just the third meeting in Raleigh. Nine of the previous 12 contests have been played on the Hurricanes' home field. This will mark just the third meeting since UM joined the ACC and the 2004 matchup in Carter-Finley Stadium marked only the second time in the history of the series (which dates back to 1939) that the game was played on the Wolfpack's home field.

NC State has won four of the matchups with Miami, in 1942, 1944, 1971 and in 2007.

The Wolfpack's 2007 overtime win came down to the leg of Steven Hauschka, who kicked four field goals - three in the fourth quarter and the game winner in overtime - to lead NC State to a 19-16 win.

• Leads the ACC in passing efficiency (132.0).
• Leads the ACC in total offense (203.7).
• Tied for the ACC lead with 14 touchdowns passes.
• Has thrown only one interception all season, the fewest among all FBS quarterbacks ranked in the NCAA passing categories.
• Has gone 203 straight attempts without a pick, the longest active streak nationally and a school record.
• Named ACC Offensive Back of the Week (9/22) and Rookie of the Week (10/17).
• Ranks third nationally among freshman in passing efficiency.
• Ranks sixth nationally among freshman in total offense.

Quarterback Russell Wilson leads the ACC in passing efficiency at 132.0, despite missing two full games (William & Mary and South Florida), and most of the season opener, with injuries. That mark ranks third nationally among all freshman signal callers and would rank eighth all-time in school history for a single season if the season ended today and third for a career.

Wilson has been even better over his last seven starts, passing for all 14 of his touchdowns and not throwing an interception in that span. His performance over the last seven games translates to an impressive 140.19 passer efficiency rating.

Russell Wilson has a school record, active streak of 203 straight passing attempts without throwing an interception in a single season. That streak spans Wilson's last seven games, as his last pass attempt at Clemson was picked off. He surpassed the old school record on his fifth attempt of the UNC game, passing Jamie Barnette's streak of 179 attempts in 1998.

Among active NCAA quarterbacks, the streak ranks tied for fourth overall and is the longest active streak in the NCAA. On the season, Wilson has just one interception, the fewest in the nation among qualifying quarterbacks who rank in the NCAA top-100 for passing, passing yards per-game, total passing yards and/or passing efficiency.

Four of the first five teams NC State played this season were ranked at some point this season, and the Wolfpack has played the nation's No. 4 toughest schedule according to the USA Today/Sagarin Rankings this week.

NC State was the only ACC team to face four teams in the first five weeks of the season that had been ranked at some point in 2008. In fact, a NC State team had never played even three ranked opponents in the first five games of the season in school history until now.

Over the last two weeks, NC State had played - and defeated - two teams ranked in the BCS standings (Wake Forest and UNC). NC State also defeated then No. 15 East Carolina earlier this season.

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

So far during 2008, NC State has had 13 starters - including projected starters - miss playing time because of injury for a total of 69 games. All 13 of the players have each missed multiple games because of injury. Those fortunes have reversed course over the last three games - wins over Duke, Wake Forest and UNC - as NC State has had most of the starters back in the lineup with the exception of four guys - Toney Baker, Donald Bowens, Matt Kushner and Javon Walker - who are all out for the season. Shea McKeen missed the UNC game and is out for the season with a broken ankle.

In fact, for the first three weeks all season, NC State has had zero players listed on its Thursday injury report heading into that week's game (not counting the players already out for the season).

The NC State football team will honor 16 players as they play their final home game, including three graduates. Defensive captain Jeremy Gray, co-offensive captain Daniel Evans and Andrew Evans all graduated last season before completing their eligibility. Thirteen other seniors have exhausted thier eligibility as well, including starters John Bedics (left guard), Andre Brown (running back), Meares Green (right guard), Anthony Hill (tight end), Robbie Leonard (linebacker), J.C. Neal (safety), Bradley Pierson (punter) and Keith Willis, Jr. (defensive tackle).

In addition, Scott Bradsher (safety), Ryan Goodman (linebacker), Antoine Holmes (defensive tackle) and Matthew White (offensive line) will also play in their final home game.

If you break down the conference standings into a first half of the season and the last half, NC State is without question one of the hottest teams in the league. The Pack has a perfect 3-0 mark after the midway point in the season, tied with Boston College for best record over the second half of the season so far.

NC State has gone from one of the worst turnover margins in 2007 to one of the best in just one year. Last season, the Wolfpack turned the ball over 32 times while forcing only 16 turnovers, ranking 116th out of 119 teams in the nation. This season has been a complete 180 degree turnaround, as NC State currently ranks 21st nationally by forcing 23 turnovers while only giving it away 15 times.

That is the third largest turnaround in the nation in terms of turnover margin from 2007.

That margin is even more impressive when you look at the last six games since Russell Wilson returned as the starting quarterback after missing the South Florida game with an injury. NC State is a +9 over the last six games after being a -1 in the first five games.

As a team, NC State has only turned the ball over twice in those six games, a school record. Only once in school history - in 1965 - has NC State had only two turnovers in a FOUR game streak. For comparison, the Wolfpack turned the ball over 13 times in the first five games of the season.

The NC State offense has been much improved over the last five games, as it is averaging almost 10 more points-per-game, almost 90 more yards of total offense and more than doubled its rushing output. One of the keys? Quarterback Russell Wilson has started the last five contests, throwing for a pair of touchdowns in each of the five games with no interceptions.

Wilson missed two full games and most of the season opener with injuries over the first six games of the season. When Wilson did play in those four early games, he passed for four touchdowns and one interception while Daniel Evans and Harrison Beck combined for two touchdowns and nine interceptions in the first six games of the season.

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 2,407 rushing yards (9th in school history) and 20 rushing touchdowns (tied for eighth in school history). Brown needs 73 yards on the ground to move into eighth all-time at NC State in rushing yards.

Brown also ranks 10th in school history with 3,338 all-purpose yards, only 24 yards short of 9th place.

He is just the fifth NC State player to have 2,000+ rushing yards and 600+ 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 rushing yards and is tied for third in career rushing touchdowns.

Quarterback Russell Wilson earned Co-Offensive Back of the Week honors after the UNC win, his second Offensive Back of the Week honor and third overall this season. Wilson passed for a career-high 279 yards and two touchdowns while leading NC State to season-highs in total offense, rushing yards and passing yards in the 41-10 rout.

He was also named ACC Rookie of the Week after he passed for 152 yards and two touchdowns, with no interceptions, in NC State's upset win over Wake Forest. He completed 16 of 33 pass attempts and also carried the ball 14 times for 69 yards and a touchdown. He was NC State's leading rusher for the game and was responsible for all three of the Wolfpack's touchdowns and 221 yards of total offense.

Wilson was ACC Offensive Back of the Week after the win against then-No. 15 East Carolina, when he passed for 210 yards and a career-high three touchdowns in the overtime victory.

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