The Wolfpack holds a 34-21-1 advantage in the series and has won four of the last six - including the last three games played in Raleigh.
State and Virginia played every year from 1960 - 2003, but have met just three times since ACC expansion, with the ‘Hoos winning in Charlottesville in 2006 (14-7), the Pack taking the victory against the No. 18 Cavaliers in Raleigh in 2007 (29-24) and then winning at Charlottesville in 2011, 28-14.
The Pack’s win on the road against UVa last season was its first in Charlottesville since 1994. Tom O’Brien was the offensive coordinator/quarterback coach for that Cavalier team that finished the season 9-3 and won the Independance Bowl.
PACK-CAVALIERS PLAY IT CLOSE
Half of the last 10 games between NC State and Virginia have been decided by a touchdown or less, including two of the last three (7-14 in 2006 and 29-24 in 2007). State won by two TDs a year ago, 28-14.
In 2003, NC State won by two touchdowns in Raleigh (51-37), but that game may have actually been the closest in recent history. In a battle of two quarterbacks who are now NFL starters, Philip Rivers and Matt Schaub, there were four ties and eight lead changes before the Pack went on to win, 51-37.
Close games between the two teams are nothing new, however. In 1944, in a game played in Norfolk, the Wolfpack gained a 13-0 victory in a driving rainstorm by recovering two UVa fumbles in the endzone for touchdowns. State failed to make a first down and had just 10 yards of total offense in that game, an NCAA record for fewest yards gained by a winning team and one of only two games in bowl subdivision history where the winning team failed to make a first down.
O’BRIEN FACES PROTEGE
Cavalier head coach Mike London is one of O’Brien’s seven former assistant coaches who have gone on to become head coaches. London served on the Boston College staff as defensive coordinator from 1997-2000.
This will mark the eighth time that O’Brien has faced one of his former assistants on the gridiron, and the second of three times this season. The Wolfpack played former assistant Al Golden’s Miami Hurricanes earlier this season and will face Frank Spaziani’s Boston College squad in the last week of the regular season.
STAFFS ARE TIED UP
The Wolfpack coaching staff has some pretty strong ties to the University of Virginia, as well as to the Cavalier coaching staff.
On the Wolfpack side, head coach Tom O’Brien was on the Cavalier staff for 15 years (1982 - 1996), coaching guards and centers for nine years, then serving as offensive coordinator for six seasons (four with the QBs, two back with the OL) under George Welsh. He helped lead the Cavaliers to 12 winning seasons, four bowl appearances and an ACC Co-Championship.
Three other members of the current Wolfpack staff also coached at UVa during that time frame: Mike Archer (linebackers, 1991-92), Jim Bridge (GA, 1994-95) and Jerry Petercuskie (defensive tackles, 1995-96).
Linebackers coach Jon Tenuta lettered at defensive back at Virginia for three seasons, earning the team’s John Acree Memorial Football Trophy and Kevin Bowie Award. He also served as a graduate assistant from 1981-82.
From the Virginia side, wide receivers coach Shawn Moore was a All-American signal caller for UVa during O’Brien’s time on the staff (O’Brien was coaching the offensive line during Moore’s career).
Virginia associate head coach/defensive coordinator Jim Reid was the defensive coordinator at BC in 2004, before O’Brien was head coach, but Wolfpack secondary coach Mike Reed’s senior season.
Cavalier running back coach Anthony Poindexter was a safety at Virginia from 1994-98, crossing paths with O’Brien for his first three seasons with the program.
AMONG THE ELITE
NC State head coach Tom O’Brien is in some elite company, as he ranks 20th among the winningest active coaches in the BCS ranks. In his 16th campaign as a head coach, O’Brien posts a career record of 111-76. Eleven of his 15 teams have advanced to postseason bowls. Only 27 of the 120 coaches in the BCS have posted at least 100 career wins.
TOB VS. TOP
When the nation’s top-ranked teams have faced a Wolfpack squad under Tom O’Brien, they usually aren’t ranked as high the following week. NC State posts an 8-5 record against teams ranked in the top-25 under O’Brien.
The FSU game two weeks ago marked the second time that the Wolfpack has hosted a top-10 foe at home during O’Brien’s tenure. Seventh-ranked Clemson visited Carter-Finley last season and left with a 37-13 defeat at the hands of the Pack.
SWEET HOME CARTER-FINLEY
There is no doubt that the NC State football squad definitely feeds off the energy provided by its home fans. Since the beginning of the 2010 season, the Wolfpack has posted a 14-2 record at Carter-Finley Stadium, including wins over two top-10 teams.
In that same time frame, the Pack has posted a 6-9 mark in away games and a 2-1 mark at neutral sites.
EMBRACING OUR PAST
On Saturday, the 1967 Wolfpack football team will hold its 45th anniversary reunion. So far, 31 members of that squad, which posted a 9-2 overall mark, are scheduled to attend the game.
Earle Edwards’ squad won the first eight games of the season in 1967, moving up to as high as No. 3 in the national polls. The team, which also posted a 5-1 mark in ACC place, finished second in the league and defeated Georgia in the Liberty Bowl. That was State’s first bowl victory.
The list of returnees will be highlighted by All-Americans Freddie Combs (DB), Carey Metts (C) and Ron Carpenter (DT), plus Academic All-American Steve Warren (OT).
Quarterback Mike Glennon has been on a tear since ACC play has started. The Pack’s quarterback has completed 106-of-196 passes for 1,473 yards (a 368.3 yard avg.) and 13 touchdowns over the last four games, all in ACC play.
Glennon has twice set a career high in passing yardage since league play opened: first with 440 yards at Miami, and again with 467 yards at North Carolina.
Glennon’s average in ACC games (and overall) leads the ACC by 50 yards, as Miami’s Stephen Morris is second at 318.4 yards a game.
In the first four games of the season, all non-conference, Glennon averaged 245.5 yards with a high of 288 in the season opener against Tennessee.
Glennon had 3 games over 300 yards last season, and with his three this year so far, he ranks third all-time in the State record books for career games over that mark (Philip Rivers 19, Russell Wilson 12).
Glennon is also moving up the ranks in career 400 yard passing games, which he had not accomplished until this season. He is the first to throw for over 400 in a game since Philip Rivers did so five times in 2003, and is only one of four players ever to have thrown for over 400 (Rivers, Shane Montgomery, and Jamie Barnette).
UNDERWOOD FOR SIX
Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Bryan Underwood is the ONLY wide receiver in the NCAA that has a TD reception in every game this season. Underwood has set a new school record with a TD catch in eight consecutive games, one behind the ACC record (Herman Moore, UVA 1990).
The most diminutive member of the NC State wide receiver corps at 5’11, 174, Underwood ranks second on the team with 28 catches this season, but he leads the team and is tied for third in the ACC in touchdown scoring.
Seven of his 12 scoring grabs have been for 33 or more yards. His most memorable, however, is the two-yard reception with 16 seconds left to play to give the Pack a victory over No. 3 Florida State.
Last season he scored on a 33- and a 79-yarder at Virginia and this season has caught TDs for 44, 46 and 55 yards.
AMERSON SETS SCHOOL RECORD
Junior cornerback David Amerson, the national leader in interceptions a year ago, stole his fourth of the season and the 17th of his career in the win at Maryland, breaking the NC State career record held by Eric Williams (1978-82) and Art Rooney (1936-38). NC State posts a 11-2 record when Amerson records an interception.
Amerson is now tied for fourth in ACC history in career interceptions. He set the State and ACC single-season marks in 2011 with the second-best mark in FBS history - 13. He returned two picks for scores, also a BCS best, and led the national ranks in INT return yards with 205.
In 2011, Amerson was one of three finalists for the Thorpe Award, was a first-team Walter Camp All-American. He broke the record that had been set just a few years before he was born: Art Rooney (of the Pittsburgh Steeler Rooneys) held the record with eight in 1937 and again in 1938!
TO RUSH OR NOT TO RUSH
NC State’s rushing attack has been a bit up-and-down this season. The reason behind the ‘down’ could be that the Wolfpack has faced four teams that ranked in the top 25 nationally in rushing defense at the time the games were played - Florida State, Maryland and Connecticut ranked in the top 10 and UNC ranked in the top 25. In those four games combined, the Pack rushed for a total of 227 yards - an average of 56.8 yards per game.
Rushing for less than 100 yards in a game hasn’t had too negative of an impact, however, as State has won three of those four contests.
In the four games that the opponent was not ranked in the top-10 nationally, the Pack has rushed for an average of 188.0 yards an outing. (Tenn – 119, South Ala. – 127, The Citadel – 282, Miami – 224).