Oh, we won't give in
We'll keep living in the past.
-- Jethro Tull
Chuck Amato doesn't appear to be living in the past.
It would be easy for the NC State football coach to
vent and rage to the media about last year's
controversial loss to UNC in Chapel Hill. But Amato
appears to have moved on - even if many of the State
fans (and some of the players) seem to have the
heartbreak of the 30-24 loss fresh in their minds.
"Last year's over," Amato told the media this week.
And, to a degree, he's right. Amato and the Pack
shouldn't need any further motivation to get up for
their arch-rival - that's why it's a rivalry game.
"It's important to everybody involved at both
schools," said Amato.
The perception among most experts, media members and
fans over the past four or five years is that State is
on the cusp of being the preeminent college football
program in the state. That perception can trickle down
and manifest itself into the attitude of players and
fans; the belief in your own superiority can whittle
away at the desire and hunger to beat your arch-rival.
In fact, three years ago, it appeared that national
powers Florida State and Maryland - not the Tar Heels
- were quickly becoming State's main rivals.
But last year, things changed in the blink of an eye and
brought the Pack back down to earth. The articles and
talk leading up to that October game last year were
not dissimilar to the hype leading up this week: How
the Heels don't belong on the same field as the Pack;
how a three- or four-touchdown beat down is awaiting
We all know what happened.
"Last year rests on everybody's mind," senior
defensive end Manny Lawson said recently.
While his coach wants the team to move on, Lawson
appears to feel the sting of last season's upset loss
- even if you can clearly hear Amato in the back of
Lawson's mind saying, "Remember: Tell the media we're
over what happened last year. Don't bring up last
year. Nothing about last year!"
"Everybody has controversial issues about what
happened," Lawson said before catching himself: "The
way the team is looking at it, last year is last year.
... If we live in the past you're never going to be
able to move on into the future, so why dwell on the
I would hazard to guess that Amato has his players
telling the media that the game last year is history -
but in practice or throughout the Murphy Center I
wouldn't be surprised to see reminders of last year's
fateful game all over the place. Even Amato has
admitted that the Carolina game is bigger than State's
Gator Bowl win over Notre Dame - arguably the biggest
win in school history.
The fact that Carolina is 0-2 hardly matters. The fact
that it the opponent is Carolina does matter. And the
fact that State wants revenge should matter more -
whether the Pack says so or not.
Said Lawson: "It being your rivalry school, North
Carolina, powder blue, that should be motivation
ACC Football Rankings - One Man's Unimportant
1. Virginia Tech: Hokies - at this point, anyway -
appear head and shoulders above everyone else in the
2. Florida State: FSU made a "don't forget about
us"-type statement with its Sod Game win in Chestnut
3. Miami: Canes gutted one out in impressive fashion
4. Boston College: The Eagles may have lost to Florida
State, but BC proved its mettle among college
5. Clemson: Despite the loss, Tommy Boy's team is
possibly one of the best 15 teams in the nation.
6. Virginia: Nice win for the 'Hoos up in the 'Cuse.
7. Georgia Tech: A
healthy Reggie Ball is the difference between Tech
challenging for a Peach Bowl or no bowl at all.
8. NC State: Pack got out of the EKU win fairly
healthy - and with a huge jolt of confidence.
9. Maryland: Terps face a key game against Wake
Forest this Saturday. Fridge's team appears to be at a
seasonal crossroads; a win is almost necessary for a
10. Wake Forest: Deacs' running game is one to keep an
11. North Carolina: Heels have
been "this close" so far this year. Does Carolina "get
over" on Saturday?
12. Duke: Who cares what division VMI is in? Enjoy the
win, Dookies. Savor it.
This week's predictions
Carolina at State: The Wolfpack needs to establish the
running game early and often in order to wrack up some
yards and to keep Carolina's offense off the field.
The Heels haven't generated a ton of points this year,
but you get the feeling that UNC's O is due.
Toney Baker's team 28, Matt Baker's team
Colorado at Miami: About a decade ago, this would've
been one heck of a game.
Miami 35, Colorado 10
Boston College at Clemson: Welcome to the ACC, BC. The
Eagles were more than impressive in losing at home to
FSU last Saturday. But now Jim O'Brien's team faces
the unenviable task of traveling to Death Valley to
take on an angry (and talented) Clemson squad. Not
Clemson 35, BC 21
Duke at Virginia: Fresh off its win over one school
from the Commonwealth, Duke gets the task of traveling
to Charlottesville to face one of its oldest and most
hated rivals in UVa. Of course, Al "Risky Business"
Groh and the Wahoos should have "All the Right Moves."
Wahoos 45, Blue Devils 13
Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech: Hokies are rolling, and
the Jackets should just get out of the way.
Virginia Tech 28, Georgia Tech 13
Maryland at Wake Forest: Perhaps the most intriguing
game of the day. The season's success for both teams
could depend on what happens. Each needs a conference
win to position itself for the rest of the year; Wake
just appears to be closer to achieving that.
Wake Forest 35, Maryland 34
This year's record . so far (based upon picking
the correct winner): 5-1. (Who in the world
would think Wake would beat Nebraska two weeks ago?
Oh, wait. That was me.)