NC State needs to bounce back; BC hopes to keep rolling
BOSTON (AP) — North Carolina State’s last two opponents could be headed to the College Football Playoff. The next one, coach Dave Doeren says, is “maybe the hottest team in the league.”
“We don’t have any time to lick our wounds,” Doeren said this week as the Wolfpack try to recover from back-to-back losses to Top 10 teams when they play streaking Boston College on Saturday. The Eagles have won three straight games, outscoring Louisville, Virginia and Florida State by a combined 121-55.
“I think they would have our attention regardless,” said Doeren, whose loss to BC last season snapped the Eagles’ 23-month Atlantic Coast Conference losing streak. “Any time you’re playing a team that’s playing well, that gets your attention. But the fact that it’s someone we didn’t beat last year ... that helps too.”
N.C. State (6-3, 4-1 ACC) was ranked as high as 14th in the country before a loss to now-No. 3 Notre Dame, followed by a 38-31 loss to Clemson — now fourth — that dropped the Wolfpack out of the AP Top 25. Doeren isn’t thinking about the missed opportunities, but the ones still ahead.
“If we could win out ... we’d finish 7-1 in the ACC, which has never been done here,” he said. “A chance for our senior class to say they were the best team in N.C. State history in conference play. If we could get to 10 wins, that’s only been done one time in program history. There’s a ton on the table for us when you talk about the legacy of your senior class.”
BC (5-4, 3-3) is a month removed from an 0-3 conference record and the fear of a second winless ACC season in three years. After an Oct. 7 loss to Virginia Tech, coach Steve Addazio went off in his postgame news conference, vowing, “It’s going to come together, and it’s going to be beautiful.”
“I’m not really surprised, because we knew it was going to happen. It was just a question of when,” running back AJ Dillon said. “It just started to click.”
Here are some other things to look for in Saturday’s game between the Wolfpack and the Eagles:
Addazio thinks one reason for the Eagles’ slow start is because he has had to rely on so many freshmen. BC is the only school in the country with freshmen as the leading passer (Anthony Brown), rusher (Dillon) and receiver (Kobay White).
After throwing seven interceptions in the first four games, Brown tossed just one in the five games since. He’s also run for 155 yards in the past four games.
Boston College is the only school with freshmen at center and quarterback. True freshman Ben Petrula took over the snapping when senior Jon Baker was injured in the opener. As the offensive line learned to play together, Dillon was the beneficiary.
The true freshman broke out with 272 yards and four touchdowns against Louisville on Oct. 14, and has averaged about 158 yards on 30 carries in BC’s last four wins. He needs just 78 yards to surpass Montel Harris as the leading freshman rusher in Boston College history.
“We’ve been molding as a team,” Brown said. “We’ve been playing better team football.”
Coaches never complain about bye weeks, but Addazio might have liked to keep going after beating Louisville, Virginia and Florida State.
“I hope we have the same rhythm,” he said. “It feels like a long time since we’ve played a game. But we’ve had good practices. We’re more rested. We were able to look at some things. Kids were able to catch up in school. So, I feel good about all of that.”
N.C. State has been outscored by a combined 42-0 in the third quarters of its three losses, and has outscored its opponents 45-16 in that quarter in its six wins. “It’s not like we’re calling bad plays,” Doeren said. “We’re just not executing the same way we are earlier in the game, for whatever reason, and it’s something we need to address, obviously.”
NEW (OLD) KICKER
Kyle Bambard is back as the Wolfpack’s starting kicker. Carson Wise had handled most kicks for N.C. State but was just 6 of 12 on the season including a miss from 34 yards out late in the first half against Clemson. Bambard replaced him in the second half and kicked a 22-yarder with 1:51 left. Bambard was 12 of 24 on field goals during the 2015 and ’16 seasons.
AP Sports Writer Joedy McCreary contributed to this report from Raleigh, North Carolina.