RALEIGH, N.C. —North Carolina State coach Tom O’Brien has guided his team to late-season surges before. He knows his current team is almost out of chances to put together another one.
With seventh-ranked Clemson coming in today, N.C. State must win its final two games to become bowl eligible for the third time in four seasons. The Wolfpack might’ve caught a break since the Tigers arrive in Raleigh with a division title and spot in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game already wrapped up, though Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said he wants his team to maintain the same edge it’s had all season.
Either way, it’ll be a tough task for the Wolfpack.
“We’ve got to win this game,” O’Brien said. “As I said to them, we dug ourselves a big hole again. We found a way out of it before. We’re going to have to find a way to get out of this one.”
A week earlier, N.C. State (5-5, 2-4 ACC) looked ready to make a bowl push after a shutout victory against rival North Carolina. But a trip to two-win Boston College resulted in a 14-10 loss that eliminated the Wolfpack’s last margin for error.
Now N.C. State must beat the Tigers (9-1, 6-1) then beat Maryland at home next weekend. The Wolfpack must win seven games for bowl eligibility because two came against Championship Subdivision teams.
A win today would give Clemson its first 10-win season since 1990, not to mention keep it highly placed in the BCS standings.
GEORGIA TECH: The Yellow Jackets could have been playing for a division title. Duke could have been playing for its first bowl game in quite a while.
Those goals are gone, yet both teams insist there’s still plenty to play for when they meet today.
For the Yellow Jackets, it’s a chance to beat up on one of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s worst teams before facing a hated instate rival.
For the Blue Devils (3-7, 1-5), the only thing on the line is pride.
Georgia Tech (7-3, 4-3) was looking to reach a second ACC championship game since 2009, but those hopes evaporated in a home loss to No. 10 Virginia Tech.