NC State will open the 2016 season at home against William & Mary. The Wolfpack and the Tribe have become familiar with each other over the decades, having met 20 times in total. In fact, the Tribe developed into a regular thorn in the Pack's schedule, at one point taking six straight in the series.
One game the Tribe did not win, though, came in the fall of 1944. William & Mary perhaps should have won the game, based solely on the significant edge it had in first downs and yards gained, but you know what, there's a few things that can derail an otherwise superior down-to-down effort.
My first and foremost recommendation would be to not turn the ball over 10 times.
I guess William & Mary was something approximating the Hal Mumme Kentucky of its day--the Tribe threw the ball 36 times in this game, compared to State's meager five attempts. The Tribe completed half those attempts but managed only 195 yards through the air, giving them a paltry average of 5.4 yards per attempt. Plus, of course, there were the four interceptions. So they were like an Air Raid team except without any of the efficiency.
W&M out-gained NC State 361-178 in the contest, and while that did the Tribe no good this time, it would prove foreshadowing for the decade ahead. William & Mary won six of the next seven in the series, and by the early 1950s, it had Wolfpack coach Beattie Feathers stress-smoking his way through entire halves, as one Technician reporter noted in 1951:
In case you couldn't tell from that biting bit of prose, Feathers had fallen out of favor by 1951. State lost that game to William & Mary, 35-28, and the Pack finished the year 3-7. That was the end of Feathers' tenure, which is a little disappointing to me because I like the idea of a coach who would go through like three packs of cigarettes during a game. Such a foreign image.
Alas, flavor country does not produce top-notch football talent, or anything at all, really, and so Feathers could not last. Things didn't improve for the football program until Earl Edwards took over in 1954 following Horace Henderson's disastrous two-year run.
Edwards ended NC State's six-game losing streak to William & Mary, but the Tribe won their last two meetings with Edwards' Wolfpack.
Of course, back then, NC State would go on the road and play teams like Bill and Mary. That doesn't happen anymore. These schools have met only three times since 1980, and all three games have been played in Raleigh. This year's meeting will be the first since 2008.
Let's hope the Wolfpack can come through for old Beattie Feathers, who is somewhere tossing a cigarette to the ground and swearing after another failed third down conversion attempt.