We’re on the doorstep of yet another college football season. Many of us have been leery of listening to #hype. It seems like many people around the country are going out of their way to mention N.C. State as having the chance to shake things up this season. This obviously makes Wolfpack fans a little nervous, but everyone has their own opinions on what they would constitute as a “successful” season.
This is a TOUGH schedule. ESPN FPI has the team with the 3rd toughest schedule in the ACC, 17th in the country, and it’s not hard to see why. Even Clemson is 20th.
Games vs South Carolina (neutral site), @ #3 FSU and @ Notre Dame will be uphill climbs to say the least. Home games against #16 Louisville and #5 Clemson don’t need any prologue, except I want to have a serious conversation with the person who thought it would be a good idea to schedule a team like Clemson for your homecoming, come on man.
What does the BTP team think?
8-4 (5-3), 3rd in the ACC Atlantic, bowl win or loss. Top 23 ranking in final AP poll.
This is Dave Doeren’s best team (on paper). This squad may have the most potential we’ve seen since the peak of the Amato years. Coach Doeren said last year that he needed one more year. In his mind, he was one year away. The fanbase was ready to cut ties, but the administration allowed him another shot at showing what he was building towards. Now is the time, especially since his hotseat is rated at 4 out 5 flame emoji, with the arrow trending up.
As described above, every week will be a challenge. In my eyes, if this season is going to be Doeren’s best yet, then it’s time to deliver with >7 wins. I don’t even care if he leads the team to a bowl win or not, to be honest. The regular season will be tough enough, and his teams have never won more than 3 conference games in a season. I would love it to be 9 (or more) wins, but I feel 8 wins is not only favorable, but also achievable. Why a “top 23” ranking? Just because it seems like every time N.C. State is ranked, it has a tendency to be somewhere between 24th and Others Receiving Votes.
That being said, is it likely? I’d put the probability of this happening at about 38.73%. If he can lead this team to a few wins over ranked opponents, win all the games you’re “supposed to win”, and put up a fight against the big dogs (without complaining about the competition level), I would consider this season a success... and maybe take the hotseat down to 2.5 flame emoji.
I hate to put the measure of a successful season up to a certain win threshold, but if I had to, I’d say 8-4 (5-3) is a minimum. Anything less, with this team, would be a failure. What I’m looking for is easy (ranked in order of importance):
- Have a winning record in conference
- Don’t lose to any bad teams (Teams ranked lower than 50th in S&P+: Marshall, Furman, Syracuse, Boston College, Wake Forest)
- Break through with a signature conference win over a highly ranked team (Florida State, Clemson, Louisville)
What would be gravy would be to score wins over South Carolina, Marshall, Furman, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Boston College, Wake Forest, and UNC-Chapel Hill, and then go 1-3 vs Florida State, Clemson, Louisville, and Notre Dame to finish at 9-3 (6-2).
I’d like to say that the team should win the game against Notre Dame, but with the game being in South Bend and the fact that Notre Dame is in the Top 10 in Blue Chip Ratio (not to mention the fact that last year’s 4-8 Irish team still finished 26th in S&P+), I’m not as confident in that one as I was immediately after last season.
Regarding the signature conference win, that road game at Florida State is going to be ridiculously tough. With Clemson and Louisville coming to Raleigh, there’s a prime opportunity for Doeren to get a signature conference win in one (or both) of those games. Is the season a failure without a win versus one of those three teams? No, but in my eyes, if Doeren goes 0-3 against those three, he better not lose another conference game (it’s preseason, so I’m feeling pretty puffed up).
The fact that Dave Doeren’s contract status is up makes this question more complex than usual. An 8-5 season would typically be a good season, especially considering our history, and the schedule we face this year. But this is clearly Doeren’s best team and it’s loaded; if he wins eight games this year, will he ever top that? Do we want a coach who’s ceiling is eight wins? I don’t think that would fly with the fanbase and I’m fairly certain Debbie Yow would not be ok with it either, based on how she wants every team to be a top 25 program. An eight win peak season isn’t a top 25 program.
The one thing that’s bothered me more than anything else with Doeren is his ACC home record (three wins in three years, he gets a pass for year one, and none were against a winning team). We should be winning two home ACC games every year, minimum. Based on the talent he has this year, a 3-1 home record, despite playing Louisville and Clemson, is realistic. I think it needs to happen. The road schedule is lighter this year, but Pitt and BC come the next week after Louisville and Clemson respectively, plus the trip to FSU. When you look at it that way, 2-2 would be fine. A 3-1 non-conference kind of seems like a disappointment right now but it also puts us at 8 wins under this scenario. Sweeping SC and ND is possible and we probably need to in order to win ten games.
I’ll go 9-4 (5-3) as a successful season, even though I think we can and should win 10 games, especially considering it needs to be a breakout season for Doeren, but based on the fact that we have like one 10 win season in history, I’ll settle for 9.
I think my fellow writers have this one pretty well covered, so I’ll just make a few quick comments. The reason that TOB was let go in favor of Dave Doeren was for seasons such as this one. Doeren has a team that is talented, experienced, and entirely his own. The defense has a proven track record of greatness, the offense has tremendous talent, and we have Jaylen Samuels. The concerns in the secondary and special teams are real, but this is a pretty well-rounded football team overall. Barring injuries, I must say that success to me is going at least 9-4 (5-3). I do believe that Doeren earned this year to prove what he can do with his best team yet. Now, he must go out and execute. If he is unable to do so this year, I can’t see it happening here in Raleigh.
So what are your expectations for this season? What would you like to see/what do you think will happen? Would you define success as something other than just wins and losses?
Also, what other questions/topics would you like to see discussed in future roundtables?