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It’s never too early for a must-win game

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Not this year, anyhow.

Wake Forest v North Carolina State Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Typically there wouldn’t be much need to approach a football season-opener with urgency, but circumstances stripped your typical schedule of the preliminaries. Diving right into league play isn’t ideal, but it’s what we got, and NC State needs to get off on the right foot for a variety of reasons.

For one thing, it’d be real nice to snap the program’s losing streak to Wake Forest, a run of misfortune that’s been annoying as hell. The Deacs also present an opportunity, because this is one of the weaker teams on the schedule. How many more times do you figure that NC State will be favored in a game this year? This is a game you have to get if you want to finish the year with a winning record.

The larger current running through every game this season is Dave Doeren’s job status after last year’s unpleasantness. Personally, I think every coach in the country should be given a pass for this year, that we should all collectively agree not to evaluate anybody based on the results of this twisted season.

Do I expect that will happen? I’ve been on the internet for more than five minutes, so no.

For Doeren’s sake, and for the overall health of the program, NC State needs to show some decent forward progress this year, even if that’s a modest five- or six-win season, which would be a good result, all things considered. Getting it done in winnable home games is the necessary route to that result.