I’ve been trying to think of an NC State football game in my time as a fan that felt this Big, and it’s tough to come up with much that compares.
There was that game against Maryland with a division crown on the line, but that one had no national stakes. The game at Wake Forest last year was a significant one, but lacked the true big game feel.
None of the games in 2002 during State’s run to 9-0 felt especially momentous ahead of time, at least that I can remember. There were no big ranked matchups in there, and by the time State got to the finale against FSU, the air was out of the balloon.
When NC State cracked the top 10 in the polls after last week, it meant that State would be playing in a game between top-10 teams for the first time. That’s certainly part of what’s made this week different. The buildup to this game started almost as soon as the 2021 season ended, which is totally new territory. Now that the national media has shown up—getting the GameDay treatment, a primetime ABC kickoff—it all feels LARGE large.
I don’t know how the team will handle the moment—no doubt this is a tough game, and Clemson has a 36-game home winning streak for a good reason—but I do know that it’s great to be here. It’s fun to be in one of those games that they’ll talk about during the halftime shows of others. One where casual fans see it on the schedule and say “oh, I better check that out.”
For the sake of my own sanity, I’m trying to think about tomorrow as State playing with house money, which in a sense is definitely true. And also in a sense sells the Wolfpack short. I’m just trying to avoid becoming a complete nervous wreck over here.
Keeping in mind just how much fun, and unique, the buildup to kickoff has been is important for me as well. I hope we’re all celebrating like mad at about 11 p.m. tomorrow, but y’know, the journey part of it matters, too.