Every team in the ACC has a couple games they wish they had back from 2011. Whether they didn’t bring their A-game, or the other guys just got lucky, every school would love another shot at an opponent, for the ability to prove it won’t happen again. Luckily, because of conference play and parity in the ACC, many will get a chance at redemption immediately, with rematches already on the books for 2012.
As part of our 2012 college football season preview, we’ll be running through the biggest “payback” games for each school. As no team finished with just one loss, there are likely multiple choices for each — none more “right’ than another, necessarily. Still, every selection should help provide some extra motivation for fans as they gear up for this season’s slate of games.
Team: NC State Wolfpack
Opponent: Florida State
Last Year: Loss, 34-0 @ Florida State
This Year: October 6, vs. Florida State
When you look at the end of NC State’s 2011 season, it’s hard to believe they were ever in danger of missing a bowl game, or were capable of being shut out by Florida State. Yet, the Pack would put up less points than Duke (who scored 16) against FSU, and manage just 166 total yards. Having no running game to speak of (ranked 109th in FBS overall in rushing average per game), and — at the time — a questionable passing attack, it was no wonder they struggled. FSU, who was only 4-3 entering the contest, was floundering entering the game after losing three of five. Instead, the win would be one of several stops on a tour of retribution, for recent poor seasons and the real-time slow start.
Through seven games, NC State quarterback Mike Glennon still had tons of questions surrounding him. Was he as prepared to run the offense as Russell Wilson had been, and could he lead them to the postseason now, with their backs effectively against the wall? At the time, his eighth game gave no indication he was ready at all, and even now, it gives ammo to the doubters that are already quick to discount both Glennon and the Pack in the ACC this year. Three turnovers and wild inconsistency in a one-dimensional offense will do that for some. Getting shut out for the first time in three years will usually generate some negative thoughts from everyone.
This year, there’s a lot on the line for both teams, as they’re seen as ACC contenders in the Atlantic Division. But can Glennon get past the experienced, quick Florida State defensive unit? This time around, he still has zero running game to speak of (sorry, James Washington) functioning as support, and he’ll also lack the impressive T.J. Graham at wideout. On defense, the team can rely on David Amerson to a point, but beyond his tenacious pass coverage, is there a lot they’ll be able to do to combat an experienced QB in FSU’s EJ Manuel, too? NC State has a chance at home, sure. But if the ‘Noles come in with a full head of steam (likely), it may be a very difficult afternoon for NC State.