Dave Doeren’s path to a 5-0 start has been years in the making. 5 years to be exact.
Doeren discovered quickly that at NC State, nothing comes easy. This proved true 5 years ago when #3 Clemson rolled into Raleigh. The Pack were down 6 points in the 3rd quarter when NC State Wide Receiver Bryan Underwood ran a 87-yard TD but the score was overturned by a fluke call by ACC officials. Carter-Finely went silent as Clemson proceeded to score the next possession. It was as if Dabo Swinney was saying “Welcome to the ACC, coach.”
The next year, Dabo lead his team to a 41-0 beat down of the Pack in Death Valley. By 2015, Doeren had began to establish a system at NC State. Players began buying in on his vision: One Pack, One Goal. That goal was a trip to the ACC Championship. Clemson rolled in Raleigh once again with a unblemished record and again, a #3 national ranking. The 2015 matchup showed Wolfpacknation that we had real talent in Raleigh again. Jacoby Brisett, Nyheim Hines and Jaylan Samuels fought in shootout but lack of a kicking game and 6 touchdowns from Clemson QB Deshaun Watson resulted in a 56-41 loss. Disappointing, but still progress.
In one of the most infamous games in NC State history, undefeated #1 Clemson beat NC State in OT after two heart wrenching pooch kicks were missed by NC State. Dabo and company proceeded to win the national championship later that season. The game had most of us wondering how we can get any closer winning a game and still lose?
The goal has always been ACC championships since Dave Doeren walked into the Wendell Murphy facilities. Doeren assembled a highly talented team in 2017, but as the case has been for nearly a decade, you have to go through Dabo Swinney and the boys in orange to make it out of the Atlantic division. Another one possession loss against, you guessed it, an undefeated #4 Clemson. It proved to be the deciding factor in NC State’s ACC championship dreams diminishing. Playing Clemson is personal for veteran players. Playing Clemson is personal for Dave Doeren.
You can expect a dance in the locker room if the Pack upsets Clemson. A dance 5 years in the making. This time it won’t be Dabo, but Doeren. And after a 3 hour ride up I-95, you might just see a few thousand Pack fans waiting for the team bus at Wendell Murphy, where it all began.