The No. 23 NC State football team will look to keep its winning streak as it hosts the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs in the Pack’s final nonconference game on Saturday, Oct. 2 at Carter-Finley Stadium.
The Wolfpack (3-1) is coming off one of its biggest wins in school history, a 27-21 double overtime thriller at home against No. 9 Clemson. The win marked NC State’s first win against Clemson since 2011, first win against a top-10 team since 2012 and first win against a top-10 team in head coach Dave Doeren’s tenure.
“It was a championship environment,” Doeren said. “Our players didn’t flinch. They found a way to win, and they were physical, and they played with heart, and they played with emotion, and we made the tough plays we had to make to win the game.”
The Bulldogs (2-2) are coming off a 24-17 win over North Texas, with their other win being a 45-42 victory over FCS opponent Southeastern. They come into the game against NC State scoring 35 points per game.
Both of the Bulldogs’ losses this season have come in incredibly tight fashion. In their season opener, the Bulldogs lost 35-34 at Mississippi State 一 who beat NC State 24-10 in week two 一 holding a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter before a furious comeback by Mississippi State. Their only other loss was against SMU, a historically respectable team, which was decided on a last-second Hail Mary for a touchdown by SMU to win 39-37.
“[Louisiana Tech] really should be 4-0,” Doeren said. “A team that has a lot of talent. … They’re fast, they’re well coached, they know what they’re doing, there’s experience on the field, so it’s going to be a formidable test.”
The Bulldogs are coached by Skip Holtz, former head coach of East Carolina from 2005 to 2009 and the son of former NC State head coach and college football legend Lou Holtz. The younger Holtz is 1-3 all-time against NC State, with the most recent contest coming in 2013, which was the first game for both Holtz at Louisiana Tech and Doeren at NC State and which NC State won 40-14.
“I have a lot of respect for Skip,” Doeren said. “He’s spent a lot of time in North Carolina; memories of NC State with his dad, time he had at ECU. … As far as the first game against him, that seems like a million years ago to me right now. … It was a win, and I don’t remember much else about it.”
The Bulldogs’ main man at quarterback this season has been Austin Kendall, who is a North Carolina native and a transfer from West Virginia, where he played against and beat NC State in 2019. Kendall did not play due to injury in the win over North Texas, and it is unknown whether or not he will play against the Pack. Against North Texas, the Bulldogs played two quarterbacks.
“We know [Kendall] well,” Doeren said. “We played up against him at West Virginia, so he’s kind of a journeyman. Good football player, a kid that we offered and liked a lot in high school. … We’ll be ready for him and the other two that they played against North Texas.”
Along with Kendall, the Bulldogs have been led by other transfers on offense. Leading rusher Marcus Williams played for four seasons at Appalachian State, and receiver Bub Means is a transfer from Tennessee.
After such an exciting and dramatic win, the Pack will be looking to avoid a letdown against the Bulldogs. They are a team that the Pack should definitely not overlook, especially considering the fact that they had a 20-point lead and lost by just one against Mississippi State, who the Pack played poorly against.
“People are going to talk about trap games and let downs and all those kinds of things,” Doeren said. “I’ve already addressed that with the team. We’re not going to do that. … This game is about being better than we were last week. … We have to show our maturity now and our leadership, and I know we will.”
After this game, the Pack has a bye week followed by conference games the rest of the way.
The game is at 6 p.m. and will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra.