Key stretch: Florida State, at Clemson, Wake Forest (Oct. 28-Nov. 13)
Analysis: You could even take it one week further and include the road trip to rival North Carolina, but let’s stick with the Atlantic Division streak -- that’s the race the Pack will have to win first. NC State should head into this stretch with at least three wins (most likely winning the in-state battles and a road trip to Central Florida). A home win over Boston College is also plausible, but NC State would obviously have to play a lot better than it did in last year’s 52-20 drubbing. If NC State could beat the Eagles, this would make the key stretch even more critical because it would suddenly make NC State a real contender in the ACC championship race. And if it’s not, the stretch will still be critical to the Pack’s bowl hopes.
Prediction: It starts with that Thursday night game against FSU, and last year the Seminoles only won by three points in the final two minutes of a game that produced 1,100 yards of offense. It should be another thriller this year with dueling quarterbacks. A home win over the Seminoles would be huge, and both defenses should at least show marginal improvement from a year ago. As of now, Florida State's running game and offensive line are what give the Noles the edge. NC State could have the edge at quarterback in Death Valley the following week if Kyle Parker isn’t around, but will likely lose the battle in the trenches. NC State went 0-for-3 against these opponents last year, but the Wolfpack should be better and so should its record, even if it is only by a win over Wake.
More key stretches: