Nonconference opponents and 2010 records:
South Alabama (10-0)
At Cincinnati (4-8)
Central Michigan (3-9)
Gut-check game: Oct. 29 at Florida State. It took everything the Pack had -- and a critical fumble from Florida State -- in order for NC State to win this one in 2010. It’s not going to be any easier in Tallahassee. If NC State is going to stay in hunt for the Atlantic Division title, this is a must-win.
Trap game: Sept. 10 at Wake Forest. Jim Grobe’s team could actually have the edge in experience at quarterback with sophomore Tanner Price if Russell Wilson doesn’t return. The Deacs should be better now that they’ve got more experience at quarterback, more competition on the offensive line, and have committed to the 3-4 defense.
Snoozer: South Alabama. This is a program that will be in its first transitional season at the FCS level and its third season of existence.
Good luck with that: Oct. 29 at Florida State. The Seminoles are going to remember how they let the 2010 game slip away, and just how costly it could have been in the division standings had Maryland not bailed them out.
Upset watch: Nov. 5 vs. North Carolina. See: 2011 schedule analysis: North Carolina.
Analysis: With two FCS programs on the schedule, NC State needs seven wins to become bowl eligible. The odds of this happening before November are good, and so are NC State’s chances of going 4-0 against its nonconference competition. The road trip to Cincinnati is manageable, and the cross divisional schedule is favorable with winnable games against Georgia Tech and Virginia. NC State has to take care of business early because there will be no margin for error in the second half of the season, when the Pack will play the Atlantic Division opponents that will define the conference race.
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