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NCAAF: Rare matchup of ranked Wake Forest, NC State has ACC title ties

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North Carolina State and Wake Forest have been frequent opponents for more than a century.

It would be difficult to find a more important matchup between the teams than the one on tap for Saturday night in Winston-Salem, N.C., however.

“We’re still 5-0 in the ACC, and in my mind we have a championship game to play next,” Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said.

The No. 12 Demon Deacons (8-1, 5-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) are coming off their first loss of the season. No. 16 NC State (7-2, 4-1) can take control of the Atlantic Division by winning this road game.

“Since we lost that game to Miami, we’ve been approaching every game as a must-win game,” NC State coach Dave Doeren said, referring to a result three weeks ago. “We’ve been in a playoff mode for the last two games. The difference in this one is it’s an in-state team. Outside of that, there isn’t a difference. We have to win this game, the next game and then the next game to be in Charlotte (for the ACC championship game).”

A Wake Forest victory would mean it would advance to the ACC championship game with a victory next week at Clemson or in the regular-season finale at Boston College

NC State goes to the ACC title game as the Atlantic Division representative by defeating Wake Forest and then topping Syracuse and North Carolina (or with defeating one of those teams with another Wake Forest loss). Clemson could factor in as well, but that would require two Wake Forest losses and two NC State defeats.

“It’s just exciting to see where NC State football is at this point,” Wolfpack safety Tanner Ingle said.

This will be the 115th meeting between the in-state foes, though just the second time both have been ranked. The Wolfpack won the first such matchup in 1992.

“Bouncing back from a loss, the adversity and not playing well on defense again,” Clawson said, referring to last week’s 58-55 loss to North Carolina in a non-league collision between ACC members. “Those are the real problems we have to fix. We’re facing adversity for the first time this season. Everything we did is fixable.”

While Wake Forest’s hopes of reaching the College Football Playoff have been dashed, the Demon Deacons know there’s plenty at stake.

“Holding onto that game (with North Carolina), we’ve got to let it go,” Wake Forest defensive lineman Miles Fox said. “It’s going to test our character a lot, but we should be good.”

Both teams have quarterbacks — Wake Forest’s Sam Hartman and NC State’s Devin Leary – putting up big numbers.

“You’ve got two really good quarterbacks competing against each other in this one,” Doeren said. “It’s going to be a really fun game to be a part of.”

Since 2001, NC State is 2-8 in road games vs. Wake Forest.

The Demon Deacons are ranked for just the fifth time when facing NC State. Wake Forest is 1-2-1 in previous such matchups.

This marks Wake Forest’s home finale and it’s NC State’s last road game — and its fourth road assignment across a five-game stretch.

–Field Level Media

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