Monday Musings


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Joe Giglio (N&O)
Five key plays ignited N.C. State’s upset of No. 3 FSU

The celebratory music blaring in Carter-Finley Stadium late Saturday night drowned out what N.C. State coach Tom O’Brien was trying to tell the ESPN2 audience after the Wolfpack’s upset of third-ranked Florida State.

The words to the song cranking on the loud speakers – “All I do is win, win win no matter what” – said more about N.C. State’s improbable 17-16 victory over the Seminoles than O’Brien could anyway.

Not that you can blame O’Brien, who has led the Wolfpack to 13 wins in its past 15 home games, for the loss of words. N.C. State has shown since the start of the 2010 season, it’s a team that defies explanation.

For every difficult loss, there has been a euphoric win. Since the start of the 2010 season, N.C. State’s 10-1 after a loss, including bounce-back effort after both losses this season.


Dontae Johnson’s sack: Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel responded to Thornton’s touchdown with two long pass plays, 27 yards to Kelvin Benjamin and 20 yards to Smith, to move the ball down to the N.C. State 19.

But on third-and-2, Manuel was sacked by N.C. State cornerback Johnson, who blitzed off the right edge and threw Manuel for a 15-yard loss.

Instead of attempting a 51-yard field goal, well within All-ACC kicker Dustin Hopkins’ range, Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher elected to punt and let his defense protect the six-point lead.

Sammy Batten (
Win against Florida State was the N.C. State team we expected to show up

Finally, the N.C. State Wolfpack we all expected to see this season arrived Saturday with a performance that sent shock waves through the college football world.

A nail-biting 17-16 victory against No. 3-ranked Florida State at Carter-Finley Stadium displayed for the first time all the elements that had many, including myself, projecting the Wolfpack for a breakout year in 2012.

By breakout year, we meant a 10- or 11-win season that would have N.C. State ranked nationally and competing for the ACC’s Atlantic Division championship.


The victory won’t change the fact that a breakout season isn’t in the cards for the Wolfpack now. But it did re-insert N.C. State into the race for the ACC’s Atlantic Division title.

Now 1-1 in league play, the Wolfpack faces a second-half schedule with four of its seven remaining games against four of the weaker league teams (Maryland, Virginia, Wake Forest and Boston College). Its chief competitor in the Atlantic now appears to be Miami, which is already 3-0 in league play.

N.C. State will need some help from others to finish first in the Atlantic. But the possibility is now there again after Saturday.

The question now is will the Wolfpack build on Saturday’s big victory, or will it regress back to its error-filled way?

History tells us that coach Tom O’Brien’s N.C. State teams have always played well in the second half of the season. If that holds true, anything is possible.

Except, maybe, that breakout season we were all expecting. But at least the team we thought could achieve that finally showed up, even if it was for just one game.


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Joe Giglio (N&O)
Late Hits: Only the Wolfpack could do this

N.C. State: You do you, N.C. State. Don’t ever stop being you. Lose to a brutal Miami team with a matador defense? Of course. Follow it up with a shocker of Florida State? Only N.C. State.

Florida State: There’s still a chance the Seminoles are “back” – an ACC title would still be progress – but you’ve got to wonder about the cut of Jimbo’s jib.

Maybe John James Fisher is still going through the learning phase of his coaching career and one day we’ll all look back at Saturday’s loss at N.C. State and laugh. But, between his allergies to running back Chris Thompson in the second half and his lack of faith in kicker Dustin Hopkins, Fisher seriously mangled the N.C. State game.

One for the history books

N.C. State, North Carolina and Duke all won an ACC football game on Saturday. How rare is that? It hadn’t happened since 1994 and it has only happened four times since the ACC began playing football in 1953.

On Oct. 15, 1994, all three Triangle teams won at home, the only other time besides Saturday that has happened. The other two times the three teams won? You have to go back to Sept. 21, 1963 (which was the season opener for all three teams. You imagine the season starting that late now?) and Sept. 28, 1957.

Brett Friedlander (
FIFTH QUARTER: A big day in the Triangle, if not for the ACC


2. Pack ‘All in’: Senior S Earl Wolff called a players-only meeting after last week’s meltdown in Miami and challenged his teammates to be “all in with him.’ The Wolfpack responded with an inspired effort in all three phases of the game by holding Florida State to 343 yards, 200 below its ACC-leading average, and riding the passing of Mike Glennon to come-from-behind 17-16 win that may have saved its season.

5. Rose with thorns: Even the most passionate N.C. State fan probably didn’t know who Mike Rose was before Saturday. But with 2:27 left, the redshirt freshman DE – playing on special teams only because of an injury to FB Logan Winkles earlier in the game – made the most of his opportunity by blocking a Florida State punt to set up the Wolfpack’s winning TD.


1. Same old ‘Noles: The question has been answered. Florida State is not yet ‘back.’ The Seminoles fell into an old trap of letting down on the road and not putting away an opponent when they had it down. Coach Jimbo Fisher also contributed by punting instead attempting a 51-yard FG that could have put the game away. The result was FSU’s fifth loss in its last eight trips to N.C. State and the end of any national championship hopes the ACC might have had.


While the folks in Greensboro are probably hiding all the sharp objects from John Swofford because of Florida State’s expected fall in the rankings, there’s rare celebration in the Triangle. An already big day got even more memorable when UNC, Duke and N.C. State all scored victories 30 miles apart from one another within a 12-hour stretch. It marked the first time that the Tar Heels, Blue Devils and Wolfpack all won home games against ACC opponents on the same day since UNC beat Virginia, Duke beat Clemson and State beat Wake Forest on Oct. 15, 1994.

Derek Medlin (
Extra Point: A Triangle football weekend to remember

Wolfpack rally to stun third-ranked Seminoles

Following NC State’s ugly loss to Miami a week ago, more than a few people floated the “wouldn’t it be the most ACC thing ever for the Pack to beat Florida State” idea. Not many of them (myself included) did it with a straight face, but the talking point was acknowledged.

Next time, don’t forget to make that joke with a straight face. Signed, Tom O’Brien’s grin.

While Florida State (Jimbo Fisher) deserves plenty of blame for NC State’s ability to rally from a 16-0 halftime deficit Saturday night, the Wolfpack, who made halftime adjustments on both offense and defense, deserve just as much credit.

Mike Glennon and Co. went uptempo, essentially negating a huge disadvantage up front to allow a patchwork offensive line to more than hold its own against the ACC’s best defensive line. In the final minutes, it was that edge — and FSU’s inability to cover anyone inside the hashmarks — that allowed the Wolfpack to march down the field and steal a win.

Defensively, NC State was able to put pressure on E.J. Manuel while also slowing down Chris Thompson, who looked unstoppable at times in the first two quarters. Considering how terrible the unit was a week ago in south Florida, Saturday’s effort is really the least surprising aspect of the entire game. Look at the rest of the season. Inconsistency is the new consistency.

Following a much-needed bye week, don’t be surprised to see the Wolfpack go on one of Tom O’Brien’s patented late-season runs. The Wolfpack travel to Maryland, Chapel Hill and Clemson and host Virginia, Wake Forest and Boston College.

Adam Gold (
This week’s winners: The 919

Game of the week

NC State trailed the #3 team in the nation 16-0 at halftime. But, the same defense that allowed so many big plays to Tennessee and Miami didn’t against the Seminoles and it gave Michael Glennon and the Wolfpack offense enough time to figure things out. Until the final, 16-second, desperate drive, the NC State defense held the FSU to just 101 second half yards and 5 first downs. Meanwhile, Glennon and the offense found enough time to get into rhythm and the final drive was about as dramatic you’ll see. Three times the Pack faced a 4th down situation and each time they converted, with the last coming in the end zone as Glennon connected with Bryan Underwood, who has now caught a touchdown pass in every game this season.

Pfffft of the week

That hissing sound was the Atlantic Coast Conference’s national championship balloon belching out all of its remaining air. Sure, Florida State or Clemson — or Duke — could end the year 12-1, but it’s unlikely, barring a strange set of circumstances, that an ACC would be in position to grab a spot in the top two of the BCS.

Top to bottom of the week

1-NC State (6-2)…to hear Tom O’Brien say it, the Pack beat themselves twice, so I added that to their win total.
2-Florida State (5-1)…think bleach will take the stain out of that loss?
3-Clemson (5-1)…Tigers still have a chance to get into BCS at-large territory.
4-Duke (5-1)…Duke does it with defense.
5-North Carolina (4-2)…Tar Heels are unbeaten with Giovani Bernard in the line up.
6-Miami (4-2)…Judging by the score, and Notre Dame’s helmets, I’m sure Miami felt like they were playing two opponents.
7-Virginia Tech (3-3)…Hokies looked completely helpless defensively in Chapel Hill.
8-Georgia Tech (2-4)…Jackets have given up 138 points in their last three games. Al Groh is just renting.
9-Maryland (3-2)…Through 6 weeks, the only three unbeaten team in ACC play are Miami, Duke and the Terrapins. Ugh.
10-Wake Forest (3-3)…Hey, at least the Deacons beat Army.
11-Virginia (2-4)…Remember, were it not for Sam Ficken’s 4 missed field goals, the Wahoos would be 0-for FBS.
12-Boston College (1-4)…Army just rushed for 516 yards against the Eagles.

Resurrection of the week

NC State’s offensive line has been a M*A*S*H unit this year. Both starting tackles from the season-opener are hurt, and Tom O’Brien’s team hasn’t had the same group together — it seems — for even back to back halves at any point. But, Glennon was sacked just once, and they more than held their own against the best front line they’ve seen — and are likely to see — all year long. It wasn’t unsung, because it’s been widely recognized. But, it was very unexpected and could be what triggers a big second half run for the Pack, who are absolutely in the mix for the Atlantic Division.

Andrew Jones (FoxSportsSouth)
ACC Report Card – Week 6

Florida State – Jimbo Fisher is going to hear it from FSU fans after the Seminoles fell out of the national title picture with a 17-16 loss at N.C. State. The Seminoles led 16-0 at halftime but were bad offensively in the second half and lost some bite defensively. Fisher deserves some criticism because the Seminoles have way too much talent to lose to most any ACC team, and certainly enough to put away a club that was on the ropes. But with FSU’s disappointment is also the ACC’s. The league needed a national contender but now doesn’t have one. Bad, bad loss. Grade: F.

Maryland – So much for Randy Edsall’s team rolling over and dying. In a season of many disappointments in the ACC, Edsall’s troops are proving to be one of the few positives, and are sitting at 3-2 overall and 1-0 in conference play after dispatching Wake Forest, 19-14. Maryland’s surprisingly strong defense limited the Deacons to 241 total yards and 11 first downs, which helped it overcome a poor offensive effort of its own. Grade: B.

N.C. State – Hand it to the Wolfpack again for rising up and knocking off a heavily favored foe, something the program has done for years under current coach Tom O’Brien and others before him. The Pack was awesome in the second half, closing its win over No. 3 Florida State with 17 straight points for the 17-16 triumph. The way this victory played out typifies the NCSU mentality and should be something it can build on. Kudos to senior QB Mike Glennon for making the right plays for most of the second half and providing the leadership on the field the team needed, as evidenced by converting three fourth downs on the game-winning drive. Grade: A.

Andrew Jones (FoxSportsSouth)
ACC Honor Roll — Week 6

Coach of the Week

Tom O’Brien, N.C. State – Had the Wolfpack suffered a lopsided loss to Florida State on Saturday night, as so many pundits predicted, O’Brien likely would have hopped onto a very hot eat Sunday morning. But the Marine had his troops ready to battle the No. 3 Seminoles, and they overcame a 16-0 halftime deficit to win 17-16 and effectively change the tenor of their season.


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Andrew Carter (N&O)
Sweet dreams: NCSU, UNC, Duke

It was March 2005, and Duke, North Carolina and N.C. State were all on their way to the Sweet 16. The teams showed up around the same time at Raleigh-Durham International, and their planes stretched out on the tarmac, one after the other.

Chris Collins, the assistant coach at Duke, took notice of the moment. Here was the second-to-last weekend of the NCAA tournament, and three teams separated by about 25 miles of highway had all converged on one runway.

“We were all going to our different regions, different areas,” he said earlier this week. “We kind of gave the head nod and the wave and the ‘good luck’ – and it makes it great.”

The scene reinforced what Collins has long believed – that this area, the 28-mile radius that includes Duke, UNC and N.C. State – has no equal in the world of college basketball. All three teams have won multiple national championships, combining for 11 overall. They have won 46 of the 59 ACC basketball tournaments.


And then there’s N.C. State, which is expected to enter the season as conference favorite thanks to the return of Lorenzo Brown and C.J. Leslie and the addition of a highly ranked recruiting class led by Raleigh’s Rodney Purvis. But it wasn’t long ago, before the Wolfpack’s surprising run to the regional semifinals in March, when the Wolfpack gathered with frayed nerves on Selection Sunday, simply hoping to make the tournament field.

Entering a season amid hype and high expectations was the norm for the Wolfpack back when David Thompson played in the 1970s. Thompson, a two-time national player of the year who led the Wolfpack to the 1974 national championship, said it should be that way again.

“It’s been a long time coming,” he said on Friday, before being inducted into the Wolfpack’s inaugural athletics hall of fame class. “I think coach (Mark Gottfried) is doing a good job with recruiting … It feels like it should be. N.C. State should be competitive, and they should be up there.”

Pack is back

For Duke and UNC, lofty preseason expectations have long been routine. In the 2000s, both programs have entered the season ranked No. 1 three times. But the Wolfpack, which hasn’t been selected by the media to win the ACC since 1974, has entered a realm it hasn’t experienced this century.

“State’s probably as talented as any team (nationally),” Bilas said. “Now they’re expected to do it, and that’s a little bit of a different thing … so it’s something of a maturity test, really. Are they going to stay hungry and driven to be good at that level? Because they’re not going to sneak up on anybody anymore.”

Throughout the history of the ACC, and even before its formation in 1953, Duke, UNC and N.C. State have tried to keep one another down, while inadvertently helping one another grow stronger. It was that way in the beginning, when Everett Case’s dominant N.C. State teams of the late 1940s and early 1950s prompted UNC to get better, and it did under Frank McGuire.

And it has been that way recently, while N.C. State has fought during the past two decades to regain the place on the national stage it once shared with UNC and Duke.

Now, then, it’s almost like old times – all three teams entering a season with realistic hopes of winning a championship, ACC or otherwise.


Wilson Watch

Jonathan Jones (N&O)
Poised Russell Wilson has his best pro game

Before every game, Seattle Seahawks rookie quarterback Russell Wilson writes a message on his wrist to carry with him.

Sunday against the Carolina Panthers, the message was ‘poise.’

Wilson, the former N.C. State quarterback playing his first NFL game in the Carolinas, led his team to a 16-12 victory against the Panthers by staying poised under pressure and delivering his best game statistically of the season.

“Today was ‘poise,’” Wilson said. “No matter what’s going on in the game, bring that to the table, bring that to our offense. And we definitely did that today.”


Against Carolina, the Seahawks placed an emphasis on third-down conversions. They were 50 percent on third downs, with Wilson converting five third-down conversions out of 10 via passing.

For as much as he had attempted to block out the scrutiny this week, Wilson heard it.

“I use it as fire,” Wilson said. “I trust in what I’m doing and the steps I’m taking every single day to get there early and watch tons of film and take tons of notes. All that attention to detail to be good at what you do, I can never let that waver.

“Just keep working, keep playing and stay humble. It’s just one game.”


“The main thing is just have amnesia, whether it’s good or bad you have to forget about it and play one play at a time,” Wilson said. “That’s what it takes to be great. I’m not saying I’m great at all, but that’s what it takes to get there.”

At the end of his post-game press conference, Wilson was asked if he was able to catch N.C. State’s 17-16 upset victory against Florida State the night before. Wilson, the Wolfpack’s three-year starter before transferring to Wisconsin, admitted the game kept him up later than he wanted, but he was pleased with the outcome.

“Thanks, guys,” Wilson said stepping away from the podium. “Go Pack.”

Brett Friedlander (
With or without motivation, Russell Wilson is still defying the odds

Russell Wilson isn’t the type that has to look hard to find motivation for anything, let alone playing in a football game.

Not that it didn’t come looking for him last week.

In addition to playing his first game back in North Carolina since severing ties with N.C. State under less-than-optimal circumstances in April 2011, Wilson also had to deal with a growing sentiment among fans back in Seattle that perhaps he isn’t quite ready to be a starting quarterback in the NFL.

Russell Wilson threw for 221 yards and a touchdown in Sunday’s win against the Carolina Panthers

It’s a combination that could easily have become a distraction for most rookies. But as anyone who saw him play through the bulk of his college career knows, Wilson is anything but typical.

That’s why it was anything but a surprise Sunday when he rose to the occasion with the best game of his young professional career in leading his Seahawks to a 16-12 win against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium.


The fact that he was able to take that step in front of what he described as “a lot of family and friends, and a lot of N.C. State fans” made the accomplishment that much sweeter.

As if his homecoming weekend couldn’t get any better, he received an extra bonus Saturday night by celebrating his first college team’s stirring upset of No. 3 Florida State.

“That was a huge win. It kept me up longer than I expected,” Wilson said of the Wolfpack’s come-from-behind victory, led by his former understudy Mike Glennon. “I told (teammate and Florida State graduate) Leon Washington that they’d get an upset like in 2010.”

Wilson was the quarterback in that game, also played on national television under the lights at Carter-Finley Stadium. It’s a fact that might easily be forgotten since State isn’t the alma mater officially attached to him by the NFL’s PR department.

But while the flip card and program for Sunday’s game may have indicated that he’s from Wisconsin, the rookie quarterback little doubt as to where his allegiance lies Sunday. He finished his postgame session with the media by saying “Go Pack!”

As he did, he was reminded by a reporter that he’s still never lost to a team that wears blue and calls itself “Carolina.”

It’s a fact he probably knew already. Not that he needed the motivation.
Wilson: We did a lot of great things

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson said he felt like the team had a lot of control and did a lot of great things against the Panthers.

About 1.21 Jigawatts

Class of '98, Mechanical Engineer, State fan since arriving on campus and it's been a painful ride ever since. I live by the Law of NC State Fandom, "For every Elation there is an equal and opposite Frustration."

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17 Responses to Monday Musings

  1. wolfwolf 10/08/2012 at 8:32 AM #

    Since when is Miami in the Atlantic Division?

  2. nouveau wolf 10/08/2012 at 8:33 AM #

    One final RW/NC connection: I’m pretty sure that, right before the press conference, he spent 10 minutes locked in a room with Crash Davis.

    Seriously, though, he is impossible to root against.

  3. Texpack 10/08/2012 at 8:40 AM #

    OK. I was pretty caustic in my comments about TOB and the effort against Miami. I think Saturday night shows why so many of us were so terribly frustrated by the display in the Orange Bowl. This team has enough maturity to play a smart, tough, disciplined game every week and give themselves a chance. They are going to get whipped by superior talent at times, but they should be smart enough to keep from beating themselves. My son marveled at State’s play calling, particularly the repeated five yard crossing routes, and how effective it was in spite of being so predictable. We’ll see over the next few weeks if Saturday night was the beginning of a run or just a blip on the radar. Hopefully the players meeting woke everybody up.

  4. DC_wolf 10/08/2012 at 9:13 AM #

    Giglio (N&O): “For every difficult loss, there has been a euphoric win…” hmmm, what does that sound highly reminiscent of??

    I still maintain it was the red helmets.

    Sweet stat: 4-1. Four sacks by NCSU to only one by FSU; if you keep the long stick upright, he’ll keep dropping 6’s on you.

    Streak stat: 6. Bryan Underwood’s six straight games w/@ least 1 TD catch. Hope I didn’t just jinx you, B.

  5. STLPack01 10/08/2012 at 9:16 AM #

    wolfwolf, I saw the same thing. Apparently Sammy Batten of hasn’t got much of a clue….

    Not only is Miami not in our Division, but we control our own destiny in our division and do not need any help from any body, contrary to what he asserts. If we win out, it’s ours.

    Tall order, I know. With Clemson and UNX away. And that’s not even mentioning the games that we “should” win, which we never seem to be able to do with any regularity. Here’s hoping they have turned the corner.

  6. StateFans 10/08/2012 at 9:16 AM #

    Yea….Sammy Batten whiffed on the Miami in the Atlantic Division comment.

    FSU holds the tie-break on Clemson. We hold it over FSU. If we win out we go to the ACC Championship game.

  7. eas 10/08/2012 at 10:55 AM #

    If we plan to have even the slightest chance at winning out Dana Bible has to be more aggressive with the play calls. He MUST continue to make changes like he did in the 2nd half of the FSU game (which was good other than the random toss sweep). Finally, please continue with the no huddle…please, please, please! We play much better with quick plays with Glennon throwing darts.

    Start calling aggressive plays from the start this time and keep the tempo up!

  8. Alpha Wolf 10/08/2012 at 10:58 AM #

    Sad how the national press can’t stop talking about how FSU choked rather than how NC State outplayed FSU in the second half and won the game.

  9. nav 10/08/2012 at 11:00 AM #

    Two things from the weekend that jump out to me.

    1)FSU was stupid for not attempting the FG to up try and go up by 9 pts. Especially given how good their kicker is. That was a gift and one I’m sure the coaching staff is regretting.

    2)RW. Damn you RW. Just when I thought I was over you and have moved on, you go and pull a “Go Pack” out during a NFL presser. Now I have to figure out how to watch more Seattle games. I don’t think PR has ever done that and I’m sure the Wisc fans are none too happy.

    By-the-way, it’s just crappy luck that our former QB’s in the NFL are playing on the west coast.

  10. Wolfpack93 10/08/2012 at 11:42 AM #

    By-the-way, it’s just crappy luck that our former QB’s in the NFL are playing on the west coast.
    I got DirecTV this season which fixes that problem nicely.

  11. runwiththepack 10/08/2012 at 11:46 AM #

    C’mon, Pack! Tear it up now, so we don’t have to keep talking about firing TOB after every “L”.

    That’s a lot to ask, I know.

    The team shows a heckuva lot of ability the past couple games, except spotty (to put it kindly) defensive backfield performance. More than anything, I hope they now have confidence to go along with better discipline. Now everybody realizes how special this season can be. But I think we’ll probably need some lucky bounces of the ball in at least one game.

  12. MP 10/08/2012 at 12:30 PM #

    I was ticked off that the Panthers game program had Russell Wilson listed as “Wisconsin”. Glad to hear him give that shout-out to the Pack.

  13. oceanman 10/08/2012 at 12:39 PM #

    It was a good saturday for triangle teams. But only Duke and State deserve notice. UNC played with how many players that have benefited from academic cheating. as I watched the UNC VA TECH game, I wondered how many of the UNC players were on the field by virtue of the academic eligibilty scam. UNC should not get credit for victory woithout mention of the number of players on the field as a result of the academic scam. Did UNC win because they cheated. It certainly gave them some advantage.

  14. oceanman 10/08/2012 at 12:45 PM #

    Good point MP. Russell Wilson’s jersey should be retired at NC State, and it should happen soon. He is one of our own and we should honor his incredible career accordingly. He got a degree from NC State, played three years and distinguished himself in a Wolfpack uniform. Lets get moving and claim him as one of the great players to pass in our midst.

  15. packalum44 10/08/2012 at 1:32 PM #

    Per Batten of Fayetteville Observer:

    “…that had many, including myself, projecting the Wolfpack for a breakout year in 2012.

    By breakout year, we meant a 10- or 11-win season that would have N.C. State ranked nationally and competing for the ACC’s Atlantic Division championship.”

    Okay okay, can those who want to rewrite recent history quit with the, “Well who predicted us to be good anyway” crap?!


  16. blpack 10/08/2012 at 2:37 PM #

    I think Sammy is just excited about the possibility of a Miami – State ACCCG. I’d sign up for that. A LOT of work to do between now and then.

  17. NCSU84 10/08/2012 at 4:02 PM #

    From tomahawknation posted on Aug 31, 2012 (I want this guy to pick my lottery numbers):

    “The true TRAP game is the following week at NC State….We’ve lost there several times the past 10 years, and I don’t think we’ve covered the spread when we won. We beat them 34-0 here last year, so they will be in revenge mode. What I “hope” is that they beat Tennessee this weekend, and also win at Miami the week before we come to town. The last thing I want to see is them having a 3-2 record and we’re listening to all the early HYPE that will come if we are 5-0 and ranked in the top 5. that’s the point in the schedule where upsets happen… This would be the “We were favored by 17 and lost” game, and it happens every year to teams just like us.”

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