NC State football is now 41-19 in season openers since the ACC’s inception some 60 years ago. Coach Doeren’s win over Troy advanced him to 3-0 in openers with the Pack and 4-1 in openers in his career when you include Northern Illinois’ loss against Iowa in 2012.
It is interesting to consider some of these records. I will never forget Central Florida’s Kevin White peeling off an 80 yard run from scrimmage in Tom O’Brien‘s first play as head coach at NC State. UCF went on to win that game in Carter Finley Stadium and set the tone for TOB’s struggles (2-4) in openers that included two losses to South Carolina and one against Tennessee in Atlanta. Of course, O’Brien can’t help that officials blew a pass interference call in the end zone in 2009 against South Carolina.
Interestingly, NC State had a ton of close games that we won in exciting fashion for about a decade. (. Some people would translate that description as another way of saying, “We got pretty lucky” for a while — which is something Wolfpackers are absolutely not accustomed to saying or believing.
Chuck Amato almost lost his first game on the Wolfpack sidelines, but a precocious freshman quarterback named Philip Rivers showed extraordinary fire and led the Pack to an overtime win against Arkansas State when the defense stopped Arkansas State by causing a fumble on their possession. Ultimately, Amato’s only loss in a season opener was vs Marcus Vick and Virginia Tech (on ESPN) on the night that Vaughn Towers opened TEN YEARS ago. It’s insane that it’s been that long!
Mike O’Cain found a way to win at Texas and at Syracuse to open different seasons during his tenure. But God forbid he figure out a way to defeat Georgia Tech in Raleigh in 1996 just two days after Hurricane Fran had barreled through Raleigh And left us with what might’ve been the most beautiful September weather we’ve ever had for a game in the strangest of circumstances. Ultimately, O’Cain can’t complain as he clearly had fantastic luck in season openers. In addition to beating Texas by three points on three blocked punts and winning on a two point conversion In overtime at Syracuse, MOC’s boys Pulled out a miracle against Ohio in a tropical storm in 1998 and were thankful to get by Bowling Green by 5 points in 1994.
I will never forget Dick Sheridan‘s first game in Raleigh. Having taken over a depleted roster left by Tom Reed after three consecutive 3-8 seasons, Sheridan laid the beat-down on East Carolina (38-10) in a game sandwiched seasons that saw the Pack lose to the Pirates as East Carolina fans vandalized Carter-Finley Stadium in various levels of destruction that ultimately led to Jim Valvano canceling future games in the series.
And, in 1953 Horace Hendrickson started the season with a loss to UNC-CHeats! DAMN YOU, HORACE HENDRICKSON!!!
Records in season openers:
Dave Doeren – 3-0
Tom O’Brien – 2-4
Chuck Amato – 6-1
Mike O’Cain – 6-1
Dick Sheridan – 6-1
Monte Kiffin – 3-0
Bo Rein – 2-2
Lou Holtz – 3-0-1
Al Michaels – 0-1
Earle Edwards – 10-7
Horace Hendrickson – 0-1