NC State must solve another SEC ‘D’ in opener

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — So much for starting slow. North Carolina State is facing another huge challenge in its first game.

For the third time in five years, the Wolfpack faces a Southeastern Conference team in its opener. They play Tennessee on Friday night in Atlanta.

A big day against a stingy SEC defense could legitimize N.C. State as a contender in the ACC.

Coach Tom O’Brien on Monday said it is “a chance to do something special with our program.”

The Wolfpack lost to South Carolina in the 2008 and ’09 openers, and haven’t beaten an SEC team besides the Gamecocks since defeating Mississippi State in the 1994 Peach Bowl.

Tennessee coach Derek Dooley says the Wolfpack “could blend right in in our league and be able to whip anybody in our league.”

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