State is kicking off the 2012 campaign on Friday night, August 31, against Tennessee at the Geor- gia Dome in Atlanta. The game will be played as the first of two that weekend in the facility and is designated as the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game. The Pack hasn’t opened the season at a neutral site since the 1992 Kickoff Classic, when it defeated No. 15 Iowa in East Rutherford, N.J.
The Pack will also be opening its season with an SEC opponent for the third time in the last five seasons. NC State traveled to South Carolina in 2008, and then hosted the Gamecocks in 2009.
For the first time since 1997, the Pack will play its first two games away from Raleigh. Eight days after facing the Vols in Atlanta, O’Brien and company will travel to Connecticut on September 8 to face the Huskies.
NC STATE vs. TENNESSEE
It’s appropriate that the winner of the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game between NC State and Tennessee will win “The Old Leather Helmet.” The three previous times the Wolfpack and Volunteers met on the gridiron, that’s what both teams were wearing.
NC State, then known as North Carolina A&M, played its first intercollegiate game against Ten- nessee College in November of 1893. The game was tied, 0-0, at halftime, but the Farmers (as the Wolfpack was known then) pulled out a 12-6 triumph.
The squads also met in 1911 at NC State’s Riddick Stadium, with the Pack claiming a 16-0 shutout and then again on Sept. 29, 1939, when the Vols, considered the top team in the country at the time, shut out the Pack, 13-0, in Raleigh.
FROM COACH TO COLLEAGUE
The Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game won’t mark the first time that Wolfpack head coach Tom O’Brien and Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley both stood on the same football field during heated competition. It will, however, mark the first time the two have stood on opposing sidelines.
Dooley played wide receiver at Virginia from 1987-90, while O’Brien was serving as the offensive line coach. Dooley began his career as a walk-on, but ended up earning a scholarship.
“He was a great kid,” said O’Brien. “He deserved to earn a scholarship and he did it on a team that was really talented. He was probably the smartest guy on offense when he played and he did a great job telling everybody else where to go.”
PACK LOOKS TO BUILD ON MOMENTUM
In the last two years, NC State has posted a record of 17-9 – the third-best overall mark in the ACC during that time span. The Wolfpack is also one of only 12 teams nationally that has won a bowl game each of the past two seasons.
If preseason ‘watch’ lists and polls are any indication, and if the team is able to avoid the cata- strophic injuries of previous seasons, the Pack will be able to build on that momentum in 2012. Sports Illustrated has NC State ranked 25th in its preseason rankings, the defensive secondary is ranked by many publications as one of the best in the nation, and several players are on the preseason watch lists for various national awards.