It will be a whole new football world for N.C. State — and the ACC — in 2023.
No longer will the Wolfpack go into a football season with the goal of winning the Atlantic Division and getting to the ACC championship game. The new goal: finish in the top two in the league standings and get to Charlotte.
Clemson is still in the way, on the 2023 schedule, released Monday by the ACC. There’s the trip to Wake Forest and all the past-history baggage that comes with that. North Carolina again will be the opponent on the last weekend of the regular season.
Duke’s on the schedule? Yes, Duke is on the ACC schedule for only the second time since 2013 — N.C. State won 31-20 in Raleigh in 2020 — and third time since 2009. The two will play Oct. 14.
The Pack’s ACC road games will be at Virginia, Duke, Virginia Tech and Wake. The Tigers will come to Raleigh. The Tar Heels will come to Raleigh.
So will Notre Dame, for the Pack’s home opener Sept. 9 at Carter-Finley Stadium. That’s a nonconference game but could become the toughest ticket of the season.
Can’t miss game
North Carolina at N.C. State, Nov. 25: Given the craziness of the past two years, who knows what could happen this season. A scout-team tailback rushing for 200 yards? Dueling onside kicks? More overtimes, a winning Hail Mary pass? It will be Drake Maye’s last ACC game or UNC and Wolfpack fans would like to usher the quarterback out like UNC’s Sam Howell in 2021.
Any stretch of the season with Clemson is in it should be the toughest, and the Wolfpack will face Clemson and Miami in back-to-back games. One big plus for the Pack: both games will be at Carter-Finley and a safe bet it that at least one will be played under the lights.
And then? The little trip to Wake Forest, always a fun — and often bumpy — ride for the Pack. Then, on to Virginia Tech and the rivalry game with North Carolina. All in all, what a finishing stretch.
Using the word “easy” with football schedules is always risky business but the Pack has back-to-back games with VMI and Virginia in September, followed by the Pack’s first ACC home game against Louisville. The Cardinals will be playing under new coach Jeff Brohm and first seasons can be difficult, especially on the road.
Notable nonconference game
Notre Dame at N.C. State, Sept. 9: Talk about an early measure-up kind of game. The Wolfpack will have the Irish back at Carter-Finley Stadium for its home opener at Carter-Finley Stadium after opening the season on the road at Connecticut.
It will be just the fourth matchup of the Pack and Irish, who won 35-17 in 2017 in South Bend. That was a year after NC. State’s 10-3 win at Carter-Finley, played in the heavy rain and wind from Hurricane Matthew., when the only touchdown came on a blocked punt by the Pack.
Filled with intrigue
N.C. State at Virginia, Sept. 22 (Friday): Brennan Armstrong leaving Virginia was one thing. Returning to try and beat Virginia will be another. The quarterback, who transferred from UVa to N.C. State after last season, will be back in Scott Stadium along with former Virginia offensive coordinator Robert Anae and offensive line coach Garett Tujague.
NC State 2023 schedule
Sept. 2 at UConn
Sept. 9 Notre Dame
Sept. 16 VMI
Sept. 22 at Virginia
Sept. 29 Louisville
Oct. 7 Marshall
Oct. 14 at Duke
Oct. 21 Open
Oct. 28 Clemson
Nov. 4 Miami
Nov. 11 at Wake Forest
Nov. 18 at Virginia Tech
Nov. 25 North Carolina