One of the biggest questions coming out of Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill last week was would NCSU let the heartbreaking 43-35 loss to their archrival UNC cost them another game.
Well, the first game since that UNC loss was a 33-6 thumping to a Virginia team that rode into Raleigh on a six-game losing streak and was winless in conference action.
But the players after the game refused to acknowledge that Saturday's defeat was some kind of hangover from the Carolina loss.
"Last week had nothing to do with it," redshirt sophomore receiver Bryan Underwood said. "Last week was last week. Last week ended for us when we exited their field, so last week had nothing to do with it."
"I honestly thought last week would be some motivation for us," fifth-year senior safety Earl Wolff added.
Not fooled by Virginia, just out-executed
Sometimes a team can use the bye week to revamp and tweak their schemes a little bit, catching their opponent off guard. One might wonder if Virginia did some of that during their dominance over NC State Saturday. The Cavs were coming off a bye week before coming to Raleigh.
Both head coach Tom O'Brien and Wolfpack players insisted afterwards that was not the case however.
"Everything they did, we watched on film and practiced," fifth-year senior linebacker Sterling Lucas said. "We just didn't execute."
"They did what we thought, exactly what we thought," fifth-year senior quarterback Mike Glennon added.
Underwood did allow however that Virginia schemed to take away what appeared to have been a part of State's game plan going into Saturday, to attack the Cavalier young secondary downfield.
"Coming into the game we did a lot of work on their defenses," Underwood said. "They were mainly backing up and not allowing the deep ball. It kind of took away from what our original game plan was."
State was done it by its own mistakes. Penalties, dropped passes and turnovers all contributed to holding NC State back.
"It seemed like every time something happen, something bad or worse happened," Glennon said.
"Lack of focus, dropped balls, and when we did make plays we had penalties," Underwood stated. "We hurt ourselves when we made big plays."
Still a bowl to play for
NC State is virtually eliminated from any ACC title game consideration after the back-to-back losses, but they still need a win to become bowl eligible. The seniors on the team, led by captains Glennon and Lucas, made that a point.
"I refuse to let guys to quit," Lucas said. "We got to keep fighting."
"We have a lot to play for," Glennon stated. "We know we can go to a real good bowl. We have three opponents left, take it one week at a time."
State's next game is Saturday against Wake Forest at Carter-Finley Stadium, followed by a road tilt at No. 10 Clemson before concluding the season at home against Boston College.
The Pack is intent on proving the team that stunned then-No. 3 Florida State Oct. 6 in Carter-Finley is still around.
"This is the same exact team, same exact guys," Wolff stated. "It comes down to heart.
"We're still here, we just have to come and execute better," Glennon concluded.
One small footnote Saturday was that redshirt sophomore receiver Bryan Underwood's streak of nine consecutive games with a touchdown reception came to an end, one short of matching former Virginia wide receiver Herman Moore's ACC record.
Underwood sounded like a player who did not care either.
"That's old news already," Underwood said. "I'm not really focused on it. Like I said before, a streak is a steak. If it comes going, it keeps going, but if it doesn't, that's fine. Today I really didn't do my job, and that's what my main focus."