by Mike Potter
Tom O’Brien has been coaching college football for a very long time, but tonight’s N.C. State game at Cincinnati will mark the first time he has ever coached in his hometown.
“Everything’s condensed, and everything is faster,” O’Brien, whose last football experience in Cincinnati was playing for the Quantico Marines in Xavier’s last football game in 1973, said of preparing for a Thursday night contest. “You can’t spend as much time on the field. You’re still restricted by the four-hour rule by the NCAA. You can’t get any extra time than you normally would want to get.
“It’s the fine line between spending too much time on the field and expending energy and being fresh and playing on a Thursday night, but also getting enough time in that you can play well. If you’re a veteran team, it’s better rather than if you’re in our situation where you have some young guys we’re trying to get locked in in case they have to go in the game.”
The revenge motivation is all on the Bearcats’ side. State handled Butch Jones’ team 30-19 last season at Carter-Finley Stadium, and it happens to be the first ACC vs. Big East game since the ACC announced Sunday morning that
Pittsburgh and Syracuse had signed on to leave Cincinnati’s conference for State’s.
One thing the Wolfpack had going for it last season was that Cincinnati’s star running back Isaiah Pead was injured and didn’t play. He’ll be ready to go tonight.
It’s State that has the injury woes this time, as the banged-up defense is missing captain and DT J.R. Sweezy (left foot) and LB Terrell Manning (left knee) and probably DE and Cincinnati native Jeff Rieskamp (shoulder).
State really needs this one to stay on solid track for bowl eligibility, but the oddsmakers have the Bearcats as 7 1/2—point favorites.
The other two Triangle ACC teams will play on Saturday, with UNC (3-0, 1-0) visiting Georgia Tech (3-0, 0-0) in the Yellow Jackets’ ACC opener at noon and Duke (1-2) hosting Tulane (2-1) at 3:30.