NC State confident in first trip to Notre Dame Stadium
North Carolina State's head coach Dave Doeren has said this week that he was a Notre Dame fan growing up, but as he leads the Wolfpack into South Bend for the first time, their mindset is that they belong on this stage.
"We don't need to be perfect, we just need to be better," said Doeren.
For many teams, the first trip to Notre Dame Stadium is an experience. NC State is making sure that experience doesn't get too big, and the team has done so by playing the Victory March on repeat during practice.
Garrett Bradbury, Wolfack Lineman
"We were sick of it the first day," said Wolfpack lineman Garrett Bradbury, "but it's something we've got to do because we're going to hear it Saturday."
"You hear that [song] and get mad at it," said another lineman, Tony Adams. "You get mad at the game, so you want to go and get out of there with a win."
The Wolfpack now has one of college football's most famous songs ringing in their ears, but the hope at the very least, is that the challenge may now be a little easier.
"It's going to be a surreal moment," said Adams. "You want to soak in the atmosphere, but that music gets us going."
"The perception is still there of that being one of the top programs in college football," said Bradbury. "At the end of the day, we don't care about that. They're a great team, but we are too."
NC State has earned that confidence, first by beating Notre Dame last season, and now by climbing the rankings in its own right. The way the Wolfpack has done it seemingly parallels Notre Dame's growth in attention as well.
"You really focus on what has brought them the success they've had," said Doeren, "[now people are chasing you instead of you chasing them. What you have to focus on is not letting them catch you."
While NC State and Notre Dame both have championship aspirations this season, Doeren says he worries about the game in front of him. However, he says the Wolfpack knows that this game can get them where they want to go."
"It means a lot when you beat a team like that," he said, "for your record and for what it means for postseason play. Regardless of the conference, beating Notre Dame at Notre Dame when they're in the Top 10, that matters."