NC State hosts a Wake Forest team also rebuilding
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) If anyone can empathize with Dave Clawson's tough first year at Wake Forest, Dave Doeren can.
His first season at North Carolina State in 2013 was just as difficult.
The two coaches who jumped from the Mid-American Conference to the Atlantic Coast Conference meet Saturday in a matchup of two of the Atlantic Division's worst teams.
Doeren says he knows ''what he's been through, what he's going through.''
N.C. State (5-5, 1-5) lost 12 straight ACC games during Doeren's first two seasons before the Wolfpack gave him his first league victory two weeks ago at Syracuse.
He's yet to win a conference game at home, and his final chance to do so this year comes against the last-place Demon Deacons (2-7, 0-5) - who have dropped five straight and haven't won in Raleigh since 2006.
''This is a team in our state, in our conference, in our division, and the bottom line is, for our team to be successful in the short term and long term, this is a game we have to have,'' Clawson said.
But that was the MAC, and this is the ACC - where both coaches have struggled during their rebuilding jobs.
Wake Forest has the nation's worst offense, averaging 203 total yards, and also ranks last with just 31.4 yards rushing. All but one of the Demon Deacons' ACC losses have come by at least 10 points.
N.C. State hasn't been much better: All five of the Wolfpack's defeats have come in conference games in which they've given up at least 30 points and lost by at least 12 - including last week's 56-23 loss to Georgia Tech.
''They play hard. We need to play smarter at times and need to finish plays better at times, but we stick together,'' Doeren said.
Some things to know about the Wolfpack's visit from Wake Forest:
BOWL PUSH: N.C. State remains one victory from bowl eligibility, and the Wolfpack have only two chances left to get it - this week, or at rival North Carolina on Nov. 29. ''We're still playing for something that is important to us - postseason play,'' Doeren said.
WAKE UP THE GROUND GAME: Maybe this is the week the Demon Deacons finally get something going on the ground. It's been a season-long struggle, with Wake Forest gaining 100 yards rushing as a team only once while finishing with negative yards three times. But the Demon Deacons have faced five of the league's top seven rushing defenses, while N.C. State ranks 12th, giving up an average of nearly 202 yards on the ground - including 479 last week to run-heavy Georgia Tech.
BACK HOME: Raleigh native Matt James is eager for his first - and only - game at Carter-Finley Stadium. The Wake Forest senior receiver missed three weeks with a broken hand but returned to catch three passes for 28 yards in a 34-20 loss to No. 19 Clemson. A broken collarbone kept James from playing in the Demon Deacons' last visit in 2012.
SERIES NOTES: The Wake Forest-N.C. State series has been dominated by the home teams. No visitor has won since the Demon Deacons claimed a last-second 25-23 victory in Raleigh in 2006 on their way to an improbable ACC title and Orange Bowl berth. The Wolfpack haven't won in Winston-Salem since 2001, and Wake Forest claimed a 28-13 win there last year.
YOUNG TEAMS: The Wolfpack and Demon Deacons are tied as the third-youngest teams in the Bowl Subdivision, with 70.5 percent of both rosters comprised of freshmen or sophomores. Eight true freshmen started Wake Forest's opening game at Louisiana-Monroe, while seven of them have started for N.C. State.
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