RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – N.C. State hits the road for the first time this season on Saturday and the environment they’re heading into will be like none they have ever experienced.
“We’re going to see a much better team than we did in that first game,” said Wolfpack head coach Dave Doeren. “I think the crowd’s going to really be into it being a night game and I think the way we played will get their team a little more fired up about playing us.”
The Wolfpack’s 45-0 season-opening win will catch a team’s attention. And the fan base as well.
More than 61,000 fans are expected to fill Davis Wade Stadium for the nationally televised contest in Starkville.
That’s about 55,000 fans more than N.C. St. faced during their entire regular-season games combined last fall.
“We’re really excited,” gushed N.C. State guard Dylan McMahon. “COVID last year there were no fans and we’re just blessed to go somewhere even if it is a hostile territory just to have fans there booing you or whatever they’re going to be doing.”
Booing, and ringing those cowbells.
Legend has it a cow wandered onto the field during a Mississippi State game with arch-rival Ole Miss in 1940.
The Maroons, as the team was known at the time, went on to beat the Rebels in Starkville that day and a tradition was born.
From that day forward, visiting teams have had to deal with the annoying sound of cowbells.
“We’ve had the cowbells just ringing in our ears continuously all the time,” explained N.C. State wide receiver Christopher Toudle about how coaches have tried to simulate that sound in practice. “I don’t think the crowd noise and all that will really get to us I just think we’re ready to go.”
Cowbells, booing, catcalls, the Wolfpack will see it all from what should be a charged-up Bulldogs crowd on Saturday. And they’re looking forward to the challenge.
“We know we’re playing a good team and we’re excited about where we’re playing,” Doeren said. “A lot’s been said about game day there, the noise, the fanfare and everything.
“That’s why guys play, they want to be in games like that. We’re excited to play a good football team from a very good conference.”
The Wolfpack and Bulldogs have met six times before – with each side winning three games.
N.C. State has only played in Starkville one time – a 6-0 win in 1931.
The last meeting was in the 2015 Belk Bowl where Dak Prescott helped the Bulldogs trounce N.C. State 51-28.