Quick hits and notes from NC State's 45-28 win at Georgia Tech in front of 48,825 surprised Yellow Jackets fans at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
Convincing win for the Pack
NC State improved to 4-0 with the win, the best start since the Pack began the 2002 campaign 9-0. Head coach Tom O'Brien is off to just the second 4-0 start in his 14-year coaching career, the other coming with his 1999 Boston College squad that also started 4-0.
The 17-point margin ties the largest margin of victory ever for NC State over Georgia Tech. The Pack won 17-0 in Raleigh in 1987. The 45 points were the most scored in ACC play under O'Brien for NC State, topping the previous high of 42 in a loss at Florida State last season.
Georgia Tech had not allowed a team to score more than 40 points at home since 2001 when Clemson scored 47 in overtime. The last time Georgia Tech allowed an opponent to score at least 45 points in regulation at Bobby Dodd Stadium was 1996 against Florida State. NC State scored the most points allowed in Paul Johnson's tenure at Georgia Tech.
The win snapped Georgia Tech's seven-game ACC winning streak, and also stopped their six-game home conference-winning streak. NC State is the first Atlantic Division team since Maryland in 2007 to beat the Jackets, another span of seven games.
Big day for Russell Wilson
Redshirt junior quarterback Wilson completed 28 of 41 passes for 368 yards and three touchdowns with one interception and ran nine times for 16 yards and another score. Wilson set a new career-high in passing yards, topping the 349 he had last year at Florida State. The 368 yards were good for 18th all-time in school history.
The only negative for Wilson was his first interception of the year. That was his first pick in 169 attempts. The interception was returned by Georgia Tech's Jerrard Tarrant for a 33-yard touchdown. That was Wilson's first career pick six.
Wilson completed passes to 11 different receivers. That included redshirt junior Steven Howard, who caught two passes for 28 yards and a 21-yard touchdown right before halftime that was Howard's first career touchdown.
Wilson led an offensive attack that had 527 yards of total offense. The last time a team had over 500 yards of total offense at Bobby Dodd Stadium was Boston College in 2007. The Pack's ability to move the ball at will allowed State to own a 33:14 to 26:46 time of possession advantage, the first time this year Georgia Tech has been on the short end of that stat.
The Irving of old
Fifth-year senior Nate Irving has come a long way since having just one assist on a tackle against Western Carolina in the season opener. Irving had a huge afternoon against Georgia Tech. He set a new career-high with 16 tackles, including 4.5 for losses and two sacks. That is only the second time Irving had two sacks in a game, the other coming against Virginia in 2007. The 4.5 tackles for losses more than doubles his previous high of two in a game set on five different occasions in 2007 and 2008.
Irving led a huge defensive effort. The defense gave up just 21 points and 363 yards of total offense on the afternoon, 282 on the ground. Saturday was the first time all season that Georgia Tech had not scored a touchdown on its opening drive. The Jackets averaged 9.3 points per first quarter in their first three games but were held scoreless by the Pack.
The Jackets had scored in its first quarter for five straight games, and Georgia Tech did not score until 27 minutes and 30 seconds into the game, their longest drought since Oct. 17, 2009 against Virginia Tech when they did not score until 32 seconds remaining in the first half. The Tech touchdown was their lone points of the first half, 11 points below their season average for the first half.
Big special teams play to jumpstart Pack
With the game still scoreless, sophomore tight end Asa Watson blocked the Georgia Tech punt, and it was recovered by fifth-year senior receiver Jarvis Williams for a touchdown. That was State's second straight week with a blocked punt. They had just one blocked punt all of 2009 and 2007 under O'Brien and two in 2008. Georgia Tech had now allowed a blocked punt for a touchdown since 1996, and they had not had a punt blocked since 2007.
Speaking of punting, NC State had a new punter in this game. Junior Andy Leffler got the nod over fifth-year senior Jeff Ruiz, who came into averaging just 33.9 yards per kick. Leffler averaged 37.3 yards on his three kicks.