Posted by Chip Patterson
College Football Blog is live in Carter-Finley Stadium for the primetime Thursday matchup between Cincinnati and NC State. Click here for the first half live blog and here for the second half, follow us on Twitter for more updates.
it was the only game on the college football slate for the evening, it was nationally televised, it was the first true test for NC State and Cincinnati. This was supposed to be a showdown of two teams desperately looking to make a statement to their respective conferences.
But the mistake-plagued game had the feel of an season-opener. Both teams had difficulties holding on to the ball, with numerous bad/bobbled snaps and each accounting for at least one lost fumble. There were mental mistakes as well. Cincinnati was penalized 7 times for 65 yards while NC State was able to overcome 6 penalties of their own totaling 47 yards.
But there were many things to be happy about for NC State fans. Russell Wilson, particularly in the first half, looked methodical as he picked apart the Cincinnati secondary for back-to-back 93-yard touchdown drives in the first quarter to spring the Wolfpack out to an early 14-0 lead. Wilson finished the evening 26-40 for 329 yards and three touchdowns, and eight rushes for 33 yards. Jarvis Williams led the way receiving for the Wolfpack with 110 yards, but Wilson spread the ball around to 11 different receivers throughout the night.
Most importantly for the Wolfpack, they have started the 2010 season 3-0. This is the first time they have accomplished that since the 2002 season, when current San Diego Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers was under center. Head coach Tom O'Brien has yet to have a winning season since coming to NC State from Boston College, but beginning the season with three straight wins will gets you almost halfway there.
For Cincinnati, the game created far more questions than it answered. The Bearcats returned 13 of 22 starters from last year's Big East Championship team, but on Thursday they looked frazzled and unorganized. The penalties and poor coverage in the secondary allowed NC State to impose their will offensively, and the offensive line looked unprepared for NC State's blitzes. Cincinnati quarterback Zach Collaros had some impressive moments, but never had a chance to find a rhythm until the collecting the two touchdowns in the final minutes of the game.
Things will only get worse before they get better for Cincinnati with a showdown with No. 7 Oklahoma waiting for them next Saturday. For NC State, they will face Georgia Tech next, and, for now, are sitting atop the ACC at 3-0.