The words nearly escaped Tony Adams’ mouth.
The senior offensive lineman was trying to explain why N.C. State struggles so much with Boston College.
“Um, I don’t know,” said Adams, who grew up in Boston.
The pensive All-ACC right guard thought about it for a minute.
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“Boston College, they may have our num … ,” Adams said.
He caught himself right in the middle of the word “number.”
“No, I’m not going to say that,” Adams said laughing.
Adams’ partial candor can be forgiven. How else can you explain N.C. State’s annual problems, in football and the other major sports, with the Eagles?
Boston College has a 3-1 record against N.C. State since the start of the 2013 season. Up until this current three-game winning streak, which started with a shocking 45-42 victory at Louisville on Oct. 14, the Eagles had a 7-24 record against the rest of the ACC over the same time span.
In an odd way, it might actually help the Wolfpack (6-3, 4-1 ACC) that the Eagles (5-4, 3-3) are running hot.
“I think any time you’re playing a team that’s playing well, that gets your attention,” N.C. State coach Dave Doeren said.
It can’t hurt.
The Eagles are 8-4 against the N.C. State since they joined the ACC in 2005, including a 5-1 mark at home.
There have been years where BC has simply been the better team. The Eagles won the Atlantic Division twice, in 2007 and ’08, but there have been years (2011 and ’16) where they have had a win over N.C. State and not much else going for them.
Why the hold over the Wolfpack?
Former N.C. State receiver T.J. Graham once famously lamented the quality of the music selection in warmups at Alumni Stadium.
With his team on a two-game losing streak, and with other issues on the periphery from a stinging loss to Clemson, Doeren wasn’t exactly interested in delving into the topic.
“My only experience has been they’ve been really physical games,” Doeren said. “I think (coach) Steve (Addazio) does a great job using what he has on his football team.”
Addazio, in his fifth season, has had more than just a game against the Wolfpack to celebrate this season. Freshman running back A.J. Dillon has been a revelation. He has 510 yards and five touchdowns the past three games, including a 272-yard performance against Louisville, and the Eagles’ offense has averaged 40.3 points per game.
In their last game, the Eagles dominated Florida State, 35-3 on Oct. 27, and had last week off.
Meanwhile, N.C. State has lost its past two games – to Notre Dame and Clemson, a pair of teams in the top 4 of the College Football Playoff rankings – and has struggled to stop the run. Notre Dame ran for 318 yards and Clemson ran for 224.
“That’s not who we are,” Chubb said. “We have to take pride in stopping the run.”
A little pride has to kick for the seniors to avoid a 1-3 record against the Eagles. Doeren said these last three games, plus the bowl game, are about the seniors and the chance to win 10 games.
Only one other team in school history has posted a double-digit win season.
“We’re playing for so many things people outside of our building probably don’t know about,” Doeren said.
Maybe there is no explanation for N.C. State’s struggles with BC. The Wolfpack does understand it doesn’t want to suffer through another loss to the Eagles.
“We do understand that,” Adams said.
Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio
N.C. State at Boston College
When: 12 p.m. Saturday
Where: Chestnut Hill, Mass.
TV/Radio: ABC/ESPN2, Wolfpack Sports Network