Best 5 Seasons in NC State Football History

North Carolina State’s football history includes several strong seasons, but the Wolfpack were never better than under the direction of QB Philip Rivers in 2002. Here are the best five seasons in program history.

NC State Football’s Five Best Seasons

1. 2002 (11-3 overall, 5-3 ACC)

Philip Rivers is the most decorated player in NC State history. He carried the Wolfpack to a 9-0 start during the 2002 season. That sizzling stretch included wins against Texas Tech, in-state rival UNC, and Clemson. NC State throttled the Tigers on the road, 38-6.

Head coach Chuck Amato’s team then swooned during a three-game freefall that included losses to Georgia Tech, Maryland, and Virginia.

The Wolfpack ended the 2002 campaign in strong fashion by beating No. 14 Florida State in Tallahassee in the regular season finale. NC State capped its finest season with a 28-6 beatdown of No. 11 Notre Dame in the Gator Bowl.

Remarkably, it was the first and still the only double-digit win season in school history.

NC State QB Devin Leary (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser)
Current NC State Quarterback Devin Leary

2. 2021 (9-3 overall, 6-2 ACC)

NC State had a chance to win 10 games last season, but the Wolfpack’s bowl game against UCLA was canceled due to Covid-19 concerns.

QB Devin Leary established a single-season school record with 35 TDs last year. NC State finished second in the ACC’s Atlantic Division with a conference record of 6-2. The Wolfpack defeated No. 9 Clemson, BC, Louisville, Florida State, Syracuse, and North Carolina.

Head coach Dave Doeren returns 17 starters including Leary, and NC State is poised for a run at the ACC title this season. The 2o22 team could be at the top of this list soon.

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3. 2010 (9-4, 5-3 ACC)

QB Russell Wilson led NC State to a 9-4 record and a 23-7 Champs Sports Bowl win over West Virginia. How much did Wilson carry this club? NC State couldn’t run the ball, but it led the ACC in passing yardage. Wilson threw for 3,563 yards and 28 TDs.

Head coach Tom O’Brien flirted with a 10-win season but that opportunity was lost after a 38-31 defeat to Maryland in the ACC finale.  

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4. 2017  (9-4, 6-2 ACC)

QB Ryan Finley had a fantastic season with 3,514 yards passing and 17 TDs. The 2017 campaign didn’t start out well with a loss to South Carolina, but the Wolfpack responded with six consecutive victories. The wins included a 27-21 road victory over No. 12 Florida State.

NC State crushed Arizona State, 52-31, in the Sun Bowl to close the season. Linebacker Bradley Chubb was one of a school-record seven NFL draft picks in 2018.

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5. 1992 (9-3-1, 6-2 ACC)

The 1992 team finished No. 17 in the country. The season started with a big 24-14 win over No. 15 Iowa. Conference wins came against Maryland, UNC, Clemson, Virginia, Duke, and Wake Forest. A 13-13 tie against Virginia Tech prevented NC State from reaching the elusive 10-win mark.

Photo: NC State QB Devin Leary (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser)

About the Author

Kris Johnson

With more than 15 years of experience as a sports journalist, Kris Johnson’s work has appeared in Sports Business Daily, Sports Business Journal, NASCAR Illustrated, and more. Kris also wrote a sports-betting novel entitled The Endgame.