At North Carolina State,


It is a shame the ACC is playing two of its biggest games of the season on the opening weekend. While Miami at Florida State on Labor Day night might get more national attention, the Hokies' trip to Raleigh, N.C., the day before could end up meaning more.

Virginia Tech lost three games last season: the season opener to eventual national champion USC, the Sugar Bowl to undefeated Auburn -- and 17-16 to North Carolina State. The Wolfpack, which ranked No. 1 in Division I-A in total defense last season, recorded 10 sacks at Lane Stadium.

Still, the Hokies had a chance to win, but Brandon Pace missed a 43-yard field goal attempt as time expired.

North Carolina State must fill some holes in the secondary, but the pass rush and run-stopping promise to be just as ferocious, with ends Mario Williams and Manny Lawson leading the charge.

The Wolfpack won't have T.A. McLendon to run the ball anymore, but it might not need many points to stay in games.

Suffice it to say that this isn't the ideal first opponent for new starting quarterback Marcus Vick.

Brandon Pace, right, missed a 43-yard field goal attempt as time expired in a 17-16 loss to the Wolfpack last season.