The Wolfpack (5-5, 2-4 ACC) is in another of those tight squeezes, losing two of its last three games and on the verge of elimination from the bowl picture.
"We're down, but that's when we play our best, when our backs are against the wall and stuff like that," receiver T.J. Graham said. "We're not a front-running type team."
Pulling itself out won't come easy because the next opponent is Clemson (9-1, 6-1), which already has won the ACC's Atlantic Division.
The Wolfpack could be headed toward another non-bowl season and that is leading to increased grumbling about coach Tom O'Brien's tenure with the program. The Wolfpack went to bowls in two of his first four seasons.
Last season, the Wolfpack had a busy road stretch late in the schedule. This year, it's a reversal and the final two games are at home. But the mood has dimmed around the team after what has turned out to be another mundane season. Now, there will be a last-grasp effort to put a positive spin on it.
Because it played two Football Championship Subdivision teams, the Wolfpack must reach the seven-win mark to play in a bowl this year.