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The NC State Wolfpack football team represents North Carolina State University in the sport of American football. The Wolfpack competes in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Atlantic Division of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). Prior to joining the ACC in 1953, the Wolfpack were a member of the Southern Conference. As a member of the ACC, the Wolfpack has won seven conference championships and participated in 25 bowl games, of which the team has won thirteen.
Since 1966 the Wolfpack has played its home games in Carter-Finley Stadium. On September 16, 2010 NC State restored the tradition of having a live mascot on the field as a wolf-like Tamaskan Dog named "Tuffy" was on the sidelines for the Cincinnati game in Raleigh, North Carolina. Ever since then, Tuffy has not missed a Wolfpack football game in Carter-Finley Stadium.
NC State (then known as The North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts) played its first football game against a team from the Raleigh Male Academy on March 12, 1892 in what is now Pullen Park. The Aggies, whose colors were blue and pink, won 12-6 in front of more than 200 spectators. The following year, the school played its first intercollegiate game: a 12-6 victory over Tennessee College. The program's long-standing rivalry with nearby University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill began on October 12, 1894 with a 44-0 UNC victory in Chapel Hill. Eight days later, the team (then called the Farmers) lost again to UNC, 16-0 in Raleigh. In 1895, under third-year coach Bart Gatling, the team wore red and white uniforms for the first time. Over the next five seasons the program continued to try to establish itself, achieving only one winning season during the period. The football team has also only had scholarship football players since 1933, prior to that all Wolfpack athletics consisted entirely of non-scholarship student athletes.
In 1906, in a game against Randolph-Macon in Raleigh, the Farmers attempted their first forward pass, a play that had only recently become legal and at the time was still considered a "trick" play.The following season was the program's most successful yet. Under coach Mickey Whitehurst, A&M won the South Atlantic Intercollegiate Athletic Association championship with a 6-0-1 record. That season, the program also recorded its first ever victory over the University of Virginia.The Farmers played their home games that season on campus at the New Athletic Park, which would later be known as Riddick Stadium.In addition to Pullen Park, the state fairgrounds had hosted some games prior to the opening of the new stadium.
The team won a second South Atlantic championship in 1910 under coach Edward Green, finishing with a record of 4-0-2. A win over Virginia Tech in Norfolk that season was dubbed the "biggest game ever played in the South". Coach Green led team to a third conference championship in 1913, with a record of 6-1.
The 1918 season was cut short due to the United States' entrance into World War I and a severe flu outbreak on campus. The team's roster was depleted, its schedule reduced to four games, and practice was suspended for five weeks in October and November. A week after practice resumed, State College, as the school was then called, led by coach Tal Stafford, was defeated 128-0 by Georgia Tech in Atlanta. Tackle John Ripple was named the program's first All-American. The following season, on October 23, the Farmers resumed play with North Carolina after a 14-year hiatus. The Tar Heels won the game 13-12 in Raleigh. It wasn't until 1920 that A&M defeated the rival Tar Heels for the first time.
In 1921 State College began wearing red sweaters and were referred to by the local media as the Wolfpack. The program joined the Southern Conference that year and would win the conference title six seasons later under coach Gus Tebell. The 1930 season saw the installation of field lighting at Riddick Stadium, as the Wolfpack defeated High Point University, 37-0, in the team's first ever night game.
In 1945 State hired Beattie Feathers as head coach. Feathers, a former star at Tennessee and the first NFL running back to rush for 1,000 yards in a season, compiled a 37-38-8 record in eight seasons, the program's most successful coaching tenure yet. In Feathers' second season, Wolfpack defensive player Howard "Touchdown" Turner returned an interception 105 yards against Duke, a record that still stands as the longest play in Wolfpack history. The 1946 season began with wins over Duke and Clemson, earning the program their first appearance in the UPI poll (19th). 1947 saw the Wolfpack reach their first ever bowl game, the second annual Gator Bowl. The team lost to Oklahoma, 34-13, and finished the season at 8-3, the highest win total since finishing 9-1 in 1927. The Wolfpack's first ever nationally televised game was played in 1950. State defeated eight-ranked Maryland 16-13 in College Park.
NC State joined the newly formed Atlantic Coast Conference in 1953 as a charter member. The team finished 1-9 that year under head coach Doc Newton.