North Carolina State has slid into a tough spot after consecutive losses to a pair of Top 10 teams.
But that doesn't mean it's a lost cause for the Wolfpack.
"We're playing for so many things," said coach Dave Doeren, whose team slid from No. 20 to No. 23 in this week's College Football Playoff rankings. "We're playing for the opportunity that if we win our next three games we'll have a chance to win 10. That means a lot to our team."
N.C. State (6-3, 4-1 ACC) heads to Boston College (5-4, 3-3) for Saturday's game, still feeling the sting of a 38-31 loss to Clemson in a game that might have decided the Atlantic Coast Conference's Atlantic Division title.
N.C. State still has a chance at securing the spot in the ACC Championship Game, but that would require Clemson losing at home to Florida State on Saturday and require the Wolfpack to win their final three regular-season games.
"The season isn't over year," receiver Jakobi Meyers said. "We're going to keep pushing."
First things first for N.C. State, which has had some slippage on defense in back-to-back losses to national powers, starting with a road setback at Notre Dame.
Now the Wolfpack has to make sure the disappointment doesn't turn into more problems.
"More than anything, it's about trying to get a winning taste back in our mouth as a football team," Doeren said. "I was proud of how our team fought. There were a lot of ups and downs. I think there were a lot of positives from both of those games."
Boston College has been troublesome for the Wolfpack in the past and is a hot team. The Eagles, who are coming off an open weekend, have shown some spark in the past month, ripping off three consecutive victories to climb within a victory of bowl eligibility.
"I told the team just let's put blinders on, we're in a one-game season, here, period, end," coach Steve Addazio said at his Monday press conference.
"So that's what I think. And I hope that's what our team thinks, you know. Because I think that's the trap this time of year, especially. I think the season always presents different traps, but a lot of teams start all of a sudden looking at what's next week or three weeks or what could happen here and what could happen there. That's just a trap to me."
N.C. State's offense often has trouble against Boston College. The Wolfpack is a little banged up on that side with running back Nyheim Hines trying to recover from an ankle injury and versatile back Jaylen Samuels missing plays after he was dinged up against Clemson.
Hines had a total of 10 carries for 40 yards in the past two weeks after three consecutive games of more than 100 rushing yards.
The Eagles manhandled Florida State 35-3 before their bye week, beating the Seminoles for the first time since 2009 and becoming the first team to hold FSU without a touchdown since 2008 and the first to keep the 'Noles under 10 points since '09.
N.C. State quarterback Ryan Finley, who threw two interceptions last week, has thrown for 15 touchdowns and is 40th nationally in passing efficiency, with a rating of 141.8.
N.C. State's defensive front is considered the strength of the team, although Clemson cut through for 224 rushing yards. The Wolfpack are led by end Bradley Chubb, who has 18.5 tackles for loss, including 7.5 sacks. He is rated the No. 5 overall prospect for the 2018 NFL Draft, according to NFLDraftScout.com.
Boston College completed just seven passes in the Florida State victory, but two of them, one thrown by quarterback Anthony Brown and the other by receiver Jeff Smith, went for touchdowns. BC is only 107th in the nation in passing (171.1 yards per game) but has developed a fine 1-2 running back combo in AJ Dillon and Jon Hilliman.
Dillon rushed for 149 yards against Florida State and 272 against Louisville in a win that started the three-game winning streak.
"The bye week gave us a great opportunity to get some guys feeling better. And rested. Physically, but mentally, as well," Addazio said. "I think it gave our guys a chance to really get back on top academically, which is huge. I mean that's a continual -- that's a grind. But our guys did a great job of that."