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Critical game approaching for Dave Doeren, NC State

Dave Doeren is nearing the end of Year 7 in what has been a largely positive tenure at NC State. After going 3-9 in 2013, Doeren has led the Wolfpack to five straight bowl games and, entering this season, consecutive 9-win seasons.

However, the 2019 campaign has been a step back, at 4-6 overall and 1-5 in conference play. The Wolfpack have dropped four straight games and been largely non-competitive in all six losses. There's never a good time to have a down season, but this is a particularly bad one for Doeren as Debbie Yow, the AD who hired him, retired earlier this year and has since been replaced by Army's Boo Corrigan.

That's why the close of this season is critical for Doeren and NC State, particularly Thursday night at Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets are in Stage 1 of a major rebuild under Geoff Collins and enter Saturday at 2-8 this season.

Despite Georgia Tech's struggles, NC State heads to Atlanta as just a 1-point favorite.

After that, NC State closes the season with North Carolina. The Tar Heels share a 4-6 record with their instate rival, yet the energy surrounding the two programs is headed in opposite directions. All six of UNC's losses have come by seven points or fewer, including a 21-20 loss to Clemson, a six overtime loss at Virginia Tech, and another overtime loss at Pitt last Thursday.

Additionally, North Carolina sold out all six home games in Year 1 of Mack Brown's second run in Chapel Hill.

Win both games, and NC State will head to its sixth straight bowl game with an eighth year under Doeren secured, sources said. Lose both, however, and some in the coaching industry feel the ingredients could be ripe for a coaching change.

As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.