Tom O’Brien wasn’t real happy about having to take his N.C. State team into another football game just five days after his last one, but there’s nothing he could do about it.

N.C. State quarterback Russell Wilson
  • Photo courtesy NCSU athletics
  • N.C. State quarterback Russell Wilson

Tonight at 7:30 the 2-0 Wolfpack, flying high after a 28-21 road win over Central Florida on Saturday night, will host two-time defending Big East champion Cincinnati (1-1) in a game to be shown on ESPN.

“I’m worried about how they’ll be, but we won’t know until (game time),” said the Wolfpack’s fourth-year head coach, who happens to be a native of Cincinnati. “We’ve balanced the act of getting enough work in, but not at the expense of trying to get our legs back so that we can play four quarters of fast football. (Wednesday’s) practice was a glorified walk-through. …

“Our football team is excited about the opportunity to play a very good Cincinnati team. They present a lot of problems both offensively and defensively, but our kids are excited about the opportunity to play on national TV.”

On Saturday night the Wolfpack generated only 239 yards total offense, far less than the usual numbers with Russell Wilson under center, but the so-far improved defense was good enough to both slow the Knights down and cause the key turnovers to preserve the win.

“I think we’ve made improvement on defense,” O’Brien said. “But we’ve only played two games and there’s a lot of football left to play. We’ll be severely challenged with (Bearcats quarterback Zach) Collaros. We had a little trouble with (backup quarterback Jeff) Godfrey that’s a run/throw type of a kid down at Central Florida. … We didn’t contain. When they brought him in he was fresh-legged and we were tired-legged. We got a little sloppy.”

N.C. State vs. Cincinnati
[Thursday, 7:30 p.m., Carter-Finley Stadium]
First meeting
NCSU 1-0, UCF 1-0.
Audio: WRAL-FM 101.5, Sirius 121, Sirius 122, XM 141, XM 143.
Video: ESPN.
Coaches’ records — NCSU: Tom O’Brien 93-66, 18-21 at NCSU; UC: Butch Jones 28-14, 1-1 at UC.
Leading rushers — NCSU: Dean Haynes 23-118, 2 TD; UC: Darrin Williams 14-121, 3 TD.
Leading passers — NCSU: Russell Wilson 31-61-411-0, 5 TD; UC: Zach Collaros 35-58-349-0, 3 TD.
Leading receivers — NCSU: T.J. Graham 7-100, 2 TD; UCF: D.J. Woods 11-118, 1 TD.
Leading tacklers —— NCSU: Terrell Manning 14, 1 FR; UC: J.K. Schaffer 16, 1 TFL.
Favorite — NCSU by 2 (Vegas).