After coming close a year ago, NC State is setting its sights on winning the ACC Championship for the first time since 1979.

The Wolfpack won 9 games a year ago — the 3rd time that’s happened in the last 5 years under coach Dave Doeren. But with quarterback Devin Leary and other key pieces returning, NC State is focused on ending its 42-year drought.

“They’re hungry for it, man,” Doeren told ESPN earlier this week. “And so am I. We’ve been knocking on the door. It’ll be great to get through. You kind of feel like every time you do something that hasn’t been done, it gets a little easier.”

With Leary, NC State has one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the country. Last year, he threw for 3,433 yards, 35 touchdowns and just 5 interceptions. It was a big leap for Leary, who had been good-but-not-great over his 2 previous collegiate seasons.

Leary’s experience is a big reason why Doeren and the Wolfpack are so confident going into 2022.

“In my opinion, we have the best quarterback in the country coming back to play for us,” Doeren told ESPN. “Devin Leary is a winner, he’s clutch.”

NC State will go as far as Leary will take it. He could conceivably climb as high as No. 3 on NC State’s all-time passing chart, trailing only Philip Rivers and Ryan Finely.

If that happens, Leary will likely be in position to lead NC State to a place that Rivers and Finely never did: the ACC Championship.

NC State opens the season vs. East Carolina on Sept. 3.