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No. 24 NC State bracing for Jackson, No. 17 Louisville

North Carolina State wide receiver Stephen Louis (12) beats Syracuse defensive back Evan Foster (14) for a 20-yard touchdown reception during the first half of an NCAA college football game at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, N.C., Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017. (Ethan Hyman/The News & Observer via AP)

By JOEDY McCREARY

AP Sports Writer

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) No. 24 North Carolina State doesn't have much time to savor its first national ranking in seven years.

The Wolfpack (4-1, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) are facing a crash course on stopping Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson and No. 17 Louisville on Thursday night.

Coach Dave Doeren said Monday that he's asked his players to stay off social media "because we only have a couple of days to focus and get it right."

N.C. State climbed back into the Top 25 after its fourth straight victory, a 33-25 win over Syracuse that followed a road victory at then-No. 12 Florida State .

The Wolfpack find themselves ranked for the first time since the final poll of the 2010 season - after their bowl win over No. 22 West Virginia in Orlando, Florida - and in possession of their highest ranking since they reached No. 21 earlier that year.

That sets up the first matchup of ranked teams at Carter-Finley Stadium since 2000 - Philip Rivers' freshman year, when the 21st-ranked Wolfpack were routed by No. 6 Florida State.

Historically, it's been tough for N.C. State to crack the Top 25 - and even tougher to stay there.

The Wolfpack haven't won as a ranked team since the 2003 opener against Western Carolina, and haven't beaten a FBS opponent as a Top 25 team since Rivers led them past Notre Dame in the Gator Bowl that followed the 2002 season.

"It's good recognition for our program, and it's well deserved, but it's still early in the season and there's a lot of football left," Doeren said. "After week 12, if we're in the Top 25, then I'll be really excited. ... We're going to focus more on what we need to do to stay there."

Doeren says injured safety Dexter Wright will practice this week "and our intention is to have him play on special teams and be in the game on defense if he looks good."

Wright has not played since the opener because of a groin injury, and Doeren said the defensive back asked to play on the punt team against Syracuse.

Doeren also said backup running back Dakwa Nichols tore both of his patellar tendons. Nichols, a senior, played in all five games and had 37 yards rushing on eight carries.

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Updated October 2, 2017

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