WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina (Ticker) -- North Carolina State had a hard time showing that it wasn't looking ahead.
Nick Burney ran for two short touchdowns in a big first half, leading Wake Forest to a 38-24 upset of the 11th-ranked Wolfpack in an Atlantic Coast Conference matchup.
With a huge game next week at defending national champion and No. 2 Ohio State, the Wolfpack came out lethargic against the Demon Deacons as they fell behind by 25 points in the first half.
"Absolutely no excuses today," said North Carolina State coach Chuck Amato, a former assistant at Florida State. "The team celebrating next door gave us as big butt-whooping since Florida State in my first year."
Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe said the possibility of NC State looking ahead motivated his team a bit.
"That challenged our guys because we knew that they might have come in unfocused and looking ahead to Ohio State," Grobe said.
Burney had a one-yard TD in the first quarter and scored from one yard out again in the second, helping the Demon Deacons (2-0, 1-0 ACC) to a 28-10 advantage at the break.
Willie Idlette also returned a punt 51 yards for a TD in the second quarter for Wake Forest, which beat a ranked team for the first time since posting a 26-23 victory over No. 14 Georgia Tech on November 20, 1999.
"We had good things happening on offense, defense and special teams. We just had a good overall game," Grobe said.
Chris Barclay led a strong ground attack for the Demon Deacons as he carried 21 times for 90 yards.
The lone bright spot for the Wolfpack (1-1, 0-1) was quarterback Philip Rivers, who surpassed Jamie Barnette as the school's all-time leading passer. The senior and Heisman Trophy candidate completed 38-of-49 passes for a career-high 433 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.
NC State was shorthanded as sophomore running back T.A. McLendon (knee) and receiver Sterling Hicks (broken hand) sat out with injuries.
The Demon Deacons used their ground game to control things from the outset. They moved 78 yards in 10 plays on the game's opening drive with Burney plowing over from one yard.
Wake Forest rushed for 202 yards and also received an efficient game from quarterback Cory Randolph, who went 8-of-10 for 131 yards.
"Our offense started early," Randolph said. "We wanted to open up and execute well. We had a lot of confidence but we knew we had to establish our game plan early. We executed and concentrated a little harder this week."
North Carolina tried to respond, reaching the Demon Deacons 2 on its second possession. But after a penalty and two incompletions by Rivers, Adam Kiker kicked a 23-yard field goal.
But the Demon Deacons took control of the contest in the second quarter, when they scored 21 points in just over 6 1/2 minutes to open a 28-3 lead.
Barclay capped a 13-play, 80-yard drive with a one-yard TD run and, after the Wolfpack were forced to punt, the Demon Deacons moved 54 yards in six plays. Burney's one-yard TD run extended the lead to 21-3 lead.
Idlette provided more excitement by returning a punt 51 yards for a score, making it 28-3 with 6:22 left in the first half.
"I saw their guys coming after me and I was expecting to get hit," Idlette said. "But they showed up and our punt block team made great blocks."
Rivers tried to rally the Wolfpack, throwing a 24-yard TD pass to Jerricho Cotchery with 2:08 left before intermission.
After Ryan Plackmeier kicked a 32-yard field goal in the third quarter for the Demon Deacons, Rivers tried to offer more heroics in the fourth.
Rivers found Cotra Jackson with a 22-yard TD pass 54 seconds into the fourth, pulling the Wolfpack within 31-17. NC State move inside the Wake Forest 15 on its next possession before its drive stalled.
Cornelius Birgs put the game out of reach with a 16-yard TD run with 4:31 left to make it 38-17.