Tar Heels strong favorites, Blue Devils underdogs on an odd non-conference day Saturday

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Tar Heel quarterback T.J. Yates receives the snap in the UNC-ECU contest earlier this season.
  • (File Photo by Rob Rowe)
  • Tar Heel quarterback T.J. Yates receives the snap in the UNC-ECU contest earlier this season.
Saturday is a totally coincidental, late-season non-conference day for two of the Triangle’s three ACC football teams.

Both UNC and Duke will play at 3:30 p.m., with N.C. State of course having the day off following Thursday night’s 28-24 win over Florida State at Carter-Finley Stadium.

The Tar Heels (4-3) will be solid favorites over William & Mary (6-1), which is ranked No. 4 in the most recent Division I-FCS poll but has never beaten the Tar Heels and has just two ties and 12 losses in 14 meetings. W&M’s backup quarterback is junior Mike Paulus, a transfer from UNC who has started in place of injured senior Mike Callahan in the Tribe’s wins over the then-top two teams in the FCS — Villanova and Delaware — over the past two weeks.

“Obviously this is a bounce-back week for us in that we lost a tough game on the road,” UNC coach Butch Davis said. “Emotionally and psychologically, we’ve got to bounce back and hold ourselves more accountable for the way we play and practice.

“Immediately on watching film your kids start making decisions about the talent level of a team, and instantly I think all of our coaches and all of our players recognized that William & Mary is a very, very well-coached football team — fundamentally, techniques, scheme-wise, you don’t see them making mistakes. They are in the right places. Their kids play very, very well and there’s a reason they’re ranked as high as they are.”

UNC will have for the first time this season the services of senior cornerback Kendric Burney, who has been cleared to play in the ongoing NCAA investigations.

Duke (1-6) is on a six-game losing streak and badly in need of a win. But Navy (6-2) is about to start knocking on the door of the Top 25 and a Blue Devil victory would be a big upset.

“Everybody’s aware that Navy’s coming off a huge win where they dominated Notre Dame,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. “They have another fine team and it’s been a consistent thing in regards to Navy. (Quarterback) Ricky Dobbs is one of the better football players that we’ll play against.

“I’m very happy with our preparation this week under difficult circumstances. We keep working hard.”

UNC vs. No. 4 (FCS) William & Mary
[Saturday, 3:30 p.m., Kenan Stadium]
UNC leads series 12-0-2.
Records:
UNC 4-3; W&M 6-1.
Audio: WCHL 1360, WRDU-FM 106.1, XM 191, Sirius 213.
Video: ESPN3.
Coaches’ records — UNC: Butch Davis 75-41, 24-21 at UNC; W&M: Jimmye Laycock 206-142-2.
Leading rushers — UNC: Johnny White 94-549, 5 TD; W&M: Jonathan Grimes 127-529, 7 TD.
Leading passers — UNC: T.J. Yates 133-203-1635-3, 11 TD; W&M: Mike Callahan 70-110-939-3, 6 TD.
Leading receivers — UNC: Dwight Jones 23-376, 3 TD; W&M: Ryan Moody 24-405, 1 TD.
Leading tacklers — UNC: Zach Brown 52, ½ TFL, 1 INT; W&M: Dante Cook 62, 6 TFL, 2 SK, 1 INT, 1 FF, 1 FR.
Favorite — UNC by 20 (Dunkel).

Duke at Navy
[Saturday, 3:30 p.m., Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis]
Navy leads series 20-13-5.
Records:
Duke 1-6, Navy 6-2.
Audio: WDNC 620, WRBZ 850, XM 192, Sirius 215.
Video: CBS College Sports.
Coaches’ records — Duke: David Cutcliffe 54-50, 10-21 at Duke; Navy: Ken Niumatalolo 23-12 at Navy.
Leading rushers — Duke: Desmond Scott 69-350, 2 TD; Navy: Ricky Dobbs 152-469, 8 TD.
Leading passers — Duke: Sean Renfree 151-276-1737-15, 10 TD; Navy: Ricky Dobbs 41-80- 728-4, 5 TD.
Leading receivers — Duke: Conner Vernon 43-625, 3 TD; Navy: Greg Jones 12-256, 1 TD.
Leading tacklers —— Duke: Abraham Kromah 70, 5 1/2 TFL, 1 SK, 1 INT; Navy: Tyler Simmons 58, 2 TFL, ½ SK, 1 INT, 1 FF, 1 FR.
Favorite — Navy by 13 1/2 (Vegas).

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