by Mike Potter
That silliness ends today.
Duke (6-2, 2-2 ACC) which still has a shot at its best season since the ACC was formed, will host N.C. State (3-5, 0-5) today at 4 at Wallace Wade Stadium in a game to be shown on ESPNU.
The matchup is one of two ACC games to be played in the Triangle today, as UNC (2-3, 3-5) will host reeling Virginia (2-7, 0-5) at 12:30 at Kenan Stadium in a game to be shown on WRAL.
N.C. Central (4-5, 2-3 MEAC) will travel to MEAC rival Hampton (3-6, 3-2) at 1 p.m.
Duke vs. N.C. State
This game is a matchup of two teams that have been headed in opposite directions of late, and first-year coach Dave Doeren’s Wolfpack is in position to at least play the spoiler.
David Cutcliffe’s Blue Devils, who two weeks ago secured a second straight bowl bid for the first time in school history, have won four straight games and are coming off an open date.
The Wolfpack has lost four straight games.
On the strength of prewar dominance Duke leads the series 40-36-5, but its only win in the last 12 meetings was in the most recent meeting, a 49-28 victory in Raleigh in 2009.
Duke is a 9½-point favorite.
“At this point we just have to play well,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. “And that's the focus, one week at a time. North Carolina State has got a lot of playmakers, and they've had a very difficult schedule, and they play people well that are not good but great, and that shows you the talent level. They're well-coached, well-motivated, and we have our hands full. I think, again, the focus goes back to us focusing on Duke playing as well as we possibly can.”
Anthony Boone has completed 86 of 138 passes for 932 yards and five TDs with six interceptions for Duke. Jela Duncan has carried 71 times for 372 yards and three TDs, while Jamison Crowder has caught 60 passes for 769 yards and three TDs.
“Our players are excited for the challenge,” Doeren said. “We look forward to going on the road and playing a game that's a rivalry game, and focus has been on us. We've been in four of the games we've lost in the fourth quarter, whether it was tied and we were down by a touchdown or less. We know we're close, and we're just going to keep grinding and fighting and find a way to win those close games as we fight down the stretch.”
Pete Thomas has completed 121 of 199 passes for 1360 yards and three TDs with eight interceptions for State. Shadrach Thornton has carried 90 times for 447 yards and four TDs, while Rashard Smith has caught 26 passes for 288 yards.
UNC vs. Virginia
The Tar Heels have won two straight, but got bad news this week when they learned senior quarterback Bryn Renner’s UNC career was over because of a shoulder injury.
UNC has won three straight in a series it leads 60-53-4, and will be a 13 1/2-point favorite today.
Marquise Williams has completed 40 of 66 passes for 537 yards and six TDs with three interceptions for UNC. A.J. Blue has carried 70 times for 266 yards and a TD, while Eric Ebron has caught 44 passes for 669 yards and three TDs.
“We’re looking forward to coming back to the Tar Pit and playing a well-coached Virginia team,” UNC coach Larry Fedora said. “I think probably both teams are better football teams than the records indicate for various reasons. But we’re real excited about getting back into the Tar Pit, playing in front of our fans and our students and looking forward to a great game.”
David Watford has completed 207 of 349 passes for 1845 yards and seven TDs with 10 interceptions for Virginia.
Kevin Parks has carried 160 times for 696 yards and nine TDs, while Tim Smith has caught 23 passes for 350 yards and a TD.
N.C. Central at Hampton
Interim coach Dwayne Foster’s Eagles really need to get the road win today to avoid heading in the direction of a losing season.
Hampton leads the series 17-6, but the Eagles won 37-20 last year in Durham. The Dunkel Index says Hampton is a 10½-point favorite.
Jordan Reid has completed 108 of 206 passes for 1180 yards and four TDs with four interceptions for NCCU. Idreis Augustus has carried 73 times for 319 yards and three TDs, while Adrian Wilkins has caught 33 passes for 350 yards and two TDs.
“We want to continue to improve and have a better product,” Foster said. “We want to start fast and finish strong.
“Defensively Hampton is an active bunch. They run around very, very well and send all kinds of pressure. Offensively they’ve got some impressive skilled guys they like to get the ball to in space. We need to get some stops early.”
Jaylian Williamson has completed 70 of 131 passes for 676 yards and five TDs with four interceptions for Hampton. Jorrian Washington has carried 66 times for 468 yards and three TDs, while Antwon Chisholm has caught 33 passes for 339 yards and four TDs.
Last week’s three stars
1. Quinshad Davis, WR, UNC. The sophomore caught two passes for 61 yards and a pair of TDs in a 27-19 win at N.C. State.
2. Marquise Williams, QB, UNC. The junior completed eight of 15 passes for 92 yards and a TD, also rushing 17 times for 51 yards in the win over the Wolfpack.
3. Tazmon Foster, LB, NCCU. The senior was named MEAC defensive player of the week for his 18-tackle performance in a 38-14 loss to visiting Bethune-Cookman.