UNC, NCCU really need wins; Duke and State face road toughies

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UNCs T.J. Thorpe runs in the open field against Miami.
Talk about a “must-win” game.

That’s going to be the situation for UNC this afternoon, when the Tar Heels (1-5, 0-3 ACC) host Boston College (3-3, 1-2) at 3:30 p.m. at Kenan Stadium (Fox Sports Carolinas).

If UNC is the victim of an upset, the Tar Heels will have to win all five remaining games to get a sixth win and the bowl trip they missed out on last year because of the NCAA probation.

All six remaining games are winnable, but if the Tar Heels are going to save their season it HAS to start today.
UNC is the only Triangle Division I team at home this weekend. And the two other local ACC teams will be road underdogs.

N.C. Central (3-4, 1-2 MEAC), which is all but out of the MEAC race, will be favored to get to .500 when the Eagles visit Savannah State (1-7, 0-4) at 2 p.m. It’s a must-win game for NCCU interim head coach Dwayne Foster.

Oddly, all three local ACC teams are playing at the same time. Duke (5-2, 1-2), which needs one win to will look to pull off a shocker at No. 14 Virginia Tech (6-1, 3-0) in an ESPNU game. Meanwhile N.C. State (3-3, 0-3) will look for its first quality win under Dave Doeren and possibly the national upset of the year in a visit to No. 2 Florida State (6-0, 4-0).

UNC vs. Boston College
The Tar Heels, who haven’t beaten anyone this season except Middle Tennessee, will try to snap a four-game losing streak.

UNC, which won 31-13 in Chestnut Hill last season, leads the series 4-2.

“We’ve made a lot of strides, we really have,” UNC coach Larry Fedora said. “It’s unfortunate because we haven’t made a play to win a football game. If you watched any game on Saturday, you saw all the upsets. Somebody made a big play at a crucial time in the game to win those games, every single one of them whether it was a one-handed catch or a catch with three guys draped all over you or whatever it is, somebody made a play. And we didn’t make that play down the stretch (in the 27-23 loss to Miami nine days ago).

“It wasn’t because our guys didn’t want to. They wanted it. They played hard to the last snap. They believed that we were going to make that catch on the last throw of the game. And unfortunately we just came up short. But yes we’ve made a lot of strides. We’ve gotten better, I know it’s hard for maybe some people to see but we’re getting better as a football team.”

Bryn Renner has completed 119 of 188 passes for 1414 yards and eight TDs with four interceptions for the Tar Heels. A.J. Blue is the leading rusher with 57 carries for 224 yards, while Eric Ebron has 31 catches for 532 yards and three TDs.

Chase Rettig has completed 83 of 130 passes for 1083 yards and 10 TDs with four interceptions for the Eagles. Andre Williams is the leading rusher with 157 carries for 838 yards and seven TDs, while Alex Amedon has 38 catches for 547 yards and three TDs.

The Tar Heels are listed as seven-point favorites.

NCCU at Savannah State
NCCU leads the series 5-2-1 including a 45-33 win in Savannah last year, but both losses have come in the last three meetings.

“Savannah State has some good personnel and a good football team,” Foster said. “Throw the records out the window. We’ve got to go down and make sure we’re prepared to get a win. We have to be ready. There are so many things we’re working on.

“I think we’re right there at times, and we just need to find a way to get going offensively and defensively and continue that spark on special teams.”

Jordan Reid has completed 104 of 200 passes for 1109 yards and four TDs with four interceptions for the Eagles. Idreis Augustus is the leading rusher with 73 carries for 319 yards and three TDs, while Lamar Scruggs has 21 catches for 256 yards and a TD.

Antonio Bostick has completed 90 of 165 passes for 1073 yards and 10 TDs with eight interceptions for the Tigers. Lereginald Veals is the leading rusher with 41 carries for 117 yards, while Simon Heyward has 27 catches for 407 yards and two TDs.

The Dunkel Index lists the Eagles as 31-point favorites.

Duke at Virginia Tech

Duke seems to be on the way to a pretty good season, but it could turn out to be a great one if the Blue Devils get an upset today.

Virginia Tech, which leads the series 13-7, has won 11 straight against the Blue Devils including 41-20 last year.

“We’re playing a team that sets the tone physically,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. “In the league, they’ve set the tone for quite some time. It’s a big challenge, but I think the key component is looking forward to testing yourself. [Our players] know they’re going to have to perform at a very high level on a consistent basis to be in a game with Virginia Tech. That’s the challenge, but put simply, it’s one we’re looking forward to taking on.

“It’s an individual thing. You have to prepare yourself - your attention to detail, your preparation, your knowledge of the schemes of Virginia Tech. Mostly it’s just understanding the environment you’re getting ready to go into and how competitive it’s going to be. I think we have enough players who understand that.”

Anthony Boone has completed 79 of 113 passes for 815 yards and five TDs with three interceptions for the Blue Devils. Jela Duncan is the leading rusher with 64 carries for 334 yards and three TDs, while Jamison Crowder has 56 catches for 731 yards and three TDs.

Logan Thomas has completed 122 of 221 passes for 1451 yards and nine TDs with six interceptions for the Hokies.
Trey Edmunds is the leading rusher with 107 carries for 393 yards and four TDs, while Willie Byrn has 25 catches for 349 yards and a TD.

The Hokies are listed as 13½-point favorites.

N.C. State at Florida State

Can the Wolfpack put together another miracle?

The Wolfpack won a 17-16 thriller over the Seminoles at Carter-Finley Stadium last season. FSU leads the series 22-11, but is only 8-7 over the last 15 meetings.

“We’re obviously excited,” Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren said. “Coming off the bye week we’re a little bit healthier and ready to play a great team in Florida State. We’re a little healthier than we’ve been, which is nice. We’re still missing some guys, but the bye week was very beneficial for us not only from a health and recovery standpoint, but developmentally. We got a lot of work done with our young players. The guys that have been playing were able to go through the six-game self-scout, and really fine-tune some things that have hurt us and take out some things that we have tried multiple times that we haven’t got enough out of. It was a great week, fundamentally and on special teams, offense and defense.

“As far as Florida State goes, they’re a great team, everybody knows that, you saw what they did the other night (in a 51-14 rout at Clemson). They have great coaches, sound schemes, guys that play hard and make plays. They have a bunch of different playmakers and a quarterback who is playing at an extremely high level with a bunch of receivers going up and getting the ball.”

Pete Thomas has completed 117 of 192 passes for 1314 yards and three TDs with eight interceptions for the Wolfpack. Matt Dayes is the leading rusher with 43 carries for 188 yards and four TDs, while Bryan Underwood has 30 catches for 357 yards and a TD.

Jameis Wilson has completed 112 of 157 passes for 1885 yards and 20 TDs with three interceptions for the Seminoles. Devonta Freeman is the leading rusher with 75 carries for 469 yards and four TDs, while Rashad Greene has 31 catches for 553 yards and seven TDs.

The Seminoles are listed as 31½-point favorites.

Last week’s three stars
1. Braxton Deaver, TE, Duke. The junior caught three passes for 96 yards and the final two touchdowns in the Blue Devils’ 35-22 comeback win at Virginia.
2. Eric Ebron, TE, UNC. The junior earned the John Mackey award as national tight end of the week, recording eight receptions for 199 yards and a TD in a 27-23 loss to Miami.
3. Adrian Wilkins, WR, NCCU. The sophomore earned College Football Performance Awards returner of the week for a 91-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in a 34-22 loss to visiting Morgan State.

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