The next game will determine whether or not a squad will have a winning record at the halfway point.
And that’s the situation this weekend for the three of the Triangle’s four Division I college football teams who are taking the field in home games.
The answers start coming tonight at 7:45, when N.C. Central (3-2, 1-0 MEAC) hosts S.C. State (4-2, 2-0) at O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium in a game to be shown on ESPNU.
And the ACC teams play Saturday, with Duke (3-2) hosting Navy (3-1) at Wallace Wade Stadium at 12:30 on WRAL and N.C. State (3-2, 0-2) entertaining Syracuse (2-3, 0-1 ACC) in the Orange’s first visit to the Triangle as an ACC member at 3:30 on Fox Sports Carolinas.
UNC (1-4, 0-2) has the day off before hosting Miami a week from tonight.
NCCU vs. S.C. State
It’s a game between a pair of teams that haven’t had a bad loss, and the loser will be in a bad position in its quest to win the MEAC title.
NCCU is coming off a 37-28 win at Howard in its MEAC opener, while the Bulldogs dealt North Carolina A&T its first loss with a 29-24 win in Atlanta.
The Eagles beat the Bulldogs 40-10 last season in Indianapolis, but SCSU leads the series 11-9.
The Dunkel Index calls the Bulldogs three-point favorites.
“We were excited to get our first conference win at Howard,” Eagle coach Dwayne Foster said.
Jordan Reid has completed 83 of 153 passes for 869 yards and four TDs with two interceptions for NCCU. Idreis Augustus has 58 carries for 301 yards and three TDs, while Marvin Poole has 15 carries for 178 yards and a score.
Richard Cue has completed 67 of 125 passes for 876 yards and three TDs with seven interceptions for the Bulldogs. Justin Taylor has 88 carries for 281 yards and five TDs, while Caleb Davis has 21 catches for 230 yards with three TDs.
Duke vs. Navy
Duke will have to go against a wishbone-style ground attack for the second time this season after its 38-14 loss to Georgia Tech three weeks ago.
The Blue Devils will look to complete their non-conference schedule with a 4-0 mark.
Navy leads the series 20-14-5, but Duke has won the last two meetings. The Blue Devils are three-point favorites.
“I want to control the ball and certainly keep their offense off the field,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. “That is one of the fastest or best ways to try to win a ballgame against an option offense. We're going to be ourselves. Our kids are of the speed that they love to practice at and play at, so we're going to try to be ourselves. We've just got to improve our execution and stay on the field whatever that may be, and certainly score points when we get in the red zone.”
Brandon Connette has completed 75 of 117 passes for 11 TDs with six interceptions for the Blue Devils. Jamison Crowder has 37 catches for 130 yards and two TDs, while Jela Duncan has 47 carries for 247 yards and two TDs.
Navy’s Keenan Reynolds has completed 61 of 108 passes for 898 yards and nine TDs with two interceptions, rushing 22 times for 324 yards and four TDs. Gee Gee Greene has 120 rushes for 827 yards and three TDs.
NCSU vs. Syracuse
Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren will be looking for his first ACC win when the Orange comes to visit.
The Wolfpack is licking its wounds following Saturday’s 28-13 loss at Wake Forest.
NCSU, which has won all six previous meetings, is a seven-point favorite.
“They've got big targets,” Doeren said of Syracuse. “Their leading receiver is a big kid. He's 220 pounds and a big target for the quarterback. You've just got to have good underneath coverage from your linebackers and make sure you play on top of receivers because they will run some double moves and short spot and go type routes. So when you play man-to-man, those guys do a nice job of containing the quarterback because he'll take off on you. If you have a bunch of people running down man coverage, it can hurt you.”
Pete Thomas has completed 100 of 157 passes for 1163 yards and two TDs with seven interceptions for the Wolfpack. Matt Dayes has 40 carries for 180 yards and four TDs, while Brian Underwood has 24 catches for 268 yards and a TD.
Syracuse’s Drew Allen has completed 57 of 98 passes for 572 yards with two TDs and seven interceptions. Jerome Smith has carried 69 times for 342 yards and seven TDs, while Ashlon Broyld has 24 catches for 219 yards.
Last week’s three stars
1. Adrian Wilkins, WR, NCCU. The sophomore was named MEAC special teams player of the week for 166 all-purpose rushing yards including a 98-yard scoring punt return against Howard.
2. Jordan Reid, QB, NCCU. The senior completed nine of 19 passes for 54 yards and rushed seven times for 94 yards and a TD.
3. Taz Foster, LB, NCCU. The senior was in on 12 tackles, including four solos and one for loss.