by Mike Potter
Duke (1-2) is coming off one of its most lopsided losses in school history in Saturday’s 49-point loss to No. 1 Alabama, and needs to rebound when Army (2-1) visits Wallace Wade Stadium on Saturday to avoid getting off the track for a winning season.
Ditto for UNC (0-2), which has played well against two outstanding early-season opponents and needs a road victory over Rutgers (2-0) to avoid starting the campaign in a deep, deep hole.
N.C. State (3-0) doesn’t have to win at Georgia Tech (2-1) to have a shot at a winning season and a bowl bid, but a victory in Atlanta on Saturday would almost certainly get the Wolfpack into the Top 25 and allow the fans in red and white to start dreaming pretty big.
State will play first on Saturday, followed by Duke’s home game and then the Tar Heels’ road challenge.
“We’re looking forward to going into our first conference game,” State coach Tom O’Brien said. “Certainly the challenge going down to Atlanta is a big challenge on both sides of the football. But I think our kids are excited about going down to see where we are right now.”
Duke will have “Military Appreciation Day” as well as homecoming, and the game operations people are taking lots of precautions with free water and Gatorade as well as chances for overheated fans to get into come air conditioning.
“These young men at West Point and the commitment they’ve made to their country is pretty special,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. “They have a good football team, they have a winning record, they’re balanced, playing exceptionally well on defense and offense and they do a tremendous job in the kicking game. If you didn’t have to play them it’s fun to watch these guys coach. We’re coming off a game where we didn’t play well at all, and Alabama had something to do with it but Duke had most to do with it.”
The Tar Heels will go without 10 players, most of them very key players, as the NCAA investigation into academic misconduct as well as problems involving sports agents continues.
“It’s good to get into a regular routine,” UNC coach Butch Davis said. “Obviously there are things we continue to need to improve on. Rutgers is off to an excellent start, but the part of their game where they’re playing really well is special teams. They’ve already blocked four punts, their defense is rated in the Top 20 in the country. They’re really suffocating quarterbacks and putting pressure on the quarterback.”
N.C. State vs. Georgia Tech
[Saturday, noon, Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta]
Ga. Tech leads 17-9
Records: NCSU 3-0, GT 2-1.
Audio: WRAL-FM 101.5, Sirius 122, XM 143, RamblinWreck.com.
Coaches’ records — NCSU: Tom O’Brien 94-66, 19-21 at NCSU; GT: Paul Johnson 128-47, 21-8 at GT.
Leading rushers — NCSU: Mustafa Greene 40-183, 3 TD; GT: Josh Nesbitt 57-267, 6 TD.
Leading passers — NCSU: Russell Wilson 57-101-744-0, 8 TD; GT: Josh Nesbitt: 9-25-200-1, 2 TD.
Leading receivers — NCSU: Jarvis Williams 8-163, 0 TD; GT: Stephen Hill 6-75, 1 TD.
Leading tacklers — NCSU: Audie Cole 20, 4 ½ TFL, 2 SK, 1 FF, 1 INT; GT: Brad Jefferson 21, 1 ½ TFL, 1 FR.
Favorite — Tech by 8 (Vegas).
Duke vs. Army
[Saturday, 3 p.m., Wallace Wade Stadium]
Duke leads series 11-9-1.
Records: Duke 1-2; Army 2-1.
Audio: WDNC 620, WRBZ 850, XM 192, Sirius 152/215.
Coaches’ records — Duke: David Cutcliffe 54-46, 10-17 at Duke; Army: Rich Ellerson 67-49, 7-8 at Army.
Leading rushers — Duke: Desmond Scott 35-243, 2 TD; Army: Jared Hassin 37-168, 4 TD.
Leading passers — Duke: Sean Renfree 76-120-852-4, 7TD; Army: Trent Steelman 13-25-148-0, 0 TD.
Leading receivers — Duke: Conner Vernon 20-320, 2 TD; Army: Davyd Brooks 4-61, 0 TD.
Leading tacklers — Duke: Matt Daniels 21, 3 ½ TFL, 1 INT, 1 FF; Army: Stephen Anderson 23, 1 TFL, 1 FR, 1 FF.
Favorite — Duke by 6 ½ (Vegas).
UNC vs. Rutgers
[Saturday, 3:30 p.m., Rutgers Stadium, Piscataway, N.J.]
Rutgers leads series 3-1.
Records: UNC 0-2; Rutgers 2-0.
Audio: WCHL 1360, WRDU-FM 106.1, XM 191, Sirius 91/214.
Coaches’ records — UNC: Butch Davis 71-40, 20-20 at UNC; RU: Greg Schiano 57-55 at RU.
Leading rushers — UNC: Johnny White 25-148, 1 TD; RU: Joe Martinek 34-137, 1 TD.
Leading passers — UNC: T.J. Yates 46-70-621-0, 4 TD; RU: Tom Savage 17-34-220- 1, 1 TD.
Leading receivers — UNC: Zack Pianalto 15-136, 0 TD; RU: Mohamed Sanu 7-90, 1 TD.
Leading tacklers — UNC: Quan Sturdivant 15, 1 ½ TFL, 1 FR; RU: Antonio Lowery 15, ½ TFL, ½ SK, 1 FR, 1 FF.
Favorite — UNC by 1 1/2 (Vegas).