by Mike Potter
The Wolfpack (7-3, 4-2 ACC) wasn’t picked high in the conference at the start of the season, but will represent the Atlantic Division in the ACC title game in Charlotte if it wins its final two games.
UNC (6-4, 3-3) has had a troubled season with the ongoing investigations involving improper contact with agents and academic improprieties, but the Tar Heels will be bowl-eligible and are looking to improve their position.
Duke (3-7, 1-5) is still playing for pride in its annual meeting with Georgia Tech (5-5, 3-4), with the Yellow Jackets needing a win for bowl eligibility or else they’ll have to get it against Georgia.
Unless you’re really new around here, you know how much the one in Chapel Hill means to fans of both schools as they square off for the 100th time.
The Wolfpack has won three straight over the Tar Heels, including the 28-27 squeaker in Raleigh last season in the season finale.
“We’re certainly working hard to prepare ourselves to play a great North Carolina football team,” Wolfpack coach Tom O'Brien said. “It should be a great day. … We’re definitely on the way. When you look back and see this is the first time we’ve won seven games since 2003 it speaks volumes as to where the program’s headed. That game last year set us up with the belief that we could be a good football team.”
With their two most important rivals still left on the schedule, the Tar Heels still have a chance for a big finish.
“It’s an important week for our football team and our football program,” UNC coach Butch Davis said. “Any time you play someone that’s as good a football team as North Carolina State is and certainly the rivalry it helps you get over (a funk.) Our kids understand the magnitude of this game, and if we fix the things we didn’t do well last week against Virginia Tech it’s going to give us the best chance to win.”
Duke’s major task is to stay focused on the tough road game, what with the big home game against the Tar Heels for the Victory Bell next week. Georgia Tech has won six straight in the series including a 49-10 rout in Durham last season.
“We’ve got obviously a big challenge going on the road to play the defending ACC champions,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. “It’s late in the year and we’re pretty motivated, and I’ve been pleased with the way our guys have continued to bounce back all year long.”
UNC vs. N.C. State
[Saturday, noon, Kenan Stadium]
UNC leads series 63-30-6.
Records: UNC 6-4, 3-3 ACC; NCSU 7-3, 4-2.
Audio: WRBZ 850, WCHL 1360, WRAL-FM 101.5, WRDU-FM 106.1, XM 191, Sirius 213.
Coaches’ records — UNC: Butch Davis 77-42, 26-22 at UNC; NCSU: Tom O’Brien 98-69, 22-24 at NCSU.
Leading rushers — UNC: Shaun Draughn 87-404, 4 TD; NCSU: Mustafa Greene 120-533, 4 TD.
Leading passers — UNC: T.J. Yates 198-304-2509-8, 15 TD; NCSU: Russell Wilson 234-393-2814-12, 22 TD.
Leading receivers — UNC: Dwight Jones 41-720, 4 TD; NCSU: Owen Spencer 47-707, 2 TD.
Leading tacklers — UNC: Zach Brown 63, ½ TFL, 2 INT; NCSU: Nate Irving 81, 18 1/2 TFL, 4 ½ SK, 2 FF, 1 FR.
Favorite — UNC by 2 ½ (Vegas).
Duke vs. Georgia Tech
[Saturday, 1:30 p.m. Bobby Dodd Stadium]
Tech leads 46-30-1.
Records: Duke 3-7, 1-5 ACC; GT 5-5, 3-4.
Audio: WDNC 620, WKIX-FM 102.9, XM 192, Sirius 216.
Coaches’ records — Duke: David Cutcliffe 56-51, 12-22 at Duke; GT: Paul Johnson 132-51, 25-12 at GT.
Leading rushers — Duke: Desmond Scott 109-509, 3 TD; GT: Anthony Allen 154-894, 5 TD.
Leading passers — Duke: Sean Renfree 231-384-2555-15, 12 TD; GT: Tevin Washington 10-26-185-1, 1 TD.
Leading receivers — Duke: Conner Vernon 61-851, 4 TD; GT: Stephen Hill 12-165, 2 TD.
Leading tacklers — Duke: Abraham Kromah 96, 7 1/2 TFL, 1 SK, 1 INT, 1 FF; GT: Brad Jefferson 66, 6 ½ TFL, 4 SK, 1 FF, 1 FR.
Favorite — Tech by 10 ½.