by Mike Potter
UNC’s actual 2011 football team doesn’t seem to have had its performance affected much by the past scandals surrounding the program.
But on Saturday they’ll get their first big road test, visiting conference foe Georgia Tech (3-0) in the Yellow Jackets’ ACC opener at noon.
Meanwhile Duke (1-2), which is coming off an emotional 20-19 win at Boston College in which the Eagles blew a chip-shot field goal in the final minute, will return home for its homecoming game against Tulane (2-1) at 3:30.
N.C. State (2-2) already played on Thursday night, and the Wolfpack is home licking its wounds following a 44-14 whipping at the hands of Cincinnati.
Georgia Tech, which rushed for a school-record 604 yards in a 66-24 annihilation of Kansas, is a seven-point favorite as it looks for its third straight win in the series.
“Obviously, getting ready for this week is really important,” UNC coach Everett Withers said. “We’re looking forward to going on the road and seeing what kind of team we are on the road. Georgia Tech (averages) 427 yards a game on the ground, over 675 yards a game of total offense, 27.3 yards per play. They broke the NCAA record with 12.1 yards per carry (against Kansas.) And that record was set back in 1973 by Alabama against Virginia Tech.
"They’ve got five passes for over 50 yards. They’re 71 percent on third-down conversions and 75 percent on fourth down. So we’ve got our work cut out for us.”
Duke, which after Saturday’s win can again reasonably dream about winning six games and earning a bowl bid, is a 10-point favorite over the Green Wave. Tulane leads the series 2-0, but the teams haven’t met since 1973.
“It’s fun to be back home - always after you win a game,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. “We didn’t play as good as we could play (against BC), but we played better and that is encouraging. The thing that we have to measure for this week is that we’re back home, and we have to find a way to play as good as we can play for 60 minutes. That’s what it’s going to take to beat the good opponents left on our schedule starting with Tulane.
“Tulane is a really good football team. They’ve done a really nice job down there with Coach (Bob) Toledo. He’s a veteran coach. They play like it. They’re good on offense. They’re good on defense. They’re playing special teams extremely well. … The key for us at this point in time is that we have to match that type of play. All three phases have to work together for Duke to win football games.”