by Mike Potter
Following UNC’s near upset in the 24-21 loss at No. 9 Virginia Tech Thursday night, the Triangle’s other two ACC teams will also be underdogs when they hit the field Saturday.
Before that one kicks off, Duke (3-7, 1-5 ACC) will look to get some momentum for its season finale against the Tar Heels when it hosts Georgia Tech (7-3, 4-3) at 12:30 at Wallace Wade Stadium.
Clemson has won seven straight against the Wolfpack, and has already clinched its Atlantic Division title and a spot in the ACC Championship game on Dec. 3 — probably against Virginia Tech. The Tigers, who lead the series 51-27-1, will be 7 1/2-point favorites as they go up against a sellout crowd.
“We’ve got to win this game,” State coach Tom O’Brien said. “You can’t win two unless you win one. We’ve dug ourselves a big hole again. We found a way out of it before, now we have to find a way to get out of this one. I think this is a huge challenge, but we just went through a pretty challenging part of the season where we were on the road three out of four weeks.
“We’re in a ditch and we have to dig our way out again. We found a way out before, we have to find a way out again now. We lost the football game, but we still have attainable goals. We have to make up our minds where we want to be in December, and it starts Saturday. We’re going to have to find a way to do it. We have to.”
Georgia Tech leads the all-time series with Duke 47-30-1, and will be an 11-point favorite going into Saturday’s contest. It will be Duke’s Senior Day.
“We have dedicated a lot of time to defending Georgia Tech’s offense since we’ve been here,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said.” We’ve played Navy twice, we’ve played Army twice and we play Georgia Tech every year. We spend spring practice days working against the option (and in) August camp spend some specific time working against the option. We have a separate playbook that doesn’t sound or look anything like our regular defense, and our youngsters have been learning once they come in. …
“How well they run it is critical. We need a little bit of luck. It’s about time we had just a little bit.”