by Mike Potter
Today, we get to see what three of them can do for an encore. And they’ll have to do it on the road.
Duke (5-1, 2-0 ACC), which demolished Virginia 42-17 with a big second half, will go to one of the tougher arenas in the ACC when the Blue Devils visit Virginia Tech at 12:30 in a game to be shown on WRAL.
N.C. Central (3-2, 2-0 MEAC), which crushed South Carolina State 40-10 in the Circle City Classic, will get its credentials tested as it travels to Morgan State (3-2, 2-0) for a 1 p.m. showdown.
And UNC (4-2, 1-1 ACC), which drubbed Virginia Tech 48-34, visits resurgent ACC Coastal Division leader Miami (4-2, 3-0) at 2:30 in a game to be shown on ESPNU.
N.C. State (4-2, 1-1), coming off its shocking 17-16 win at then-No. 3 Florida State, is idle.
Duke at Virginia Tech
The biggest game is for Duke, which will earn its first bowl berth since 1994 if the Blue Devils can win one of their final six regular-season games. The Blue Devils scared the Hokies but good last season in Durham, but fell 14-10.
Tech leads the series 12-7 and has won 11 in a row.
The Hokies are listed as 10-point favorites.
“They’re undefeated (3-0) at home,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said of the Hokies. “When you look at Virginia Tech on tape, it’s the Virginia Tech that we all know. Some hard knocks, some difficult circumstances here and there, but there is talent. It is a great program, you are right about that.
“What, have they played for the championship in six of the eight years that they’ve been in the league? I have the utmost respect for Coach (Frank) Beamer — he is the dean, not just of the ACC but nationally. He is what you would refer to as the top coach out there.”
Duke’s Sean Renfree, expected to be back after sitting out the Virginia game with injuries, has completed 121 of 168 passes for 1,282 yards with nine TDs and five interceptions. Conner Vernon has caught 41 passes for 555 yards and five TDs, while Jela Duncan has rushed 41 times for 250 yards and two TDs.
Tech’s Logan Thomas has completed 104 of 197 passes for 1447 yards and 10 TDs with seven interceptions, and has rushed 60 times for 149 yards and four TDs.
N.C. Central at Morgan State
NCCU is coming off its most impressive victory in quite some time, but the Eagles have had it tough against the Bears lately. Their only meetings in the last 30 seasons were a 52-3 Morgan victory in Durham last season and a 49-7 Bears win in Baltimore in 2008, and the Bears lead the all-time series 22-12-2. Morgan State crushed Savannah State 45-6 last week.
The Dunkel Index has the Eagles, who are ranked as high as No. 8 in Black College polls, favored to win by a point.
“We’re definitely coming off the biggest win we’ve had in our two years here,” NCCU coach Henry Frazier said. “The guys played extremely hard and that’s what we’ve been trying to get them to do, play for 60 minutes. I try to keep an even keep and don’t get too high or to low, and that’s the way the team needs to be.”
Jordan Reid has completed 51 of 87 passes for 615 yards and five TDs with five interceptions for NCCU. Andre Clarke has 48 carries for 300 yards and seven TDs, while Marvin Poole has 17 catches for 226 yards and two TDs.
The Bears’ Robert Council has completed 36 of 67 passes for 526 yards and four TDs without an interception, while Travis Davidson has rushed 99 times for 517 yards and seven TDs.
UNC at Miami
With no post-season play available because of NCAA sanctions, UNC’s stated goal this season has been to win the championship of the Coastal Division and that makes a win today essential. Miami, which lost 41-3 to Notre Dame last week, beat the Tar Heels 30-24 last season in Chapel Hill.
UNC is a 7½-point favorite.
“We're excited about getting on the road and going down to Miami and playing a good, young Miami football team that right now is undefeated in conference play,” UNC coach Larry Fedora said. “We know that we'll have our work cut out for us, and we'll have to play a complete game."
Tar Heel QB Bryn Renner has completed 121 of 193 passes for 1616 yards and 15 TDs with four interceptions. Giovani Bernard has rushed 52 times for 475 yards and five TDs, while Eric Ebron has 19 catches for 312 yards and three TDs.
Stephen Morris has completed 142 of 242 passes for 1836 yards and nine TDs with four interceptions for Miami, while Phillip Dorsett has 29 catches for 470 yards and three TDs.