Everyone's an underdog for the second straight week | Sports

Everyone's an underdog for the second straight week

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UNC's Sam Smiley breaks up a pass against San Diego State. - CHRIS BAIRD
  • Chris Baird
  • UNC's Sam Smiley breaks up a pass against San Diego State.

College football has been played in some form for the last 146 seasons, and no team from the Triangle has ever really played for a national championship.

After last week's results this won't be the year.

It's not that anyone can't still have a great season, but there are only about 20 schools than could have a loss and make the new FBS Final Four and none of them are in North Carolina.

Three of the four local Division I teams are in action today, and two of them are at home. Duke (4-1, 0-1 ACC), coming off a 22-10 loss at Miami, is idle.

The show starts at 12:30 (WRAL) at Kenan Stadium, when UNC (2-2, 0-1 ACC) hosts Virginia Tech (3-2, 0-1). And at 2 p.m. at O'Kelly-Riddick Stadium N.C. Central (1-3) will entertain Howard (1-4, 0-2 MEAC) in the Eagles' MEAC opener.

N.C. State (4-1, 0-1 ACC) will visit Clemson (2-2, 1-1) at Death Valley at 3:30 (ESPNU).

UNC vs. Virginia Tech

The Tar Heels are on a two-game losing streak after giving up a total of 120 points to East Carolina and then Clemson.

They have a chance to get the ship righted today in what is probably a must-win situation in the ACC's Coastal Division race.

The teams did not meet last year, but UNC beat the Hokies 48-34 two seasons ago in Chapel Hill.

"We're going to have to play better, there's no doubt about it," UNC coach Larry Fedora. "Virginia Tech is very well coached. ... You know they're going to be very sound in everything they do on special teams. There are not going to be any mistakes there. And offensively I think they've evolved and they're throwing the ball much better than they have in the past. They've got some big receivers and tight ends, and the quarterback is doing a great job for them. We're going to have to play a really good,
complete football game."

Tech leads the series 19-11-6.

The Tar Heels are 2 1/2-point underdogs.

NCCU vs. Howard

First-year Eagle Jerry Mack will make his MEAC debut, still looking for his first win over a Division I opponent.

The Eagles were idle last week.

NCCU beat the Bison 37-28 last year in Washington.

"We talk to our guys all the time about how this is the second season," Mack said. "This is where it all begins and where it really counts. So we're going to try to put together a great game plan in offense and defense and special teams and go compete on Saturday. We grew fundamentally during the bye week. Offensively we've got to do a great job of executing and convert on third downs. Defensively, when a team gets into the red zone we've got to stop them from scoring touchdowns."

Howard leads the series 9-8-1.

The Dunkel Index lists the Eagles as 3 1/2-point underdogs.

N.C. State at Clemson

The Wolfpack lost to one of the traditional powers in the ACC's Atlantic Division last week in a respectable 56-41 result against Florida State.

This time they'll take on the other one in the Textile Bowl, and again won't be favored.

The Tigers won 25-14 last season in Raleigh.

"We move on to a really good Clemson team," State coach Dave Doeren said. "They've had two tough losses against two great opponents and a senior class that is 21-2 at home. A really impressive group of leaders at Clemson and a freshman quarterback that's lighting it up against a defense that has a bunch of seniors and graduate students on it. It's going to be a great challenge. It's an awesome atmosphere, I've been told, to play in.
For us to have to play the top two teams in our league back to back, it's going to be a great challenge for our football team this week. We look forward to the opportunity."

Clemson leads the series 53-28-1.

The Wolfpack is a 14-point underdog.

Last week's three stars

1. Jacoby Brissett, QB, N.C. State. Brissett threw for 359 yards and three TDs in the loss to FSU.

2. Jeremy Cash, S, Duke. Cash was in on 10 tackles and forced two fumbles in the loss to Miami.

3. Jerod Fernandez, LB, N.C. State. Fernandez intercepted two passes and knocked down another in the loss to the Seminoles. 


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