by Mike Potter
The best collective college football season in the Triangle in quite a few years continues today, and all three teams who will play are at home.
N.C. State (5-3, 2-2 ACC) will host Virginia (2-6, 0-4) at 12:30 p.m., as the Wolfpack looks to gain bowl eligibility for the third straight season. The game will be shown on WRAL.
UNC (6-3, 3-2) is idle.
It has been a great year for Triangle fans to attend area games, as the local Division I teams are a combined 15-0 at home.
N.C. State vs. Virginia
State, which holds a 34-21-1 advantage in the series with Virginia, got a 28-14 victory in Charlottesville last season that turned out to be key to earning a spot in the Belk Bowl. Virginia coach Mike London was on Wolfpack mentor Tom O’Brien’s staff at Boston College from 1997-2000.
The Wolfpack lost a 43-35 heartbreaker at UNC last week, while Virginia fell 16-10 at Wake Forest on Oct. 20. State is a 10½-point favorite today.
“Certainly we have to regroup after a really tough loss for us last Saturday,” O’Brien said. “We’re playing a Virginia team in a little bit of a role reversal than where we were a year ago. To think at that point we're 3-3, really banged up and beat up, had an open week before we went to Charlottesville, and came away with a victory. Virginia is a similar situation. They have an open week, get themselves healed and come down here. We're going to have to play great here on Saturday in order to have a chance to win this football game.”
State’s Mike Glennon has completed 191 of 330 passes for 2455 yards and 19 touchdowns with nine interceptions. Bryan Underwood has caught 28 passes for 460 yards and 10 TDs, while Tony Creecy has rushed 95 times for 385 yards and three TDs.
Michael Rocco has completed 95 of 161 passes for 1202 yards with seven TDs and eight interceptions for Virginia, while Kevin Parks has rushed 103 times for 503 yards and three scores.
N.C. Central vs. Delaware State
NCCU leads its series with Delaware State 14-6, including a 14-7 win last season in Dover when the Eagles were otherwise struggling. The winner of today’s game will at worst be all alone in second place in the MEAC.
The Eagles had a four-game winning streak snapped with a 42-17 loss at conference leader Bethune-Cookman last week, while the Hornets won their fourth straight by winning 28-23 at Morgan State on Oct. 25. The Dunkel Index says Del State is a 3½-point favorite.
“We went on the road and took a tough loss,” Eagle coach Henry Frazier said. “I thought it was a really good college football game, and one of the most physical football games I’ve ever been a part of. We had opportunities and didn’t capitalize. We’re excited about this weekend coming up. We just can’t get wrapped up in the festivities. We have to enjoy the game and then enjoy the festivities later.”
Jordan Reid has completed 106 of 175 passes for 1223 yards and 10 TDs with eight interceptions for the Eagles. Arthur Goforth has rushed 102 times for 418 yards and three TDs, while Marvin Poole has 25 catches for 318 yards and two TDs.
Nick Elko has completed 179 of 282 passes for 1941 yards and nine TDs with three interceptions for the Hornets, while Travis Tarpley has 60 catches for 723 yards and four TDs.
Duke vs. Clemson
Clemson leads the series with Duke 35-16-1 and has won three straight in the series, though the teams haven’t played since 2008 in Death Valley. Duke fell 48-7 at No. 11 Florida State last week, while Clemson walloped Wake Forest 42-13 on the road Oct. 25. The Tigers are 12½-point favorites.
“November football at night - that is the first thought I have,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. “I like that. I had someone tell me this is the first time Clemson and Duke have played a night game. November football at night means television. Television means meaningful football games, and that is a very positive thing. When you are playing meaningful football games, it means you are playing good teams. I’ve said that before. It’s a big challenge; Clemson is an ACC championship team. They have players who have performed at that level and who continue to perform at that level, but with all of those challenges are huge opportunities. We are going to prepare well, and it is good to be back in Wallace Wade (Stadium)."
Sean Renfree has completed 177 of 258 passes for 1885 yards and 11 TDs with seven interceptions for Duke. Conner Vernon has 54 catches for 761 yards and five TDs, while Jela Duncan has rushed 81 times for 385 yards and four TDs.
Clemson’s Tajh Boyd has completed 176 of 260 yards for 2336 yards and 20 TDs with six interceptions, while DeAndre Hopkins has caught 58 passes for 909 yards and 10 TDs.