North Carolina State (2-6) at Duke (4-4), 3:30 EST
Why to watch: After
failing to close the deal
against Wake Forest last
weekend, Duke needs to get back
on the winning track in order to
have a shot at bowl eligibility.
That the Blue Devils have made
progress under David Cutcliffe
is a given, but they’ve been
unable to sustain a high level
of play for any length of time.
Such is life with a program that
isn’t used to winning many games
or competing for a bowl berth.
North Carolina State will spend
the final month of the season
trying to disprove the notion
that it’s this year’s worst
program in the ACC. It’s not
going to be easy. Although it
has played substantially better
over the last three games, State
has still lost four straight and
is the only team in the league
below the .500 mark.
Why North Carolina State
might win: The Pack’s recent
surge has been spurred by the
offense, which is getting
improved play from QB Russell
Wilson and backs Jamelle Eugene
and Andre Brown. While its
overall numbers still don’t look
good, the NC State attack has
turned the corner over the past
few weeks. Wilson leads the ACC
in passing efficiency, and the
ground game produced more than
150 yards versus pretty good
defenses from Florida State and
Maryland. Duke is 10th
against the run in the league,
lacking consistency on defense.
Why Duke might win: While
quality defenses have given the
Blue Devils, the pedestrian ones
have been navigated nicely by QB
Thaddeus Lewis and his favorite
receiver Eron Riley. Lewis will
have success through the air on
a North Carolina State pass
defense that occupies the ACC
cellar. The Pack has produced
just six sacks in the last six
games, and made Chris Crane look
like Matt Ryan in early October.
Duke has scored at least 30
points five times this season,
an indication of the impact
Cutcliffe is having in Durham.
Who to watch: The Blue
Devils hope that their
season-long search for a feature
back has finally been settled.
True freshman Jay Hollingsworth
is coming off the best day of
his brief career with the
school, rushing for 67 yards and
a touchdown on 15 carries last
week. If he can provide any
support out of the backfield,
the passing game will be that
much harder to contain.
What will happen: Duke
will ride the right arm of Lewis
to within a game of bowl
eligibility, a ridiculous
suggestion back in August. While
NC State will continue to make
progress on offense, it won’t be
enough to combat a Blue Devil
attack that’s done very well at
capitalizing on vulnerable
CFN Prediction: Duke 31 …
NC State 24 ... Line: Duke -4.5
Must See Rating: (5 The
Non-Stop Election Coverage
– 1 The Non-Stop Election
Analysis) … 2
CFN's Take: NC State vs. Duke
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