CFN's Take: NC State vs. Duke

College Football News takes a look at Saturday's contest against Duke. NC State (2-6) will be looking to upset the Blue Devils (4-4).

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 defenses.

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

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