NC State better wake up before ECU arrives
Posted November 22, 2013
Updated November 29, 2013
While Duke's football squad has gotten much of the attention in recent weeks (rightfully so, I might add), the game between North Carolina State and East Carolina Saturday (12:30 p.m., WRAL-TV, Mix 101.5 FM) is a big one for the eastern half of the state.
Considering how the season has gone for the Wolfpack and Pirates, Saturday's matchup is a big moment for ECU and the fans of that program. ECU is 8-2 and poised to play for the Conference USA title game in a couple of weeks, but a win over the Wolfpack would mark the first time the Pirates have downed both North Carolina and NC State in the same year.
That's a big deal, and I'm sure that will be evident on Saturday by the amount of purple inside Carter-Finley Stadium.
In Raleigh, the Wolfpack better wake up and be prepared to bring their A game on Saturday. If they don't, this game could get ugly in a hurry.
In a broader sense, a win over ECU would be a great way to stop all of the negative momentum that's built up in Raleigh since the team's last win, which came way back on Sept. 28.
Fans have to be patient, because the program is essentially brand new under first-year coach Dave Doeren. They are trying to build from the ground up, and that's going to take some time. A win over the Pirates would help that process.
Blue Devils look to keep magic alive in Winston-Salem
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the hotter-than-a-firecracker Duke Blue Devils will look to move one step closer to the ACC Championship Game on Saturday by beating Wake Forest in Winston-Salem.12 p.m., ESPN2, 620 The Buzz).
Quite honestly, I'm tickled to death for the Duke football program. It's really, really good for football in the Triangle, and I'm happy to see the hours and hours of hard work put in by David Cutcliffe and his coaching staff come to fruition.
If Duke can win even one of its two final games, Cutcliffe would get my vote for National Coach of the Year. A nine-win season, at Duke? No contest.
One reason Cutcliffe is already in the conversation is because of how he's used Brandon Connette. His utility player in the backfield has transformed into a big-time threat.
Because of the ingenious way the coaching staff has used Connette, no one has noticed that Duke, in reality, is without a complete player at the QB position. But this is far from the normal, "if you have two QBs, you don't have one" argument.
They have two, in Connette and Anthony Boone, and they are using both perfectly. It's been fun to watch.
Tar Heels looking to keep needle pointed in right direction
Almost always, college football teams headed in the wrong direction keep going that way. That has not been the case in Chapel Hill, where Larry Fedora and his staff magically turned things around midseason.
The Tar Heels have won four straight, and with a couple more victories to close out the season and a potential bowl win, the program could hit the eight-win plateau for the second straight year.
That process will continue Saturday when UNC welcomes Old Dominion (8-3) to Kenan Stadium (12 p.m., RSN).
A month ago, I wasn't sure the Tar Heels would win another game. Now, with the chance for eight wins still on the table, the program is really setting the table for future success.