Talking Points: Duke in control
Posted November 17, 2013
1. Highly rated basketball prospects Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones committed to Duke in a joint announcement on Friday. It was an impressive recruiting haul for head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, made more so by his ability to bring those coveted players to a football school.
See what I did there?
Duke won their sixth straight with a 48-30 victory over Miami that pushed their record to 8-2 and 4-2 in the ACC. With Virginia Tech’s loss to Maryland on Saturday and Georgia Tech's loss to Clemson on Thursday, the Blue Devils control their destiny in the Coastal Division. Wining out on the road against Wake Forest and North Carolina will send Duke to Charlotte for the ACC Championship game.
If Duke loses one of their remaining games, it will drop the Blue Devils into a multi-team tie for the division lead and will melt brains as everyone attempts to unravel ACC tiebreakers. The possibility exists for a "Coastal Cluster" scenario of five teams with three conference losses if North Carolina defeats Duke in the regular season finale.
2. Duke engaged in a back-and-forth game with Miami for the first three quarters. The Blue Devils calmly answered the Hurricanes' 10-0 start, which included a 79-yard punt return for a touchdown by Stacey Coley, with a scoring drive that went 75-yards over 10 plays. Duke eventually took a 21-20 lead into halftime and opened up the third quarter with another 75-yard scoring drive to make it 28-20.
The game changed when Duke started wearing down Miami with its defense and running game in the fourth quarter. The Blue Devils limited the Hurricanes to short drives, forcing three consecutive punts and a turnover on downs. They sustained drives on the ground, put numbers on the board and possessed the ball for nearly nine minutes of the final quarter.
Duke finished the evening with 358 rushing yards and averaged nearly 7-yards per carry. Josh Snead led all backs with 138 yards on nine rushing attempts. Meanwhile, quarterback Brandon Connette became the all-time leader in rushing touchdowns at Duke.
3. Yes, Duke football fans rushed the field at Wallace Wade. This is a thing that happened.
4. Before North Carolina invited the possibility of a disastrous loss in Pittsburgh, the Tar Heels enjoyed a 24-3 lead over the Panthers at halftime thanks in large part to their defense. Quarterback Tom Savage was sacked seven times in the game and coughed up a crucial fumble on the second offensive drive of the game. The Tar Heels, who have given up some big rushing numbers this season, limited Pittsburgh to just 46-yards on 40 attempts.
Kareem Martin's final stat line: Eight tackles, 3.5 sacks, two quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles and a recovered a fumble.
5. North Carolina's bowl hopes looked bleak after dropping to 1-5 following a home loss to Miami. It's been an impressive turnaround for the Tar Heels, who will become postseason eligible with a win over Old Dominion on November 23rd.
However, North Carolina almost torched their current winning streak with a series of miscues in the second half against the Panthers.
Pittsburgh started their comeback with a 96-yard scoring drive late in the third quarter. North Carolina then gave the Panthers prime field position when Romar Morris fumbled in Tar Heels territory. The turnover resulted resulted in a field goal. T.J. Logan fumbled the subsequent kickoff on the 13-yard line and Pittsburgh tied the game at 27 with 8:52 left in the game.
Then Ryan Switzer did his thing.
Switzer has now returned punts for touchdowns in consecutive weeks and tied the school record for most punt return touchdowns in a game with two against Pittsburgh.
6. NC State lost their sixth in a row and could do little to stop Boston College running back Andre Williams from setting records. The senior racked up 339 yards on 42 carries and scored two touchdowns.
The Wolfpack aren't the only ACC squad who couldn't stop Williams this season. He surpassed Virginia's Thomas Jones as the all-time single-season rushing leader with 1,812 yards. Williams has opportunities to add to his record with games against Maryland and Syracuse remaining.
Many of the same issues that have plagued NC State throughout the year showed up in Chestnut Hill. The Wolfpack will not salvage a bowl season and face the possibility of going winless in the ACC for the first time since 1959.
Noted pop culture philosopher Drake taught this generation a simple truth -- one must start from the bottom.
NC State is certainly there. Now it's up to head coach Dave Doeren to bring the whole crew to the plentiful land of "here."