Talking Points: Duke steals Triangle spotlight
Posted October 26, 2013
Updated October 27, 2013
1. Duke quarterback Anthony Boone completed only seven of his 25 pass attempts and threw four interceptions. The Hokies possessed the football nearly 20 minutes more than Duke and out-gained the Blue Devils by 189 yards. Duke didn't convert a third-down all afternoon.
Duke walked out of Blacksburg with a 13-10 victory.
Wait, how did that happen? It helps when Virginia Tech missed two field goals and quarterback Logan Thomas negated Boone's interceptions with four of his own, including comeback killing pick by Kelby Brown with under 4:22 left in the game. Duke converted a fourth-down on the following drive and Boone picked up another first-down on the subsequent play to put the game away.
That Duke is bowl eligible for consecutive seasons isn't the stunner. It's that the Blue Devils became bowl eligible at the expense of a ranked Virginia Tech squad on their home field. It was Duke's first victory over a ranked team since 1994 and first on the road since 1971.
Duke will come out of the bye-week with games against NC State, North Carolina and Wake Forest remaining. It's entirely possible head coach David Cutliffe will be the one saying "our state" when it's all said and done.
2. It wasn't flawless, but North Carolina had a cathartic beat'em down of Boston College. The Tar Heels needed that one. Not just to get back in the win column, but for a much needed confidence boost for the stretch run of the season.
Going into the game, the Eagles posed problem on the ground with ACC leading rusher Andre Williams. He still got his on North Carolina's defense, finishing the afternoon with 172 yards on 26 carries and a 56-yard touchdown. Where the Tar Heels had success was in shutting down quarterback Chase Rettig, who was 10-of-20 for 57 yards. The Eagles only converted 5-of-16 on third-down.
Head coach Larry Fedora tweaked the quarterback rotation, allowing Bryn Renner and Marquise Williams to breathe in their respective drives. Renner had an accurate afternoon and threw a couple touchdowns. Williams made a handful of dynamic throws and connected for a touchdown of his own.
Williams made the biggest difference with his legs, but once again highlighted the overall weakness of North Carolina's running game after leading all rushers with 55-yards on 7 carries. Roman Morris, A.J. Blue, Khris Francis and T.J. Logan combined for 70-yards. Even tight end Eric Ebron lined up as a running back twice for 7-yards.
Now the Tar Heels enter what would be considered the easier part of the schedule and a bowl game can still be salvaged from the rough start. Given their proclivity for offensive inconsistency and defensive breakdowns, none of the games will be considered gimmes.
3. NC State's official Twitter account inadvertently set the tone for their visit to Florida State when they likened their uniform combination to a collective group of science fiction characters who were clowned by glorified teddy bears called Ewoks.
There isn't much to discuss from NC State's point of view and the game was essentially over midway through the first quarter. The Seminoles put up Tecmo Bowl numbers and quarterback Jameis Winston did whatever he wanted.
On the bright side, the Wolfpack eventually outscored Florida State 17-14 in the other three quarters and covered the Las Vegas spread. Otherwise, just burn the game film and move on to the next one. This contest had more to do with the Seminoles looking like the program that dominated the ACC throughout the 1990s.
Florida State crystalized the sentiment with a fake punt up 35-0 on the Wolfpack. No doubt Bobby Bowden smiled and said "dadgum."
4. NC State hosts North Carolina next Saturday. With a combined record of 5-9, the Wolfpack and Tar Heels won't pique the interest of college football fans outside the Triangle. However, the week leading up to the game certainly provides all the necessary ingredients for an entertaining rivalry. Fans will talk their smack, a player or coach will provide some level of bulletin board material and the actual game has drama from time to time.
For the 2013 edition, Tar Heels tight end Eric Ebron contributed to the fun.
"It’s not a hostile environment. It’s just another game. Ain’t nobody worried about NC State. Ain’t nobody care about NC State. We’re gonna prepare for them just like everybody else do. We’re gonna take it to them. It’s a rivalry game.”
Ebron wasn't finished, taking to Twitter after his press availability following the win over Boston College.