- File photo by Rob Rowe
- Duke quarterback Sean Renfree (19) will need to have more solid games if the Blue Devils want to finish the season on a high note.
The biggest month of the college football season has begun, and fittingly all three of the local ACC teams are facing some hugely important contests on Saturday.
Duke will be at home against Virginia as the Blue Devils look to get a second straight win. And if you aren’t headed for the Duke game, you have the possibility of watching a great TV doubleheader
N.C. State still has a chance to win the ACC championship if it gets through the rest of the regular season without another loss, but the Wolfpack will get a big challenge when it travels to a noon game at Clemson in the annual “Textile Bowl.”
And then at 3:30, UNC will look for the sixth win that would make the Tar Heels bowl-eligible when it visits longtime nemesis Florida State.
N.C. State has lost six straight in the series with Clemson.
“We’re working hard trying to prepare for a tough game down in Death Valley,” Wolfpack coach Tom O’Brien said. “We’re going to play an excellent Clemson football team and we’re looking forward to that challenge. …
“There’s a lot on the line, and this is a big football game. Certainly, each and every week, they get bigger, but that’s the exciting thing. It’s neat to be in this situation and be playing for the things we’re playing for right now.”
Florida State leads the series with UNC 15-1-1.
“It’s an opportunity to play an ACC game,” UNC coach Butch Davis said. “I think our kids are excited about it. I think our coaching staff did a really good job of getting our players to take a real good look at the things we did well and the things we need to improve on (after the comeback win over William & Mary on Saturday).
“Certainly one of the things is that you can’t expect to win games if you’re not going to win the turnover battle. You’ve got to protect the ball and create turnovers.”
Duke is coming off a 34-31 road win over Navy, its first victory over a Division I-BCS team in its last 11 tries. But the Blue Devils have won two straight meetings with Virginia.
“We know we’re playing a very hot Virginia team,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. “They’re certainly on a roll with two big victories in a row. Their running game is dangerous and they’re doing a tremendous job with their personnel in the passing game and using their weapons and people well.
“They’re a big physical defense and defend the pass as well as anyone you’ll see. It will be a big challenge for us to attempt to put together back-to-back wins.”
Duke vs. Virginia
[Saturday, noon, Wallace Wade Stadium]
Virginia leads series 32-29.
Records: Duke 2-6, 0-4 ACC; Virginia 4-4, 1-3 ACC.
Audio: WDNC 620, WRBZ 850, XM 190, Sirius 212.
Coaches’ records — Duke: David Cutcliffe 55-50, 11-21 at Duke; Virginia: Mike London 28-9, 4-4 at UVa.
Leading rushers — Duke: Desmond Scott 82-392, 2 TD; Virginia: Keith Payne 113-552, 12 TD.
Leading passers — Duke: Sean Renfree 79-306-2051-15, 11 TD; Virginia: Marc Verica 141-238-1665-7, 9TD.
Leading receivers — Duke: Conner Vernon 48-715, 4 TD; Virginia: Kris Burd 39-576, 4 TD.
Leading tacklers — Duke: Abraham Kromah 81, 6 1/2 TFL, 1 SK, 1 INT, 1 FF; Virginia: LaRoy Reynolds 49, 6 TFL, 1 FF.
Favorite — Virginia by 1.
No. 23 N.C. State at Clemson
[Saturday, noon, Memorial Stadium]
Clemson leads series 50-27-1.
Records: NCSU 6-2, 3-1 ACC; Clemson 4-4, 2-3.
Audio: WRBZ-AM 850, WRAL-FM 101.5, XM 192, Sirius 214.
Video: WRAL 5.
Coaches’ records — NCSU: Tom O’Brien 98-68, 22-23 at NCSU; Clemson: Dabo Swinney 17-12 at Clemson.
Leading rushers — NCSU: Mustafa Greene 102-495, 4 TD; Clemson: Andre Ellington 117-686, 10 TD.
Leading passers — NCSU: Russell Wilson 188-322-2302-10, 19 TD; Clemson: Kyle Parker 115-217-1315-6, 8 TD.
Leading receivers — NCSU: Owen Spencer 36-529, 1 TD; Clemson: Dwayne Allen 27-326, 1 TD.
Leading tacklers — NCSU: Nate Irving 61, 10 TFL, 3 ½ SK, 2 FF, 1 FR; Clemson: Rashard Hall 51, 1 TFL, 2 INT.
Favorite — Clemson by 3 1/2 (Vegas).
UNC at No. 24 Florida State
[Saturday, 3:30 p.m., Doak Campbell Stadium]
FSU leads series 15-1-1.
Records: UNC 5-3, 2-2 ACC; FSU 6-2, 4-1.
Audio: WCHL 1360, WRDU-FM 106.1, XM 191, XM 192, Sirius 213.
Video: WTVD 11.
Coaches’ records — UNC: Butch Davis 76-41, 25-21 at UNC; FSU: Jimbo Fisher 6-2 at FSU.
Leading rushers — UNC: Johnny White 123-713, 6 TD; FSU: Chris Thompson 64-484, 4 TD.
Leading passers — UNC: T.J. Yates 156-236-1873-4, 12 TD; FSU: Christian Ponder 127-210-1383-7, 13 TD.
Leading receivers — UNC: Dwight Jones 32-483, 3 TD; FSU: Bert Reed 40-391, 1 TD.
Leading tacklers — UNC: Zach Brown 57, ½ TFL, 2 INT; FSU: Kendall Smith 60, 2 TFL, 1 FF, 1 FR.
Favorite — FSU by 10 1/2 (Vegas).