VS. N.C. STATE:
Last time out : Beat Georgia Tech, 42-36 in overtime
Name to know : Freshman RB Duke Johnson
Everything program savior Storm Johnson was supposed to be two years ago, Duke Johnson (no relation) has been and more. The true freshman has six touchdowns in four games. Four of his five touchdowns from scrimmage have been longer than 25 yards. He leads the Canes with 320 rushing yards, with a whopping 8.0 yards per carry, and he has caught 12 passes for 123 yards.
Bottom line: Miamis 2-0 in the ACC, despite giving up 68 points in the two road games. In three games against FBS opponents, the Canes have given up 120 points. Theyve been able to offset their issues on defense with Johnsons explosiveness and the emergence of receiver Phillip Dorsett (21 catches, 273 yards).
VS. NORTH CAROLINA:
Last time out : Lost to Wyoming 40-37 in overtime
Name to know : Junior QB Dominique Blackman has been perhaps the brightest spot amid the Vandals 0-4 start. In three games, Blackman has completed 73.1 percent of his passes for 837 yards and six touchdowns.
Interceptions, though, have been a problem for Blackman, who threw four of his five interceptions in a 63-14 loss at LSU. But in his other two starts losses against Bowling Green and Wyoming Blackman threw for more than 300 yards.
He threw for 306 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions during the Vandals 40-37 overtime loss against Wyoming on Saturday.
Bottom line : Idaho, which has lost seven consecutive games dating to last season, has had just one winning season in the 2000s and amid a 0-4 start it doesnt seem likely that the Vandals will improve much from their 2-10 finish in 2011.
Dont expect the Vandals to pose much of a challenge for UNC. One-third of the way through the season, Idaho ranks in the 100s nationally in several statistical categories: rushing offense, total offense, pass efficiency defense, scoring defense, turnover margin and pass defense.
Wake Forest (3-1, 1-1)
Last time out : Beat Army 49-37
Name to know : Josh Harris, a redshirt junior, rushed for 129 yards and two touchdowns last week, averaging 10.8 yards per carry. He scored the go-ahead touchdown with 2:55 remaining in the third quarter, breaking several tackles on a 19-yard run into the end zone.
Harris has had an up-and-down career as a Deacon, showing flashes of greatness but missing intensive time due to injuries, to the point where people inside the program questioned his toughness. But so far this year, Harris has been Wake Forests leading rusher, carrying the ball 53 times for 220 yards.
Bottom line : Duke hasnt beaten Wake Forest since 1999, with the Deacons going 12-0 in that span. In a way, the Blue Devils struggles against the Deacons are a microcosm of the recent state of the program, as Duke has been close (six of the past eight contests have been decided by one possession) but unable to turn the corner. Until the Blue Devils can beat Wake Forest, a similar program that has completed its own resurgence, bowl dreams will likely remain just that.
VS. EAST CAROLINA:
UTEP (1-3, 0-0)
Last time out : UTEP trailed 23-9 at halftime before falling 37-26 to Wisconsin on Saturday.
Name to know: Defensive end Horace Miller. The 6-1, 240-pound junior is tied for the Conference USA lead in sacks with four and has gotten them against some impressive competition as the Miners have faced Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, New Mexico State and Wisconsin. As a sophomore, Miller led the team with five sacks despite starting only starting six games.
Bottom line : The East Carolina offense struggled mightily in sophomore QB Shane Cardens second start of his career as the normally explosive Pirates managed only 233 yards during their 27-6 loss to North Carolina on Saturday. Carden, who was sacked seven times by the Tar Heels, completed 17 of his 30 pass attempts for 124 yards. The ECU offense must regain its form to top UTEP.
VS. WAKE FOREST:
Last time out: The Blue Devils overcame four turnovers with some strong second-half defense to beat Memphis 38-14 and get off to their best start since 2008.
Name to know: Cornerback Ross Cockrell is one of the nations top defensive backs, and the vocal leader of Dukes defense. The 6-foot, 180-pound redshirt junior who played at Charlotte Latin is tied for the national lead in passes defended (10 total three interceptions and seven passes broken up), and is among the team leaders in tackles.
Cockrell had seven tackles including his first tackle for a loss this season last week as the Blue Devils defense held Memphis to 54 yards in the final two quarters, giving Duke its second straight win after a humbling loss to then-No. 25 Stanford on Sept. 8.
Bottom line: The Blue Devils are minus-4 in turnover ratio (10 turnovers vs. six turnovers forced) through their first four games a number that has to be reversed if Duke hopes to have any success not just against the Deacons, but the rest of its ACC competition as well.