North Carolina, Duke are underdogs this week

csmith@newsobserver.comSeptember 20, 2013 

North Carolina (1-1, 0-0 ACC) at Georgia Tech (2-0, 1-0)

Kickoff: Noon, Bobby Dodd Stadium

TV/Radio: ESPN, WCHL-97.9, WTKK-106.1

PPG: North Carolina 25, Georgia Tech 54

Allowed: North Carolina 23.5, Georgia Tech 7

3 and out

•  Keep an eye on: Ga. Tech redshirt sophomore quarterback Vad Lee. The Durham Hillside graduate cruised to 169 passing yards and 112 rushing yards and three touchdowns (two rushing, one passing) against North Carolina last season. Lee has always been a threat to run, but he has had a lot of success passing the ball this season.

Lee threw for four touchdowns and ran for another against Duke last week – accounting for every Georgia Tech touchdown. All that running creates timely opportunities in the passing game, and Lee took advantage of that in the red zone last week.

•  Magic number: 13. That’s how many offensive touchdowns Ga. Tech has scored in two games (in 20 possessions not including end of halves).

•  Why North Carolina is the underdog: These are not the same teams that faced off last year when the Yellow Jackets smashed the Tar Heels’ defense for 68 points and 380 rushing yards. Having said that, North Carolina was once again on its heels against South Carolina in the season opener, giving up 228 yards rushing and 406 total yards.

If the Tar Heels plan to compete, they will need to limit the damage from Lee and not allow the A- and B-backs for Tech, including Robert Godhigh, David Sims and multiple others, to beat them.

Pittsburgh (1-1, 0-1 ACC) at Duke (2-1, 0-1)

Kickoff: 12:30 p.m., Wallace Wade Stadium

TV/Radio: WRAL-TV, WKIX-102.9, WDNC-620

PPG: Pittsburgh 31, Duke 29

Allowed: Pittsburgh 34, Duke 17.3

3 and out

•  Keep an eye on: Pitt freshman receiver Tyler Boyd. The Panthers needed a player to break out following a 41-13 loss against Florida State, and they might have found that in Boyd. He had six receptions for 134 yards and a touchdown against New Mexico.

Devin Street is still the No. 1 receiver, but Boyd might be the better playmaker at this point. Not only has Boyd caught eight passes for 160 yards this season, but he has also taken five handoffs – mostly on end-arounds – for 93 yards and a 33-yard rushing touchdown.

•  Magic number: 20. As in the 20-yard line – which is where the Blue Devils struggled the most last weekend. Duke gave up four touchdowns inside of the red zone and showed a general inability to stop the short pass against a team that is run-first and run-second. Boyd and Street pose two issues if Duke can’t find a way to cover receivers in the end zone.

•  Why Duke is the underdog: The Pitt offense can be explosive, as shown during the New Mexico game. While Duke’s defense looked potent against lesser offenses from Memphis and N.C. Central, it struggled against Georgia Tech.

The Panthers’ offense – which produced two 100-yard rushers with Isaac Bennett (101 yards) and James Conner (119) – should make the difference after Duke allowed 344 yards rushing against the Yellow Jackets the week prior, which will open up the pass for receivers like Boyd and Street.

Wake Forest (1-2) at Army (1-2)

Kickoff: noon, Michie Stadium, West Point, NY.

TV/Radio: CBS Sports Network, WDRU-105.7, WDRU-1030

PPG: Wake Forest 20, Army 20.7

Allowed: Wake Forest 17.3, Army 28.7

3 and out

•  Keep an eye on: Army junior running back Larry Dixon. Junior quarterback Angel Santiago gets more carries, but Dixon is leading the Army rushing attack. Dixon has 31 carries this season for 242 yards (7.8 yards per carry) and three touchdowns.

Dixon was held to 22 yards and a touchdown on six carries at Stanford following two straight 100-yard rushing games, so he’ll be looking to get back to his old ways against Wake Forest in West Point.

•  Magic number: 7. The Black Knights are seventh in the country with 314 yards rushing per game. The Deacons struggled in Week 2, giving up 204 yards rushing to Boston College’s Andre Williams.

•  Why Wake Forest is favored: The Deacons have struggled in several areas, but one strength is their passing game, in particular the connection between quarterback Tanner Price and receiver Michael Campanaro. The senior tied an ACC record with 16 receptions for a career-high 177 yards in the loss to Louisiana-Monroe last weekend. He is the only ACC player in history with two 16-reception games and will be matched up against an Army secondary that has given up at least two receiving touchdowns in their past two games and 325 yards against Ball State.

Around the area

•  Towson (3-0) at N.C. Central (2-1), noon, Durham: NCCU stomped Charlotte last week, defeating the previously undefeated 49ers 40-13 to move to 2-1. Towson is ranked No. 3 in I-AA and opened its season with a 33-18 victory over UConn. RB Terrance West has scored 52 career TDs, the most in Towson history. He ran for 156 yards and two TDs against UConn.

•  Stillman (2-0) at St. Augustine’s (0-2), 1:30 p.m., Raleigh: The Falcons lost in disappointing fashion to Wingate, 24-3, after an overtime loss to N.C. Central. St. Aug’s offense has yet to to find its rhythm. QB A.J. Gilford has completed 52 percent of his passes for 355 yards and three TDs in two games.

•  UNC Pembroke (2-0) vs. Shaw (2-0), 1 p.m., Wilmington (Inaugural Cape Fear Classic): The Bears’ offense will be tested against Pembroke, ranked No. 17 in Div. II. Shaw RB Marquise Grizzle earned CIAA offensive player of the week honors after rushing for 122 yards and scoring two touchdowns last week.

Smith: 919-829-8941; Twitter: @RCorySmith

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