Clemson (6-2, 5-1 ACC)
Duke (6-1, 2-1 ACC)
After two open dates in the past four weeks, the Blue Devils are relatively healthy for their November stretch run.
Defensive tackle Jamal Wallace, who missed the Georgia Tech and Virginia games in between Duke’s open dates with a leg injury, is the only outstanding notable injury, and coach David Cutcliffe said earlier in the week that there was hope he could be ready for Pittsburgh Saturday.
Defensive end Dezmond Johnson, who returned against Virginia after missing three games with his own leg injury, didn’t have any additional setbacks.
Duke will need its health to last the rest of the way, as five straight ACC games await to close out the regular season (at Pittsburgh, at Syracuse, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Wake Forest).
At 3-1 in the ACC, the Blue Devils stand alone atop the Coastal Division with a golden opportunity to earn a repeat trip to Charlotte for the ACC championship game.
Duke controls its own destiny. Starting this week, it’s full speed ahead. Laura Keeley
No. 18 East Carolina (6-1, 3-0 AAC)
The Pirates defense that surrendered some deep passes to UConn throughout the contest, stepped up to pitch a fourth-quarter shutout and secure the win.
Head coach Ruffin McNeill’s aggressive first-quarter play-calling paid off for the Pirates. On its second possession of the game, ECU went for it on fourth down twice, converting both times to complete a 10-play, 47-yard drive to take a 14-0 lead.
Once again, penalties plagued the Pirates. East Carolina racked up 12 flags for a season-high 148 yards during its last contest versus South Florida. After going into a bye week in which emphasis was placed on reducing penalties, ECU tallied 11 flags for 105 yards.
Despite their Air Raid offense, the Pirates have been able to effectively run the ball all year. Their 1,160 rushing yards after the first five games was the highest total since the 2001 season. However, on Thursday night the ground game got grounded by a sturdy Huskies defense. The lack of a rushing attack resulted in 65 pass attempts by Carden.
North Carolina (4-4, 2-2 ACC)
N.C. State (4-4, 0-4 ACC)
Dave Doeren said his players needed some time off, so he gave them five days off the practice field during the Wolfpack’s open date on the schedule.
“We’ll never be back to 100 percent because we lost a few guys for the season, but we’ll be as close as we can be coming out of the bye week,” Doeren said.
N.C. State will try to end a 12-game ACC losing streak at Syracuse on Saturday. The Wolfpack will get seven players back who were suspended for the 30-18 loss at Louisville on Oct. 18. Even with the return of linebacker Jerod Fernandez, Doeren said he expects to find a more regular role on defense for freshman linebacker Airius Moore.
“Airius definitely deserves playing time,” Doeren said. “When you play the way he did, you’re going to earn playing time. And he did.”
Moore had eight tackles, including a sack, in his first career start vs. Louisville. He also had a 76-yard fumble return for a touchdown called back. Through eight games, Fernandez leads the Wolfpack with 58 tackles.
While the suspensions of the seven players from the BB-gun incident earlier in October are over, senior defensive tackle T.Y. McGill will miss his second straight game with a suspension for violating team rules. McGill’s suspension was not related to the BB-gun incident. Joe Giglio
South Carolina (4-4, 2-4 SEC)
Wake Forest (2-6, 0-4 ACC)