Duke's Cutcliffe: 'It must be November, we're playing North Carolina'
The college football schedule isn’t always kind to fans. There are some weeks in the Triangle, especially early in the season, when there’s maybe one good game surrounded by any kind of anticipation. That’s how the first two weeks went. Last week didn’t have that, with N.C. State playing Furman and North Carolina visiting Old Dominion and Duke hosting Baylor, a game that would have attracted more interest if Baylor’s disgraced program hadn’t already lost to Liberty and Texas-San Antonio.
And there are some weeks, usually later in the season, when every Triangle game compels attention, when there’s a full day of must-see TV even before checking out what’s going on in the SEC or Big Ten or Big 12.
This is one of them, arriving uncommonly early.
It starts at noon with N.C. State at Florida State, a chance for the Wolfpack to redeem itself for that season-opening loss to South Carolina and, regardless, one of a handful of chances for N.C. State to record the kind of signature win it’s going to take to make this season a success. The Seminoles haven’t played in two weeks thanks to Irma and lost their starting quarterback when they did. N.C. State is an 11-point underdog, but it’s all sitting there for the Wolfpack.
Right about the time that one ends, Duke and North Carolina will be kicking off in Chapel Hill in a game that has taken on added significance for both teams thanks to Duke’s 3-0 start – including a pair of wins over Power 5 opponents – and UNC’s losses to California and Louisville. Given the potency of Duke’s offense early and the lack thereof of North Carolina’s defense, this feels like a game Duke could potentially win by multiple touchdowns (which, given the recent history of this series, probably guarantees a defense-fueled UNC win). Vegas sees things closer, with Duke a three-point road favorite.
Also at 3:30, Wake Forest is at Appalachian State, a game that may not have the same stakes but will certainly be of intense interest for the fans of the teams.
The evening will be free for celebrating or commiserating, with a dearth of attractive night kickoffs elsewhere, and with so much on the line, there will no doubt be plenty of both.
Sports columnist Luke DeCock: 919-829-8947, email@example.com, @LukeDeCock