PREGAME CHATTER: While Syracuse goes on the road in the Atlantic Coast Conference for the first time, N.C. State is happy to come home after losing for the sixth straight time in Winston-Salem. Syracuse still is trying to win its first conference game and could have a tough time against the Wolfpack. Not only has N.C. State won every game that the two teams have played, but the Wolfpack’s run defense, ranked 17th nationally, should slow down Syracuse running game, which ran for 323 yards last week against Clemson.
WHAT IT MEANS: Both teams want to wash themselves clean of last week. For N.C. State, this also is the final tune-up before traveling to Florida State and then facing back-to-back rivalry games against North Carolina and Duke.
DIFFERENCE MAKER: In his first two drives, quarterback Brandon Mitchell led the Wolfpack to a pair of touchdowns. But that was four games and a broken left foot ago. Still, Mitchell could make his return today, giving the Wolfpack an even better playmaker behind center.
ODDS: N.C. State by 4.5
KICKOFF: 3:30 p.m.
TV/RADIO: WRAL/WRAL 101.5 FM
PREGAME CHATTER: The Pirates have a chance to put another early-season contender in the mirror. This week, they can put some room between them and the Green Wave, although Tulane’s record is deceiving. The Green Wave has yet to defeat an FBS team with a winning record.
WHAT IT MEANS: This is the end of the Pirates’ three-game road trip and possibly the light at the end of the tunnel. Through the final seven games of the season, ECU will play just two teams that currently have a winning record, and just one of those teams is in Conference USA.
DIFFERENCE MAKER: Quarterback Shane Carden followed up his record-tying performance against North Carolina with an equally impressive – although not as significant – showing against Middle Tennessee. He completed more than 75 percent of his season-high 57 attempts.
ODDS: ECU by 11
KICKOFF: 3:30 p.m.
TV/RADIO: WITN/WNCT 107.9 FM
PREGAME CHATTER: The dreaded wishbone makes its return to Wallace Wade Stadium. Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson’s system steamrolled Duke a month ago, now comes the school where Johnson perfected the system. The Midshipmen run virtually the same offense as the Yellow Jackets.
WHAT IT MEANS: Going back to a bowl game could hinge on this contest for Duke. Two ACC road games follow this game, not to mention division-leading Miami. The Blue Devils can do themselves a big favor by earning their fourth win.
DIFFERENCE MAKER: Time of possession. Duke allowed 96 combined points to two possession-oriented offenses in Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh. Though Navy isn’t as talented, Duke’s offense can help its defense with some sustained drives.
ODDS: Duke by 3.5
KICKOFF: 12:30 p.m.
TV/RADIO: WRAL/WTIB 103.7 FM
PREGAME CHATTER: N.C. Wesleyan allowed four touchdowns in the first 14 minutes of last week’s game on the way to a blowout loss. It doesn’t become any easier this week against the Captains, who traditionally have the best home environment in the USA South.
WHAT IT MEANS: Christopher Newport lost its conference opener, meaning both these teams are in the chasing pack. Because Maryville and LaGrange play each other this week, there will be a 3-0 team in the conference by this evening. The loser of this contest will be all but out of the running.
DIFFERENCE MAKER: Consistency. N.C. Wesleyan’s offense has shown it can be dangerous, but not on a regular basis. The Bishops have to play a whole game to challenge the Captains.
KICKOFF: 7 p.m.
- Jessie H. Nunery, Justin Hite and Nick Piotrowicz