N.C. State continued to move up in the rankings, and N.C. Central continued its winning streak. Duke and UNC didn't fare as well.
Above: N.C. State took down Louisville Thursday night, moving up to 20th in the nation. Photo by Ethan Hyman for the News & Observer.
North Carolina State Wolfpack
The outcome: The Wolfpack (5-1, 3-0 ACC) took down the Louisville Cardinals (4-2, 1-2 ACC) 39-25 Thursday night in Carter-Finley Stadium. N.C. State is now ranked 20th in the AP Poll.
What worked?: Both N.C. State’s offense and defense had stellar performances. Redshirt junior quarterback Ryan Finley played outstanding — Finley completed 20 of his 31 passes for 367 yards and a touchdown. Two Wolfpack receivers had 100-plus yard games. Sophomore Kelvin Harmon had 133 receiving yards and senior Jaylen Samuels had 104 receiving yards. Redshirt junior Steph Louis almost joined them, adding 99 receiving yards. Junior running back Nyheim Hines also followed up his stand-out performance from last week with 102 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
What didn’t?: Although the Cardinals lost, defending Heisman trophy winner Lamar Jackson still put up huge numbers — 354 yards through the air and 73 yards on the ground, with three total touchdowns. Two Louisville receivers also tallied 100-plus receiving yards, including one 65-yard catch by Cardinals sophomore receiver Seth Dawkins.
What’s next?: N.C. State made a statement Thursday night on a national stage and showed that they are a legitimate contender in the ACC’s Atlantic Division. Now, the Wolfpack play the Pittsburgh Panthers on the road next Saturday. Look for N.C. State to cruise here, with about a two touchdown victory over the Panthers.
Duke Blue Devils
The outcome: The Blue Devils (4-2, 1-2 ACC) fell to the Virginia Cavaliers (4-1, 1-0 ACC) 28-21 Saturday afternoon.
What worked?: Duke’s secondary had two interceptions — one from junior safety Jeremy McDuffie and one from sophomore cornerback Mark Gilbert. McDuffie’s interception was a pick-six that helped the Blue Devils tie the game 7-7 at the end of the first quarter.
What didn’t?: The Blue Devils’ strengths have been their pass offense, led by redshirt sophomore quarterback Daniel Jones and their elite rush defense. However, neither of those things were present in their loss to the Cavaliers. Jones threw for just 124 yards and had one touchdown and two interceptions. He is now just 35 of 84 on pass attempts through Duke’s last two games and looks nothing like the elite signal caller he appeared to be earlier in the season. The Blue Devils’ run defense — which has been one of the nation’s best, thus far — allowed Virginia junior running back Jordan Ellis 96 yards on the ground.
What’s next?: Duke will now take on a Florida State team at home that has had its own share of struggles. The Florida State Seminoles are 1-3 and have a true freshman quarterback under center. However, the Seminoles fought down to the wire against a talented Miami team this past Saturday. I expect the Blue Devils to lose a third-straight game here, by about 7-10 points.
North Carolina Tar Heels
The outcome: The Tar Heels (1-5, 0-4 ACC) got throttled by the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (5-1), 33-10 on Saturday afternoon. This marks UNC’s eighth-straight loss (including losses in the 2016 season) to a Power Five opponent.
What worked?: North Carolina’s defense played surprisingly well for a large chunk of the game. UNC’s secondary stood out the most. Sophomore safety Myles Dorn had the first two interceptions of his career against the Fighting Irish. The first of Dorn’s interceptions set the Tar Heels up for a 25-yard touchdown pass from redshirt freshman quarterback Chazz Surratt to redshirt sophomore wide receiver Anthony Ratliff-Williams. Williams led the team with 55 receiving yards and UNC’s only touchdown.
What didn’t?: Surratt had a very poor performance — in part due to the shaky play of the Tar Heels’ offensive line. The redshirt freshman completed 19 of his 42 pass attempts for 179 yards, a touchdown and an interception. UNC’s offense never clicked and it went three-and-out on numerous drives. The Tar Heel defense was on the field for a large part of the game — evidenced by the Fighting Irish’s time of possession of 36:32 to UNC’s 23:28. A defense that began the game aggressively eventually ran out of gas.
What’s next?: North Carolina is now 1-5 through its first six games and its schedule doesn’t get much easier. UNC’s last six games include no. 15 Virginia Tech on the road, no. 11 Miami at home, and no. 20 N.C. State in Raleigh. Next, the Tar Heels face off against a Virginia Cavaliers team that is on a bit of a hot streak. Look for UNC to lose this one, by about 3-7 points.
North Carolina Central Eagles
The outcome: The Eagles (4-1, 3-0 MEAC) defeated the Howard Bison (2-3, 1-1 MEAC) 13-7 on Saturday.
What worked?: NCCU freshman quarterback Chauncey Caldwell threw for 119 yards and a score, while running for 89 yards. Redshirt freshman running back Isaiah Totten also had a big game. The Apex native had 112 rushing yards on 19 carries. The Eagles also turned the Bison over twice. Redshirt sophomore defensive back Davanta Reynolds and redshirt senior linebacker Reggie Hunter each had an interception.
What didn’t?: Even with the two interceptions, NCCU’s secondary still was tore up. Howard quarterback Caylin Newton threw for 328 yards, a touchdown and an interception while completing 19 of his 30 pass attempts. Two Bison receivers had over 100 yards on the day.
What’s next?: NCCU takes on the Gardner-Webb Bulldogs at home next Saturday. Gardner-Webb has a 1-4 record on the season and was destroyed in its season-opener against NCCU’s rival, N.C. A&T. The Eagles should win this one, by about 10-14 points.