N.C. Central won on homecoming weekend. Everyone else's performance? Eh ... UNC, Duke and N.C. State all lost their football games.
Above: Notre Dame ended N.C. State’s playoff hopes on Saturday. Photo from the News & Observer.
North Carolina Tar Heels
The outcome: The Tar Heels (1-8, 0-6 ACC) lost their sixth consecutive game on Saturday to the then-No. 8 Miami Hurricanes (7-0, 5-0 ACC), 24-19.
What worked?: A quick glance at the stats from this game may give you the impression that UNC won. UNC outgained Miami in total yardage (428 to 415), had more first downs (27 to 16) and had the ball longer (32:51 to 27:09). The Tar Heels had most of their success on the ground. Sophomore running back Jordon Brown and redshirt sophomore backup quarterback Nathan Elliot had solid outings running the football. Brown racked up 88 rushing yards, and Elliot — who filled in for injured redshirt freshman starting quarterback Chazz Surratt — had 79 rushing yards.
What didn’t?: Turnovers. North Carolina had four total turnovers on the day — three interceptions and one fumble. The fumble by Brown was the most costly of the game. UNC trailed Miami, 24-19, and had possession with a little less than three minutes to go from their own 48-yard line. The Tar Heels had plenty of time to finish a game-winning drive with a touchdown and get the upset victory. A foul on a Hurricane defensive player brought the Tar Heels all the way to the Miami 38-yard line. However, on the next play, Brown fumbled the ball and Miami recovered. The Hurricanes ate up the remaining amount of clock and escaped the upset.
What’s next?: UNC now has a bye week, followed by a short week where they will play Pittsburgh on the road in a Thursday night game. The Panthers have found life in their offense the past two games. Look for Pittsburgh to carry that momentum with them when they face the Tar Heels — UNC should narrowly lose this one.
North Carolina Central Eagles
The outcome: The Eagles (6-2, 4-1 MEAC) destroyed the Delaware State Hornets (1-7, 1-5 MEAC) 42-14 on Saturday.
What worked?: Freshman quarterback Chauncey Caldwell had a huge day, tallying four total touchdowns. Caldwell completed 17 of his 29 pass attempts for 242 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 10 yard and two touchdowns. The Eagles’ receiving corps also had a monstrous game. NCCU receivers totaled 278 yards catching the ball and averaged 15.4 yards per reception. Senior wide receiver Jacen Murphy led the way in this department. Murphy had 10 catches for 189 yards and two touchdowns.
What didn’t?: There wasn’t a lot that NCCU did wrong in this game. However, they did let Delaware State wide receiver Kwannah Kollie rack up 107 yards on just three catches — including one 52-yard touchdown catch.
What’s next?: NCCU now will hit the road to take on the Hampton Pirates next Saturday. I see N.C. Central winning this game by about 7-10 points.
North Carolina State Wolfpack
The outcome: The then-No. 14 Wolfpack (6-2, 4-0) got blown out by the then-No. 9 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (7-1) on Saturday, 35-14.
What worked?: Redshirt junior quarterback Ryan Finley threw for 213 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Sophomore receiver Kelvin Harmon had another big game. Harmon caught seven passes for 97 yards and a touchdown. N.C. State’s special teams unit also came up big and were the first ones to put points on the board — scoring from a blocked punt by redshirt sophomore defensive end James Smith-Williams. The Wolfpack didn’t let the Fighting Irish take their first lead of the game until with 5:30 left to play in the first half, when Notre Dame went up, 21-14.
What didn’t?: N.C. State had not allowed any single rusher to run for over 100 yards in a game and Finley had not thrown an interception this season. But both happened against Notre Dame. Fighting Irish running back Josh Adams ran for absurd 202 rushing yards — including a 77-yard run where he broke free for a touchdown. Finley’s first interception of the season came early in the third quarter on Saturday. Notre Dame corner back Julian Love picked Finely off and ran it back 69 yards for a touchdown. N.C. State junior running back Nyheim Hines — who has led the Wolfpack this season with 648 rushing yards — hurt his ankle with 9:36 left in the first quarter and never returned to the game.
What’s next?: Although the Wolfpack’s playoff aspirations are over, they still have plenty to play for. N.C. State — who is now ranked No. 20 in the AP Top 25 Poll — still controls its own destiny in the ACC’s Atlantic Division. The Wolfpack will play the No. 6 Clemson Tigers at home next Saturday. That game will likely determine which of these teams will play for the ACC Championship in December. I believe N.C. State will play Clemson tough, but ultimately, the Tigers will be too much for the Wolfpack to handle. Look for Clemson to win this one by about 14 points and knock N.C. State out of the AP top 25 for the first time in five weeks.
Duke Blue Devils
The outcome: The Blue Devils (4-5, 1-5 ACC) were crushed the then-No. 13 Virginia Tech Hokies (7-1, 3-1 ACC) Saturday, 24-3.
What worked?: Not much went right for the Blue Devils against the Hokies. However, redshirt sophomore quarterback Daniel Jones did do a nice job of making plays with his feet — carrying the ball 17 times for 65 rushing yards.
What didn’t?: Duke only had 183 total yards of offense, compared to Virginia Tech’s 387 yards. The Blue Devils allowed Hokies’ quarterback Josh Jackson to have his way. Jackson threw for 200 yards and a touchdown and ran for 20 yards and another touchdown. Duke was also unable to limit the Hokies’ ground game. Virginia Tech totaled 187 rushing yards with running back Deshawn McClease leading the way. McClease had 75 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
What’s next?: A season that began with a 4-0 start is spiraling out of control for the Blue Devils, who have now lost five straight games. Duke now must win two of their three remaining games to be bowl eligible. The Blue Devils have a game on the road against Army, at home against Georgia Tech and on the road against Wake Forest left on the schedule. Duke’s game against Army on Nov. 11 will not be an easy game by any stretch, but the Blue Devils should win by about 10-14 points.