College Football Preview: N.C. State at Duke
Published 12:00 am Friday, November 7, 2008
DURHAM ó Pity poor North Carolina State. During the past few years, Duke was unarguably the worst team in the ACC, yet the league’s rotating schedule always kept the Blue Devils off the schedule.
Now, no ACC team is in more dire need of a victory than the woeful Wolfpack, and up ahead is a trip to Duke ó to face the best Blue Devils team in half a decade.
“They went out there, practiced, got better, and now they’re winning football games,” N.C. State offensive lineman Jeraill McCuller said. “We scheduled them, and now we’ve got to play them.”
One of the oldest ó yet, as of late, the most infrequently played ó rivalries in the ACC will be renewed today when the upstart Blue Devils (4-4, 1-3) continue their pursuit of bowl eligibility against the Wolfpack (2-6, 0-4), the only team winless in the conference, in a meeting of the league’s two last-place teams.
The schools are located roughly 25 miles apart, yet nobody on either team has played against the other program, thanks to a scheduling quirk that accompanied the ACC’s expansion to 12 teams and realignment to two divisions. They haven’t met since 2003, when future first-round draft pick Philip Rivers led N.C. State to a 28-21 victory.
At that time, the Wolfpack were in the middle of a stretch in which they reached five bowls in six seasons while the Blue Devils had just replaced coach Carl Franks with Ted Roof, who would go on to win a total four games from 2003-07.
The teams appear to have flip-flopped roles, at least somewhat. Now it’s Duke that has entered November thinking about a bowl berth while N.C. State seemingly would need a miracle just to finish at .500.
New Duke coach David Cutcliffe, however, insists the Wolfpack are more talented than their record indicates.
“They’re good. One of the things you kind of learn to believe and you teach so hard is that you can’t worry about your opponent, what they’re going to do,” Cutcliffe said.