Heels, Wolfpack facing in-state rivals

Published 9:16 pm Thursday, September 1, 2022

Associated Press

North Carolina travels to Appalachian State on Saturday for bragging rights in the Tar Heel State.

App State’s Chase Brice is coming off a season in which he threw for a school-record 3,337 yards and 27 touchdowns. The sixth-year quarterback will look to take advantage of a North Carolina secondary that looked very suspect last week against Florida A&M.

The Tar Heels allowed unheralded Florida A&M quarterback Jeremy Moussa to complete 28 of 38 passes for 279 yards and two touchdowns.

But Tar Heels quarterback Drake Maye became the first player in program history to throw five touchdown passes in a first start.

The game has been sold out since July with more than 30,000 fans expected at Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone.

Appalachian State defeated North Carolina in 2019 in Chapel Hill. Appalachian State has repeatedly found itself in the Top 25 since moving up to the FBS and has made its mark in the Sun Belt Conference with four titles. UNC coach Mack Brown was Appalachian State’s head coach in 1983 — when he was 32.   

Players to watch

UNC: WR Josh Downs. The third-year receiver is a threat to take it to the end zone any time he touches the ball. He had nine catches for 78 yards and two scores in last weekend’s Week Zero opener. He ranked 10th in the Bowl Subdivision with 1,335 yards receiving.

App State: RBs Nate Noel and Camerun Peoples. Both backs have had 1,000-yard seasons with Noel doing it last year and Peoples in 2020. The Mountaineers should be strong up front with four of five starters returning on the offensive line.

Line: North Carolina by a half point, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

UNC (1-0) at Appalachian State (0-0), Saturday, noon (ESPNU)


No. 13 NC State opens season at East Carolina

No. 13 North Carolina State opens the season Saturday with a road test at instate foe East Carolina. N.C. State has matched its highest Associated Press preseason college football poll ranking entering this game and stands as a top Atlantic Coast Conference contender.

East Carolina is opening a fourth season under Mike Houston, who helped the Pirates become bowl-eligible last year. The teams haven’t met since the Wolfpack’s home win in 2019. East Carolina has won four of five meetings at home against N.C. State, most recently in 2016.

The last time these instate foes met, the Wolfpack beat the Pirates 34-6 to open that 2019 season. Now N.C. State stands as one of the top Atlantic Coast Conference contenders, led by the preseason league player of the year in quarterback Devin Leary — who suffered through a rough first year as a starter in 2019.

“I think shared adversity is a critical part of a team,” N.C. State  coach Dave Doeren said. “It’s how you come together. It’s going through creating scars.”

N.C. State has had its troubles in Greenville: ECU is 4-1 against N.C. State at home.

Leary ranked among the national leaders with 35 touchdown passes compared to just five interceptions last year.

“They’ve done a great job with either developing players or getting transfers and giving him a lot of viable options to go to,” Houston said.

East Carolina has won seven of the last 11 meetings with ACC opponents. … This is N.C. State’s first road opener since a shutout loss at South Carolina in 2008.

Players to watch

East Carolina: Dual-threat quarterback Holton Ahlers can test defenses with his mobility. But N.C. State has 10 starters back from a unit that ranked 14th in the Bowl Subdivision ranks in scoring defense (19.7) last year. Running back Keaton Mitchell has proven he can move the chains on the ground, running for 1,132 yards and nine touchdowns last season. Now he’s set to return kickoffs with the departure of Tyler Snead.

N.C. State: QB Devin Leary. Everything starts with the veteran passer and preseason ACC player of the year. Leary threw for 35 touchdowns with just five interceptions last year.


Temple-Duke matchup pairs two first-time head coaches

Duke and Temple meet Friday night in a matchup or first-time head coaches. The Blue Devils are led by Mike Elko, who previously coached on the Texas A&M staff. The Owls are led by Stan Drayton, who previously worked at Texas.

The Owls’ offense and Blue Devils’ defense pairs two of the nation’s worst units last season. Duke closed last season with eight straight losses. Temple finished with seven losses in a row.

Duke has lost 23 of 29 games dating to October 2019, including 21 of 23 in the Atlantic Coast Conference

Players to watch

Temple: QB D’Wan Mathis, who spent two seasons at Georgia and started seven games last year before going down to injury.

Duke: QB Riley Leonard.

Line: Duke by 7 1/2, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

Temple (0-0) at Duke (0-0), Friday night at  7:30  (ACC Network)


Vanderbilt hosting  Elon with chance for 2-0 start

Vanderbilt can notch its first 2-0 start since 2018, and a victory Saturday night would match the win total for all of coach Clark Lea’s debut season. Elon has not beaten a Football Bowl Subdivision team since moving to the Football Championship Series in 1999.

The Phoenix are 1-29-2 against Power Five programs with the lone win over Miami back in 1928. Elon has played eight current Power Five programs with the two ties coming against Duke and Georgia Tech in the 1920s.

A victory would match the win total for coach Clark Lea’s debut season in 2021.

Vanderbilt currently leads the nation scoring offense after the opening rout at Hawaii. It was the most points for Vanderbilt since scoring 63 in 1969 in a win over Davidson. The 53-point margin of victory was Vanderbilt largest since a 58-0 win over Presbyterian on Sept. 17, 2012. … Vanderbilt topped 600 yards total offense for just the fifth time since 1996 and seven different Commodores scored against Hawaii.

Elon kicker Skyler Davis made 17 field goals last year, including all of his final nine attempts.

Players to watch

Elon: WR Jackson Parham. He ranked 31st nationally with 820 yards receiving and 43rd with 57 catches for the best single season by a Elon receiver since 2012.

Vanderbilt: QB Mike Wright. He was 13 of 21 for 146 yards passing with two touchdown passes. He also ran for a career-high 163 yards and two more TDs. He became the fourth Vanderbilt quarterback with multiple passing TDs and multiple TD runs since 1996.

Elon (0-0) at Vanderbilt (1-0), Saturday, 7 p.m.  (ESPN+/SEC Network+)