We’re back after a one-week hiatus due to computer problems, which is a shame, because I went 3-0 on the week (straight up, not against the spread) to move to 10-2 on the season.
If N.C. State had beaten South Carolina and North Carolina had beaten California ... you know how it goes. This is a big week for everyone, with Duke (4-0) hosting Miami (2-0) on Friday night in the Blue Devils’ first real test as would-be Coastal contenders, N.C. State (3-1) trying to avoid a trap against Syracuse (2-2) and North Carolina (1-3) facing Georgia Tech (2-1) with no bye week to prepare.
Two weeks ago: “If Duke moves to 3-0, the Blue Devils could potentially think about getting to seven or eight wins, maybe even the Coastal title.”
This week: Not only did the Blue Devils pass the test against Baylor, they won in Chapel Hill to move to 4-0. Everything is in play for Duke now. Three big hurdles remain: Miami, Florida State and Virginia Tech (and possibly Wake Forest, depending on how things shake out for the Demon Deacons over the next eight weeks). A win over the Hurricanes puts the Devils in 9/10-win territory.
Friday prediction: Miami 28, Duke 21.
Two weeks ago: “ If the Tar Heels don’t get their defense straightened out, they’re going to be lucky to get to 6-6.”
This week: The defense certainly looked better against Duke, but the Tar Heels are running out of bodies, especially at wide receiver – a crippling development with a redshirt freshman quarterback. You have to figure North Carolina still has more talent than Virginia, Pittsburgh or Western Carolina. But it might take some doing to get a fifth win at this rate.
Saturday prediction: Georgia Tech 35, North Carolina 17.
Two weeks ago: “All of that means 9-3 still remains within reach for the Wolfpack.”
This week: Does it ever. Coming off a massive win in Tallahassee, the main challenge for N.C. State is staying focused with Louisville looming on the horizon. But beating the Seminoles at at time when they were ripe to fall helped erase the bad taste of the South Carolina loss and keeps the Wolfpack alive in the Atlantic.
Saturday prediction: N.C. State 31, Syracuse 14.
Sports columnist Luke DeCock: 919-829-8947, firstname.lastname@example.org, @LukeDeCock