After N.C. State’s losses to Notre Dame and Clemson, the three Triangle teams have combined to lose 13 straight – and that number would probably be worse if Duke and North Carolina weren’t both off last weekend.
For all three teams, there’s hope ahead. N.C. State (6-3) goes to Boston College (5-4), a game the Wolfpack should win ... but that’s been said before about the Eagles, with less-than-satisfactory results. North Carolina (1-8) travels to Pittsburgh (4-5) on Thursday, a game the Tar Heels can win if they play the way they did against Miami two weeks ago. And Duke (4-5) goes to Army (7-2) hoping to inch closer to bowl eligibility.
It’s a pivotal week for all three teams, especially with the games they have left after this.
A topsy-turvy week for me, 2-1 straight up and 1-2 against the spread, getting each game half right to move to 24-6 straight up on the season and 17-12-1 by Vegas standards. Got both wild cards (Houston over East Carolina and Notre Dame over Wake Forest) correct, unsurprisingly, but not against the spread, alas.
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Last week: “Of Duke’s three remaining games, Army is by far the most winnable of the three, but it won’t be easy.”
This week: Coming off a bye, nothing has changed: The Blue Devils need to find two wins at Army, vs. Georgia Tech and at Wake Forest. Feels like 5-7 is probably their ceiling at this point, given how well the Jackets and Deacons have played this season.
Saturday prediction: Duke 21, Army 14
Last week: “The performance offered hope the Tar Heels have enough in the tank, mentally and physically, to win one of their remaining two ACC games.”
This week: Also coming off a bye, North Carolina goes into what is clearly its most winnable ACC game, at Pittsburgh. (N.C State, in Raleigh, is the other.) There’s also Western Carolina. At this point, 3-9 would feel like a minor triumph the way things have gone for much of the season.
Saturday prediction: Pittsburgh 28, North Carolina 14
Last week: “There’s still a wide diversity of outcomes here; 9-3 seems the most likely option.”
This week: A tough loss to Clemson took the Wolfpack out of the driver’s seat in the Atlantic Division, and all three remaining opponents present different challenges. Boston College is 8-4 against N.C. State since joining the ACC, the Wolfpack is 2-8 in its past 10 in Winston-Salem and the game against N.C. State will be North Carolina’s Super Bowl. Maintaining focus after the losses to Notre Dame and Clemson may be the Wolfpack’s biggest challenge.
Saturday prediction: N.C. State 35, Boston College 27
Sports columnist Luke DeCock: 919-829-8947, firstname.lastname@example.org, @LukeDeCock