DG’s Week 10 College Football Preview:
Wake Forest-Duke (Thurs.), UNC, NCSU
Top “3 To See” (National Highlights, Too!)

By David Glenn
North Carolina Sports Network

While everyone is encouraged to check out our weekly Old North State Tailgate podcast, which drops once a week during college football season and allows for a deeper dive into last weekend’s results and this week’s action, here is one of our weekly North Carolina Sports Network features, known as “Three To See,” meaning three games that rank among those most worth watching in the coming days, with a heavy dose of “state of North Carolina” and Atlantic Coast Conference angles, as one might guess or expect.

Nationally, because there are no games matching top-10 opponents this week, the focus will be on the five Power Five programs with unblemished records, three of which are on the road. Two of those will be in hostile environments taking on opponents with winning records, which is occasionally a recipe for an upset.

Here’s the schedule among the unbeatens: #1 Ohio State (8-0) visits Rutgers (6-2), #2 Georgia (8-0) hosts #12 Missouri (7-1), #3 Michigan (8-0) hosts Purdue (2-6), #4 Florida State (8-0) travels to Pittsburgh (2-6), and #5 Washington (8-0) plays at #20 Southern Cal (7-2). The Huskies are only a three-point favorite against the Trojans.

Elsewhere on the national scene, when #9 Oklahoma (7-1) visits #22 Oklahoma State (6-2) in a resumption of the well-known Bedlam Series on Saturday (3:30 pm, ABC), the matchup will be notable for several seasons, even beyond the teams’ impressive records and national rankings.

First, the game is a reminder that conference realignment continues to kill historic rivalries. The Sooners and the Cowboys first played in 1904, and they’ve played each other every year since 1910. With OU (along with Texas) leaving the Big 12 for the SEC next year, its annual matchup against OSU will take a sabbatical — perhaps a very long one.

Given both programs’ existing scheduling commitments, the earliest the Sooners and Cowboys could play again is 2031. As that date draws closer, one or both schools could decide that their 118 all-time meetings may be best left in the past.

Second, while the Oklahoma-Oklahoma State rivalry is uber-important in the so-called “Sooner State” (that must annoy Cowboys fans) every year, it’s only rarely relevant to the rest of the nation. That’s because “neutral” fans don’t gravitate toward predictable, one-sided matchups.

The Sooners’ all-time record against the Cowboys in football is an extremely lopsided 91-19-7, and it’s not just an old-time thing where they dominated only in the early days. OU has won 17 of the last 20 in this rivalry, too. That’s too much of a hammer-nail relationship for most people outside Oklahoma to care.

Third, with both of the Big 12’s high-level football programs departing next year, will the league really still look like a “Power Five” (or, with the pending collapse of the Pac-12, a “Power Four”) conference? With Oklahoma and Texas headed to the SEC, what will be the Big 12’s biggest football brands next season?

Among the returning Big 12 teams and those arriving next year (Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Utah) from the disintegrating Pac-12, the most recent national championship on the gridiron came in … 1990, 33 years ago! Even that was a shared title, between Colorado and Georgia Tech of the ACC.

Perhaps in 2024 there will be a “Power Three,” consisting of the SEC (11 all-time College Football Playoff bids), the ACC (eight) and the Big Ten (eight), then a drop to the new-look Big 12, then another big drop to every other league. Time well tell.

Moving on, here are our “Three To See” during Week 10 of college football season:

“Three To See,” Game #1

Wake Forest (4-4) at Duke (5-3), 7:30 pm, ESPN (Thurs.)

Wake Forest has won 16 of the 22 games in this rivalry since 2000, but Duke (a six-point favorite) has the slightly better team this year.

The most intriguing element of this matchup is whether the Blue Devils can rediscover their offense against a Wake team that plays good defense most of the time. Starting with their 21-14 loss to Notre Dame on Sept. 30, the Devils have averaged only 14.5 points per game agains the Irish, NC State, Florida State and most recently Louisville (a 23-0 defeat).

Duke’s high hopes for this national TV matchup may be complicated by its QB depth chart. Starter Riley Leonard continues to battle the high-ankle sprain he initially suffered against Notre Dame, and backup Henry Belin IV has been out with an upper-body injury, meaning true freshman Grayson Loftis (five career passing attempts, all at Louisville last week) may get the nod.

The Demon Deacons’ problems this season have been mainly on offense, where Sam Hartman’s successor, Mitch Griffis, has struggled at quarterback. The Deacs are dead-last in the ACC in scoring offense, at only 22 points per game, and they’ll be going up against a Duke unit that leads the ACC in scoring defense, at 15 points per game.

“Three To See,” Game #2

Campbell (4-4) at North Carolina (6-2), noon, ACCN

There are plenty of valid questions surrounding UNC football right now, after the Tar Heels’ devastating back-to-back losses — as a heavy favorite — to Virginia and Georgia Tech, although most of them won’t be answered during their performance against Campbell, a middling FCS team this season.

What happened to the Carolina defense that dominated South Carolina, Minnesota, Pittsburgh and Syracuse earlier this season? Did coordinator Gene Chizik go into the nickel defense against Georgia Tech too early, daring the Yellow Jackets to run the ball in the fourth quarter, only to see them do exactly that on three straight long touchdown drives? Are UNC’s starting defenders wearing down at midseason because their backups don’t play often enough? Did the Heels fail to address personnel shortcomings on the defensive line (where only All-ACC end Kaimon Rucker has made plays consistently) the way they did address those issues on the offensive line, where three of their five starters are major college transfers?

Regarding the matchup against the Camels on Saturday afternoon, there is a different important question: Will UNC’s fans show up at Kenan Stadium? The lackluster game-day environment for the undefeated (6-0), #10 Tar Heels’ shocking 31-27 home loss to Virginia disappointed UNC head coach Mack Brown, among others.

In 1997, when Brown built one of the greatest teams (11-1, top-5 national finish) in program history, Brown was extremely disappointed when the Tar Heels (then 10-1 and ranked #8 nationally) drew a lousy crowd for a predictably lopsided victory (50-14) over a 2-8 Duke team that went winless in the ACC that year.

Less than two weeks later, Brown left UNC to take the Texas job. (This is not to suggest he wouldn’t have taken the Longhorns job anyway.) Perhaps Brown is asking himself in 2023 the same question he posed in 1997: If Carolina fans can’t be at their best consistently in support of UNC football teams ranked in the national top 10, how is he (or any other coach) supposed to build a true national contender in Chapel Hill?

“Three To See,” Game #3

Miami (6-2) at NC State (5-3), 8 pm, ACCN

NC State’s 24-17 victory over Clemson last week was the Wolfpack’s best win of the season, in part because both teams faced similar challenges (mainly limited offenses complicated by shaky lines and inconsistent quarterback play), yet it was the Pack that figured out a way to win.

On the night he tied Earle Edwards as the winningest coach in NC State football history, Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren (now 77-57 over his 11 seasons in Raleigh) essentially beat Clemson coach Dabo Swinney — arguably the #2 coach in ACC football history, behind only Florida State legend Bobby Bowden — in a defensive-oriented chess match.

Wolfpack linebacker Payton Wilson and the State defense did exactly what they needed to do — even scoring on Wilson’s interception return against shaky young Clemson QB Cade Klubnik. The Pack limited the Clemson running game and basically dared Klubnick to beat them in the passing game, which he couldn’t do (263 passing yards but two interceptions).

Meanwhile, young NC State quarterback MJ Morris was told to manage the game and avoid mistakes against a very talented Clemson defense, and that’s exactly what he did. The Wolfpack’s best offensive player, by far, is freshman wideout KC Concepcion. With a very creative package, the Pack got Concepcion seven touches — five receptions for 83 yards and two touchdowns, but also two running plays, one of which went for 50 yards and set up one of his own TD receptions.

NC State’s challenge against Miami, which would be 7-1 but for coach Mario Cristobal’s inexplicable refusal to have his offense kill the clock with kneel-downs at the end of the Hurricanes’ game against Georgia Tech, will be more difficult than the one against Clemson.

The Hurricanes have much more balance between offense and defense than the Tigers did, UM quarterback Tyler Van Dyke is having the best season of his three years in Coral Gables (although he struggled recently against Georgia Tech and Virginia), and the Canes may have the best offensive line in the ACC. Miami has very talented players on defense (tackle Leonard Taylor III, freshman end Reuben Bain Jr., linebacker Francisco Mauigoa, safeties Kamren Kinchens and James Williams) and special teams (kicker Andres Borregales, return man Brashard Smith), too.

Week 10 ACC/NC College Football Schedule
(Saturday Unless Otherwise Indicated)


Wake Forest (4-4) at Duke (5-3), 7:30 pm, ESPN (Thurs.)
Boston College (5-3) at Syracuse (4-4), 7:30 pm, ESPN2 (Fri.)
#15 Notre Dame (7-2) at Clemson (4-4), noon, ABC
Campbell (4-4) at North Carolina (6-2), noon, ACCN
Georgia Tech (4-4) at Virginia (2-6), 2 pm, CW
#4 Florida State (8-0) at Pittsburgh (2-6), 3:30 pm, ESPN
Virginia Tech (4-4) at #13 Louisville (7-1), 3:30 pm, ACCN
#24 Tulane (7-1) at East Carolina (1-7), 3:30 pm, ESPNU
Charlotte (2-6) at Tulsa (3-5), 4 pm, ESPN+
Marshall (4-4) at Appalachian State (4-4), 6 pm, NFLN
Miami (6-2) at NC State (5-3), 8 pm, ACCN


Elon (4-4) at #6 Delaware (7-1), 1 pm, FloSports
Davidson (6-2) at Stetson (3-5), 1 pm
Gardner-Webb (4-4) at Bryant (4-4), 1 pm, ESPN+
Towson (3-5) at North Carolina A&T (1-7), 1 pm, FloSports
#20 Western Carolina (5-3) at Wofford (0-8), 3 pm, ESPN+
Norfolk State (2-6) at #9 NC Central (7-1), 3:30 pm, ESPN+

Division Two

#25 Mars Hill (7-1) at Tusculum (5-4), 1 pm
Wingate (6-3) at Newberry (4-5), 1 pm
Livingstone (4-5) at Johnson C Smith (6-3), 1 pm
Bluefield State (1-8) at Elizabeth City State (2-7), 1 pm
Shaw (2-7) at St Augustine’s (0-9), 1 pm
Catawba (4-5) at #16 Lenoir-Rhyne (8-1), 2 pm
Winston-Salem State (4-5) at Fayetteville State (7-2), 2 pm
Limestone (6-3) at Barton (5-4), 6 pm
Open Week: Chowan (0-9), UNC Pembroke (6-3).

Division Three

Maryville (6-2) at NC Wesleyan (4-4), noon
Huntingdon (6-2) at Brevard (5-3), 1 pm
LaGrange (0-8) at Methodist (1-7), 1 pm
Averett (3-5) at Guilford (2-6), 3 pm
Open Week: Greensboro (1-8).