• There’s no need for North Carolina to panic after a 1-2 start. Road losses to South Carolina and Georgia Tech were expected, and neither game was a disaster. The good news is the defense showed some fight Saturday against Georgia Tech.
The next three games – East Carolina, at Virginia Tech, Miami – will determine which way the Tar Heels’ season will go.
• On the other hand, after a 58-55 free-for-all with Pitt, it’s time for Duke to panic. The defense hasn’t gotten any better, and the loss of quarterback Anthony Boone is a double-whammy for the offense because it takes Brandon Connette out of his best role.
The next two home games, against Troy and Navy, are must-wins, but neither is a gimme. Looking at the next eight games on Duke’s schedule, it’s hard to find two more wins, let alone the four necessary to get back to a bowl game.
• N.C. State’s defense showed enough promise against the ACC’s best offense on Thursday to think that the Wolfpack might be able to win nine games in Dave Doeren’s first season.
You can’t put the cart before the horse, but the next three games are imminently winnable, as are November road trips to Duke and Boston College.
Doeren said last week the hope was to get injured quarterback Brandon Mitchell back for the Syracuse game on Oct. 12. The sooner Mitchell comes back, the better off N.C. State will be.
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