GARDNER-WEBB (3-6, 1-2 BIG SOUTH) AT CHARLESTON SOUTHERN (5-2, 2-0)
Buccaneer Field, Charleston, S.C., noon.
The Bulldogs, trying to remain out of the Big South’s cellar, play the Buccaneers, one of the league’s front-runners. …Gardner-Webb leads the series 9-6, but Charleston Southern has won two straight. … Bulldogs quarterback Tyrell Maxwell needs 37 rushing yards to break the league’s QB rushing record of 1,785 yards.
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GEORGIA TECH (5-3, 2-3) AT NO. 18 NORTH CAROLINA (6-2, 4-1)
Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, 12:30 p.m., WBTV
North Carolina is healthier and should be well-rested after their off weekend last week. The Tar Heels will try to end to an odd streak. Under coach Larry Fedora, they are 0-2 against Georgia Tech when UNC is coming out of an off week. ... As always in Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson’s triple-option offense, the running game is the priority and, as always, it has been successful. The Yellow Jackets are 17th nationally in rushing offense.
LIVINGSTONE (2-7, 1-5 CIAA) AT JOHNSON C. SMITH (2-7, 2-4)
Irwin Belk Complex, 1 p.m.
The Golden Bulls host the Blue Bears in the eighth Commemorative Classic game. ...Johnson C. Smith leads the series 41-22-2, but Livingstone’s 35-12 victory last year snapped the Golden Bulls’ six-game winning streak. ...J.C. Smith’s Carlo Thomas is tied for third in the nation with six interceptions.
VIRGINIA (2-6, 1-3 ACC) AT WAKE FOREST (5-3, 2-2)
BB&T Field, Winston-Salem, 3 p.m., Fox Sports South
The Deacons can become bowl eligible for the first time with a win over the Cavaliers. ...Virginia leads the series 34-14, but Wake Forest has won the past two games (in 2008 and 2012). ...Both teams are trying to snap losing streaks – the Deacons have dropped two straigh; the Cavaliers have lost their past three games.
NO. 23 VIRGINIA TECH (6-2, 4-1) at Duke (3-5, 0-4)
Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham, 3:30 p.m.
The stakes are high for both teams for very different reasons. Virginia Tech wants to maintain some control of the Coastal Division, where it is undefeated. Duke hopes to keep its bowl dreams alive with a victory, which would be its first against Virginia Tech in Durham since 1981. The Devils have been to a school record four consecutive bowl games. ...The Hokies are ranked high in several ACC defensive categories. They have the league’s fourth-best defense and is 15th in the nation.
SYRACUSE (4-4, 2-2 ACC) AT NO. 3 CLEMSON (8-0, 5-0)
Memorial Stadium, Clemson, S.C., 3:30 p.m., ABC
Clemson, one of five remaining FBS teams with undefeated records, plays the first of back-to-back ACC home games. ...Clemson is 3-1 all-time against Syracuse, with the Orange’s lone win coming in the 1996 Gator Bowl. ...All of the Tigers’ wins against Syracuse since the Orange joined the ACC have come by double digits.
CHARLOTTE (3-5, 2-2 C-USA) AT SOUTHERN MISS (5-3, 3-1)
Roberts Stadium, Hattiesburg, Miss., 3:30 p.m., WCCB
The 49ers put their two-game Conference USA road winning streak on the line when they play the Golden Eagles. ...Southern Miss is a half game behind Louisiana Tech in the West Division standings. ...The Golden Eagles won 44-10 in last year’s game against Charlotte at Richardson Stadium. ...Saturday’s game features two of the league’s top rushers in Southern Mississippi’s Ito Smith (915 yards, nine TDs) and the 49ers’ RB Kalif Phillips (558 yards, three TDs).
TEXAS STATE (2-5, 0-3 SUN BELT) AT APPALACHIAN STATE (6-2, 4-0)
Kidd Brewer Stadium, Boone, 3:30 p.m.
The Mountaineers, one of three teams tied atop the Sun Belt standings, host the bottom-dwelling Bobcats. ...Appalachian State has faced Texas State once, winning 41-34 in Boone in 2014. … Since opening the season with two losses in their first three games, the Mountaineers have won five straight. ...Texas State coach Everett Withers was a standout defensive back at Appalachian State in the 1980s. A graduate of West Charlotte High, Withers was interim head coach at North Carolina in 2011.
MISSOURI (2-6, 0-4 SEC) AT SOUTH CAROLINA (4-4, 2-4)
Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, S.C., 4 p.m., SEC Network
The Gamecocks, fresh off their first win over a Top 25 opponent in two seasons, host the struggling Tigers. ...South Carolina beat No. 18 Tennessee 24-21 last week, snapping a seven-game losing streak against Top 25 teams. ...Missouri, which has lost four straight, leads the all-time series 4-2, including last year’s 24-10 win.
DAVIDSON (2-7, 0-6 PIONEER) AT CAMPBELL (3-4, 1-3)
Barker-Lane Stadium, Buies Creek, 4 p.m.
The Wildcats play their nearest Pioneer League rival, facing the Camels on the road. ...The series is tied 4-4, but Davidson has lost three straight and four of the past five games. However, the Wildcats are 3-1 at Barker-Lane Stadium. ...Davidson has lost its past six games, but three of those have were by four or fewer points.
No. 19 FLORIDA STATE (5-3, 2-3) at N.C. STATE (4-4, 1-4)
Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh, 7 p.m., ESPNU
Florida State has three ACC losses – or the same number it had in the 2012, ’13 and ’14 seasons combined. So how interested are the Seminoles in beating N.C. State in an otherwise meaningless game? ... N.C. State can’t quite get back to the form that pushed Clemson to the brink of the biggest win of coach Dave Doeren’s tenure. A confounding home loss to Boston College followed a no-show loss at Louisville. Can the Wolfpack get it together to snap an nine-game losing streak to ranked teams? ... Seminoles junior running back Dalvin Cook leads the ACC with 1,069 rushing yards. He had 138 yards and two touchdowns in a 34-17 win against the Wolfpack last year in Tallahassee.
EAST CAROLINA (3-5, 1-3 AAC) AT TULSA (6-2, 3-1)
H.A. Chapman Stadium, Tulsa, Okla., 8 p.m., ESPNNEWS
Both teams are coming off victories, with Tulsa winning 59-30 at Memphis, and the Pirates defeating Connecticut 41-3. ... Tulsa sits even with Navy in the loss column for the top spot in the AAC's West Division, while East Division East Carolina is battling for bowl eligibility. ... The Pirates’ offense averages 503.2 yards to rank 13th nationally and has the nation's sixth-ranked passing offense. ...East Carolina quarterback Philip Nelson has completed nearly 69 percent of his passes for 2,377 yards and 15 touchdowns. His main target is senior receiver Zay Jones, who has caught 114 passes for 1,094 yards and four touchdowns. ... Tulsa’s offense averages 42.1 points to rank 12th nationally, and its average of 499.1 total yards per game is No. 15.
Observer Staff Report