College Sports

Saturday’s area college football games: Here are 9 matchups to watch

Duke's Bryon Fields Jr. (14) celebrates a fourth-quarter interception against North Carolina on Sept. 23 in Chapel Hill. Fields now has three interceptions this season to rank third in the ACC.
Duke's Bryon Fields Jr. (14) celebrates a fourth-quarter interception against North Carolina on Sept. 23 in Chapel Hill. Fields now has three interceptions this season to rank third in the ACC. cseward@newsobserver.com

PITTSBURGH (2-5, 0-3 ACC) at DUKE (4-3, 1-3)

Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham, 12:20 p.m., WBTV

The Panthers rank 12th of 14 ACC teams in offense and 13th in defense. Duke has the ACC’s No. 2 and 3 leaders in interceptions – Mark Gilbert (four), Bryon Fields Jr. (three) and Jeremy McDuffie (three).

NORTH CAROLINA (1-6, 0-4 ACC) at No. 14 VIRGINIA TECH (5-1, 1-1)

Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, Va., 3:30 p.m., ESPN2

Hokies quarterback Josh Jackson has the ACC’s highest passing efficiency rating – bad news for an injury-riddled Tar Heel defense that is allowing a league-worst 455 total yards per game.

WAKE FOREST (4-2, 1-2 ACC) at GEORGIA TECH (3-2, 2-1)

Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, 7:30 p.m., ESPNU

The Deacons’ defense has been shaky at times against the run, and Georgia Tech RB Taquon Marshall leads the ACC in rushing (108 yards a game). Wake Forest needs a big night from QB John Wolford, who has thrown only one interception this season.

BYU (1-6) at EAST CAROLINA (1-6)

Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville, 7 p.m.

BYU’s weak offense is averaging only 242 yards a game. The Pirates’ defense is allowing an average of 600 yards a contest. If one of those units has a big night, it could make the difference in this game.

ALA.-BIRMINGHAM (4-2, 2-1 Conference USA) at CHARLOTTE (0-7, 0-3)

Richardson Stadium, Charlotte, 6:30 p.m., BeIN Sports

After two years without a football program, the Blazers’ transition back into FBS has been smooth. UAB’s defense has held foes to a 39 percent third-down conversion rate. The 49ers hope to have RB Benny LeMay (concussion) back in action for this homecoming game. Note that kickoff is 30 minutes later than usual for evening games.

COASTAL CAROLINA (1-5, 0-3 Sun Belt) at APPALACHIAN STATE (4-2, 3-0)

Kidd Brewer Stadium, Boone, 3:30 p.m.

The Chanticleers’ FBS debut has been a lot rockier than the Mountaineers’ was a few years ago. Quarterback problems have hurt Coastal Carolina, and a Mountaineers’ defense led by DL Antonius Sims (five sacks) and LB Rashaad Townes (two forced fumbles) could have a big day.

GARDNER-WEBB (1-5, 0-0 Big South) at KENNESAW STATE (5-1, 1-0)

Fifth Third Bank Stadium, Kennesaw, Ga., 7 p.m.

Runnin’ Bulldogs’ QB Tyrell Maxwell is averaging nearly 100 rushing yards a game, but Kennesaw has the league’s No. 2 scoring offense. If it’s close, Kennesaw PK Justin Thompson has made 8 of 10 field goals this season.

DAYTON (2-5, 1-3 Pioneer Football) at DAVIDSON (2-4, 0-3)

Richardson Stadium, Davidson, 1 p.m.

The visiting Flyers are having an unusual off season and rank next-to-last in the conference in total offense. Davidson freshman RB Wesley Duggar is second in rushing, averaging about 106 yards a game.

SHAW (3-4, 2-2 CIAA) at JOHNSON C. SMITH (0-7, 0-4)

Irwin Belk Complex, Charlotte, 1 p.m.

Points could be at a premium, as both teams rank near the bottom in CIAA offensive statistics. Shaw LB Devon Shaw is second in the league in tackles and poses a big problem for a Golden Bulls offense averaging only 200 yards a game.

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