College Sports

College football previews: Finally, most area teams are in action Saturday.

N.C. State quarterback Ryan Finley’s passing and the big Wolfpack lines could wear down James Madison, but Saturday’s opener could be close into the second half.
N.C. State quarterback Ryan Finley’s passing and the big Wolfpack lines could wear down James Madison, but Saturday’s opener could be close into the second half. ehyman@newsobserver.com

JAMES MADISON at N.C. STATE

Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh, noon ESPNU

James Madison, ranked No. 2 in the Football Championship Subdivision coaches poll, has lost only twice in its last 30 games and walloped East Carolina a year ago. The Dukes are loaded with Football Bowl Subdivision transfers, including quarterback Ben DiNucci, who threw for 170 yards against the Wolfpack as Pitt’s QB a year ago. Ryan Finley’s passing and the big Wolfpack lines could wear down the Dukes, but this game could be close into the second half.

COASTAL CAROLINA at SOUTH CAROLINA

Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, noon SEC Network

Joe Moglia is back as coach after missing the Chanticleers’ first FBS season due to health problems. His team is picked to finish last in the Sun Belt East this season. Gamecocks fans will be looking for the combo of QB Jake Bentley and wide receiver Deebo Samuel (back from his 2017 injury) to make some noise.

FURMAN at No. 2 CLEMSON

Memorial Stadium, Clemson, S.C., 12:30 p.m. WBTV

The drama here will be at QB for Clemson. Kelly Bryant will start, but freshman Trevor Lawrence likely will get plenty of action against what would appear to be an outclassed Furman team. Bryant, Lawrence and Chase Brice battled in preseason for the starting spot.

APPALACHIAN STATE at No. 10 PENN STATE

Beaver Stadium, State College, Pa., 3:30 p.m. Big Ten Network

The Mountaineers, a 24-point underdog visiting a Big Ten power … does that sound familiar? The Nittany Lions are some analysts’ sleeper pick as an FBS playoff team, with QB Trace McSorley and plenty more talent. It could be a showcase game for Appalachian State running back Jalin Moore of Shelby and defensive back Clifton Duck of Butler.

TENNESSEE vs. No. 17 WEST VIRGINIA

Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, 3:30 p.m. WBTV

It’s homecoming for Mountaineers QB (and Davidson Day grad) Will Grier, and his team would like to make a statement nationally against an SEC foe. It’s also Game 1 of the Volunteers’ rebuilding project under new head coach Jeremy Pruitt and his young team.

NORTH CAROLINA at CALIFORNIA

Memorial Stadium, Berkeley, Calif., 4 p.m. WJZY

Cal QB Ross Bowers, who passed for more than 360 yards last season against UNC, and most of his weapons are back. The Tar Heels are dealing with suspensions and inexperience, and avoiding turnovers and penalties will be essential if they want to stay in the game.

NORTH CAROLINA A&T (1-0) at EAST CAROLINA

Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville, 6 p.m.

QB Lamar Raynard, the 2017 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference player of the year, leads the Aggie attack. The Aggies’ last game against an FBS foe (Charlotte, last September) was a victory. The Pirates have a standout WR in Trevon Brown but a newcomer at QB in Reid Herring, who threw only one pass last season.

FORDHAM at CHARLOTTE

McColl-Richardson Field, Charlotte, 6 p.m.

The visiting Rams, an FCS program, are a mystery with a new coaching staff and new offense. But the 49ers also are a bit of an unknown, playing their first game with new offensive and defensive coordinators. Redshirt freshman quarterback Chris Reynolds will start for the 49ers.

LIMESTONE at GARDNER-WEBB

Spangler Stadium, Boiling Springs, 6 p.m.

The Runnin’ Bulldogs have eight sophomores and seven freshmen on their two-deep list for defense; Limestone is rebuilding under new head coach Tony Ierulli. The two schools are separated by only 14.8 miles.

BREVARD at DAVIDSON

Richardson Stadium, Davidson, 7 p.m.

WR Bubba Craven had 868 receiving yards last season, but Division III Brevard has only five seniors on its roster. It’s the Wildcats’ debut under new head coach Paul Abell, who built a strong program at Division III Washington & Lee. Davidson is led by RB Wesley Dugger, who ran for more than 1,100 yards last fall.

Steve Lyttle

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