N.C. State (4-2) at Wake Forest (3-4)
Kickoff: noon, BB&T Field, Winston-Salem
TV/Radio: Fox Sports South, 101.5-WRAL
Wake Forest’s strength: It’s supposed to be defense but that didn’t work out so well last weekend for the Demon Deacons, who gave up 50 points and a barrage of big plays in a 50-14 loss at UNC. Still, though, the Demon Deacons rank among the top 30 nationally in total defense.
This might not be a strength, necessarily, but Wake’s two-quarterback system does keep a defense guessing. Still, neither John Wolford nor Kendall Hinton will enter this game 100 percent healthy.
Key theme: The Wolfpack seeks to break a couple of streaks. Most important, a win at Wake Forest would be N.C. State’s first in the ACC after opening with two conference losses. The Wolfpack also hasn’t won at Wake Forest since 2001.
No. 23 Duke (5-1) at Virginia Tech (3-4)
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m., Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, Va.
TV/Radio: ESPNU, 620-WDNC
Virginia Tech’s strength: The Hokies’ pass rush has been the best in the country, pressuring quarterbacks on 39.9 percent of their dropbacks, according to ESPN. Senior Luther Maddy leads ACC defensive tackles with 6.5 tackles for loss.
Key theme: Can Duke’s offense find any momentum against a “Power 5” opponent? Expect a steady diet of quarterback runs, as that has been a weak link in the otherwise strong Hokies’ defense. Neither team is known for its scoring prowess this year, so something in the range of 10-14 points could be enough for a win.
Virginia (2-4) at UNC (5-1)
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m., Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill
TV/Radio: Fox Sports South, 106.1-WTKK
Virginia’s strength: Well, how to put this? Virginia doesn’t seem to have a strength, exactly. The Cavaliers rank 81st nationally in total defense and 95th nationally in total offense. This is a team, and program, that very much appears to be headed toward a head coaching change.
At least the Cavaliers have shown some heart, though. They came back from a demoralizing loss against Boise State with a more competitive performance – albeit in another loss – against Pitt and then beat Syracuse in three overtimes last weekend.
Key theme: The Tar Heels did what good teams do against inferior competition last weekend when they dismantled Wake Forest. Now the challenge is to follow that up against another downtrodden program. A victory against Virginia would give UNC its best start since 1997.
Other area games
Morgan State (3-3) at N.C. Central (3-3), 2 p.m., NCCUEaglePride.com, O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium, Durham: The Eagles look to avenge last year’s loss to Morgan State, which scored the game-winning touchdown with 32 seconds left in that game. The loss gave N.C. Central a share of the MEAC title instead of the outright conference championship.
Morehead State (3-3) at Campbell (4-3), 4 p.m., bigsouthnetwork.com, Lane-Barker Stadium, Buies Creek: It’ll be a showdown of offense versus defense in Buies Creek. The Camels, coming off of their first road win of the season, are second in the nation in total defense (249.9). Meanwhile, MSU quarterback Austin Gahafer ranks fourth in passing touchdowns (17) and 10th in passing yards per game (293.7).
St. Augustine’s (0-7) at Fayetteville State (3-4), 2 p.m., wagu-network.com, WAUG-750, Luther Nick Jeralds Stadium, Fayetteville: The Falcons look to win their first game of the season against a Broncos team that includes senior quarterback Derek Bryant, who leads the CIAA in passing yards per game (262.0).
Shaw (0-7) at Johnson C. Smith (2-5), 1 p.m., shawbears.com, Irwin Belk Stadium, Charlotte: Quarterback Terrence Shambry has started the past two games for the winless Bears. He and Quenton Rucker have a combined 1,134 passing yards.