All three local ACC teams have home games — N.C. Central is idle until next week’s MEAC opener at Howard — and all three are favored in non-conference action.
And it is fair to call all three of them “must” wins.
Then at 3 p.m. at Wallace Wade Stadium, Duke (2-2) will take on Troy (2-2) of the Sun Belt Conference in the teams’ first meeting.
And at 3:30 at Carter-Finley Stadium, N.C. State (2-1) will host Central Michigan (1-3) of the MAC.
Two weeks ago all four Division I college football teams in the Triangle were favored to win on the same day, and thanks to a last-second field goal and some overtime heroics, all four of them did.
Well, this time the scenario is exactly the opposite. The oddsmakers and experts are expecting everyone to lose, some in very convincing fashion.
Three of the games are at home with one on the road.
The show starts tonight at Carter-Finley Stadium, where N.C. State (2-0) hopes to continue its perfect start to the Dave Doeren era with an upset of No. 3-ranked ACC favorite Clemson in a 7:30 game on ESPN.
The action continues on Saturday at noon in Atlanta, with UNC (1-1) visiting Georgia Tech (2-0, 1-0 ACC) in the Tar Heels’ ACC opener on ESPN. Then at 12:30 on WRAL, Duke (2-1, 0-1) will entertain Pittsburgh (1-1, 0-1) at Wallace Wade Stadium in the Panthers’ first visit to the Triangle as members of the ACC.
And at 2 p.m. at O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium, N.C. Central (2-1) will conclude the non-MEAC portion of its schedule against CAA power Towson (3-0), which already has a road romp at Connecticut and is No. 3 in the FCS national rankings.
Duke (2-0) will take on decade-long nemesis Georgia Tech (1-0) at Wallace Wade Stadium at 3:30 p.m. in the ACC opener for both teams.
And N.C. Central (1-1) will face a tough road challenge when the Eagles travel to face the brand-new program at UNC Charlotte (2-0) at noon.
N.C. State (2-0) is idle until its Thursday night home game with Clemson, while UNC (1-1) is off until its Sept. 21 visit to Georgia Tech.
But that’s going to be the case tomorrow.
UNC, N.C. Central and N.C. State are all playing home games in which they will write guarantee checks to lesser opponents.
Only Duke, which will travel to Memphis for what should be a fairer fight, seems to be facing a bit of a heavy lift.
The slate opens at 12:30 at Kenan Stadium, where the Tar Heels (0-1) play their home opener against Middle Tennessee State (1-0) of Conference USA.
N.C. Central (0-1) plays its home opener at O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium at 2 against former CIAA rival St. Augustine’s, which will be opening its season on Saturday.
Duke (1-0) visits Memphis of the American Athletic Conference in the Tigers’ season opener at 4:30.
And N.C. State (1-0) entertains Richmond (1-0) of the Colonial Athletic Association at 6 at Carter-Finley Stadium.
Both programs are optimistic about this season. Duke went 6-7 last time and played in its first bowl game since 1994, while NCCU was 6-5 for its first winning season since playing a MEAC Division I schedule.
Duke leads the series 2-0, winning the contests by a combined 103 points to 31.
And there are changes atop the casts of characters. NCCU has a new coach in Dwayne Foster, who will be at the helm for the first time in a college game today. Foster took the wheel when Henry Frazier III was fired last week for charges in connection with the violation of a protective order filed by his ex-wife.
David Cutcliffe returns for his sixth season with the Blue Devils, who have a new quarterback in junior Anthony Boone.
Senior Jordan Reid quarterbacks the Eagles.
This one is all Blue Devils, as Duke rolls up 488 yards total offense and records its first shutout in 24 years in a 45-0 romp that ends a five-game losing streak.
The opening weekend of the season is right now, and it should be a very interesting one for the Triangle’s Division I teams.
It all starts tonight at 6, when UNC (8-4 last season) visits No. 6 South Carolina (11-2) in an ESPN game at Williams-Brice Stadium. It’s a chance for the Tar Heels to show whether or not they should be in the nation’s Top 25, and a golden opportunity to shock the nation with an early-season upset.
The other two games will be on Saturday. N.C. State (7-6) will take on Louisiana Tech (9-3) at 12:30 at Carter-Finley Stadium in the first game for new Wolfpack head coach Dave Doeren.
Then at 4 will come the third edition of the Bull City Gridiron Classic at Wallace Wade Stadium, with Duke (6-7 after its first bowl trip in 18 years) hosting cross-town rival N.C. Central (6-5) under new Eagle interim head coach Dwayne Foster.
Arrested on Monday, suspended on Tuesday, fired on Thursday. That was the fate of Henry Frazier III, coach of North Carolina Central University (NCCU).
Arrested on Monday, practicing on Thursday. That's the status of Hud Mellencamp, walk-on sophomore cornerback for the Duke Blue Devils.
The college football season kicks off next weekend, in Durham and elsewhere. In the Bull City, the unheralded NCCU Eagles will travel across town to Duke's Wallace Wade Stadium to face the Blue Devils.
It likely won't be much of a contest. Last season, a so-so Duke team beat NCCU 54-17 en route to a 6-6 record and a season-ending loss in the Belk Bowl. NCCU fared somewhat better in its season at 6-5, its first winning season since 2007.
With 40 lettermen returning, hopes were high for this, the third season under the leadership of head coach Henry Frazier. But now, nine days before the meeting with Duke, NCCU has been thrown into disarray.
NCCU officials announced the firing of Frazier following his arrest Monday for violating the terms of a domestic protection order. The incident follows his arrest in May 2012 for allegedly assaulting his wife in their Morrisville home. Frazier was put on administrative leave, and reinstated three months later. Meanwhile, a domestic violence protection order was obtained, and in July 2013 it was renewed. Frazier's arrest resulted from a violation of the order.
No allegation of violence was made in the Monday complaint, and Frazier, through his attorney, insisted it was a misunderstanding.
But it was enough to exhaust the patience of NCCU.
At a 10-minute press conference this afternoon, NCCU athletic director Ingrid Wicker-McCree announced that after initially suspending him, school officials reviewed his contract and concluded that there were grounds for immediate termination.
"The focus of our athletics department," Wicker-McCree said, "includes academic success, competitive success, institutional control and student-athlete well-being.
"Our primary commitment will always be to our student-athletes, our programs and our institutions."
Assistant coach Dwayne Foster was named interim head coach.
Meanwhile, across town, Duke head coach David Cutcliffe found himself answering questions about sophomore walk-on Hud Mellencamp, who has been cleared to practice with the team despite facing felony battery charges stemming from a fight he was involved in last month.
The Associated Press:
Duke coach David Cutcliffe says walk-on Hud Mellencamp will continue to practice with the football team while he deals with felony battery charges in Indiana.
Cutcliffe said Thursday the son of rocker John Mellencamp will remain active in practice and "we'll let the legal due process occur."
According to the charges, Mellencamp, his younger brother, Speck, and a third man are accused of beating a man at a party in Bloomington, Ind. on July 29. The elder Mellencamp turned himself in Monday (brother Speck did so last Friday).
Mellencamp apparently has little football experience, but is an expert boxer, winning two Golden Gloves titles in Indiana, along with a Junior Olympics state title.
Mellencamp is not a scholarship athlete but a walk-on. He may yet face sanctioning by the university. Presumably he's being treated the same as other students who return to campus having been arrested for smashing someone's face over the summer. (According to Duke's Student Affairs website, "The university reserves the right to respond to any report of alleged misconduct on or off campus.")
There's no direct correlation between the case of a 45-year-old man with a prior arrest for assault and a 19-year-old student with an arrest for battery, of course—none except for football, Durham and male aggression.
The Eagles, now led by Coach Foster, kick off their season at Wallace Wade Aug. 31, at 4 p.m. Hud Mellencamp, No. 17, "could contribute on special teams," according to the Duke media guide.
But this time, it was Black cats and a mystery man named “Dave Fedora” who stole the show.
A record 430 people attended the event, the traditionally the largest chapter gathering anywhere in the nation with head coaches from Duke, East Carolina, UNC, N.C. Central and N.C. State as the quintet of headliners.
There was also a record haul from the helmet auction, in which the Blue Devil, Wolfpack, Pirate and Eagle helmets got bids of $2000 each before the Tar Heel helmet went for $2500.
Early in the program, veteran master of ceremonies Don Shea got tongue-tied and said something about a Coach Dave Fedora, combining the names of new N.C. State coach Dave Doeren and second-year UNC mentor Larry Fedora. And Duke coach David Cutcliffe, perhaps imagining his boys in royal blue having to line up against an imposing 22-man lineup of 11 guys in Columbia Blue and another 11 in vermillion on every play, said he didn’t want to play a game with that mystery man roaming the sidelines.
“You blend those two together and we’re not even going to play this year,” Cutcliffe said. “We wouldn’t have a chance.”
The ACC has announced its 2013 football schedule, including a total of 22 home games at the three schools in the Triangle.
State will host UNC at Carter-Finley Stadium on Nov. 2, while the Tar Heels will entertain Duke at Kenan Stadium in the battle for the Victory Bell in their season finale on Nov. 30.
And East Carolina will visit the Triangle twice, visiting the Tar Heels on Sept. 28 and the Wolfpack on Nov. 23.
CARMICHAEL ARENA/CHAPEL HILL It’s the first game matching Triangle Division I basketball teams this season, and on paper it’s a serious mismatch.
UNC has also hit a run of bad luck, as the Tar Heels have a long injury list. Xylina McDaniel is out for at least this game with a strained hamstring, while Waltiea Rolle will miss the contest with a sprained ankle and freshman Hillary Fuller a sore Achilles tendon. Sophomore forward Whitney Adams gets her first start for UNC.
The Tar Heels will dress only eight players and the Eagles’ seven for the 11 a.m. contest, which UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell said she planned to allow local school groups to attend. And there are several busloads of youngsters in the house.
UNC leads from wire to wire, but wins only 49-21 in the closest game in five matchups in the series.