Thursday, October 12, 2023

Two In-State Conference Clashes Highlight Saturday's Gridiron Action


Duke and NC State Set to Renew Rivalry: A Look at the Upcoming Clash

The anticipation is building for the 84th installment of the Duke-NC State football rivalry, set to take place this Saturday night at Brooks Field at Wallace Wade Stadium. Both teams are gearing up for a classic battle that promises to be memorable for fans of both sides. The history between these two ACC charter members dates back nearly a century, with Duke holding a narrow lead in the series, 41-37-5. However, recent history has favored the Wolfpack, with NC State boasting a 15-3 record against the Blue Devils since 1990. The most remarkable stretch for the Wolfpack came between 1994 and 2008 when they enjoyed an 11-game winning streak. The proximity of the two stadiums, a mere 22 miles apart, adds to the intensity of the rivalry. It's a game where bragging rights are not the only things at stake.

Dave Doeren, in his 11th year as head coach for the Wolfpack, has seen limited action against the Blue Devils. In his inaugural season in 2018, Duke emerged victorious in a 38-20 victory in Durham. In 2020, the Pack won 31-20 in a home game at Carter-Finley Stadium. This weekend's clash will mark just the third meeting between these teams during Doeren's tenure. The Wolfpack is currently making waves in college football under Coach Doeren. Notably, they lead the ACC in third-down conversion defense, boasting an impressive .293 success rate, which ranks 14th in the entire FBS. Dave Doeren is also on the verge of tying the school record for coaching victories, and a win in this rivalry game could put him in the history books.

NC State is also demonstrating its prowess in the red zone, going 12-for-12 inside the 10-yard line this season, with 11 touchdowns and one field goal. True freshman receiver KC Concepcion is making waves, accounting for 28% of the Wolfpack's receptions and becoming the first true freshman in school history to record two 100+ yard games in a season. In the last outing, quarterback MJ Morris made a significant impact with a career-best four touchdowns and 265 passing yards, despite it being only his third career start. Running back Delbert Mimms has been impressive too, ranking sixth in the ACC and 24th nationally with six rushing touchdowns, which is two more than any Pack player had in all of 2022.

The Wolfpack's defense has been no slouch either, ranking 11th in the FBS in team sacks, thanks to reserve defensive end Red Hibbler. However, they have been dealing with the loss of two of their top four safeties for the season, which poses a challenge for their defensive unit. Linebacker Payton Wilson is having an incredible season, leading the ACC in tackles with an average of 11.7 per game, which is the fourth-best in the FBS. He was named the Butkus National LB of the Month for September and has earned ACC LB of the Week honors three times already this year. 

On the other side of the rivalry, Duke is coming off a strong start to the season, with a 4-1 record. Under the guidance of head coach Mike Elko, Duke has won the turnover battle in 12 of their last 18 games, leading to 115 points off those turnovers. Elko's record through his first 18 games is the best start to a head coaching stint in school history. 

This year's Blue Devils rank highly in both scoring offense and defense within the ACC. Their scoring offense ranks 6th with an average of 32.6 points per game, while their defense is leading the conference, allowing a mere 11.2 points per game. They are one of only two ACC schools averaging 30.0 points per game and allowing just 15.0 points per outing, with Miami being the other school achieving these impressive numbers.

All eyes are now set on Saturday night as these two longstanding rivals prepare for another intense and highly anticipated battle. The history, the records, and the proximity between the stadiums all contribute to making this a must-watch ACC matchup. The kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. and will be televised live by ACC Network.

Saturday Showdown: Barton Bulldogs Face Undefeated Lenoir-Rhyne Bears in Crucial SAC Matchup

This Saturday, the college football world's attention turns to Moretz Stadium in Hickory, North Carolina, as the Barton Bulldogs prepare to take on the undefeated Lenoir-Rhyne Bears in a highly anticipated SAC matchup. The clash will feature the two teams with the best overall records in the conference, setting the stage for a thrilling battle on the gridiron.

The Bears, currently boasting a perfect 6-0 record, will put their unblemished mark on the line as they aim to continue their remarkable winning streak. Not only are they on an eight-game winning streak, but their six consecutive victories in 2023 have propelled them to a strong position in the South Atlantic Conference.

Lurking just one game behind the Bears in the SAC standings is the Barton Bulldogs, who bring a commendable 5-1 record to Moretz Stadium. Their lone loss this season came at the hands of Mars Hill, but they are determined to make a statement and potentially seize the driver's seat in the conference with a win and the tiebreaker over Lenoir-Rhyne.

A win for the Bears would take them a significant step closer to clinching the Piedmont Division Championship, but the Bulldogs are poised to disrupt those plans with their strong performance this season.

The matchup is filled with intriguing storylines and streaks on the line. Lenoir-Rhyne has not only won its last six games but also the final two games of the 2022 season, which makes for an impressive eight-game winning streak. This streak currently ties them for the second-longest in all of NCAA Division II, with only Harding boasting a longer streak of 10 consecutive victories. Western Colorado, like the Bears, has also won eight straight.

Moreover, the 2023 season marks just the third time since 1970 that Lenoir-Rhyne has started with a perfect 6-0 record, showcasing their consistency and dominance on the field. Previous seasons with such a strong start came in 2014 and 2019.

Adding to the anticipation, Lenoir-Rhyne has a perfect 12-0 record against Barton in their history, a record that the Bulldogs are surely eager to change. This long-standing dominance has also translated into a seven-game winning streak in conference play, which ranks eighth in NCAA Division II.

In national rankings, Lenoir-Rhyne enters the game ranked No. 12 in the AFCA national poll and No. 13 in the poll. The Bears have historically performed well when nationally ranked, with a record of 53-12.

At Moretz Stadium, their home field, the Bears have been particularly formidable when ranked, boasting a record of 29-5. This bodes well for their prospects in the upcoming game.

As the stage is set for this Saturday's showdown between the Barton Bulldogs and the undefeated Lenoir-Rhyne Bears, college football fans are in for an exciting clash that could have a significant impact on the South Atlantic Conference standings. With both teams showcasing impressive records and a hunger for victory, it promises to be a game that football enthusiasts won't want to miss.