At long last, the Devils and Pack meet in the post-expansion era. Even though the teams have combined for just one ACC win, entertainment potential is high, and the TV folks will likely regret passing on it. Yours truly will be inside Wallace Wade, semi-live blogging as blackberry reception allows.
Local media have some good preview material. WRAL’s Jason Jennings walks you throw a video of the five best Duke/State games of the last 20 years. I especially remember #1 and #3. #1 was the only non-break home game I missed as a State student. It was the only game that I wasn’t in charge of tickets for our regular group, and – surprise, surprise – we were all packed up and ready to leave, but the tickets were nowhere to be found. It turned out to be the only field rushing of my undergraduate years, and I missed it. I listened to game #3 on the radio in my freshman dorm (while playing Tecmo Bowl with some hallmates). Like this year’s contest, there was no TV coverage. It was a fantastic game, with State taking a lead in the last seconds on a 2-point conversion. Duke had a speedy return man, and he did indeed break into the clear. Our kicker (Damon Hartman, maybe?) took a great angle and forced him out of bounds at around the 20 just as the clock expired. Had the tackle been made a second sooner – or if the Devil ran out of bounds instead of going for 6 – Duke would have lined up to kick the winning FG.
The News & Observer also has a nice write-up. Did you know State had won 10 straight in this always competitive series? I didn’t. The hard copy N&O also had betting lines. Duke opened as a 5.5 point favorite, but the spread is down to 3.5 now. Smart money is still on the Devils, IMHO.
On the plus side, Irving and Williams are supposed to play today. As I told work colleagues on Friday, my hope is for the Pack to force two Duke punts before Irving gets hurt again. That’s reasonable, don’t you think? Anyway, the key to the game is offense – State needs to score on 3/4 of its offensive possessions, and score TDs much more often than FGs. It’s a tall order, but if Russell Wilson plays like he did in College Park, it’s doable. Hopefully, RW looks for emerging star George Bryan more than butter-fingered Anthony Hill. I really like Bryan’s combination of hands and footwork.