Four questions to ponder before kickoff

Wake Forest quarterback Jamie Newman throws a pass as Elon defensive end Marcus Willoughby pursues during a game earlier this season (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)

It’s another abbreviated schedule for in-state college football today with NC State and Appalachian State having already played — and won — and both North Carolina and East Carolina getting the week off. 

This means that a lot of fans might be outside enjoying the glorious fall weather that has finally arrived in our region instead of watching football. Then again, thanks to smart devices that allow us to take TVs along with us wherever we go these days, who says you can’t do both?

So however you plan to keep track of the action, either in a stadium or out and about, here are four questions to think about and consider:

1. Is Louisville a trap game for Wake Forest?

The Deacons are only a seven-point favorite according to, which would seem like a head-scratcher considering that coach Dave Clawson’s team is 5-0 and ranked 19th in the country and the Cardinals are in the early stages of a complete rebuild under former App State coach Scott Satterfield. But look at the statistical tale of the tape and you’ll get a much different picture of this matchup. They’re virtually even in every category, including points scored (35.8 for Wake, 32.4 for Louisville), points allowed (21.0-21.6), total offense for (515.0-482.8) and total offense against (393.2-388.0). If you’re looking for common opponents, both beat Boston College in their most recent game, the Deacons by three and the Cardinals by two. This isn’t to say that Wake isn’t the better team. The Deacons are deeper and more experienced and should win this game. But the point is that it’s not the slam dunk it might once have been — which makes it a classic trap game if Jamie Newman and Co. don’t come out focused and ready to play.

2. Can Duke hold serve at home against an ACC opponent?

All the improvements that have been made at Wallace Wade Stadium over the past few years have made it a much nicer, much more impressive looking college football venue. But the renovations haven’t translated into a significant homefield advantage for the Blue Devils. With last week’s loss to Pittsburgh in its ACC home opener, Duke is now 37-38 at Wallace Wade under coach David Cutcliffe. Its ACC record is even worse — 14-30 heading into today’s game against Georgia Tech. The good news for the Blue Devils is that the Yellow Jackets are the one team they’ve consistently been able to beat at home, or anywhere else for that matter. Duke has won four of the last five meetings and would seem poised to continue that dominance, since Tech is struggling at 1-4 (0-2 ACC) during the transition from former coach Paul Johnson’s triple option offense to new coach Geoff Collins’ more mainstream approach.

3. Can Charlotte get over the hump against FIU and stay in contention for bowl eligibility?

The past three games between the 49ers and Panthers have been decided by a combined total of nine points, with Charlotte having lost each time. Last year’s defeat in Charlotte may have been the straw that effectively ended Brad Lambert’s tenure as the program’s only coach at the FBS level. It also went a long way toward the 49ers falling just one win shy of bowl eligibility for the first time in program history. That elusive goal is still in play for new coach Will Healy and his veteran team as it heads to Miami today. But at 2-3 (0-1 in CUSA), the 49ers can’t let too many more opportunities slip away. FIU is also 2-3 (0-2 CUSA). While the Panthers have had their way with Charlotte in the past, they’ve had problems stopping running back Benny LeMay, who scored four touchdowns against them in last year’s meeting. LeMay is back and with FIU allowing over 180 yards per game on the ground this season, he could be the difference maker that finally puts the 49ers over the top.

4. What the heck was App State doing playing on a Wednesday night?

One word answer: TV. The Sun Belt Conference, in its desire to gain more national exposure, has sold its soul to the four-letter devil and Hump Day games is the result of that union. The good news for Mountaineer fans — other than the fact that their team beat Louisiana-Lafayette (or ULaLa, if you will)  to stay undefeated — is that the Wednesday night game was on the road and not at home.

That’s enough for this week. Enjoy the games!