College Football Previews: Wake hosts BC; Duke hits the road without Jones

Charlotte will host Old Dominion while App State is home against Southern Miss in what could be bad weather

Wake Forest defensive linemen Carlos Basham Jr. (18) and Sulaiman Kamara celebrate after sacking Towson quarterback Tom Flacco last Saturday. (Nell Redmond / AP Photo)

Wake Forest vs. Boston College
BB&T Field  |  Thursday, 5:30 p.m.  |  ESPN

Preview: The Thursday night matchup might be the ACC opener for both teams, but it will go a long way toward determining whether the Deacons (2-0) or the Eagles (2-0) will be a contender in the Atlantic Division.

Players to watch: WR Greg Dortch returned two punts for touchdowns and scored another on a reception last week. CB Essang Bassey has an interception and four pass breakups through two games. Eagles RB A.J. Dillion is off to a fast start, averaging 123.5 yards per game. LB Connor Strachan has a team-leading 10 tackles.

Fast fact: Wake and BC played for the first time in 1941, with the first two games played at Fenway Park. The Eagles hold an 8-5 lead in the series since joining the ACC.

What to expect: Wake averages 37 points per game and BC averages 58.5 against lesser competition, but this game will come down to which defense can get the most stops.

— Brett Friedlander

Charlotte vs. Old Dominion
Jerry Richardson Stadium  |  Saturday, 6 p.m.  |  ESPN3

Preview: Both teams are coming off of tough weeks. ODU (0-2) blew a 17-0 first-half lead to lose to FIU 28-20. Charlotte (1-1) got pummeled at home by App State, 45-9.

Players to watch: Charlotte kicker Jonathan Cruz set a school record with three field goals last week, including a 54-yarder that was the second longest in school history. ODU receiver Jonathan Duhart had three catches for 150 yards, including touchdowns of 4 and 83 yards.

Fast fact: ODU coach Bobby Wilder has a .728 winning percentage in games decided by one score, tying Urban Meyer for the best close-game record in FBS. Charlotte is 4-8 in one-score games since joining FBS.

What to expect: Last week was ODU’s earliest-ever conference opener. This week, the Monarchs are playing their second CUSA game of the year.

— Shawn Krest

Appalachian State vs. Southern Miss
Kidd-Brewer Stadium  |  Saturday, 3:30 p.m.  |  ESPN+

Preview: After nearly upsetting Penn State in the opener, App State pounded Charlotte last week. Now the Mountaineers host 1-1 Southern Miss in their home opener.

Players to watch: Mountaineers QB Zac Thomas completed all 14 of his passes on Saturday for 295 yards and three touchdowns. Jaylond Adams had nine catches for 158 yards in the Golden Eagles’ loss, including a 75-yard touchdown reception on the game’s first snap.

Fast fact: Southern Miss is wearing a commemorative decal on its helmets to honor the memory of Owen Bowen III, who died in January. He had sounded the air horn ending each practice period since getting hired in 1973.

What to expect: App State — a member of the Sun Belt Conference — could end up with a second Conference USA win in as many weeks after dismantling Charlotte. Southern Miss is hoping to bounce back from a tough loss to ULM.

— Shawn Krest

Duke at Baylor
McLane Stadium  |  Saturday, 3:30 p.m.  |  FS1

Preview: Duke (2-0) is coming off a big road win at Northwestern that resulted in the loss of starting quarterback Daniel Jones and cornerback Mark Gilbert, both of whom underwent surgery on Sunday. Baylor (2-0) has already doubled last season’s win total.

Players to watch: Jalan McClendon is splitting time at Baylor quarterback after leaving NC State as a graduate transfer. He has also caught four balls for 20 yards. Duke’s Ben Humphreys won ACC linebacker of the week after getting 15 tackles and half a TFL at Northwestern.

Fast fact: Baylor’s coaching staff has a combined 23 years of experience coaching in the NFL, sixth most in the country, including head coach Matt Rhule, who spent 2012 on the NY Giants staff. 

What to expect: Duke likely had this in the win column when schedules were released. It will be significantly more competitive with all the Blue Devils’ personnel losses.

— Shawn Krest