One might think Hell has frozen over if this writer is praising the University of North Carolina (at Chapel Hill) for anything in athletics. Lump Wake Forest into the story and someone might think this writer is up to something. You would be wrong in both cases. This is to congratulate the Tar Heels and the Demon Deacons for scheduling football games with each other as non-conference games, something that other schools in large conferences should do.
For example, NC State and Duke, which annually played each other through the 2003 season, should come to an agreement to resume an annual game as a non-Atlantic Coast Conference counting event during the seasons the two schools are not scheduled to meet as set forth by the ACC schedule makers. If Wake Forest and North Carolina can take that step, the first of its kind in any of the Major Five conferences, then the Wolfpack and the Blue Devils can too. It just makes sense.
The State-Duke game has always been competitive, for the most part. Duke holds the overall advantage with 41 wins to NC State’s 36. There have been five ties. Wolfpack fans travel well to Durham to support the team away from home, helping to fill Wallace Wade Stadium, and no Blue Devils fans are necessary for a full stadium when the game is played in Raleigh. It would reestablish an old rivalry which has seen many good games; both teams are at competitive levels these days.
The 2003 game was the last time the two met other every season. Since then, State and Duke played each other during the 2008, 2009 and 2013. Only once between now at least through the 2024 season are the two scheduled to meet; that’s in Carter-Finley Stadium in 2020. Beyond 2024, who knows? That’s as far out as the conference has scheduled games and a game between the two is not on the list. Unfortunately, the Wolfpack's non-conference schedule is full through the 2019 season with: Troy (twice), Eastern Kentucky, Old Dominion (twice), South Alabama, Notre Dame (twice), East Carolina (twice), William & Mary, Furman, Marshall (twice), Georgia State, West Virginia (twice), James Madison, Western Carolina, and Ball State. And, Duke is nearly full with non-conference opponents for the next five seasons.
After 2019, both Duke and State have plenty of space on its non-conference schedule to come to some agreement. Better yet, each team could move a game or two over the next five seasons to resume an annual meeting. If Duke would agree, State should offer to drop or push out further a couple of those nonsensical games to make space for the Blue Devils. It’s a rivalry that should not die just because of conference expansion. Congratulations to Wake Forest and North Carolina. Thank goodness those two schools took that scheduling step.
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