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BATTLE FOR N.C.: Deacons finish first

Wake Forest Duke Football-7
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Wake Forest's Willy Bemiss (35) scores a touchdown ahead of Duke's Lummie Young IV (23) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Durham, N.C., Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben McKeown)

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The Daily Reflector

Monday, November 26, 2018

The North Carolina-N.C. State game ended in a brawl, and Wake Forest finishes as the top college football team in North Carolina. How did this happen?

Wake earned the crown thanks to wins over N.C. State and Duke, the latter coming Saturday in dominant fashion with a 59-7 blowout of the Blue Devils in Durham. Here are the full final “Battle for N.C.” power rankings by The Daily Reflector:

1. Wake Forest

Record: 6-6.

Why No. 1? It is still difficult to digest because of the team’s 6-6 record, but notable in the Demon Deacons’ 2-0 record versus the rest of the state is that the wins over N.C. State and Duke both came on the road. The margin of victory over Duke was Wake’s largest ever against an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent, clinching No. 1 in these rankings in the process.

2. N.C. State

Record: 8-3.

Why No. 2? Needing overtime to outlast UNC only adds to the mystery of the N.C. State resume, which features a 35-21 win against Virginia (4-4 in ACC) as its strongest point. The Wolfpack, which was No. 1 in the state for most of the season, will close the regular season by hosting struggling East Carolina.

3. Appalachian State

Record: 9-2.

Why No. 3? An argument could be made for the Mountaineers to be No. 1, 2, 3 or 4 in the state. ASU recorded its best win of the year on Saturday, defeating Troy 21-10 to take the Sun Belt East Division, and a big opportunity for the program awaits in the Sun Belt championship game to be held in Boone.

4. Duke

Record: 7-5.

Why No. 4? Duke started the season 4-0 featuring quality wins over Northwestern and Army, but the Blue Devils faltered late and were overwhelmed by Wake Forest. The 59-7, regular season-ending loss went down as the most lopsided defeat for coach David Cutcliffe during his tenure at Duke.

5. East Carolina

Record: 3-8.

Why No. 5? North Carolina fired coach Larry Fedora on Sunday. Is East Carolina’s Scottie Montgomery the next to go?

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