Winning isn't supposed to hurt, but for two of the Atlantic Coast Conference's top football teams, it's been a painful process.
Wake Forest (5-0 overall, 1-0 ACC) and No. 15 Clemson (4-1, 2-1) have combined to lose seven of their most productive players, but each enters tomorrow's noon game with a chance to emerge as the Atlantic Division leader.
Clemson freshman Jacoby Ford will take over for standout wide receiver Chansi Stuckey, who had surgery on his broken foot Wednesday and will miss three to five weeks. Stuckey is tied for first in the conference in receptions per game (5.0), and is second in receiving yards per game (66.2).
Stuckey is just the latest. The Tigers also have lost:
Starting linebacker Anthony Waters, who is out for the year with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
Starting linebacker Tramaine Billie, who might return at the end of the season from a broken ankle.
Starting safety Michael Hamlin, who missed the past three games with a broken foot and will play sparingly against Wake Forest.
Running back Reggie Merriweather, who sprained his ankle against North Carolina and is doubtful for tomorrow's game.
"I've never had this many [injuries]," Clemson coach Tommy Bowden said. "It usually goes in cycles. I've only been a head coach for 10 years. I hope I won't have another situation like this for another 10 years."
At Wake Forest, freshman quarterback Riley Skinner has taken over for junior Ben Mauk, whose season ended when he suffered a broken right arm and dislocated right shoulder in the opener against Syracuse. Skinner has completed 47 of 72 passes for 619 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. The Demon Deacons also have lost their top running back, Micah Andrews, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
And still, the program is 5-0 for the first time since 1987 and is one of 13 undefeated teams remaining in Division I-A.
Miami, UNC off stride
It was only two years ago that North Carolina was good enough to beat Miami, and Miami was good enough to be ranked No. 4.
When UNC visits Miami tomorrow, the scenario will be a little different.
The Tar Heels (1-3, 0-2) are coming off a 52-7 loss at Clemson, and the unranked Hurricanes (2-2, 0-1) scrambled to avoid an embarrassing loss to Houston, winning 14-13. But for some reason, North Carolina often has played well against Miami. Last year, Carolina led 16-7 at halftime.
"When you have different teams each year, you're going to have a different type of game," North Carolina coach John Bunting said. "We're coming off a miserable defeat. We're trying to jack this team up and get ready to play against a team that has been maligned a little bit and had a big win for themselves last week. Their football team is a little bit different this year, ours is, and we're hoping we can get back on track."
Tall test for Duke
Division I-AA Richmond? Understandable.
Navy? Should be tough.
But ALABAMA on Duke's nonconference schedule?
The Blue Devils (0-4, 0-3), who have lost 12 straight games and had one winning season since 1990, will face the storied Crimson Tide - on the road, no less - at 7 p.m. tomorrow.
For each of the past 12 games Duke has lost, Alabama (3-2 overall, 1-2 Southeastern Conference) has won one national title.
Duke coach Ted Roof, after repeatedly being questioned during Wednesday's ACC teleconference on whether he favored the matchup, finally said: "Certainly we discussed it and we agreed upon it. That's how it goes."
He said he's hoping to have some "fun."
"We just take our team and show up and play when we're supposed to play and who we're supposed to play," Roof said. "It certainly helps recruiting to play games like this, and it's exciting for our players to go play one of the top programs in the country and one of the best teams in the SEC."
The last time Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen was an offensive coordinator was in 2000 at Georgia Tech, where his current team will be tomorrow when the Terps open their ACC schedule at 3:30 p.m. During his three-year tenure, Friedgen directed a Yellow Jackets offense that averaged 36.7 points and 444 yards of total offense per game.
The Terps currently average 22.3 points and 312 yards.
"Georgia Tech is a special place and was very good to me," Friedgen said. "It's always going to be very close to me. Maryland is my home and where I went to school and where I coach now, but I have a lot of friends there and a lot of good memories. A lot of great people have gone through there. I don't know if I consider myself one of them."