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College Football in the Carolinas
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View from the East
Monday, September 24, 2001

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Truth Stranger than Fiction:
It's Not Easy to Be a Bowden

©2001 Bonesville.net

If there was a theme to a stunning weekend of college football in the Carolinas, it was “Beat the Bowdens.”

North Carolina pulled the ultimate shocker in its first home game in the John Bunting coaching era. Not only did the Tar Heels beat traditional ACC kingpin, Florida State, they flat out humiliated the Seminoles, 41-9.

“I haven’t even got a speech for this,” said FSU coach Bobby Bowden, whose team has played in the national championship game the last three seasons.

 “They got what they deserved — a win — and we got what we deserved — a loss. ... I didn’t see anything that resembled poise. I didn’t see any execution. I think it was a complete breakdown.”

Carolina used five FSU turnovers to advantage. The win over the No. 6 Seminoles equaled the highest ranked team the Heels had ever beaten, dating back to a 7-6 win over then-No. 6 Duke in 1960.

The 32-point margin of victory combined with FSU’s 65-14 win in Tallahassee last season marked the biggest point swing over two games — 83 points — in the history of the ACC.

FSU dropped to No. 18 in the Associated Press poll, its lowest ranking since 1989.

After Papa Bowden’s team got worn out on the road, son Tommy Bowden’s Clemson Tigers lost a heartbreaker at home, 26-24 to Virginia on a one-yard pass with one second left.

Some Tigers appeared to be expecting Virginia quarterback Bryson Spinner to spike the ball to stop the clock when he hit Billy McMullen on a fade route.

“I think we caught them off guard a little bit,” Spinner said.

What’s really tough to spin is the State Line Power Rankings© after this weekend’s improbable outcomes. Give me something easy to figure out like a Rubix cube or a Dade County election ballot.

You know it’s a tight pack when the No. 6 team has a win over No. 2. We do know that South Carolina is No. 1 and Duke is No. 7.  In between, the water is kind of muddy, but here goes:


State Line Power Rankings© [092401]

1. South Carolina ... Two straight SEC road wins keep Gamecocks kings of the hill.
2. East Carolina ... A win over William & Mary moves Pirates up with losses by Clemson and Wake Forest.
3. N.C. State ... Not so impressive against SMU but still 2-0.
4. North Carolina ... Heels are 1-3 but that 1 is very big.
5. Clemson ... Heisman candidate Woodrow Dantzler had three turnovers versus Virginia. Heisman candidate?
6. Wake Forest ... Defense allowed big plays against Maryland.
7. Duke ... Loss streak reaches 15 against Northwestern.


UPDATING THE CAROLINAS

EAST CAROLINA:

If the schedule had not been interrupted, the Pirates would be coming up on an open date before going to Chapel Hill to play UNC on Oct. 6. Instead, there’s a trip to the Carrier Dome to play Syracuse this Saturday.

ECU was effective in the third quarter in a 38-23 win over William & Mary, outscoring the Tribe 21-3, but the Pirates will need to step it up with the next three games on the road.

One promising aspect is the running game with Leonard Henry, Art Brown and Marvin Townes operating behind a veteran offensive line. As coach Steve Logan said Saturday, if you can establish the running game there is some big play potential with the play-action passing dimension of the offense.

Syracuse’s power running game, led by back James Mungro, will be a challenge for the Pirates. The Orangemen were impressive in a 31-14 win at home against Auburn on Saturday night.

Mungro had 106 of the Orangemen’s 247 rushing yards last year in a 34-17 loss to the Pirates in Greenville. Mungro ran for 146 yards on 23 carries against the War Eagles.

As a team, the Orangemen had 52 rushes for 226 yards while completing just six of 15 passes.

“They’re bending, but they aren’t breaking,” Logan said of the Pirates’ defense after the William & Mary game. “We have some gap control problems that Coach (TIm) Rose (defensive coordinator) is concerned about, but that’s correctable.

"We’re not giving up explosion plays. ... We’ve been playing some beautiful red-zone defense.”

The punting of Jarad Preston has enhanced field position. The transfer averaged 50 yard on four punts against W&M.

David Garrard, who became ECU’s career passing yardage leader on Saturday, provided big plays in the passing game last year against Syracuse.

The Orangemen have won two straight at home, taking some heat off of Coach Paul Pasqualoni, who was roundly criticized after losses to Georgia Tech and Tennessee.

The hope is that ECU will not come out of what will be a physical game with Syracuse with injuries that could affect subsequent performance as last year when inside linebacker Pernell Griffin was out for three games with an MCL ailment due to a cut block by the Orangemen in the fourth quarter.


SOUTH CAROLINA:

The Gamecocks have just four road games this season and two of those, trips to Georgia and Mississippi State, are out of the way and in the win column. Those victories marked the first time that South Carolina has won back-to-back road games against ranked teams.

There’s talk that the Gamecocks will be 7-0 when they visit Tennessee on Oct. 27. They have to get by Alabama in Columbia this week.

“That’s a popular topic among fans,” said South Carolina offensive coordinator Skip Holtz. “That we could get to 7-0. But we’re focusing on getting better game by game. You can’t overlook anybody in the Southeastern Conference.”

Linebacker Kalimba Edwards seems to have the situation in perspective.

“We don’t look at ourselves as favorites,” Edwards said. “We see ourselves as underdogs no matter who we play. But once we get out on the field, it doesn’t matter anyway. The only thing that matters is who plays well and who executes.”

Back-up quarterback Corey Jenkins gave the Gamecocks some productive mobility as USC became only the second visiting team to win at Mississippi State in 19 games.

Larry Gatlin will sing the national anthem before the Alabama game and firefighters, policemen and rescue personnel will be honored at halftime.

USC has scheduled Division I-AA Wofford on Nov. 3 to replace the canceled Sept. 15 game with Bowling Green.


N.C. STATE:

It wasn’t pretty but a 26-17 win at SMU still looked good to NCSU coach Chuck Amato.

State trailed 17-16 in the fourth quarter and the Mustangs had an edge statistically, 18-17 in first downs and 316-288 in total yardage for the game.

SMU had lost decisively to Louisiana Tech and TCU this season and was drummed 41-0 by the Pack last year in Raleigh.

“The object of the game is to win,” said Amato after State improved to 2-0. “Look at what happened to Clemson and Florida State. The way football is anymore with parity and the 85 scholarships, anything can happen. We’ll take it even though it wasn’t pretty by any means.”

State recovered a loose ball in the SMU end zone for a touchdown that provided a 26-17 lead with 3:32 left. Mustangs quarterback

Kelan Luker tried to lateral the ball in the end zone after a blindside hit by Pack defensive end Corey Smith. The ball bounced off of referee Jack Childress before NCSU defensive end George Anderson controlled the loose ball for the decisive score.

State had just 73 yards rushing in the game. Linebacker Levar Fisher continued a stellar career with 10 tackles.

The Pack hosts Carolina on Saturday at noon.

“We’ve got to get better every week,” Amato said. “We can’t continue to do this. We really can’t. But the kids believe in themselves and they believe they can get things done if they have to.”


NORTH CAROLINA:

Defensive end Julius Peppers said the Tar Heels were confident going into the Florida State game.

“A lot of people didn’t expect this from us,” he said. “A lot of people didn’t think we were able to pull it off. But we believe in ourselves as a team. In the locker room before the game we all thought we were going to win the game. That’s what we came out and did.

“We just stayed behind each other and trusted each other.”

As the game progressed and UNC went ahead to stay in the third quarter on a 52-yard pass play from back-up quarterback Darian Durant to Chesley Borders, FSU’s inexperience became apparent.

The Seminoles never seemed to recover from a holding call that wiped off a 85-yard touchdown pass from freshman quarterback Chris Rix in the third quarter.

“They couldn’t do the things they usually do against us,” Peppers said. “It gets frustrating because they’re not used to being in a close game like that in the regular season and the ACC. We figured if we could keep it close with them, then maybe they’ll start doing things they’re not used to doing.”

The Heels outscored FSU 34-0 in the second half — proof, as they say, that truth is stranger than fiction.

Bunting’s decision to go with a two quarterback system, Durant and senior Ronald Curry, produced results that seemed too good to be true.

The beauty of the upset is that it looks like there will be a little suspense for the ACC championship for a change.


CLEMSON:

The Tigers came back from a 20-10 deficit with eight minutes left in the third quarter to lead 24-20 with 12:36 left.

Dantzler lost a fumble with under five minutes remaining at the Clemson 34. A punt exchange left the Cavaliers in good field position for the winning drive.

“I take responsibility,” Dantzler said. “If I hadn’t fumbled, they wouldn’t have gotten it back.”

Virginia didn’t risk kicking an extra point after a 15-yard penalty for celebrating, a good move considering a blocked kick could have been returned for two points that would have tied the score. ECU lost 23-22 at Alabama in 1998 on such a return of a blocked conversion kick.

“There’s still a lot left on the table,” said Coach Bowden.

But the Tigers face a must-win situation at Georgia Tech on Saturday or their ACC title hopes will be pretty much over.


WAKE FOREST:

Talk about setting the tone.

Maryland’s Bruce Perry ran 80 yards for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage and added a 50-yard scoring run as the Terps won the matchup of 2-0 teams, 27-20. Perry finished with 276 yards rushing.

“Not only is he fast, he’s shifty,” said Deacons linebacker Ed Kargbo-Okorogie of Perry. “It takes a whole team to tackle him.”

Wake, which trailed 17-3 in the second half, had two possessions after cutting the lead to 27-20 on a 42-yard pass from James MacPherson to Jason Anderson with 6:54 left, but the Deacons lost the ball once on downs and then on an interception in the end zone with 39 seconds left.

“We made too many mistakes to beat a good team,” said first-year Deacons coach Jim Grobe.

Wake has an unenviable task of playing at Florida State on Saturday night.


DUKE:

The Blue Devils were tied 7-7 before No. 16 Northwestern got rolling for a 44-7 victory in Durham.

“We got a score in the first quarter,” said Duke tight end Mike Hart of a 6-yard touchdown pass from D. Bryant. “It was a nice pass. Emotions were high and we were ready to give them a hard game. It just went sour from there.”

Duke coach Carl Franks saved a man from drowning in Falls Lake on Friday. The driver of a sport utility vehicle who had apparently had a seizure was pulled from the partially submerged vehicle by the Blue Devils coach.

Duke visits Virginia on Saturday.

Send an e-mail message to Al Myatt.

Click here to dig into Al Myatt's Bonesville archives.

02/23/2007 01:03:07 AM
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