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College Football in the Carolinas
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View from the East
Thursday, November 8, 2001

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Momentous Weekend for Carolinas
Teams: Titles, Bowl Berths the Goal

©2001 Bonesville.net

East Carolina’s quest for the Conference USA football championship continues at Cincinnati on Saturday in a big weekend of games involving Division I-A teams from the Carolinas.

South Carolina, still No. 1 in the State Line Power Rankings and No. 14 in the Associated Press rankings, hosts Florida, No. 4 in the AP poll.

N.C. State figures to have its hands full with a visit to No. 10 Florida State.

North Carolina hosts Wake Forest with both teams looking to take a step toward bowl eligibility.

Clemson’s trip to Maryland has bowl implications for both teams and will impact the Terps’ ACC championship aspirations.

And good news for Duke. Its losing streak won’t increase this week. The Blue Devils have an open date.

Last week’s prediction record was 4-1, bringing the season total to 36-15. Here’s a look at this week’s matchups:


EAST CAROLINA at CINCINNATI
Saturday, Nov. 10, 3:30 p.m.

THE BARE BONES:

East Carolina beat the best teams in Conference USA last season, Louisville and Southern Miss, but sub-par games against UAB and Memphis cost the Pirates the league title. From the standpoint of that bit of history lies the real danger of the trip to Cincinnati.

“We were four points away from the championship last year,” said senior offensive lineman Aaron Walker of the 16-13 loss to UAB.

The Bearcats, 4-1 in league play and motivated by their own desires to win the C-USA title, are good enough to deal ECU a costly loss if the Pirates don’t play well.

ECU can’t afford to look ahead to its Thursday night game on Nov. 15 against Louisville, which, like ECU, is 4-0 going into the weekend. The Cardinals host winless Houston.

“Anybody who overlooks Cincinnati on this team is too stupid to play for me,” said Pirates coach Steve Logan at his Monday news conference. “... Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Cincinnati. That’s all that can matter right now.”

Logan said the Pirates can expect each team’s best effort from the three-team gauntlet — Cincinnati, Louisville and Southern Miss — that comprises the remainder of the regular season schedule.

“Cincinnati is probably going to look at this game as a ‘have to’ deal,” Logan said. “There are several teams that are in a ‘have to’ situation right now. Every game is going to get bigger and bigger as we go. It’s going to take a clean effort on our part. We can’t go out and make mistakes like we did in the second half last week.”

As ECU athletic director Mike Hamrick said, the Pirates are good enough to go 7-0 in the league if they play the rest of the way like they did the first half at Texas Christian.

The second half was another story as TCU’s Casey Printers came in to complete 24 of 50 passes for 319 yards and two touchdowns as the Horned Frogs rallied from a 27-3 deficit before the Pirates prevailed 37-30.

TCU netted only 27 yards rushing on 37 carries. They gambled repeatedly on fourth down in their comeback and once again, ECU’s pass defense struggled.

“They were 6 for 8 on fourth down conversions,” Logan said. “They should have gone to Las Vegas.”

The bottom line was another league win and the Pirates will be on a similar mission in Cincinnati.

“We’re ready,” Walker said. “We really are. The seniors have been through a lot in our career here. We joined the conference our freshmen year. ... Winning the conference championship — that’s something that’s been burning in us for four years now. To be this close, to be undefeated in the conference this late in the season, I just think it motivates us more.”

The league title and the slot in the Liberty Bowl (Dec. 31, 4 p.m.,
ESPN) are out there for the Pirates.

“We control our own destiny,” Walker said. “If we win, we win the championship. If we don’t, we don’t. That’s just where we’re at right now.”

NUTS AND BOLTS:

TCU’s rushing total (27 yards) was the lowest for an ECU opponent since the Pirates limited Duke to just two yards in 1980. TCU’s 60 pass attempts was one short of the ECU opponent’s record of 61 set by South Carolina in 1994. ... ECU kicker Kevin Miller’s 187 points puts him sixth on the C-USA career list. ... ECU is 18-15 in nationally-televised games going into the contest on ESPN in Cincinnati. ... Leonard Henry has 1,039 rushing yards this season. His career rushing yardage total is 2,696, 130 yards shy of third place all-time for ECU. ... ECU is one of only nine teams in Division I-A averaging over 200 yards per game in both rushing and passing.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN:

Henry’s running and David Garrard’s passing should fuel an offensive balance for the Pirates that will allow ECU to outscore the Bearcats and their talented true freshman quarterback Gino Guidugli.

PREDICTION: East Carolina 31, Cincinnati 24.


FLORIDA at SOUTH CAROLINA
Saturday, Nov. 10, 7:50 p.m.

THE BARE BONES:

The ESPN Game Day crew — Lee Corso, Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit — will converge on Columbia, S.C. for this one. That’s a fast-talking threesome but they are no competition for South Carolina coach Lou Holtz, who is up to his regular tricks, laying it on so thick that the Gators are making a conscious effort not to pay attention.

Holtz even suggested that his team could forfeit — lose 2-0 — and thereby keep the game close.

“If we listen to the enemy coach talk about how great we are, we’re nothing but fools,” said Florida coach Steve Spurrier.

The boss of the Gators knows the power of Holtz’s oratory. Four years ago, he brought Holtz in as a motivational speaker before Florida played Georgia.

“He was pumping up our program and Coach Spurrier,” said Florida center David Jorgensen.

USC will attempt to stop Florida’s ground game and make the Gators operate in a one-dimensional passing mode.

In the meantime, Holtz will continue doing the underdog thing unless his voice gives out.

“I don’t mind being the underdog,” he said. “I just don’t like the reasons why we are the underdog. I worry a lot. When you’re the favorite, you always think about the things that can go wrong. When you’re the underdog, you think about the things that can go right.”

NUTS AND BOLTS:

Florida leads the series 15-3-3, winning 41-21 last season in Gainesville. USC jumped out to a 21-3 lead in that game. ... The loser is eliminated from SEC championship contention. ... Junior wide receiver Chavez Donnings (wrist) and defensive back Mikal Goodman (hamstring) are both doubtful for the Gamecocks.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN:

Florida displayed its offensive capabilities in a 71-13 win over Vanderbilt last week. The Gamecocks are in store for more of the same.

PREDICTION: Florida 2, South Carolina 0. No, seriously, Florida 42, South Carolina 30.


WAKE FOREST at NORTH CAROLINA
Saturday, Nov. 10, Noon

THE BARE BONES:

North Carolina is 3-0 at home and Wake Forest is 3-1 on the road. Those numbers alone should make for a good matchup.

UNC quarterback Darian Durant was supposed to return to campus from his stepmother’s funeral on Wednesday night while there was speculation that Ronald Curry, the Tar Heels’ co-quarterback, might not be back from his cousin’s funeral for the game.

UNC coach John Bunting said he would decide between third stringer Aaron Leak or Durant as to who would start based on their performances in practice on Thursday.

Wake may be without quarterback Anthony Young if he hasn’t sufficiently recovered from a foot injury that digressed in the Duke game on Oct. 13. Wake running back Tarence Williams is supposed to be available after missing last week’s game at Virginia.

NUTS AND BOLTS:

UNC leads the series 65-30-2 and has won 10 of the last 11. ... Wake is second in the ACC and 11th in the nation in rushing at 231.8 yards per game. ... It’s Homecoming in Chapel Hill. ... UNC is 5-4 with three games left and needs two wins to be bowl eligible because it’s playing 12 games. Wake (4-4) would need to win two of its last three.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN:

Wake’s running ability and the delicate situation at quarterback for UNC keeps this one from being a foregone conclusion.

PREDICTION: North Carolina 27, Wake Forest 20.


CLEMSON at MARYLAND
Saturday, Nov. 10, 7 p.m.

THE BARE BONES:

Maryland goes for its ninth win, a feat last accomplished by the Terps in 1985 which was also the last year they won the ACC title. Nine is also the school record for wins in a season.

“Eight-and-one is pretty nice to be at right now,” said first-year Terp coach and Maryland alumnus Ralph Friedgen whose team bounced back from a 52-31 loss at Florida State to batter Troy State 47-14 last week.

Clemson inexplicably has played better on the road.

“We’re still looking to have a full game where the offense, defense and special teams come together,” said Clemson coach Tommy Bowden.

NUTS AND BOLTS:

This is the 50th game in the series, which Clemson leads 27-20-2. The Tigers have won 16 of the last 20, including 35-14 last year. ... Maryland quarterback Shaun Hill had an ankle injury last week and his status is not clear. ... Clemson is in the midst of a $63 million fund-raising effort to upgrade facilities, about $20 million of which would be spent on a football complex. ... 3,000 extra seats have been brought in to Byrd Stadium, bringing capacity to over 51,000. ... Woodrow Dantzler of Clemson is one of four semifinalists for the Davey O'Brien Award which goes to the nation's top college quarterback.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN:

Hill’s status could be the wild card but if he can go the Terps should, too.

PREDICTION: Maryland 28, Clemson 24.


N.C. STATE at FLORIDA STATE
Saturday, Nov. 10, 3:30 p.m.

THE BARE BONES:

Former Seminoles defensive coordinator Chuck Amato returns for a game in Tallahassee for the first time with the Wolfpack against a Florida State team that appears to have hit stride after some struggles earlier.

“They’re tenth in the country and they might end up in the Top Five again,” Amato said. “They’re hitting on all cylinders. Their offense gets almost 450 yards a game. ... There will be no 3-2 games when you play them.”

FSU won 58-14 in Raleigh last year as Pack quarterback Philip Rivers threw three interceptions.

Ideally, Ray Robinson, who has had back-to-back 100-plus-yard rushing games can take some pressure to produce off of the State air attack.

Some turnovers would help State’s upset bid, too. The Pack is a plus-10 for the season in the turnover department, but since 1992 the Noles are a plus-15 in turnover margin in games with NCSU. That’s despite the six interceptions FSU quarterback Chris Weinke threw in a 24-7 State win in Raleigh in 1998.

NUTS AND BOLTS:

No ACC team has won at FSU since the Noles joined the league in 1992. ... Amato spent 18 years at FSU. ... In four previous games in Tallahassee, State has been outscored, 229-66. ... NCSU junior safety Terrence Holt is questionable for the game with a neck strain sustained last week against Duke. ... FSU’s Chris Rix leads all freshmen and is sixth nationally overall in pass efficiency with a rating of 164.9.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN:

Doak Campbell Stadium will rock and FSU will roll.

PREDICTION: Florida State 45, N.C. State 17.

Send an e-mail message to Al Myatt.

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

02/23/2007 01:03:22 AM
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