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College Football in the Carolinas

View from the East
Thursday, November 15, 2001

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Pirates Play for League Title while
Maryland Aims for BCS Megabucks


It’s a big weekend for college football in the Carolinas — but first there’s a huge game in Greenville on Thursday night as East Carolina hosts Louisville in a showdown of Conference USA leaders.

Lee Corso will be there for ESPN, along with Kirk Herbstreit, and Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium should be near capacity. A great setting for a great matchup and hopefully it will be a great game.

N.C. State hosts ACC-leading Maryland with a win worth about $11 million to the Terps in the form of a BCS bowl.

The biggest game of the year in the Palmetto State sends Clemson to South Carolina.

Wake Forest can become bowl eligible if it beats Georgia Tech and North Carolina will need a win over visiting Duke in order to remain contention for bowl qualification.

Last week’s 3-2 record — missed the upsets by N.C. State and Wake Forest — left the season mark at 39-17.

Thursday, Nov. 15, 7:30 p.m.


There’s been a lot of comment about the similarity of ECU’s wins at Texas Christian and Cincinnati in that the Pirates had big leads and were almost beaten by rallies after the starting quarterback had been knocked out of the game.

That pattern is very much like the circumstances of ECU’s 28-25 win at Louisville last year on a Thursday night game. Cardinals starter Dave Ragone was knocked out of the game and his back-up, Mike Watkins, led the comeback from a 28-10 deficit late in the third quarter.

Then — as at TCU and Cincinnati — the Pirates held on for a win.

What that will mean in terms of this year’s game with Louisville I don’t know. I do know that the last time the Cardinals played in Greenville in 1998, Chris Redman threw for 592 yards and six touchdowns. I would much rather see a semi-repeat of last year’s game with Louisville than that one.

But what I’m hoping is that the Pirates play more like they did in a 32-11 win over Memphis in their last home game on Oct. 20. It was probably their most complete performance of the season and perhaps the energy from tonight’s crowd can help make it happen.

ECU quarterback David Garrard will be sizing up a dangerous Louisville secondary as he checks off tonight. The Cardinals lead C-USA and are 11th nationally in interceptions with 14.

One reason the Cards’ coverage works is that the defensive ends, Michael Josiah and Dewayne White, put pressure on the pocket. They have 53 career sacks between them.

I hope the sprint draw is in the script for ECU tonight. That could slow down the bull rush in a hurry.

One factor worth noting is that the Cards are 9-1 against a schedule whose strength is rated No. 105 nationally in the Sagarin ratings. ECU’s strength of schedule is siginificantly higher, No. 67. The Pirates might well be 9-1 against the schedule Louisville has faced.

But even with a win tonight, the Pirates need to figure that they’ll have to beat Southern Miss starting at 11 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 23 to go to the Liberty Bowl. That’s because if Louisville were to lose to ECU and then beat TCU, it would be 10-2 and 6-1 in the league. If ECU beats the Cards and loses to USM, it is 7-4 and 6-1.

Which team would you choose if you are a Liberty Bowl executive?

Brigham Young is shaping up as the Liberty Bowl opponent for whichever of tonight’s adversaries gets there. The other could likely wind up in the GMAC Bowl in Mobile against Marshall.

“How often do you get to play one game to decide a championship, much less on national TV when you’re the only game in the country?” said Louisville coach John L. Smith. “What more can you ask for?”

What the Pirates could ask for is another good first half without a collapse after halftime.


Garrard has moved past Marcus Crandell for first place in career completions (627) and touchdown passes (59). ... Dave Barnett will do the play by play of the Louisville game on ESPN. ... ECU is 19-15 overall on nationally-televised games, including 2-0 this season. ... Leonard Henry is third nationally in rushing yards per game with an average of 141.4. His 8.7 yards per carry this season leads the nation. ... Pirates punter Jarad Preston leads C-USA with a 44.6-yard average. ... ECU is 47-5 under Coach Steve Logan when scoring 28 or more points, 31-6 when holding an opponent to 18 points or less. ... ECU is 31 of 32 in putting points on the board when it has the ball inside the opposition’s 20-yard line — 20 touchdowns and 11 of 11 field goals. ... The opening of the new strength and conditioning center has been pushed back to late December or early January. ... ECU averages 216.6 yards rushing per game, 14th nationally. ... ECU leads C-USA in points per game with 33.9. Louisville averages 30.5.


ECU needs to avoid turnovers and third-and-long situations. Louisville leads C-USA in turnover margin and has the league’s lowest conversion percentage for opponents on third down. Short passes, Henry’s running and perhaps a deep ball or two should get the Pirates to 6-0 in C-USA. Points from the defense or special teams would be a plus.

PREDICTION: East Carolina 31, Louisville 28.

Saturday, Nov. 17, 7:45 p.m.


State coach Chuck Amato beat his former boss at Florida State last week. This week, against the Terps, Bowden can help him out.

If State beats Maryland, the Terps and FSU would each have two league losses and the Seminoles would still be in contention for the BCS slot with a make-up game against Georgia Tech remaining.

Maryland can do no worse than a tie for the league title, its first since 1985.

Amato has been concerned about a letdown following last week’s stunning 34-28 win at FSU.

“That game is over,” Amato said. “It was a great game to win. It would be even greater if it was the last game of the year because right now I’d be in Florida recruiting.

“We have a team coming in here that’s awfully good. They are 9-1. Our kids know what is at stake. Maryland is going to come down here and will want to be 10-1 and be the outright ACC champion.”


Visiting teams are 18-13 in ACC games this season. ... The Terps lead the nation with 23 interceptions. ... Maryland leads the ACC with 32 rushing touchdowns. ... State has won its last three games and eight of its last 10 games with the Terps to take a 28-25-4 lead in the series. ... Maryland’s Bruce Perry is averaging 115.1 yards rushing, tops in the ACC. ... State is the first team to get two ACC wins over FSU and the first to win in Tallahassee. ... State sophomore quarterback Philip Rivers has 5,144 career passing yards and 39 career touchdown passes. ... Ray Robinson of NCSU has back-to-back 100-plus yard rushing games.


Turnovers will be crucial.

PREDICTION: Maryland 35, N.C. State 34.

Saturday, Nov. 17, Noon


In his three years at Clemson, coach Tommy Bowden has figured out the importance of the South Carolina game.

“I’ve always felt this was the biggest game of the year,” Bowden said. “In the whole realm of IPTAY (Booster) meetings and stuff like that, this is the big game.

"Recruiting, you could go on down the line as to why it’s big. An in-state rivalry is a lot more intense because there’s a good chance you have a family member or wife or husband that has either gone to that school or prefers the other school or has ties to the other school. It’s a year-round topic.”


South Carolina has some significant injured personnel coming out of the Florida game, including quarterback Phil Petty and linebacker Kalimba Edwards. ... The series has been played 99 times and has gone uninterrupted since 1909. ... Clemson leads the series 59-35-4 and has won nine of the last 12, including the last four in a row. ... Clemson quarterback Woodrow Dantzler leads the ACC in total offense with 312.1 yards per game. ... Lou Holtz is the only coach in NCAA history to lead six different programs into postseason bowl game.


Wish I knew more about those USC injuries, but I think the Gamecocks are due for a win.

PREDICTION: South Carolina 21, Clemson 17.

Saturday, Nov. 17, Noon


Four of Wake Forest’s five wins have come on the road as Deacons coach Jim Grobe has yet to win an ACC game at home.

“We’ve put ourselves in a position to give ourselves a chance at a bowl,” Grobe said. “As a coach you like to see your kids play their best football in November.”

Grobe saw some fine football in the second half at Chapel Hill last week as Wake rallied from a 24-0 deficit to shock the Tar Heels 32-31.

“The feeling that we had with that win was special,” said the Wake coach. “You don’t get that feeling with just any type of win. When you play a rival, that is an important win. When you win the way we did, down 24-0 and come back and win late, those are the special wins you never forget. I know our players and coaches will never forget that. The way we won made the locker room electric.”

Wake may have option quarterback Anthony Young back for this game.


Tech has an exceptional kicker, Luke Manget, who leads the ACC in scoring and has made a league record 122 straight PATs. ... Tech quarterback George Godsey threw for 486 yards in a 39-38 loss at Virginia last week. ... Wake back Tarence Williams has run for over 100 yards six times this season. ... The Deacs have allowed 10 sacks, the fewest in the ACC.


Because of a relatively-small fan base, Wake doesn’t have the same degree of home field advantage as some schools. Tech may win on Godsey’s poise under pressure and some hard running by Joe Burns.

PREDICTION: Georgia Tech 28, Wake Forest 21.

Saturday, Nov. 17, 1:30 p.m.


The streak Duke is dealing with in this one, other than its nation’s longest losing streak — now at 21 games — is that the Blue Devils have lost to the Tar Heels 11 straight times. Duke is coming off an open date.

“We went back and worked on fundamentals,” said Blue Devils coach Carl Franks. “Sometimes during the season, you work so much on other teams' schemes, you don’t get to work as much on fundamentals as you would like.”

Tar Heels coach John Bunting said he would start senior quarterback Ronald Curry, who was not available last week because of a cousin’s funeral.


Duke is the least-penalized team in the ACC with an average of 53.8 yards in penalties per game. ... UNC quarterback Darian Durant set school freshmen records of 361 yards passing and four passing touchdowns in the Wake game. ... Curry is UNC’s all-time leader in total offense with 5,832 yards.


Duke probably won’t be able to play a complete game and UNC is motivated to earn bowl eligibility.

PREDICTION: North Carolina 34, Duke 14.

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02/23/2007 01:03:27 AM

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