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College Football in the Carolinas
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View from the East
Monday, November 26, 2001

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Bowl Scenarios Proliferate

©2001 Bonesville.net

There’s not a Division I-A team in the Carolinas that isn’t either bowl eligible, within reach of bowl eligibility or in a position to affect someone else’s bowl eligibility.

South Carolina (8-3) and N.C. State (7-4) are waiting to find out their postseason destinations. East Carolina and Wake Forest, both 6-5, are hoping to land a bowl berth.

North Carolina (6-5) and Clemson (5-5) need wins this week to become bowl eligible. Duke (0-10) plays at Clemson with the possibility of ending its 22-game losing streak and keeping the Tigers home for the holidays.

The Pirates needed a win over Southern Miss to get a bid to the GMAC Bowl in Mobile, Alabama on Dec. 19, but five ECU turnovers led to a 28-21 loss to the Golden Eagles. That outcome cost the Pirates a share of the Conference USA championship and dropped them a spot in the State Line Power Rankings©. This week’s ratings:

State Line Power Rankings© [112601]

1. South Carolina ... Gamecocks have made big progress under Lou Holtz from 0-11 in 1999.

2. N.C. State ... Waiting for word on their postseason destination. Orlando? Atlanta? Seattle? Silicon Valley?

3. Wake Forest ... Deacons hope to get an at-large spot in the Silicon Valley or Humanitarian bowls.

4. East Carolina ... Is the season over or not?

5. North Carolina ... Tar Heels are 6-5, the record that got Carl Torbush canned last season.

6. Clemson ... Woody Danztler could only take the Tigers so far.

7. Duke ... There’s some promise for the future if very little hope for the present.

Looking at the teams individually:

EAST CAROLINA

Pirates athletic director Mike Hamrick was waiting for a phone call on Sunday night. The GMAC Bowl committee in Mobile, AL, was scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. Central Time (8 p.m. Eastern). The discussion was to center on the bowl's options from Conference USA for an opponent for Marshall at Ladd-Peebles Stadium on Dec. 19 at 8 p.m. on ESPN.

Hamrick didn’t get a call which could mean the GMAC will wait on the outcome of Southern Miss’ game Thursday night against Alabama at Legion Field in Birmingham.

A Golden Eagles victory would improve their stock to the point they could get a bid after the game. The Crimson Tide is also playing for bowl eligibility.

Southern Miss is 6-3 after its 12th win in 14 games against ECU in Greenville. The Eagles were turnover-free while the Pirates turned the ball over five times, including four times in their own territory, opportunities USM converted into 13 points.

The Golden Eagles were projected to be headed to the galleryfurniture.com Bowl in Houston, which ECU played in last year if ECU had prevailed in the Friday matchup at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

The Houston bowl is now thought to be interested in TCU if the Horned Frogs (5-5) become bowl eligible with a win at Southern Miss on Dec. 7. The bowl game at the Astrodome is Dec. 28.

What if TCU didn’t become bowl eligible — would that mean a return trip to Houston for the Pirates?

Cincinnati (6-4) looks like a good fit for the Motor City Bowl in Pontiac, MI, on Dec. 29 at noon on ESPN 2 against Toledo.

Another scenario is that, if UAB beats Pittsburgh on Saturday — keeping the Panthers from being bowl eligible — then the Big East wouldn’t have a team to fill its slot in the Tangerine Bowl and that Dec. 20 contest in Orlando might be interested in matching N.C. State and East Carolina.

It’s not necessarily whether your team is deserving. It’s often a case of how many tickets your fans will buy and how much money will they spend at the bowl locale. That factor gives ECU a shot at landing a bowl berth at 6-5 while UAB could likely stay at home with the same or better record.

“We were 8-3 in 1996 and stayed at home,” said Pirates coach Steve Logan. “It scarred me for life. I’ve always thought what poetic justice it would be if we went one year at 6-5 because we’ve been on the other side of that fence.”

A bowl game would give ECU’s younger players more developmental time in practices, an important factor for a program that loses quarterback David Garrard, running back Leonard Henry, and inside linebacker Pernell Griffin.

The pre-bowl interim would also give the Pirates a little more laboratory time to work on the issue of inconsistency that has plagued the team this year. ECU in the first quarter has seldom resembled the team that was on the field in the fourth quarter.

Then again, maybe fate will leave the Pirates at 6-5 this season rather than jeopardize a winning record against a Marshall team that appears to play all-out every down. Four straight winning seasons hasn’t happened since the Pat Dye coaching era at ECU and Dye left for Wyoming after the 1979 season.

Still, a lot of Pirate fans expected better than 6-5 this season with 15 starters returning.

“That tells you how far we’ve come when we’re disappointed with a winning season,” Logan said.

SOUTH CAROLINA

The Gamecocks took Thanksgiving week off after a 20-15 win over Clemson. USC will meet today as it awaits its second straight bowl bid, possibly to the Citrus Bowl on New Year’s Day against a Big Ten team.

The Gamecocks, currently No. 18 in both major polls, have been ranked for 14 straight weeks, a school record.

The time off has been beneficial. Coach Lou Holtz thinks injured players such as quarterback Phil Petty and linebacker Kalimba Edwards will be able to return for USC’s postseason action.

“Phil Petty’s shoulder is very sore and he’s pretty banged up,” Holtz said. “But the time off should allow him to heal. Kalimba tells me he should be back in a couple of weeks, but I didn’t ask him which medical school he graduated from. We’ll have to see about his status.”

This will be the 22nd bowl trip for Holtz. He planned to involve underclassmen in the initial workouts. That will also give the seniors some more time to convalesce.

“This is the format I’ve always followed in bowl preparation, so I think we’ll follow it again,” Holtz said.

Holtz said three of his assistants have been contacted by other schools regarding coaching vacancies but he didn’t specify which members of his staff were involved. Holtz himself has no plans to leave South Carolina.

“I think the only was I wouldn’t come back would be if they fire me,” Holtz said with a note of humor. “I have made a commitment to this university to get the program turned around. We’ve made some progress but we’re not there yet.

“I definitely plan on being back next year. I have no plans to resign or retire.”

Holtz spent Thanksgiving at a residence he has in the Orlando area.

“It’s been a long season and I use my home down here as kind of a retreat,” he said.

N.C. STATE

It was fitting perhaps that senior quarterback Olin Hannum finally got a chance to play on Senior Day as the Wolfpack defeated Ohio 27-7 on Saturday. Hannum rushed for 87 yards on 16 carries and scored his first career touchdown.

State’s starting quarterback, sophomore Philip Rivers, went out of the game with a hurt toe in the third quarter.

Hannum had wanted to get on the field so badly that he had volunteered for the kickoff coverage team. He gave State’s offense a running dimension that was lacking with Rivers.

“You don’t know if Olin is going outide, inside or if he’s going to throw the thing,” said State coach Chuck Amato. “When your quarterback becomes part of the running game, it’s tough to stop.”

Hannum knew he could provide problems for a Bobcats defense that had prepared to face Rivers.

“They get ready for Philip who is a drop-back passer and when I come in, I roll out and move,” Hannum said. “It’s two different offenses out there.”

State may get a bid to the Tangerine Bowl in Orlando on Dec. 20 or the Peach Bowl in Atlanta on Dec. 31. The ACC also has a slot in the Seattle Bowl on Dec. 27 that’s a possibility.

One scenario circulating before the Southern Miss-ECU game was that the GMAC and Tangerine would trade teams and match State and ECU in the Tangerine.

WAKE FOREST

The Deacons had leads of 17-0, 24-7, and 38-21, none of which proved safe against Northern Illinois, which rallied and had possession with Wake leading 38-35.

The Deacons finally made a stop and ran out the clock to improve their record to 6-5.

“They did it to me again,” said Deacons coach Jim Grobe, perhaps referring to a 35-7 lead at Duke that disappeared. “They just can’t make it easy for an old man. I give credit to Northern Illinois. They came out in the third quarter and we got into a dogfight with a good football team.”

Grobe should be getting used to close games. Wake’s last seven games and nine in all were decided by seven points or less. Barring a bowl loss, Wake would finish with a winning record for only the 11th time since 1953.

“It feels special,” Grobe said. “Certainly not many people expected us to do that our first year. It’s a tribute to our players. I feel like this season began back in the winter. We challenged them pretty hard.”

Tarence Williams ran for 140 yards against the Huskies, co-champions of the MAC West, to push his total for the season to 1,018 yards as he became the eighth player in Wake Forest history to run for over 1,000 yards in a season.

Wake is hoping for an at-large bid to a lower-tier bowl.

“It will be tough,” conceded Grobe, mindful of Wake’s relatively small fan base. “There are a lot of good teams in the ACC. If you could reward a team with a bowl game based on their effort, then this group ranks near the top of the country. I think we are very deserving of a bowl game, and it would be a blessing if we were selected to play another game.”

If not, senior wide receiver John Stone and classmates will have to feel good about the improvement Wake showed in its first season under Grobe after going 2-9 last year.

“It’s really big, especially having been on previous teams,” Stone said. “A winning record hasn’t come every season around here. Hopefully this team will be the beginning of making this program respectable in the ACC.”

Highlights for the Deacons were their first win by an ACC team in Greenville against East Carolina, a 20-10 win over Appalachian State in the last scheduled game in that series, Wake’s first victory over Virginia since 1983, and a comeback from a 24-0 halftime deficit for a 32-31 win over North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

Wake was 4-1 against in-state teams.

“We were a good team that never quit,” Stone said. “ We went out every Saturday and gave it our best.”

NORTH CAROLINA

The Tar Heels could get a Peach Bowl bid with a win over SMU in Chapel Hill on Saturday. That will be the last game for Mustangs coach Mike Cavan, who has been relieved of his duties, effective the end of the season.

The Mustangs were sufficiently inspired to defeat Rice 37-20 in their final home game of 2001 on Saturday, overcoming a 20-7 halftime deficit with 30 unanswered points in the second half.

“I told them not to play for me and the coaches,” Cavan said. “This win is not about me, it is about the kids. I’ll be fine, and so will the coaches. I am so proud of their effort.”

SMU junior quarterback David Page threw for three touchdowns and ran for another. Page completed 16 of 30 passes for 245 yards.

The Mustangs hosted N.C. State on Sept. 22 with the Wolfpack winning, 26-17. Since then, SMU has bounced back from an 0-4 start to win four of six games, including its last two, beating Tulsa 24-14 before rallying past Rice.

CLEMSON

The Tigers had a player receive All America honors and, remarkably, it wasn’t quarterback Woodrow Dantzler. Center Kyle Young, a hometown boy from the town of Clemson, was named a third-team All-American by The Football News, the same organization that accorded ECU’s Leonard Henry third-team recognition.

Young leads his team in knockdown blocks with 126, a Tigers record. He has been Clemson’s highest-rated blocker in nine of 10 games this season.

Young has already received his undergraduate degree and has been pursuing a post-graduate degree. He was named to receive a National Football Foundation scholarship in December, one of eight Division I players so honored.

Young is a candidate for the Rimington Award, which goes to the top center in college football. He has started 38 games in a row heading into Clemson’s home finale with Duke.

DUKE

The Blue Devils will make the trip to Death Valley without the use of tight end Mike Hart, who had to have ankle surgery after a second quarter injury in the game at North Carolina. Hart had a catch in every game during Duke’s current 22-game losing streak.

Duke is last in the ACC in total offense with 339.2 yards per game and last in the league in total defense, allowing 480.4 yards per game, but Coach Carl Franks feels encouraged about the future because of the number of freshmen and sophomores who have gotten significant playing time this season.

Sophomore Chris Douglas is averaging 79.7 yards rushing for the Blue Devils. Junior quarterback D. Bryant is averaging 217.1 yards per game passing.

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02/23/2007 01:03:31 AM
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