Tag:N.C. State
Posted on: November 7, 2010 9:39 am
Edited on: November 7, 2010 9:45 am
 

What I learned from the ACC (Nov. 6)

Posted by Chip Patterson

1. Yes, Bowers is the type of the player that can alter a game -
In the second half against N.C. State, Clemson's defensive line pinned their ears back and came after Wolfpack quarterback Russell Wilson like a pack of wild dogs. They were led by defensive end Da'Quan Bowers, who took jumped ahead as the nation's sack leader with his 11th and 12th sack on the season. Bowers commanded much of the offensive line's attention, and the Tigers were able to force Wilson to throw several balls away, especially down the stretch. The Tigers offense tried desperately to give away Saturday's matchup with the Wolfpack, but the defense refused to let Clemson's division title hopes fizzle away completely.

2. ACC Atlantic is a game of Yahtzee! - After last week's upset of Florida State, the Atlantic Division race got flipped upside down with N.C. State, Maryland, and the Seminoles all carrying one-loss conference records into Week 10. None of the three teams were able to establish a lead on the division race on Saturday, all losing their conference contests. Now with the division leaders all having two conference losses, Clemson is back in the mix to return to the ACC Championship Game. The good news is that each team, for the most part, will get to prove their worth on the field in the final weeks of the season. Florida State faces Clemson and Maryland, N.C. State faces Maryland, Wake Forest, and North Carolina, and Clemson also travels to Winston-Salem to face the Demon Deacons. As of right now, I'm giving the edge to Florida State. The Seminoles look like they could easily handle the Terrapins, and with the schedule left that seems to be the opponent that could decide things in the division. Which of course means that Ralph Friedgen's crew COULD win the division, but the "eye-test," the "ear test," and "conventional wisdom" in general says that the Terrapins are likely not going to be competing for a BCS bowl berth in December.

3. North Carolina simply refuses to die - After the Tar Heels' 37-35 upset of Florida State on Saturday, North Carolina head coach Butch Davis appeared choked up as he spoke about the resiliency of this year's squad. After missing as many as 15 players due to suspensions and investigations, and six of those players being deemed ineligible for the year, North Carolina finds themselves bowl eligible for the third straight year under Butch Davis. Neither injuries nor suspensions have kept the Tar Heels from finding ways to win, with the entire squad buying into the "next man up" mentality. When Davis was forced to work his way down to the fourth string running back, sophomore Hunter Furr delivered three crucial rushes for 27 yards to help set up Casey Barth's game-winning field goal. There is a lot of ground between the Tar Heels and the division-leading Hokies, but Virginia Tech will be in Chapel Hill next week to try and lock up a spot in the ACC Championship Game. After seeing the product the Tar Heels put on the field in Tallahassee, that task could be more difficult than previously expected.

Posted on: November 6, 2010 4:45 pm
Edited on: November 6, 2010 4:48 pm
 

Bowers becomes sack leader in Clemson win

Posted by Chip Patterson

Clemson's Da'Quan Bowers broke out last season, catching the eye of coaches and scouts despite struggling with a knee injury.  It was speculated that when healthy, Bowers could be one of the best defensive ends in the nation.  In Saturday's 14-13 upset victory over N.C. State, Bowers continued to make his case for arguably THE best defensive end in the nation.  With his two sacks on Wolfpack quarterback Russell Wilson, Bowers stands alone as the nation's sack leader with 12 on the season.

The efforts of Clemson's defense were crucial in the second half against N.C. State, keeping Wilson and the rest of the offense out of the end zone in the final three quarters.  Neither offense flashy, particularly in the second half, and both teams combined for five turnovers.  Wolfpack fans will head coach Tom O'Brien's decision to punt on 4th and 1 following Clemson's go-ahead touchdown with 6:18 remaining.  By the time the Wolfpack got the ball back on their own 15, there were no more timeouts and Clemson was able to send Bowers and the rest of the Clemson defensive line right at Wilson, frustrating the star quarterback and forcing several incompletions.  

Bowers, as he does each week, dedicated the game to the memory of his father and former Clemson defensive end Gaines Adams.  His father passed away in early August and Adams, the Clemson's career sack leader with 28, died tragically in January from a cardiac arrest due to an enlarged heart.  With 16 career sacks, Bowers would likely need to return for his senior season to chase Adams' record.  But with more performances like Saturday, I believe the opportunities at the next level will be difficult to turn down.
Posted on: November 4, 2010 2:57 pm
Edited on: November 4, 2010 3:03 pm
 

UNC Chancellor: Davis didn't know of violations

Posted by Chip Patterson

Ever since the investigations of the North Carolina football program began this summer, head coach Butch Davis has been placed on a permanent hot seat.  At the peak of the drama many believed that there was no chance that Davis would be the head coach of the Tar Heels in 2011, with some even believing he would be gone by season's end.  But Davis did not crumble under the pressure, and faced each challenge one week at a time with a constantly evolving (and often depleted) depth chart.  Instead of waiting on the results of the investigation, Davis decided to hold out any players who might later be deemed ineligible.  While that led to many players missing games they did not need to miss, it also ensured (to the best of his ability) the integrity of the five wins the Tar Heels have accumulated so far this season.  

Davis' confidence in the program has been mistaken by some as blind faith, but that blindness to the wrong doings within the program may be what saves his job.  University Chancellor Holden Thorp spoke on the issue Thursday with the Board of Governors, and (for the moment) stood behind the Davis as the leader of the football program. 

"There's no information to indicate that he participated in or knew of any wrongdoing," Thorp told the Raleigh News & Observer.  "Mr. Baddour and I are not having meetings deciding his future. He's our football coach."

Now at 5-3 with a 2-2 conference record, the Tar Heels are two games out of first place in the Coastal Division.  While a division title is not highly likely considering the opponents left on the schedule, it is not entirely out of reach.  The Tar Heels travel to Tallahassee this weekend to face an angry Seminoles team looking to bounce back from a loss to N.C. State last Thursday.  Things won't get any easier either, after that North Carolina will host Virginia Tech and N.C. State in back-to-back weeks.  How the Tar Heels fare in this three week stretch of currently-ranked teams will determine if/where the Tar Heels go bowling.  Their final contest of the season, against Duke in Durham, should be a one-win safety net.  But you can't count on anything in late-season rivalry games, especially in the parity-filled ACC.
Posted on: November 2, 2010 11:15 am
Edited on: November 2, 2010 11:17 am
 

Kyle Parker era at Clemson winding to a close?

Posted by Chip Patterson

Kyle Parker became the toast of Clemson, SC with his decision to return to the gridiron for one last season with the Tigers.  The sophomore quarterback was drafted 26th overall by the Colorado Rockies this summer, but agreed to a contract that would allow him to play one more season of football at Clemson.  Both Parker and head coach Dabo Swinney have maintained that the deal, worth $1.4 million, has had very little to do with any football decisions once Parker committed to the team in August.  At the beginning of the season,  there were the makings of a heroic final run for the baseball standout.  Parker started the first three games tossing six touchdowns and just one interception, and had an impressive 220 yard performance in a 27-24 overtime loss to now top-ranked Auburn.  In that game against the Tigers, Parker was beat up by Auburn's defense and sustained a rib injury.  Since then it has been a different Parker under center.  In the month of October, Parker threw just two touchdowns and five interceptions in five games. 

After Saturday's 16-10 loss to Boston College, Swinney has begun to consider the future with his quarterback decisions in 2010.  Backup quarterback Tajh Boyd told the Charleston Post and Courier on Monday that he has been told he will play on Saturday against N.C. State.  Swinney met with the redshirt freshman for about 30 minutes on Monday, and while he did not promise any number of series or snaps, did tell Boyd to be ready to play against the Wolfpack.  At this point in the week Parker is still the Tigers' starter under center, but with the nagging injuries and drop-off in performance it is not surprising to see Swinney start to look towards grooming the replacement for the baseball star.
Posted on: October 31, 2010 6:52 pm
 

Clemson's bad weekend worse as Ellington out

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

This was already a flatly terrible weekend for Clemson , who were held scoreless for the final three quarters on the road Saturday at Boston College and lost 16-10 . The win snapped a five-game BC losing streak and handed the Eagles their first ACC win of the season; it also snapped a modest two-game streak for the Tigers and dropped them to 2-3 in conference play. With three different teams (N.C. State , Florida State , and Maryland ) all sitting on one loss at the top of the ACC Atlantic, Clemson's hopes of an ACC championship are all but kaput already, and the Clemson natives who'd hoped upset losses like this one left with former coach Tommy Bowden are getting restless .

Today's news, unfortunately for Dabo Swinney , is not going to make yesterday's loss any easier to take :



Andre Ellington has only been Clemson's most consistent, most explosive offensive threat this year, leading the team with 642 yards, 10 rushing touchdowns, and a 6.3 yards-per-carry average that ranks ninth in the country for running backs with more than 100 carries. Quarterback Kyle Parker has never looked shakier than he did against Boston College -- when he averaged a miserable 4.5 yards for each of his 39 attempts and threw a pair of back-breaking interceptions, one a hopeless duck into a crowd of Eagles to ruin a promising fourth-quarter drive -- but Swinner won't have any choice but to lean on him more heavily until Ellington returns.

Jamie Harper (418 rushing yards, 5.23 yards) isn't a bad fallback at tailback, but he hasn't yet been able to reproduce what Ellington has brought to the table. With three of Clemson's final three opponents (N.C. State, Florida State, and South Carolina ) currently ranked, Parker will have to take a major step forward to get his offense moving again, and if doesn't, the 4-4 Tigers could find themselves bowl-ineligible for the first time since 1997.

Posted on: October 29, 2010 1:33 pm
 

Below the Radar: three other games to watch

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Every week there's plenty of interesting matchups -- no, really -- that don't feature ranked teams and don't make anyone's "must-watch" list other than the team's fans. Here's three of them you should keep an eye on regardless (all times Eastern)
:

East Carolina (5-2, 4-0) at UCF (5-2, 3-0) , 3:30 p.m. It's a straight-up, head-to-head battle for first place in Conference USA 's East division, but there's plenty of other reasons to pay attention to what ought to be the C-USA game of the year. With Houston 's Case Keenum out for the season and Southern Miss having already lost to ECU at home, these appear to be the best two teams in the conference; the Pirates have the league's best nonconference win, over Florida State conquerors N.C. State , but UCF boasts C-USA's stingiest defense by a mile. Both teams have brand-name playmakers in elusive ECU quarterback Dominque Davis and explosive UCF defensie end Darius Nall. Thus far this season ECU has specialized in winning barnburners (51-49 over Tulsa , 44-43 over Southenr Miss) and this should be another tight contest on the road in Orlando, but with starting quarterback Rob Calabrese out, expect the Golden Knights to play things as close to the vest as possible.

Cal (4-3, 2-2) at Oregon State (3-3, 2-1), 3:30 p.m. His brother may be lost for the season, but any time Jacquizz Rodgers suits up for the Beavers, it's worth paying attention to. Beyond that, despite their nonconference losses at TCU and Boise State , the Beavers can still have a major say in the Pac-10 race with a win here; they'll play host to both USC and Oregon and must still travel to take on Stanford . Cal, meanwhile, has been more up-and-down than a yo-yo taken for a bungee-jump. After destroying Arizona State a week ago (a week after being destroyed at USC), they'll be expected to fold at Corvallis. But if you look past the margin of defeat, there's no particular shame in losing in Los Angeles, or at Arizona or Nevada . Both teams will still feel like their season to-date is a success with a win ... but both might also start to feel like the year might be a lost cause with a loss. The game promises to be a turning point for both.

Michigan (5-2, 1-2) at Penn State (4-3, 1-2), 8 p.m. It's pretty simple: at some point, Rich Rodriguez must start winning Big Ten games that aren't against Indiana to keep his job. (Against all other Big Ten teams, he's lost his last 11 in a row.) There's no time like the present, what with the Nittany Lions giving a sophomore walk-on his first start and their banged-up front seven looking like an excellent matchup for a fully-armed and operational Denard Robinson . On the other sideline, last week's win at Minnesota stopped the bleeding for Joe Paterno and Co., but a second straight home defeat to one of the conference's middle-of-the-pack teams -- particularly one with a Swiss cheese defense like the Wolverines' -- is not going to sit well with the Happy Valley faithful. Both teams will feel like they have reason to win this game, and as with the matchup above, the victor will wind up with plenty of reason to feel good about itself going forward. But the loser is going to have some very, very difficult questions to answer.

Posted on: October 29, 2010 12:00 pm
 

ACC doomed to go without at-large bid again

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's always one of the first factoids cited whenever the ACC 's lack of strength is a topic of discussion, even ahead of "Wake Forest won the league championship within the past decade": the ACC has never earned an at-large bid to the Bowl Championship Series . 12 years, 12 whiffs, 12 missed paychecks worth millions of dollars and 12 missed opportunities to grab some kind of foothold of respect within the sport.

The talking points in the immediate wake of N.C. State 's dramatic 28-24 win over Florida State last night were that the Wolfpack had stolen away control of the ACC Atlantic and that Russell Wilson 's sudden return to form means they just might keep it. But what shouldn't be missed is that the loss all but guarantees the ACC will go yet another season without an at-large BCS bid.

That's because the Seminoles were the conference's only halfway viable candidate. Virginia Tech has taken two losses already, one to FCS James Madison in the season's biggest upset to-date. Neither Maryland nor the Wolfpack have the kind of cachet to pull in TV ratings over similar programs from other conferences (not to mention their pair of losses each). Miami was embarrassed in defeats to Ohio State and the 'Noles. Etc.

After their early-season thumping at Oklahoma , you wouldn't have said the Seminoles were a favorite to land a BCS at-large berth, but as long as they kept winning, they would be in the mix. They still have name-brand recognition dating back to the Bobby Bowden glory days. They play an exciting brand of balanced offensive football led by a high-profile star in Christian Ponder . Most importantly, they had just the one loss and the remaining schedule (home against North Carolina and Clemson , at Maryland , home to Florida in what could be a key ACC-SEC triumph) to make the leap into the BCS top 10, even the top 5. If the 'Noles ran the table but lost in the ACC title game to, say, the Hokies, they would have received a long look from bowls like the Sugar and Fiesta .

But a hypothetical three -loss FSU team? With non-AQ bid snatchers like Boise State and TCU around, not to mention the likes of Ohio State, the Auburn-Alabama loser, or a Big 12 team like Nebraska or Oklahoma ? Forget it. This isn't the year, either, and every one that passes with the BCS millions going places other than the ACC makes it that much harder for the conference to break through next year.

It's fair to say the ACC powers-that-be weren't begrudging N.C. State their raucous celebration after the victory last night. But if any Wolfpack fans happened to stumble onto a sour and depressed-looking ACC official in the aftermath, here's to hoping they weren't begrudging that official his bitterness and disappointment, either.

Posted on: October 28, 2010 10:16 am
Edited on: October 28, 2010 10:19 am
 

ACC Title Hunt Update - Week 9 Preview

Posted by Chip Patterson

As the regular season winds to a close, we'll break down the conference races and let you know what scenarios are needed for your favorite team to grasp that automatic BCS berth.  In the ACC, we'll shake down each division race first then make an insanely premature prediction.  Agree? Disagree? Got any good haikus? Leave 'em all in the comments section below.

Atlantic Division

Florida State (4-0) (6-1)
N.C. State (2-1) (5-2)
Maryland (2-1) (5-2)
Clemson (2-2) (4-3)
Wake Forest (1-3) (2-5)
Boston College (0-4) (2-5)

Week 9 Preview 
Florida State dodged a near upset on their own turf to Boston College, but the Seminoles have had a week and a half to take a look at what went wrong and prepare for Thursday night's primetime showdown against N.C. State in Raleigh.  This game is usually a nail biter, with eight of the last nine contests being decided by ten points or less, but N.C. State particularly likes facing a ranked Florida State squad.  Two of the last three times Florida State has visited Carter-Finley Stadium while ranked in the Top 25 they have been knocked off by the Wolfpack, and with the division on the line Florida State can count on seeing the best out of their opponent.  The Wolfpack are looking to bounce back from a loss to in-state rival East Carolina, but has also had an extra week to tend to their wounds and prepare for Florida State.  With a win, the Seminoles could give themselves an extra game of separation from N.C. State and the Clemson, the defending division champs.

Clemson travels to Chestnut Hill to face Boston College, who is still searching for that first conference win.  But the Eagles have lost their last two division games by a combined eight points, and will be looking to get over the hump.  The Tigers, on the other hand, can not afford any more conference losses if they plan on having a shot to play for the ACC Championship again in 2010.  Maryland hosts Wake Forest, a team who's only victories have come against Presbyterian College and a 45-38 shootout at home against Duke.  Maryland has had an incredibly favorable conference draw this season, and it will likely lead to a bowl berth.  But judging by the talent on the field, the Terrapins are not quite on the same level as Florida State, N.C. State, and Clemson.  Still, with an upset of Miami next week the Terrapins could make the title hunt very interesting in the ACC.  I predict the Wolfpack to pull off the upset Thursday, but with so many tough conference games left I think even a one-loss Seminole squad will emerge from the Atlantic Division.

Atlantic Division Week 9 Winners - N.C. State, Clemson, Maryland
Atlantic Division Favorite - Florida State


Coastal Division

Virginia Tech (4-0) (6-2)
Miami (3-1) (5-2)
Georgia Tech (3-2) (5-3)
North Carolina (2-2) (4-3)
Virginia (0-3) (3-4)
Duke (0-4) (1-6)

Week 9 Preview
This weekend is a calm week in the Coastal Division, with Georgia Tech and division leader Virginia Tech both off on Saturday.  The only division matchup of the week will feature Miami traveling to Charlottesville to face Virginia.  Barring an out-of-character performance from the Cavaliers, the Hurricanes should carve up the weaker Virginia defense and have no trouble picking up their fourth conference victory.  It is imperative for the Hurricanes to avoid any slip ups down the stretch in order to set up a potential informal ACC Championship play-in game with Virginia Tech November 20 in Coral Gables.  A win over Virginia moves Miami just a half-game behind the Hokies, and even if Virginia Tech continues their undefeated ways Miami could steal the tiebreaker with a head-to-head win.  The spoiler in that scenario is Georgia Tech, who could create even more tiebreaker mayhem with wins over both teams in the coming weeks.

Duke and North Carolina both will be playing out-of-conference matchups on the Week 9 slate.  The Blue Devils travel to Annapolis to face the Naval Academy, while the Tar Heels will host William & Mary for Homecoming.  The Tar Heels are not out of the Coastal Division race, but it is going to take some help for a two-loss team to win the division.  Particularly, a two loss team who lacks the head-to-head advantage over Miami and Georgia Tech.  The Tar Heels have yet to face Virginia Tech, N.C. State, and still have to travel back to Florida to face the Seminoles.  Considering the type of year the Tar Heels have gone through, a postseason berth should feel like a success. But with all the talent that has missed time on the field, Tar Heel fans will still be asking "What if?" for years to come.

Coastal Division Week 9 Winners - Miami, North Carolina
Coastal Division Favorite - Virginia Tech


Insanely Premature ACC Championship Game Prediction - Virginia Tech 20, Florida State 14
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com