Tag:UNC
Posted on: December 26, 2011 8:23 pm
Edited on: December 26, 2011 9:02 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Missouri 41, North Carolina 24

Posted by Chip Patterson

MISSOURI WON. The Tigers scored on their first five offensive drives, and never gave North Carolina a chance to come back on the the way to a 41-24 win in the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl. Missouri quarterback James Franklin delivered another impressive dual threat performance - picking up 132 yards and a touchdownthrough the air while adding 142 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.

HOW MISSOURI WON: North Carolina's offense never had a chance to get in a rhythm, with the Tigers' defense applying pressure to quarterback Bryn Renner and shutting down the Tar Heels' rushing attack. North Carolina picked up just 36 team rushing yards against Missouri, well below their regular season average of 147.4 yards per game. But that defense also benefited from the efficiency of Franklin and the offense. The Tigers scored on every offensive possession in the first half, and did not punt until the 7:16 mark in the third quarter. While the defense was delivering stops, the offense continued to grind away at the Tar Heels and create scoring opportunities by converting on key third downs. The extended drives kept the Tigers in the driving seat, all the way until the end. The victory gave the Tigers their sixth-straight 8-win season, and some great momentum on their way into the SEC East.

WHEN MISSOURI WON: Midway through the second quarter, North Carolina's defense needed to deliver a stop to keep the Tigers from scoring after a Gio Bernard fumble. Staring down a short field, Franklin converted on 2 third downs in the 40 yard drive on the way to increasing the Missouri lead to 24-7. On the Tar Heels' next play from scrimmage, a Dwight Jones bobbled catch turned into an astonishing interception for Tigers' defensive back Zaviar Gooden. At that point, it was clear things weren't going North Carolina's way.

WHAT MISSOURI WON: A fine highlight to show to their future conference partners in the SEC. James Franklin's performance against a talented North Carolina defense showed how comfortable he has gotten leading this Tigers' offense. Now with four-straight wins since Henry Josey's freak knee injury, Franklin has displayed the composure Missouri will need facing the SEC defenses in 2012.

WHAT NORTH CAROLINA LOST: North Carolina's roster has several NFL Draft hopefuls, but none of the prospects got much to put on tape from Monday night's loss. There was some speculation heading into the game that the talented draft class would look to make a statement in their final game as a Tar Heel. For whatever combination of reasons, the Tar Heels missed out on the opportunity to pick up their second-straight bowl victory because they didn't show up.

THAT WAS CRAZY: The aforementioned Dwight Jones bobble interception.  It was just one of those moments when the ball seemed to bobble forever, and the ease with which it fell to Gooden made you believe this was not North Carolina's day.

FINAL GRADE: B-minus. Franklin was still producing impressive plays on his feet well into the fourth quarter, and North Carolina's brief offensive explosion in the third quarter kept it interesting. But the Tar Heels' unenthusiastic showing in general took some of the luster of this matchup. Missouri was decidedly dominant throughout the game, and there was very little in doubt after the second drive of the game. .

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Posted on: December 20, 2011 6:19 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2011 11:52 am
 

After eligibility scare, UNC WR cleared for bowl

Posted by Chip Patterson

UPDATE: North Carolina learned on Wednesday that Dwight Jones has been cleared to play in the Independence Bowl by the NCAA.


North Carolina's preparations to face Missouri in the Independence Bowl may include a situation that does not involve leading receiver Dwight Jones.

The school declared the senior wide receiver ineligible for the Dec. 26 bowl game after Jones allowed his name and image to be used to promote a New Years Eve party (flyer pictured right) in Burlington, N.C. - Jones' hometown.

NCAA rules prohibit athletes from allowing their name or image to be used to promote off-campus events by for-profit businesses. The popular Burlington nightclub using Jones' image and promoting him as a "2012 NFL projected top draft pick" for the party that includes 24 free shots on the hour "compliments of D.Jones" caused the All-ACC wide receiver to commit a secondary violation. Jones has canceled the party, and the process to regain eligibility began with his official statement on Tuesday.

"I apologize to my teammates, the coaching staff, and the university for the poor decision I made to allow my likeness to be used in the promotion of a party given by a family member while still a part of the Carolina football team," Jones said in a prepared statement. "I should have asked the coaching staff or administration before allowing this to happen."

The school has applied to the NCAA for Jones' reinstatement, and they expect to hear an answer before the team will departs for Shreveport on Thursday.

"Coach [Everett] Withers and I met, and Dwight realizes he made a mistake," UNC athletics director Bubba Cunningham said in a prepared statement. "Dwight has cancelled the party and we have submitted a reinstatement request with the NCAA."

Jones was one of the premiere wide receivers in the ACC this season, pulling in 79 passes for 1,119 yards and 11 touchdowns. He is listed as the No. 9 wide receiver in the 2012 draft class according to NFLDraftScout.com.

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Posted on: December 6, 2011 12:23 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2011 11:41 am
 

Feldman: Larry Fedora agrees to UNC job

Posted by Chip Patterson

UPDATE (12/6): Sources have told CBSSports.com's Bruce Feldman Southern Miss head coach Larry Fedora has "agreed in principle" to become the next North Carolina head football coach.


 
After dismissing Butch Davis just days before the opening of 2011 training camp, North Carolina has reportedly chosen a successor.

Inside Carolina is reporting that Southern Miss head coach Larry Fedora will likely become to the next head football coach for the Tar Heels, following his 11-2 Conference USA title season with the Golden Eagles. Fedora's name was also reportedly in the mix for Texas A&M, Kansas, and Arizona State.  According to the report "multiple sources have reason to believe a deal is in place," though the deal has not been finalized.

Fedora interviewed for the Texas A&M position on Monday evening, and was reportedly given a Tuesday deadline for the North Carolina offer

Southern Mississippi was Fedora's first head coaching stop after serving as an offensive position coach at Florida under Ron Zook and offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State under current head coach Mike Gundy. Since arriving in Hattiesburg, Fedora has taken the Golden Eagles to four straight bowl games and compiled a 33-19 overall record.

After Davis' dismissal, North Carolina promoted defensive coordinator Everett Withers to interim head coach. Withers was officially considered a candidate for the permanent head coaching position, but his future with the program is uncertain with these latest developments. As the interim, Withers led the Tar Heels to a 7-5 record and a berth to the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl in Shreveport to face Missouri. Despite the success of a winning season and fourth straight bowl appearance for North Carolina, the tone regarding Withers' future soured as the Tar Heels dropped four of their final six games to finish with a 3-5 record in conference play.

What do you think of North Carolina's new hire? Let us know at the new Eye On College Football Facebook page.

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Posted on: November 15, 2011 3:20 pm
 

Keys to the Game: North Carolina at Virginia Tech

Posted by Chip Patterson

VIRGINIA TECH WILL WIN IF: They create turnovers and dictate the pace of the game. One thing Virginia Tech has done as well as anyone in the conference is hold on to a lead. It is not always pretty, as shown in the Hokies' 14-10 victory over Duke, but for the most part the ability to control the ball and shut down offensive drives has helped keep Virginia Tech at the top of the division. As the clock winds down in the second half, the Hokies will force their opposition to start taking chances in order to get back into the game. That's when Bud Foster's defense thrives, forcing turnovers and coming up with a stop in a crucial situation. The Tar Heels have lost three of their last four, and looked shaky outside for their win against Wake Forest. If Virginia Tech can get a first half lead and rattle Bryn Renner early, they could set themselves up for second half turnovers to ice the game.

NORTH CAROLINA WILL WIN IF: Logan Thomas and David Wilson are neutralized. This may be done with on-field performance or it may happen by sickness/injury. But if Thomas and Wilson are given the freedom to get going offensively North Carolina will not have much of a chance on the road in Blacksburg. Ball control has been an essential part of several Hokie victories, so running back Gio Bernard will need to get the ground game going to keep drives alive. The Tar Heels need to revert back to their performance against Wake Forest, when the offense put up 562 yards of offense and 49 points on the Demon Deacons. Bryn Renner was calculating and accurate with the ball, completing 21 of 28 passes for 338 yards and three touchdowns. North Carolina's offense needs to get that type of production in order to knock off the Hokies at home.

X-FACTOR: North Carolina's secondary. Logan Thomas has been streaky with his ability to consistently get the ball to his receivers for four quarters. However, the North Carolina secondary has been equally inconsistent and burned for a big play more times than Everett Withers would care to count. If North Carolina's secondary steps up to the challenge and makes the Hokies one-dimensional, and North Carolina's rush defense is one of the best in the ACC. If Logan Thomas gets hot playing pitch and catch, he could end up burning the Tar Heels deep with a big play. Something North Carolina cannot afford to give up against an opponent like Virginia Tech.

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Posted on: November 3, 2011 12:05 pm
Edited on: November 3, 2011 2:06 pm
 

Withers, O'Brien exchange verbal jabs in rivalry

Posted by Chip Patterson

On Saturday, North Carolina and NC State will kickoff the 101st meeting of the in-state rivals. The Wolfpack have owned the rivalry as of late, with head coach Tom O'Brien boasting a 4-0 record against the Tar Heels. Former head coach Butch Davis always seemed to play down the rivalry between the two schools, which are separated by just 27 miles of Interstate 40. But interim coach Everett Withers has re-ignited the smack talk between he two schools, taking shots at NC State's academic environment in an appearance with Joe Ovies of 99.9 The Fan ESPN Radio - based in Raleigh, N.C..

“When you have as many schools in this state as you have and the recruiting base gets watered down a little bit, I think the kids in this state need to know ‘the flagship school,” Withers said in the Wednesday interview. “They need to know it academically. If you look at our graduation rates opposed to our opponent this week’s graduation rates for football, I think you’ll see a difference. If you look at the educational environment here, I think you’ll see a difference.” 

Interesting quotes from the head of a program that just a week ago appeared in front of an NCAA Committee on Infractions to address violations - some of which were related to academics. Perhaps Withers, a lifelong North Carolina native, is more passionate about the rivalry with the four in-state schools in the ACC than his predecessor. There are some facts behind his jabs (UNC boasts higher graduation rates in the football program) but the point seemed to be good old fashion smack talk.

This smack talk was not taken kindly by N.C. State head coach Tom O'Brien, who responded to the comments on Thursday following the Wolfpack's practice. O'Brien usually does not allow himself to get caught up in off-field matters like this, but he was clearly set off by Withers' comments

“As far as the flagship, here was a guy (Withers) who was on a football staff that ends up in Indianapolis." He went on to say, “You have an agent on staff, you are paying players & you have academic fraud. That's a triple play."

O'Brien also addressed the alleged academic issues at North Carolina, where players have been reportedly given plenty of exceptions from teachers and even department heads.

“At our school, number one, all classes have a syllabus. Our guys go to school, they are not given grades, and they graduate.” 

While North Carolina leads the rivalry 63-31-6, NC State has claimed 7 of the last 11 meetings. Five of the last eight contests have been decided by one score or less. But for the first time since John Bunting and Chuck Amato were on the sideline, this rivalry has hate once again.

Audio of the quotes can be found at WRALSportsFan.com

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Posted on: October 31, 2011 12:19 pm
Edited on: October 31, 2011 1:01 pm
 

Surveying the Field: Reviewing Week 9



Posted by Bryan Fischer


As much as Saturday's classic battle between Stanford and USC was about Andrew Luck's Heisman hopes and the Cardinal's national title dreams, it was hugely important for the man pacing the home sideline with a laminated playcard.

Yes, USC lost, there's no denying what really matters and what the game will represent in the media guide years for now. But, when combined with the way the Trojans beat Notre Dame last week and their inspired-but-not-quite-good-enough play against Stanford, I think we can finally come to one conclusion about Lane Kiffin that we couldn't beforehand: he can coach. We're still not sure if he can win quite yet, but the question marks about his coaching abilities have been answered.

Given his record, 12-21 with the Oakland Raiders and at Tennessee, it was easy to be skeptical about Kiffin. His resume had an impressive collection of jobs before he turned 34 but he still couldn't shake the label that he was riding on the coattails of his father Monte and Pete Carroll. The NCAA violations and brash nature while with the Vols only enhanced negativity. Last season's 8-5, 5-4 in the Pac-10, record didn't answer any questions. He was blown out by Oregon at home and lost to a lowly Oregon State team in Corvallis on top of three losses by seven points. His offensive unit was good but struggled at times. Jokes about him firing his father for the Trojans' defensive woes had some truth behind them.

2011 wasn't a make or break year but it was important to Kiffin and the USC program as a whole to take another step back to where they were under Carroll despite being under the cloud of NCAA sanctions. The disrespect was evident when the Trojans were a nine point underdog in South Bend despite the Irish's penchant for turning the ball over in big games.

As celebrated as Brian Kelly was in his first season, he came into the game with a 12-7 record while Kiffin was one game better at 13-6 at USC. The tone was set early last week with an impressive opening drive to quiet the Notre Dame crowd and the Irish were never really back in the game after that.

Afterward, Kiffin was elated in the locker room and was extra happy to ruin a game Kelly had built up to be the Super Bowl for his team. He acknowledged it was the biggest win since he arrived in Los Angeles and he was right, in his second season he finally had a marquee victory.

Coaches and players vehemently dislike the term 'moral victory' because they understand the bottom line: you still lost. Still, there are plenty of positives in defeat and we learned a few about USC this week after the three overtime loss to Luck and the Cardinal.

The defense is not terrible like we thought it was. It's not great by any stretch but the defensive line can put pressure on the quarterback, the linebackers are quick enough to make plays in space and the secondary is young but rounding into form. On offense, Matt Barkley and Robert Woods have something special going on, the offensive line has exceeded expectations and the running game has come into its own the past few weeks.

USC didn't win on Saturday but they came close and that counts for something against a team that had reeled off 10 straight wins by 25 or more points. Luck, the best quarterback in the country by far, looked human at times and the USC offense looked like it was on the cusp of being great.

Lane Kiffin will still be thought of negatively, especially in the South, but he's answered a few of his critics' questions this season. He can coach and he can coach offenses that put up points. Now is the time to win the big, big game that his predecessor was known for. Kiffin's insistence after the game about calling out the referees for the final play of regulation - "They lied to me," he said Sunday - knowing that a reprimand from the Pac-12 was coming was taken by some to be whiny but I saw what some of his players did - that he'd fight for them until the battle could no longer be won, and even a little more. Even in retrospect, his play call of a tunnel screen to Woods doesn't look as terrible as it was when you consider he had two timeouts and the play was designed to go up field.

The last time USC lost a triple overtime game to a Bay area team they went on a historic run. No one is saying the same will happen under Kiffin, especially as the program begins scholarship reductions this season, but it's a good omen.

Last Saturday the Coliseum was rocking, the team was playing well and the coach wasn't a question mark. Kiffin can coach, now it's time to see if he can win big games.

Stat of the week

Via the Associated Press, Texas Tech is second team since 1989 (when the AP Poll expanded to 25), to go from no votes to ranked to no votes in three weeks. The other was Washington after they beat USC in 2009.

Stats of the week

- Five Big 12 teams are ranked 90th or worse in total defense, complete with Kansas being the worst in the country giving up 555 yards and 49.5 points per game. That might explain why three of the top five passers in the country are from the conference. The Jayhawks also only had 46 yards of total offense this week.

- Two candidates for most disappointing team of they year, Texas A&M and Notre Dame, are 110th and 118th respectively in turnover margin.

- Despite running so much, Georgia Tech is a third-down machine. They have the fifth-most third down attempts in the country yet are converting on 57.6% of them, best mark in the country by nearly 2%.

- The much maligned Michigan defense has taken a leap in several categories under Greg Matison but perhaps the most important: they lead the country in red zone defense. The Wolverines have only allowed 13 scores all year from inside the 20.

- If you had to guess who leads the country in time of possession, you'd probably start with a Georgia Tech or an Army. It's actually Texas, who holds onto the ball for over 35 minutes per game.

- After facing Oklahoma State, Baylor's defense dropped from 97th in total defense and 101st in scoring defense to 108th and 115th. Missouri went from 29th and 25th in the two categories to 51st and 46th. Texas went from 24th and 47th to 30th and 56th. Bottom line, your defense won't look too good in the stats after facing the Cowboys.

- Auburn is 289-4 all time when scoring 30-plus points. One reason why Gus Malzahn is being paid $1.3 million a year.

- This is the first time Georgia has beaten Florida and Tennessee in the same year since 1988. There are only three players on the Bulldogs' roster that were born before then. The Gators' four game skid is the first of any kind at the school since 1988 and first in the SEC since 1979, when head coach Will Muschamp was eight.

Yard-by-yard

- It was only a matter of time before the Manhattan Miracle came to an end. Oklahoma had been shocked the week before by Texas Tech and Kansas State was the unwitting opponent they took it out on. Landry Jones threw for a school-record 505 yards and five touchdowns, impressive considering the quarterbacks that have been churned out under Bob Stoops recently. His favorite target, Ryan Broyles, also moved into first place on the Big 12 career receiving list. Not all was crimson Saturday however, as running back Dominique Whaley fractured his ankle on the very first play of the game. Though overwhelmingly a passing team, the balance that the running game had with Whaley will be missed unless the Sooners find someone to step up. Kansas State will have to regroup after the Big 12's previously top-ranked defense was shredded by Jones. They rallied in the second quarter but that was about the only time the Wildcats could get something going.

- Say what you want about Oklahoma State's 111th ranked defense but they bottled up Robert Griffin III, shutting Baylor out in the first half and allowing just one score in the red zone all game. The 622 yards allowed is concerning but they allowed a good chuck of the yards when the game was well out of hand. It seemed like the Cowboys were going to be locked in a tough one once the Bears drove down to the one-yard line on their first drive but the defense held and the offense drove 99-yards for a touchdown to set the tone early. After that, it was like Mike Gundy's squad was shot out of a cannon. Particularly impressive was running back Joseph Randle, who had 152 yards and four touchdowns to lead a rushing attack that rolled up over 300 yards for the first time in over two years. It's hard to look at the Cowboys and see anybody but Oklahoma stopping them from booking a trip to New Orleans.

- It seems to happen every game but it does seem concerning that Oregon led Washington State by only five points before taking care of business in the second half in a 43-28 win. The big news was the return of LaMichael James and Darron Thomas, who both started. James ran for 53 yards and wore a brace after dislocating his elbow a few weeks ago. Thomas was a little shakier, tossing two interceptions before being pulled for backup Bryan Bennett. Was it rust? Hard to say but you can't say it wasn't a factor after being limited in practices the week before. There's likely not much of a quarterback controversy but there's no question the Ducks need Thomas at 100% if they want to beat Washington, Stanford or USC. Freshman De'Anthony Thomas was a bright spot, perhaps extra bright in Oregon's yellow "bumblebee" uniforms, taking a kickoff 93-yards for a touchdown and scoring on a 45-yard pass.

- People joke about Case Keenum putting up video game numbers in Houston's offense but that's exactly what he did Thursday, throwing NINE touchdown passes as the Cougars routed Rice 73-34 despite the rainy conditions. It wasn't the start Keenum and the offense wanted, with an interception and having a fumble returned for a touchdown to put themselves in an early hole. But then the rain seemed to lighten up and the record-setting quarterback took over from there. His fifth touchdown toss moved him past former Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell to set the FBS-record for career TD passes and he proceeded to throw four more just for good measure. "Those are video game numbers, something we couldn't get stopped," Rice linebacker Justin Allen said. "The rain slowed down a little bit ... I wished it would have rained all game. It stopped, and they got things cranked up. There was no looking back for them." Keenum should set another record next week with 267 yards to become the FBS leader in career passing yards. Undefeated and somewhat untested, it looks like Houston is on their way to a special season. They have serious issues on defense but the offense will continue to put up eye-popping numbers.

- Tom O'Brien's hot seat status is fiery hot right now after losing to Florida State 34-0. The Wolfpack managed only 166 yards on offense and were shutout for the first time in three years. They weren't just beat by FSU, they were pushed around like they were Duke. T.J. Graham, one of the few bright spots for N.C. State this year, was bottled up and held to just 116 all-purpose yards. Given the way he handled the Russell Wilson situation and the way the season has gone, don't be surprised when there's a second coaching search going on in the triangle during the offseason (UNC being the other).

- It's time to give JoePa props for coaching Penn State to an 8-1 record. The defense, of course, is the story and the backbone of the team, shutting out Illinois for three quarters but the Nittany Lions had just enough on offense to get by with a 10-7 win. It was a sloppy affair for both teams but Joe Paterno picked up win No. 409 to move become the winningest coach in Division I. They are the ultimate Rodney Dangerfield "No respect" team right now.

- Is there a team more bipolar than Syracuse? A week after throttling West Virginia at home, the Orangemen looked terrible against Louisville, losing 27-10. They beat Toledo thanks to an officiating error, barely lost to Rutgers and barely beat Tulane, then have alternated between great and horrible the last two weeks. They certainly look like they're going to another bowl game this year but if you're Doug Marrone, you have to be concerned with the lack of consistency. On the other side, Louisville posted back-to-back Big East wins for the first time since 2006 and are still in the thick of things in the muddled conference race. Teddy Bridgewater continues to progress and this young team is making steady progress.

- As a few people joked on Twitter, Missouri proved that an SEC East team can beat an SEC West team with the Tigers 38-31 overtime win against Texas A&M. Any joy Aggie fans have over the move to a new conference is being ruined by their team's play on the field, blowing a 14 point lead at home this time around after doing the same against Arkansas and Oklahoma State. Missouri is better than their .500 record suggests and Henry Josey has been a revelation at the running back spot - so much so that he looks like the all-Big 12 pick at his position. James Franklin still makes a bone-headed play from time to time but the offense is still better than expected with the first-time starter running the show. Still, what once was a season of promise for Texas A&M has been anything but and doesn't get better with a trip to Norman.

- Impressive game by the Blackshirts as Nebraska muzzled Michigan State's offense in a 24-3 win in Lincoln. NU defensive backs turned in their best game of the season, being physical off of the line and forcing Kirk Cousins into missing all but four of his first 16 passes. He finished the day with just 86 yards a week after a 290 yard, three TD performance. Taylor Martinez and Rex Burkhead paced the Cornhuskers' offense and looked like they are finally earning their ranking with a dominating win.

- Iowa, really? Minnesota is one of the worst teams in the country and you lose 22-21? There's not much to explain really. The same goes for Texas Tech, getting trounced at home by Iowa State. CBS Sports' Bruce Feldman was in a state of disbelief everytime he checked the score of either game and that pretty much sums up what everybody else was thinking.

- Late in the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party (which the politically correct will know is Georgia-Florida), SI.com's Andy Staples and I both turned to each other and said that the Bulldog's four point lead would be insurmountable for the Gators offense to overcome. Special teams was another story but the offense? It just couldn't move the ball for their life. The personnel just isn't there to give them any schematic advantage. Hats off to Mark Richt though, who has won six straight and certainly helped his cause.

- Was shocked to see that Texas ended a FIVE game losing streak at home against Kansas this week. It's not saying much against that Jayhawks defense but the Longhorns still rushed for an impressive 441 yards in a game that few people saw on the Longhorn Network.

- Welcome to the Pac-12 win column Utah, who beat Oregon State at home 27-8.

- Clemson finally pulled a Clemson against Georgia Tech. Tevin Washington, after a string of bad games, rushed for 176 yards and was the triggerman for the option offense that jumped out to a 24-3 lead thanks to several Tigers turnovers. It was an impressive showing by Georgia Tech's defense against the explosive Clemson offense, which had come into the game scoring points at will. Considering how shaky the Yellow Jackets had looked on that side of the ball coming in, only a few believed they could pull off the upset which ended any hope of the ACC putting a team in the BCS championship game.

- Go ahead Braxton Miller, take a bow. The true freshman sparked a last-second win that gives Ohio State some life after upsetting Wisconsin. According to reporters after the game, Miller apparently winked at head coach Luke Fickell before the final drive and said "We're all right." That's special. Coming out of high school, Miller showed he had enough talent and moxie that many people compared him to former Heisman winner Troy Smith. The 40 yard pass to Devin Smith with 20 seconds left had to be the play of the year for a Buckeyes team that had been through so much. One has to wonder if they had held on against Nebraska what our view of this team would be.

Tweet of the week

"How impressive was Texas vs. KU? UT had more total yards (590) than current subscribers to Longhorn Network."

- CBSSports.com Senior Writer Brett McMurphy.

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Fisch's Finest

1. LSU

2. Alabama

3. Oklahoma State

4. Stanford

5. Boise State

6. Oklahoma

7. Oregon

8. Clemson

9. Arkansas

10. Nebraska

Where we'll be this week

Brett McMurphy will be in Stillwater to see BCS contender Oklahoma State host previously undefeated Kansas State. Dennis Dodd and Bruce Feldman will both be in Tuscaloosa for the game of the season, LSU-Alabama.

Leaning this way

Kansas State at Oklahoma State

It's almost unfair for one of the great stories in the first half of the season, Bill Snyder's Wildcats, to face the Big 12's two best teams on back-to-back weeks so all we'll say is good luck trying to stop the Cowboys offense. We have a feeling that Kansas State, which dropped 31 spots in total defense after facing Oklahoma, will struggle unless the offense plays keep away and doesn't turn the ball over.

South Carolina at Arkansas

On paper this is a top 10 match up but in reality both teams a bit overrated. Arkansas' defensive issues, especially in the first half, have contributed to closer than expected wins over Ole Miss and Vanderbilt. South Carolina has a good defense but the offense has struggled to score for six week outside of the Kentucky game. It's at home so the edge goes to the Hogs unless Alshon Jeffrey (finally) has a breakout game.

LSU at Alabama (CBS, 8 PM ET)

The showdown of the season is what everybody will have their eyes on Saturday night. The strength of both teams is clearly their defenses so this will come down to who can break open a big play on offense or special teams. There are more home run threats on the Tide and it's in Tuscaloosa but anybody picking against LSU has to know that doing so means going against Les Miles. Should be a great one.

Posted on: October 24, 2011 8:44 pm
 

UNC S Merletti (knee) done for the season

Posted by Chip Patterson

North Carolina's secondary takes a big hit with the loss of senior safety Matt Merletti for the rest of the season. The school announced on Monday Merletti will undergo surgery within the next two weeks to repair a sprained MCL and ACL, suffered in the loss to Clemson on Saturday. Merletti has already received one medical redshirt, and the injury likely ends his career with the Tar Heels.

"Obviously that's a big loss. It's really a hard blow for me, having coached him and been real close to him," said interim head coach Everett Withers. "We'll try to keep Matt around to help coach some of the rest of our guys."

Merletti was the team's defensive captain, and considered one of the leaders in the secondary. He will likely be replaced by either Gene Robinson or Tre Boston in the starting lineup. The Tar Heels secondary is talented, but their inexperience has shown at times during the season. With high-powered Wake Forest coming to town on Saturday, North Carolina needs to be disciplined to avoid being beat by the big play.

Elsewhere in ACC injury updates…

Clemson running back Andre Ellington will be limited in practice this week after suffering a left ankle sprain in the win over North Carolina. CBSSports.com's Travis Sawchik reports the junior running back is likely to play against Georgia Tech Saturday night.

While Miami cornerback Brandon McGee returned to practice on Monday and is likely to play against Virginia Thursday night, starting offensive tackle Jon Feliciano is doubtful. Feliciano embarrassingly suffered the injury while celebrating a touchdown with a chest-bump.

Maryland starting linebacker Kenny Tate will apply for a medical hardship waiver after being ruled out for the season with an undisclosed injury. "I recently had a chance to sit down with Coach Edsall, my family and the medical staff to discuss my options," Tate said in a statement. "This is the best course of action to get healthy."

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Posted on: October 22, 2011 3:40 pm
Edited on: October 22, 2011 4:10 pm
 

QUICK HITS: No. 7 Clemson 59, North Carolina 38

Posted by Chip Patterson

CLEMSON WON. North Carolina kept things close in the first half, but six Tar Heel turnovers and a 35-point third quarter turned this conference matchup ugly fast as the Tigers poured on the offense in a 59-38 victory. Tajh Boyd kept the fireworks going until the starters took a seat, completing 27 passes for 367 yards and five touchdowns, a rushing touchdown, and no interceptions.

HOW CLEMSON WON: While standout freshman Sammy Watkins has been stealing headlines this season, Saturday was truly a team effort from Clemson's offense. Fourteen different skill position players got touches on Saturday, but few had the impact of DeAndre "Nuke" Hopkins. Hopkins led the Tigers with nine receptions for a career-high 157 yards and a touchdown. He was one of five Clemson receivers to see the end zone in the blowout victory.

WHEN CLEMSON WON: After halftime, the Tigers made adjustments that paid off on the field in the third quarter. It only took the Tigers just over two minutes of game time to go 66 yards in five plays for the first of five touchdowns in the third quarter. Even when North Carolina kick returner T.J. Thorp took ran back a kickoff for a touchdown to cut Clemson's lead to 14, the Tigers answered with a Sammy Watkins 42 yard touchdown on the very next drive.

WHAT CLEMSON WON: More confidence in their ability to outscore the opponent. Tight end Dwayne Allen reportedly marched up and down the sideline at Maryland declaring they would score however many times they needed, and it looks as though they'll be able to do that on most of their remaining schedule. Only Georgia Tech's ability to keep the ball out of the Tigers' hands presents a real threat when looking at the rest of Clemson's conference schedule.

WHAT NORTH CAROLINA LOST: A lot of confidence in their offense. As explosive as Clemson offense was, North Carolina did a lot to keep themselves from winning on Saturday. The Tar Heels offense converted on only two of 12 third downs, going through almost three entire quarters without converting any. There were also six turnovers and nine penalties to add to the list of frustrations for interim head coach Everett Withers.

THAT WAS CRAZY: Clemson's high scoring effort was boosted by not one, but TWO touchdowns from redshirt senior defensive lineman Kourtnei Brown. The first pick six helped Clemson gain some momentum after being tied at 10 earlier in the second quarter, but the fumble recovery touchdown was adding insult to a 3+ touchdown lead. Making Brown's day even more impressive was tipping the pass that became Renner's third interception of the day.



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