Posted on: November 4, 2010 2:57 pm
Edited on: November 4, 2010 3:03 pm
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 1, 2010 3:58 pm
Edited on: November 1, 2010 4:01 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
Virginia Tech running back Ryan Williams has not had the kind of season he was expecting after setting the ACC single-season rushing record as a redshirt freshman in 2009. A slight hamstring tear in the third game of the season has kept Williams out four games before finally returning to the field October 23 for a six carry warm up int he 44-7 victory against Duke. Williams has benefited from the Hokies' off week to continue to heal and prepare for Virginia Tech's primetime matchup with division rival Georgia Tech on Thursday in Blacksburg. After Saturday's practice, the sophomore running back announced himself "85-90 percent" healthy, but some particularly insightful analysis was offered by offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring.
"I thought he made some nice cuts," Stinespring said. "He hit a gear very quickly. I thought he turned it loose a couple times. If you'd have asked me up until this week, I always thought there was a little bit of hesitation in him. But (Saturday), I thought he felt good, looked good. Looked like he had a bounce in his step out there."
Williams' only two complete games all season were the Hokies' only two losses against Boise State and James Madison. At this point in the season, that 0-2 start seems like an ancient memory in the ACC. Since the joining the conference, Virginia Tech has consistently competed for division and conference titles week in and week out. The heart-wrenching loss to the Broncos and upset at the hands of their in-state FCS rivals have no effect on Frank Beamer's pursuit of his fourth ACC title since joining the conference in 2004. At this point, Virginia Tech controls their own destiny in the conference title race. Miami and Georgia Tech are tied for second place in the division with 3-2 records, and the Hokies face both opponents in the final stretch of the regular season. A win over Georgia Tech on Thursday would create a crucial advantage over Miami, allowing some breathing room before the Hokies have to travel to Coral Gables on November 20.
Posted on: October 29, 2010 12:00 pm
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 22, 2010 5:49 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
The Saturday Meal Plan is a helpful guide put together for you to maximize the results of your college football diet. Just enough to leave you feeling full, but not so much you spend your entire Sunday in the bathroom.
BreakfastMain Course - Northwestern vs. #8 Michigan State - Noon - ESPN
Michigan State leads the way for breakfast for the second straight week, which is what happens when you're the only undefeated team left in the Big Ten. Be forewarned, though, just because this matchup doesn't seem all that appealing, it...ok, it isn't really. It's just that the morning slate is light again because that's just the way things work in this television dominated world.
Still, the Spartans shouldn't take Northwestern all that lightly. First of all, no road game is easy, even if it's being played in a stadium with 35 people in it. Yes, Northwestern inexplicably dropped a game to Purdue last week, but that's Northwestern's style. It has a tendency to play to its opponents. So there's a chance that the Wildcats could hand MSU it's first "Sparty, no!" of the season.
Side Orders: Ohio State hosts Purdue, and this game may be interesting for a few reasons. First of all, it's our first chance to see how the Buckeyes will respond following a loss, and they'll also be looking for revenge for last season's loss in West Lafayette. Speaking of revenge, I'm sure Notre Dame wouldn't mind beating Navy and starting a new trend there as well. Or you can just watch Texas, West Virginia and Virginia Tech romp over some conference foes.
LunchMain Course - #5 Auburn vs. #6 LSU - 3:30pm - CBS
Two undefeated Tigers roll into Jordan-Hare on Saturday, and only one will emerge. Who is it going to be? Well, there are going to be two different games being played in this one. There's the game between each team's strength -- Auburn's offense and LSU's defense -- and their weakness -- Auburn's defense and LSU's offense.
Odds are that whichever team's weakness best resembles a strength is going to emerge victorious, and have a much easier path to the SEC title and possibly a BCS game. If you're wondering which way I'm leaning, well, I'll just say that one team has Cam Newton at quarterback and the other has some indecipherable combination of Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee.
Also, I'll be doing a live-chat during this game over at our Facebook page, so stop on by and make fun of Les Miles for four hours with me, won't you?
Side Orders: The afternoon is packed with some big games this week. If for some reason two undefeated teams battling it out isn't good enough for you, you can always go with Iowa and Wisconsin or the also undefeated Oklahoma State taking on previously undefeated Nebraska.
Main Course - #18 Missouri vs. #3 Oklahoma - 8pm - ABC
Personally, I've been waiting to dig in to this one for a while. I've seen Missouri play a few times this season, and as I've said here before, I'm just not sure what to make of them. The Tigers are a good team, but are they really 11th in the BCS good? Is that what a couple of victories over some 3-3 BCS teams and nobody else gets you these days?
Whatever the case, we'll find out on Saturday night. If the Tigers can knock off the team that sits atop the current BCS standings, then I guess we have to take them seriously.
Though, I feel I should point this out as well, just so Missouri fans can hate me a little less, I think Oklahoma is a bit overrated as well. Still, I think the Sooners will prove to be better on Saturday night.
Side Orders: Bit of an light night on the menu this week. There really aren't any other marquee matchups being played on Saturday night. Kentucky and Georgia could be interesting seeing as how both teams are still alive in the SEC East, but other than that the only game that even catches my eye is TCU and Air Force. Though, if you hate yourself, you could always tune in to Texas A&M and Kansas.
Late Night SnackThe Washington Huskies have found a home as a late-night snack here. I've featured them here twice in the last few weeks, and they're undefeated in those games. Can they run the streak to three on the road against an Arizona team that is without Nick Foles?
Tags: Air Force, Arizona, Auburn, Cam Newton, Georgia, Iowa, Jarrett Lee, Jordan Jefferson, Kansas, Kentucky, LSU, Michigan State, Missouri, Navy, Nebraska, Nick Foles, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Purdue, Saturday Meal Plan, TCU, Texas, Texas A&M, Virginia Tech, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin
Posted on: October 18, 2010 6:41 pm
Edited on: October 18, 2010 6:59 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
The Midseason Report separates the contenders from the pretenders in each conference race. The Seminoles and Hokies are leading the way in the ACC for now, but the conference race is wide open should one of them drop a game. Quite frankly, with the way the ACC has been this year, we're counting on that happening at least once.
Florida State (4-0)(6-1) - The Seminoles are back in their familiar place atop the ACC, but their inconsistent gives reason for concern in Tallahassee. While their 45-17 rout of the Hurricanes in Coral Gables showed off a stellar defense and smash-mouth running game, they followed that by squeaking out a 24-19 win at home against Boston College. Florida State, particularly quarterback Christian Ponder, could not seem to take care of the ball against the Eagles. Ponder's three interceptions nearly equaled his total for the season coming into the game, and for the first time this year there were murmurs from FSU fans about benching the preseason ACC POY candidate. Regardless, the Seminoles are undefeated in conference play, and they really have one big hurdle left on the schedule. A win against N.C. State on Thursday night in Raleigh could give the kind of separation in the division to lock up the division barring a complete meltdown. Of course, we can never rule that out.
North Carolina State (2-1)(5-2) - Two losses in the last three games have calmed some of the buzz around the Wolfpack, but they are still just as much in the ACC title hunt as they have been all season. Russell Wilson has looked far more human than usual, throwing eight interceptions in those three games, but that will likely change when the Seminoles visit on Thursday night next week. Wilson has a history of stepping up in big games, and none will be bigger than Florida State. Not only would a win close the gap, but it would give the Wolfpack the advantage in the event of a tiebreaker. Additionally, it would only leave trips to Clemson and North Carolina as their greatest challenges. While those are both far from guaranteed, they are winnable games for this year's squad.
Maryland (1-1)(4-2)/Clemson (1-2)(3-3) - For the most part, the ACC Atlantic is a two-headed race for now. But should either/both of the teams slip, the Terrapins and Tigers will be hoping for a chance to contend. Clemson faces an issue of already picking up their second conference loss with N.C. State and Florida State still left on the schedule. Their best chance to make it interesting is for the Seminoles to lose in Raleigh, and for the Tigers to run the table in the conference. The problem with the Terrapins is that they are not a very good football team. "Fluke" does not accurately describe a scenario that puts them in the conference championship game. "Anomaly" is more appropriate.
Virginia Tech (3-0)(5-2) - The nation may have forgotten about the Hokies after Week 2, but head coach Frank Beamer clearly did not. Since the upset loss to James Madison, the Hokies have gone 5-0 and are averaging a 21.4 point margin of victory in those games. Sophomore David Wilson has exploded in Ryan Williams' absence, and Tyrod Taylor has been given the keys to the offense with at least 240 yards of total offense in the last four games. Their road to Charlotte is not obstacle free, but no one in the Coastal has an easy ride from here. The Hokies still have trips to North Carolina and Miami, but get the Yellow Jackets at home on a Thursday night. With "Enter Sandman" blaring and Lane Stadium on their feet for the primetime showdown, I have a hard time seeing the Jackets pulling the upset.
Georgia Tech (3-1)(5-2) - Georgia Tech has not looked as dominant as the conference champions from a year ago, but they find themselves in a familiar spot at the season's midpoint. Georgia Tech has not been winning pretty, but they are finding a way. That may not last for long with their conference schedule getting significantly more difficult in the coming weeks. Road games at Clemson and the aforementioned showdown with Virginia Tech stand in the way between Georgia Tech and a return to the ACC Championship game. If they do happen to pull the upset in Blacksburg, there will still be a home date with Miami that could decide the division. Georgia Tech has the tools and opportunity to defend their division, but it will all come down to execution on the field.
Miami (2-1)(4-1) - Similar to Virginia Tech, the Hurricanes may be considered a "bust" in the national scene, but still are very much in contention to win the ACC Championship. Unfortunately for Miami fans, the team has not looked the same since their 30-21 victory at Clemson. After getting embarrassed at home by Florida State, Miami needed 7 forced turnovers from their defense to beat Duke 28-13. However, there is not a better chance to get back on track than with a pivotal division victory, and they will get that chance on Saturday against North Carolina. A win over the Tar Heels at home could put them back on track to challenge Virginia Tech for the division crown. The Hurricanes and Hokies have a showdown in Coral Gables on November 20 that should carry huge conference championship implications, so go ahead and circle your calendar.
North Carolina (2-1)(4-2) - After a depleted roster started the season 0-2, the Tar Heels have rattled off four straight wins and become relevant in the ACC again. They suffered a huge loss in the victory against Clemson, losing Zach Pianalto for the season with a broken leg. Pianalto was the Tar Heels' leading receiver and favorite target of quarterback T.J. Yates. Yates has put up phenomenal numbers so far, averaging 249 yards per game and throwing for 11 touchdowns and only 1 interception. If the rest of the North Carolina receivers can step up in Pianalto's absence, the Tar Heels have a chance at making a run. It won't be easy, but it is still a chance. North Carolina still has road games against Miami and Florida State, and have to host Virginia Tech and N.C. State at home. Butch Davis is 0-3 against the Wolfpack, and there is a good chance that the late season showdown between in-state rivals will carry serious weight for both teams.
Posted on: October 16, 2010 11:14 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
1.) Florida State is sitting in the driver's seat of the Atlantic Division - With Florida State holding off Boston College to hang on for a 24-19 win, the Seminoles increased their conference record to a league best 4-0. The field continues to look more even by the week, and the Seminoles' four conference victories gives them a significant leg up on the other teams in the Atlantic Division. The Seminoles' now get a week off to prepare for one of their biggest challenges in the division: a Thursday night showdown with N.C. State in Raleigh. A win over the Wolfpack would put Florida State in prime position to make a run at their second appearance in the ACC Championship Game.
2.) Russell Wilson does have flaws, and they can be costly - Russell Wilson has been the lifeblood of the N.C. State offense for the last three seasons, and there is no reason to blame the Wolfpack's recent losses, but Wilson's last couple outings games have been oddly interception-heavy. Wilson has thrown eight picks in the last three games, two of which have been N.C. State losses. Wilson is one of the reasons that Tom O'Brien has been able to build the Wolfpack into ACC contenders, but his performance in the last couple weeks has not lived up to hype surrounding Wilson during most likely his last season with the Pack.
3.) North Carolina is quietly charging back into the contenders conversation - With all the troubles off the field, it has been difficult for North Carolina fans to focus on a bounce back that has made the Tar Heels relevant again in the ACC. With double-digit players being held out, North Carolina dropped their first two games to LSU and Georgia Tech by six points apiece. Since then, the Tar Heels have rattled off four straight wins to move into a tie for 3rd place in the ACC Coastal. T.J. Yates has been playing some of his best football since his freshman year, throwing for eight touchdowns, 1,170 yards, and only throwing one interception so far in the 2010 season. They still have the most challenging part of their season left, but considering all the absences the Tar Heels have made impressive strides to re-enter the national conversation.
4.) Someone has to go to the Orange Bowl, but who? - Most teams are only a couple games into conference play, but with seven teams boasting one loss or less the race for the conference title is still wide open. Florida State and Virginia Tech are clearly the leaders of each division, but one slip either division could be up for grabs. As mentioned above, Florida State - N.C. State game on October 28 will go a long way to setting up the Atlantic Division. Virginia Tech still has Georgia Tech at home, and away games against Miami and North Carolina keeping them from locking up the Coastal Division. With more than half of the conference still in contention, every conference game left on the slate will carry weight in the chase for the 2010 ACC Championship.
For more breaking news and analysis follow us on Twitter @CBSSportsNCAAF or subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: October 11, 2010 3:32 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Virginia Tech guard Greg Nosal's got our respect this week, after an injury that certainly sounds ghastly (more on that in a bit) couldn't keep him off the field against Central Michigan this week.
As the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports, Nosal had his left pinky smashed between two helmets during the first quarter on Saturday, and the resulting injury includes a detail that you won't be able to get out of your brain, oh, ever:
At some point in the game, Nosal got one of his pinky fingers caught between two helmets. The tip of the finger was severed – from the middle of the fingernail up. Tech’s medical staff found that piece inside Nosal’s glove.
Emphasis ours. Now, okay. That sounds horrible. Very horrible. But oddly enough, for all the nerve endings in the fingers, a severed fingertip isn't as debilitating and painful injury as it sounds. I'd know because one night, a dear old friend caught his index finger in a window as he was closing it, and suffered almost the exact same injury, save for a strip of skin keeping it attached. Oh, also if you're squeamish, you shouldn't have read that.
My friend was in a good amount of pain, and he knew right away that he should go to the emergency room, despite my protestations that he'd be fine and he just had to sleep it off (important note: alcohol, as they say, was a factor). But even right when he hurt his finger, he was never in agony or hysterics or anything like that. So if the question is "can you imagine playing football after that?!", the answer is "Yeah, probably, if you still felt like playing."
Also, for the record, Nosal's finger was kept on ice until after the third quarter, at which point the trainers removed him from the game and sewed it back on. He'll be pinky-swearing again in no time.
(Hat tip: Dr. Saturday)
Posted on: October 10, 2010 1:07 am
Edited on: October 10, 2010 2:09 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
1. Florida State Is In The ACC Driver's Seat - Everyone seemed to bail on the Seminoles after getting run by the Sooners, but Florida State is actually sitting pretty well after steamrolling the Hurricanes 45-17 in Miami. The FSU committee-style running game continues to succeed, with the Seminoles racking up 298 yards rushing against Miami. Jermaine Thomas rushed 16 times for 78 yards and two touchdowns while sophomore Chris Thompson added 14 carries for 158 yards and a touchdown. The Seminoles may not be the air-attack that was projected before the season, but they are still dangerous.
2. No Reason To Panic In Raleigh - Emotions run high the N.C. State fan base, and as great as things looked before the Virginia Tech game, the Hokies did their best to pop the Wolfpack's balloon with their 41-30 come from behind victory. But no need for worry, the Wolfpack are right back on track with their 44-17 rout of Boston College on Saturday. Russell Wilson was grooving, completing 38 of 51 passes for 328 yards and three touchdowns. No worries, one home loss does not mean N.C. State is still not a dangerous threat in the ACC.
3. The Tar Heels' Unlikely Hero - North Carolina running back Johnny White's journey has taken him all over the field for the Tar Heels in his career. White has lined up at running back, wide receiver, defensive back, and on the coverage team in his tenure at Chapel Hill. In the midst of NCAA investigation-related suspensions, White has emerged as one of the cornerstones of the North Carolina team at starting running back. White continued his run in the 21-16 victory against Clemson with 89 yards rushing and 90 yards receiving with two touchdowns. White was not expected to contribute like he has, but the senior has stepped up in tumultuous times for the Heels.
4. Virginia Tech's BCS Hopes Are Not Dead - Another team that got written off early, the Virginia Tech Hokies are still alive after falling out of the polls early in the season. With a 2-0 conference record, the Hokies are still at the top of the ACC, competing for a spot in the Orange Bowl. After last week's comeback win against N.C. State and the 45-21 deconstruction of Central Michigan, VT has the confidence back to step up and reclaim their spot among the nations elite. No Ryan Williams has been no problem for Beamer's crew, with Darren Evans and David Wilson rising to the occasion in his absence.