Tag:North Carolina
Posted on: October 30, 2011 4:16 pm
 

ACC poll reactions, Week 9

Posted by Chip Patterson

This week's polls have been released. Here's how the ACC fared, from the top of the polls to the bottom, and what it means.

(AP/Coaches)

11/12. Clemson

Clemson takes an expected tumble from their Top 10 rankings after suffering the 31-17 loss to Georgia Tech. The challenge for head coach Dabo Swinney is to take this young Tigers team and help them avoid letting Saturday's disappointment derail the season. Thanks to Wake Forest's loss to North Carolina, Clemson still controls their own destiny in the ACC Atlantic Division and could end up facing the Yellow Jackets again in the ACC title game.


12/11. Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech likely benefited from their 14-10 victory over Duke flying below the radar on an otherwise busy college football Saturday. The game featured six turnovers, 12 combined penalties, and four missed field goals. The only consistency for the Hokies offensively was David Wilson (23 carries, 148 yards) in a performance that saw the last Virginia Tech point get scored five minutes into the second quarter. Virginia Tech and Clemson battling just outside the Top 10 feels appropriate considering their current status in the national landscape. Georgia Tech will try to play spoiler once again to the Hokies, who must travel to Atlanta a week from Thursday and avoid the same trap that tripped up Clemson.

22/23. Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech reappears in the rankings thanks to their well-publicized upset of No. 6 Clemson at home on Saturday night. Head coach Paul Johnson suggested that fatigue may have been a factor in the recent losses, and adjustments were made to the practice schedule heading into the primetime showdown. Now the Yellow Jackets get a much-needed off week to get healthier and prepare for another crucial ACC conference matchup against Virginia Tech. A win against the 1-loss Hokies would give the Yellow Jackets the head-to-head tie breaker against the current leaders in the ACC Coastal Division.

Others receiving votes:Florida State received some interest from the voters in both polls following yet another 25+ point victory over a conference opponent, while North Carolina received a few points in the Coaches Poll.

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Posted on: October 30, 2011 4:28 am
 

ACC Winners and Losers: Week 9



Posted by Chip Patterson


A handy recap of who really won and who really lost that you won't find in the box score.

WINNER: Georgia Tech's ACC title hopes

"I know a lot of people are disappointed that wrote us off," head coach Paul Johnson said after the game. "Let us finish the season before you do our tombstone."

The Yellow Jackets were reeling. Their offense was sputtering, and pundits nationwide had hopped off the Yellow Jackets' bandwagon following their 3-2 start in ACC play. But head coach Paul Johnson and defensive coordinator Al Groh know all too well how fast things can change for the better - or for the worse. Georgia Tech dominated time of possession and their defense forced turnovers from a young and hasty Clemson offense that, for the first time in several games, showed their youth. With leading rusher Andre Ellington (ankle) sidelined, Georgia Tech's defense capitalized on fumbles from both D.J. Howard and Mike Bellamy to give the ball right back to Tevin Washington. Washington's 176 rushing yards (most ever by a Georgia Tech quarterback) displayed the preparation by Georgia Tech's staff and players. Just two weeks ago Maryland quarterback CJ Brown burned the Tigers' defense with his legs, forcing the 56-point performance to secure the win.

But this was not Maryland's defense, this was Al Groh's swarming and opportunistic unit. Credit the linebackers and secondary for manning up with Clemson's playmakers and taking advantage when Tajh Boyd began to force throws into coverage. As Clemson failed to chip into Georgia Tech's lead as the game extended, the urgency turned to recklessness for the Tigers. The Yellow Jackets smelled blood, and when it was time to deliver a play defensive back Jemea Thomas was in the end zone to snag the interception and seal the win.

Georgia Tech now gets a much-deserved week off before hosting Virginia Tech on a Thursday night in Bobby Dodd Stadium. Considering what we saw from the Yellow Jackets and the Hokies, it is fair to say the game could serve as an unofficial ACC Coastal Division title match. If Georgia Tech can win out in conference - including a defeat of No. 15 Virginia Tech - they win the division thanks to the head-to-head tiebreaker.

LOSER: Clemson's BCS title hopes

It's hard to say that "Clemson pulled a Clemson" with their 31-17 loss to Georgia Tech on Saturday night, because a ton of credit goes to Georgia Tech for their preparation and execution. But the loss does likely knock Clemson out of contention for a shot at the national championship. The Tigers will fall from their position in the Top 5 of the BCS and now refocus on winning the ACC Atlantic Division. With Wake Forest and NC State left on the conference schedule, the Tigers can win out and earn a bid back to the ACC Championship Game in December. Winning the title game will put the Tigers in their first-ever BCS bowl game. It won't be the title game in New Orleans, but it will be a big step for Dabo Swinney and this young Clemson squad.

WINNER: David Wilson

Virginia Tech did not do much to impress the voters with their 14-10 victory, but when it comes to the ACC standings the only thing that counts is wins. With the road in on Saturday, the Hokies improve to 8-1 and maintain their hold on first place in the ACC Coastal Division. Ugly wins have become of a reoccurring practice for Frank Beamer's squad in 2010, with the win over Duke looking eerily similar to East Carolina, Marshall, and Boston College. One similar aspect to those wins, and most of the Virginia Tech games this season has been the production of junior running back David Wilson. For the eighth time this season, Wilson led the way offensively for the Hokies with 120+ rushing yards. It has become Virginia Tech's M.O. in 2011: establish a lead, then let a Wilson-led ground attack eat up the clock while Bud Foster's defense creates turnovers and delivers stops. It's not pretty, but it has worked. Without Wilson, Virginia Tech is a .500 team. With Wilson, they are set to make a run at another ACC Coastal Division crown.

LOSER: Placekickers in the ACC

Week 9 featured some horrendous kicking performances in the ACC. In some cases, like Boston College's Nate Freese, missing on both of your field goal attempts wasn't that costly in the 28-17 victory over Maryland. Duke's Will Snyderwine, however, cost the Blue Devils dearly by missing three field goals in the 14-10 loss to No. 15 Virginia Tech. As a conference, the ACC's place kickers combined to hit only 9 of 23 field goal attempts this weekend. It wasn't as though weather was a factor to blame, there was just inaccuracy all across the board. Only Wake Forest's Jimmy Newman and Georgia Tech's Justin Moore were mistake-free, each connecting on 1 of 1 from inside 25 yards.

WINNER: Roland Finch

It has been a frustrating season for Boston College. Considered to be a possible ACC dark horse coming into the season, the Eagles have battled through injuries to key players and close losses in their disappointing first half of the 2011 season. But Boston College had something to celebrate on Saturday, thanks to the play of Roland Finch. The sophomore running back was listed behind star Montel Harris and Andre Williams when the season began, but injuries in the backfield have given Finch a chance to step up. He delivered against Maryland, torching the Terps' defensive for 243 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 39 carries. Williams added 16 carries for 72 yards and a touchdown as well in the Eagles' 28-17 win. Finch had never broken the 100-yard mark before, and he accomplished that feat before halftime.

LOSER: Miami's consistency 

Just when it seemed like Miami had turned things around, the Hurricanes suffer another close loss in part because of penalties and mental mistakes. All four of the Hurricanes' losses have come by eight points or less, with Miami's offense having a chance to take the lead or win the game in each failing effort. But Thursday's loss 28-24 loss to Virginia came with some embarrassment, losing at home in front of the 2001 National Championship team. That team, arguably one of the best championship teams of this decade, saw the Hurricanes have game-changing plays called back because of penalties, missed blocks, and giving up the big play. After the 24-7 victory against Geogia Tech, Miami submitted themselves as Coastal Division contenders. Their encore performance against Virginia just four days later retracted that application.

WINNER: Mike London

The second-year head coach has now led Virginia to victories over Georgia Tech and Miami, and positioned the Cavaliers for their first bowl appearance since 2007. Virginia needs just one more victory to reach six wins, and even if they fall to Maryland in College Park there is a winnable date with Duke the following Saturday. London was identified as a rising star in the coaching business, and his work on the recruiting trail is now complimented with some early success. After the loss to Southern Miss and narrow victories over Indiana and Idaho there was some doubt throughout the Cavaliers' fan base. But after the big division wins and a 5-3 start, the support for London has never been stronger in Charlottesville.

LOSER: Tom O'Brien

Hard to imagine that NC State head coach Tom O'Brien would be mentioned in the "hot seat" discussion, but the buzz began to grow after the Wolfpack were shut out 34-0 against Florida State in Tallahassee. Just 10 months ago, O'Brien was hoisting the Champs Sports Bowl trophy after the first 9-win season since Phillip Rivers was suiting up for the Pack.

O'Brien's teams at NC State have often been injury-plagued, and last season was arguably the healthiest roster he's had since arriving in Raleigh. But with two of NC State's four 2011 wins against FCS teams, and a 15-21 record against ACC competition, O'Brien will likely begin to face job security questions in the coming weeks. It is not normal to think a coach would be on the hot seat after a successful 2010, but when the ACC Coach of the Year can be dismissed in a matter of weeks (see: Ralph Friedgen) it seems as though few jobs are safe anymore in the ACC.

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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 23, 2011 6:23 pm
 

ACC poll reactions, Week 8

Posted by Chip Patterson

This week's polls have been released. Here's how the ACC fared, from the top of the polls to the bottom, and what it means.

(AP/Coaches)

6/6. Clemson

Head coach Dabo Swinney told reporters he made it very clear to his team at halftime (as they led North Carolina 24-17) that they needed to decide right there whether or not they wanted to be 8-0. The Tigers answered his query with a 35-point third quarter performance as they kickstarted the shootout in Death Valley to put the Tar Heels away. Tajh Boyd was able to rest for much of the fourth quarter, after throwing for 367 yards and five touchdowns to five different receivers.

Clemson's offense hasn't shown the ability to be stopped for four quarters. Several teams have limited the Tigers from hitting a rhythm for a quarter or half, but no one has had an answer for their explosiveness over 60 minutes. One team that can control the pace of the game is Georgia Tech, who await the Tigers arrival in Atlanta on Saturday. The game will be under the lights, and the Yellow Jackets need a win after dropping two straight. It is arguably Clemson's toughest game left on the schedule, as the Tigers are now one of eight unbeaten teams remaining in FBS play.


15/15. Virginia Tech

After two impressive performances that launched them back up the polls, the Hokies sputtered in the first half against lowly Boston College. But after trailing 7-6 at half, Virginia Tech got rolling and outscored the Eagles 24-7 in the second half. David Wilson continued to be a workhorse out of the backfield, carrying 17 times for 134 yards. The second half rout is also a credit to the defense, which despite missing several playmakers due to injury was able to come up with two second half turnovers.

With Georgia Tech's second straight conference loss, the Hokies now sit alone on top of the ACC Coastal Division standings. But any repeated performances like the first half against Boston College might end up hurting their hopes of defending their ACC championship in Charlotte. The four remaining games on Virginia Tech's schedule are all division opponents, two Thursday night games, and three games on the road. Their resiliency on Saturday at home was commendable, but Hokie fans would prefer not needing to feel that nervous again.

Others receiving votes: Georgia Tech's name reappears in this category after falling from No. 12 over the last two weeks. Miami also saw some decent action from the voters, after defeating the previously-ranked Yellow Jackets for their second straight conference win. Wake Forest also received some votes in the Coaches Poll. No offense to Jim Grobe and the Demon Deacons, but I'd guess those Coaches/SIDs did not watch the 24-23 barn burner at Duke on Saturday.

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Posted on: October 23, 2011 12:05 am
Edited on: October 23, 2011 12:26 am
 

ACC Winners and Losers: Week 8


Posted by Chip Patterson


A handy recap of who really won and who really lost that you won't find in the box score.

WINNER: DeAndre "Nuke" Hopkins

Freshman phenom Sammy Watkins has been the Clemson wide receiver who has struck fear in defensive coordinators across the ACC, but Saturday was a reminder that there are plenty of dangerous weapons in the Tigers offense - notably sophomore DeAndre Hopkins. Nuke went off against the Tar Heels, catching 9 passes for a career high 157 yards. Hopkins was one of five different receivers to catch a touchdown pass from quarterback Tajh Boyd, who finished with 367 yards on 46 attempts with no interceptions. If Ellington continues to be bothered by an apparent foot injury, you can expect to see a lot more of Nuke down the stretch.

LOSER: North Carolina's third down efficiency

Defeating Clemson this season is an unbelievably difficult task. Beyond their collection of talent and playmaking ability, the team refuses to quit or stop their relentless attack. But North Carolina made winning in Death Valley so much harder by committing penalties, turning the ball over, and not converting on third downs. The Tar Heels did not convert their first third down until the start of the fourth quarter - when the Tar Heels trailed by 25 points.

One of the ways to take advantage of Clemson is to put together extended drives to keep the ball out of Tajh Boyd's hands. Sophomore quarterback Bryn Renner and the Tar Heels offense did the exact opposite on Saturday by continually handing the ball right back to Tajh Boyd and the Clemson offense. You give the Tigers enough opportunities, they will put basketball numbers on the scoreboard. North Carolina could have played flawlessly on Saturday and still lost, but we'll never know because they did enough beating themselves to put the game out of hand before the fourth quarter even started.

WINNER: Miami's defense

The Hurricanes have been playing much better football in recent weeks, but head coach Al Golden knew they could not defeat Georgia Tech without an improved performance from their defense. They have been hurting on the front line with injuries, but as of last week are back to full-strength from a suspension stand point. Georgia Tech, entering the game as the nations 2nd best rushing team, would be the ultimate challenge in a must-win scenario for the Hurricanes.

Miami's defensive line stuffed the dive from the Yellow Jackets' B-backs, while the linebackers swarmed to the ball to seal off the big play on the perimeter. It was fantastic execution by the entire unit, who only allowed a single scoring drive from Georgia Tech all afternoon. That top-ranked rushing attack only accounted for 127 yards, more than 200 below their season average. If Miami can keep up the effort, there are several winnable games left on the schedule for the Hurricanes to have a memorable on-field finish to a season filled with off-field distractions.

LOSER: Georgia Tech's grip on the Coastal Division

With their second straight conference loss, Georgia Tech has lost their position as frontrunner in the ACC's Coastal Division. There are plenty of places to point the blame. Some will look to the competition, and the unrealistic expectations drawn from weaker defenses the Yellow Jackets' faced in the first month of play. Some will argue that ACC opponents have figured out ways to prepare for, and limit, Paul Johnson's option attack. Johnson himself has spoken of the team's fatigue, and recently cut back on some of the workload in practices.

But whatever the reason, the Yellow Jackets have gotten beat up the last two weeks. The good news for Georgia Tech fans is the team still controls their own destiny in the division. Clemson and Virginia Tech visit Atlanta in the next two contests, with a much-needed bye week between those games. If they can upset Clemson under the lights in Bobby Dodd Stadium, a victory against Virginia Tech would give them a tie for the division lead and ownership of the head-to-head tie breaker. But because of Saturday's loss to Miami, none of that will be possible unless they upset Clemson. Which as we saw elsewhere, might require 94 points.

WINNER: David Amerson and the NC State defense

Just like Miami, N.C. State's defense has caught their fair share of criticism this season. The Wolfpack have been plagued with injuries on the defensive side of the ball, and just now are they starting to get back to full strength. Virginia used a power running game to wear down Georgia Tech a week ago in the upset, but when they tried a similar tactic on N.C. State the Wolfpack were ready. After putting up 272 rushing yards against the Yellow Jackets, N.C. State swarmed into the gaps and won the battle in the trenches to limit the Cavaliers' ability to methodically move the ball while milking the clock.

Once the Wolfpack got the lead, it was David Amerson time. Amerson entered the game leading the nation in interceptions, then picked off both Michael Rocco and David Watford to help seal a big win for N.C. State. Amerson has been viewed as the one bright spot in a struggling defense in some games, but on Saturday he was the icing on the cake in the Wolfpack's first ACC victory of the season.

LOSER: Luke Kuechly

Luke Kuechly is not a loser, but his performances this season have gone largely overlooked because of Boston College's struggles. The junior linebacker entered the game as the nation's leading tackler, averaging 16.5 tackles per game. As the Eagles' defense slowly broke down against David Wilson and Virginia Tech's downhill attack, Kuechly never stopped. The All-American finished Saturday's loss with 19 tackles, and once again seemed to be in on almost every open field tackle. With injuries and close losses, 2011 has not been friendly to Boston College. In the case that this might be Kuechly's last season in Chestnut Hill, it is a shame these performances are finding their way to the back page rather than the headlines.

WINNER: Devonta Freeman

There was a lot that didn't look good for the Seminoles after they suffered their third straight loss to Wake Forest two weeks ago. But the most concerning situation for Florida State's offense was figuring out how to establish a running game, particularly with the season-ending injury to leading rusher Chris Thompson. The Seminoles boasted a stable of talented backs during training camp, but none had emerged as a clear leader once the season started. In the last two weeks, true freshman Devonta Freeman has made his case to be that back for Florida State. Granted the competition has provided some opportunity (Duke and Maryland), but Freeman's back-to-back 100-yard games could be the beginnings of a big-time career for talented rookie. For starters, he is the first freshman to rush for 100 yards in back to back games since 1986. He's already grabbed a small piece of history, now we get to see if he helps the Seminoles bounce back and finish strong after their three-game slide.

LOSER: An unknown amount of C.J. Brown's brain cells

Maryland's freshman quarterback had a brutal meeting with Florida State's Nigel Bradham in the 41-16 loss on Saturday



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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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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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Posted on: October 21, 2011 3:26 pm
 

The Saturday Meal Plan: Week 8

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. 

We hope you've starved yourself this week because you're going to need plenty of room in your stomach to get through this week's menu, and although we can't promise you anything featuring streaking referees and fighting, we're sure you'll find these meals as fulfilling just the same.

BREAKFAST

Missouri vs. #4 Oklahoma State - FX, 12pm ET

On paper this one may not seem all that interesting, but Missouri is yet to lose at home this season, and let's not forget that the Tigers knocked off Oklahoma in Columbia last season. It's possible that the Tigers could end another school from Oklahoma's title hopes again this Saturday. Of course, it won't be easy considering the offensive firepower that the Cowboys will be bringing with them. - Tom Fornelli

#7 Clemson vs. North Carolina - ESPN, 12pm ET

Clemson survived their first trap game on the road, marching back from 18 down against Maryland to prove - for the moment - this Tigers team is for real.  Now they have a chance to return to the comfy confines of Death Valley for one last warm-up before traveling to Atlanta for arguably the toughest challenge left on the conference schedule in Georgia Tech.  North Carolina doesn't run the option, but they do have a terrific ground game led by redshirt freshman Gio Bernard.  Bernard has been sensational for the Tar Heels, and ranks third in the ACC with 109.57 yards per game.  The Tigers, on the other hand, are one of the league's worst defenses against the run. North Carolina's defense has been beaten on the perimeter this season, and their weakness in the secondary will likely be their downfall with no answer for Sammy Watkins and DeAndre "Nuke" Hopkins.  - Chip Patterson

Purdue vs. #23 Illinois - ESPN2, 12pm ET

This game will be worth your attention. Bold statement, but it's true. Here's the deal: if Nathan Scheelhaase and A.J. Jenkins get their game back up, you'll want to watch, because that's the best QB-WR combination in the Big Ten. And if Scheelhaase and Jenkins get bottled up like last week, look out, because we might have an early upset on our hands, and those are a fun way to start a Saturday. See? Win-win scenario all the way. - Adam Jacobi

LUNCH

#1 LSU vs. #20 Auburn - CBS, 3:30pm ET

So Auburn has a defense with some success against LSU-style offenses, the host Tigers won't have Tyrann Mathieu or Spencer Ware, and the game's being played in bright, Death Valley-neutralizing sunlight. It's too bad Auburn is sending Clint Moseley out for his first career start at quarterback, or Gene Chizik's bunch could have made a real game of this. (if Moseley is a revelation? They still might. - Jerry Hinnen

#5 Boise State vs. Air Force - Versus, 3:30pm ET

Is there anybody left on Boise State's schedule that can knock the Broncos off? Maybe, but odds are that it won't happen this week as Air Force makes the trip up north to play on the blue turf. Still, even if Boise is likely to win this game, tuning in to see the Broncos playing a home game is seldom a choice to regret. - TF

Miami vs. #22 Georgia Tech - ESPN, 3:30pm ET

Miami turned the corner against Virginia Tech, and has been playing some of their best football of the season in the last three quarters.  But they welcome a Georgia Tech team that got beat around by Virginia last week, and will be looking for a bounce back victory.  This game is a must-win for the Yellow Jackets if they plan on competing for a Coastal Division title, and a must-win for the Hurricanes to establish some kind of momentum in a frustratingly inconsistent season.  If Miami wants to pull the upset, they need to get Lamar Miller going on offense.  A good rushing attack will keep Paul Johnson's pounding offense off the field, and after Miller was held to 29 yards against UNC last week he's due for a big game. - CP

DINNER

#2 Alabama vs. Tennessee - ESPN2, 7:15pm ET

The drama and intrigue in this edition of the "Third" Saturday in October positively abounds: can the Vols score a touchdown? Can Trent Richardson break the 200-yard mark? Will Nick Saban decline to score a final humiliating touchdown out of respect for his old assistant, Derek Dooley? Has Smokey finally been fitted for the retina-protecting dog goggles (or "doggles") required by repeated visual exposure to Dooley's pants? (The actual and inevitable outcome, that we're not so intrigued by.) - JH

Notre Dame vs. USC - NBC, 7:30pm ET

One of college football's greatest rivalries gets a bit of a twist this season. For the first time in history, Notre Dame will be playing a night game in South Bend. Can Touchdown Jesus see in the dark? Also, emerging victorious could help catapult the winner back into the rankings, and for Notre Dame a win keeps its slim BCS hopes alive. - TF

#3 Oklahoma vs. Texas Tech - ABC, 8pm ET

This game features two offenses that both come into the game averaging more than 43 points a game, so if you're looking for a shootout to spend your evening with, this will likely be your game. The question will be if Seth Doege and the Texas Tech offense can still have as much success against an Oklahoma defense that's better than any other it has faced this season. - TF

#8 Stanford vs. #25 Washington - ABC, 8pm ET

Andrew Luck and Stanford haven't played a ranked team all year but that will change with Washington rolling into Palo Alto. The Huskies, with quarterback Keith Price and running back Chris Polk, will present a test for the stiff Cardinal defense that is missing a few key defenders. Of course, Luck has to be licking his chops to face the Pac-12's worst pass defense. - Bryan Fischer

#16 Michigan State vs. #6 Wisconsin - ESPN, 8pm ET

This could be the Big Ten's last, best hope to see Wisconsin get knocked off before the championship game -- and MSU just lost its top DE Will Gholston to a Big Ten-mandated suspension for punching Taylor Lewan last Saturday. Whoops! The rest of the Spartan defensive front is fierce, though, and perhaps we'll finally be able to see what happens when an opponent challenges Wisconsin for all four quarters this year. Perhaps. - AJ

LATE NIGHT SNACK

Washington State vs. Oregon State - Fox Sports, 10:30pm ET

Oregon State is off to their worst start in years and Mike Riley and company are looking to turn things around while seeking revenge against a Washington State team that upset them last year and cost them a trip to a bowl game. The Cougars have been competitive in the first half of their last two games but the question is if they can finish against OSU. - BF
 
 
 
 
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