College Football: Saturday’s ACC games
The college preview …
CHAPEL HILL ó This was the year North Carolina was supposed to knock off some nationally ranked teams with a schedule that included perennial poll mainstays Virginia Tech, Miami and Notre Dame.
So who would’ve thought the up-and-coming Tar Heels’ first Top 25 test instead would come from Connecticut?
“I didn’t really know much about UConn,” safety Deunta Williams said. “I know now.”
So does the rest of the college football world.
The 24th-ranked Huskies, the defending Big East co-champions, were picked in the preseason to finish sixth in the league but have produced the nation’s leading rusher and on Saturday night will be out for their first 6-0 start as members of the Bowl Subdivision.
Still, the Huskies may have good reason to feel disrespected. After all, a North Carolina win wouldn’t technically be an upset ó the Tar Heels are seven-point favorites.
“(The ranking) doesn’t mean anything for us,” running back Donald Brown said. “We’re going to stay hungry. We really don’t have much respect. The rankings really don’t mean anything. You lose in one week and it’s all gone.”
Brown, who is averaging more than 181 yards per game, has helped the Huskies start strong for the second straight year. One more victory and they’ll match the start in 1995, when they were in what was known as Division I-AA and they were led by Skip Holtz, who’s now coaching 120 miles east of Chapel Hill at East Carolina.
The Tar Heels hoped to continue making strides in Davis’ second season, even if some of the opponents they expected to be in the Top 25 weren’t in the polls when the teams played.
North Carolina was tabbed as a darkhorse to contend in the Coastal Division and hoped to pounce on favorite Virginia Tech two weeks ago in Chapel Hill, but blew a late two-touchdown lead after Yates’ injury.
Now, after that last-minute win at Miami, the Tar Heels hope to take another step forward and beat a ranked team for the first time since 2005. They have lost nine straight against Top 25 teams since beating then-No. 19 Boston College three years ago.
“I figured we’d be 4-0 at this point, but we couldn’t get V-Tech,” Williams said.
RALEIGH ó In the past two weeks, North Carolina State has beaten a ranked rival at home and lost by a lopsided margin to another while watching the injuries continue to pile up. Meanwhile, Boston College has scored a couple of easy home wins against overmatched opponents.
Both teams are trying to figure out where they’re heading as they enter the bulk of their ACC schedule, starting with Saturday’s meeting in Raleigh.
The Wolfpack (2-3, 0-1 ACC) is in the midst of a four-game home stand ó the program’s longest since 1984 ó that ends with consecutive league games. The Eagles (3-1, 0-1) are beginning a run of four straight league games, including matchups with division favorites Clemson and Virginia Tech.
After losing their ACC openers, both teams know they have little room for another loss in what Boston College coach Jeff Jagodzinski believes is a wide open conference race.
“I told our team that,” he said. “I don’t believe there’s one team in the league that’s head and shoulders above the rest. I think anybody’s got a chance.”
ATLANTA ó Duke has had a warm-up game to prepare for Paul Johnson’s spread option offense.
Paul Johnson has been able to watch film from that warm-up game to see how Duke will defend his Georgia Tech attack.
Which team receives the advantage in today’s ACC game? The answer may help determine whether Georgia Tech or Duke remains close to the top of the ACC’s Coastal Division standings.
Duke (3-1 overall, 1-0 ACC) ended a 25-game losing streak in conference games by beating Virginia 31-3 last week.