Rivalry Week

Last week we learned a few things. Alabama and Clemson are the two best teams in the country. We’ll find out when Ohio State starts playing if there is a third team to put in that conversation…the SEC is consuming itself by playing only other SEC teams. Bama, Georgia, A&M, Florida and Vandy will be at the top and bottom, and the other seven are gonna be .500 teams.

The Big 12 took the week off and nobody noticed…The Big 10 will start back this week. Other than following Ohio State and maybe Penn State, no one should notice this either….ECU missed Holton Ahlers (out for COVID protocols) last weekend. If he had been able to play we can’t help but think the Pirates would have come away with their second win in a row.

Coming up this week is the closest thing we have to a football rivalry in the Old North State. N.C. State visits Chapel Hill for the 110th meeting between State and Carolina. North Carolina leads the series 67-36 with six ties. State has won nine of the last 13. The Tarheels won last year’s meeting in Raleigh 41-10. State led 10-6 at the half, but 28 unanswered third quarter points blew the game open.

In the current AP poll, North Carolina is ranked in 14th and N.C. State is 23rd. This is the first time the Heels and the Pack were both ranked at game time since 1993. That was during UNC Coach Mack Brown’s first tenure in Chapel Hill. Mack had lost his first five against State, but the Tarheels won this one 35-14 in Raleigh giving Brown his first win over the Mike O’Cain led Wuffies. At the end of the game, North Carolina assistant coach Donnie Thompson tackled State assistant Ted Cain because Cain refused to shake his hand. Let’s hope that’s not how this one ends…..

Carolina disappointed (at least in the first half) last week in Tallahassee. The concern is FSU came out hot and UNC did not respond. More should be expected from the number five team in the country. The 31-7 hole they dug was too much to recover from even after “winning” the second half 21-0. North Carolina dominated the box score and should have won this game.

Look for the Tarheels to dominate the box score again this week. We don’t see any way the Wolfpack defense can slow down Sam Howell or the Carolina running game. On offense, State will be without starting QB Devin Leary after he suffered a broken leg in the Pack’s win over Duke last week. When you factor in a disappointing Tarheel loss the week before, home field advantage (as much is that is during COVID) and a backup QB for N.C. State, things look bad for the visiting team. 

So what does the dartboard say? Carolina won the last matchup 41-10. They won the first meeting (in 1894) 44-0. Giving a nod to rivalry history, we’ll call this one….North Carolina 42, N.C. State 14.

And with the dartboard up and ready, let’s look at the rest of next week’s games:

FLORIDA STATE AT LOUISVILLE:  It looked like the Noles of old in Tallahassee last weekend, at least for a half. On the other side of the ball, the Cardinals come into this one looking for their first conference victory. We don’t see any momentum from last week for Florida State here….Louisville 27, FSU 24.

NOTRE DAME AT PITTSBURGH: The Irish are probably not the fourth best team in the country, but they are giving up just 11 points per game. With Panther QB Kenny Pickett questionable due to ankle injury, we don’t think Pitt can put up enough points to win. …Notre Dame 28, Pittsburgh 13.

GEORGIA TECH AT BOSTON COLLEGE: The Jackets gave up 73 points to Clemson last weekend. We don’t think there is a threat they’ll give up that much here. They say home field is worth three points, so in this matchup of equals, Chestnut Hill wins…Boston College 24, Georgia Tech 21.

SYRACUSE AT CLEMSON:  The ESPN matchup predictor gives the Orange a 0.6 percent chance to win this game. That means if they played 1000 times Syracuse would win 60 of them. We think the matchup predictor is broke….Clemson 56, Syracuse 14.

VIRGINIA AT MIAMI: Much like the matchup predictor, the Cavaliers appear to be on the fritz. They have lost their last three by 18, 17 and 17 points respectively. The Canes are the ACC’s second best team ,and QB D’Eriq King is why. Another win for the U….Miami 42, Virginia 24.

VIRGINIA TECH AT WAKE FOREST:  The Hokies are blowing teams out in Blacksburg, but have not been quite as dominant on the road. WFU always plays tough in Groves Stadium (or whatever the trademarked name of it is now). We like Deacon QB Sam Hartman enough to make this one our Upset Special for the week…. Wake Forest 38, Virginia Tech 31.

OTHER MAJOR GAMES THIS WEEKEND:  Appalachian State over Arkansas State, Charlotte over UTEP, Alabama over Tennessee, Ole Miss over Auburn, Kentucky over Missouri, LSU over South Carolina, Ohio State over Nebraska, Minnesota over Michigan, Oklahoma State over Iowa State, Texas over Baylor, SMU over Cincinnati.

TOFF TOP TEN:   1.  Clemson   2.  Alabama  3. Notre Dame  4.  Georgia  5. Oklahoma State  6.  Cincinnati  7.  Florida   8.  Texas A & M  9.  Miami.  10. BYU

Southeast Sports Syndicate, 2020.