Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Tarheels up next

Georgia Tech lost to UNC last year. Badly. So why on earth are they 13 point favorites right now for this years game - against a team that finished 3rd in the ACC last year? (Doubt they actually finished 3rd? Click here.) Why is John Bunting on the hot seat? Is the world going crazy?

Well, first off, last year's Tarheel squad is possibly the worst team to ever finish 3rd in the history of the ACC. They were outscored by 10pts a game - giving up an amazing 36.1 ppg. It's not like their offense was putting up Fun N' Gun numbers either, scoring just 26.6 ppg. Well, maybe they turned people over a lot? Not really, UNC lost 19 turnovers and only forced 15. They gave up an astounding 446 ypg and even worse, 218 ypg on the ground and 31 rushing TD's . They did absolutely nothing better than their opponents, and had only a single First Team All-ACC performer (Center Jason Brown)

The Tarheels absolutely stunk up the joint in their 3 out of conference games. They started off the year giving up 38 points to William and Mary(!) in a come from behind win. They were shut out 34-0 by Louisville in a game that they were lucky wasn't 222-0. They lost to Utah 46-16. Utah and Louisville were good teams, but a 3rd place team in a BCS conference shouldn't lose by a combined score of 80-16 to anyone, especially when one of those games was at home.

They saved the best for last in conference play though - getting bombed 56-24 by UVa and 38-16 by F$U. In none of those 5 games (3 ooc and 2 in conference) did they even look like a team that deserved to be on the same field with a BCS conference opponent, this was Baylor or Vanderbilt level futility.

So how on earth did they finish 3rd in the conference despite looking so horrible? By picking off Miami, Georgia Tech, NCSU at home - and beating perennial doormats WFU and Duke on the road. In a wild year of parity in the ACC, 5 wins was enough for 3rd despite the fact that UNC was absolutely lost on the road and had only 3 games all year they played well in (maybe 4, but everyone looks good against Duke).

That's not to say they didn't play great in those 3 big games. In fact they played very well, which is what is so surprising. For 3 games, all at home, they looked like world beaters - getting every bounce, every call and capitalizing on that by playing inspired defense and offense combined with great special teams. UNC deserved to win all 3 of those games, they were the better team on the field each time. Not even Sybil and her 16 personalities looked as different from weekend to weekend as the 'Heels did.

Missing their entire backfield from last year, including record setting QB Darian Durant - which UNC team shows up in Atlanta next weekend? Considering it's on the road, against a very aggressive defense and a solid running game, I'm going to say Saturday's version of UNC more resembles the team which lost 46-16, 34-0 and 56-24 than the one that beat GT last year in the friendly sunshine of Keenan Stadium.

I think Tech wins 20-10, because with Gailey's offense it is basically impossible to run up the score. If Tenuta's defense forces 5 turnovers from a new QB again though, it could be really ugly. P.J and Choice might combine for 250 yards rushing against what is a very porous defensive line and GT should have the ball about 40 minutes of the game. I'll do a position breakdown later this week, but there isn't a lot of talent in Chapel Hill right now on the defensive side of the ball, and just a couple of mistakes out of a first time starter at QB will probably be much more than they can overcome.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last year UNC finished with a 5-3 ACC record. VT was #1 going 7-1, FSU was #2 going 6-2. UVA went 5-3 & beat UNC. How does that make UNC 3rd?

8:45 AM  
Anonymous jacketdan said...

Because you still tie for 3rd, but you go to the lower tier bowl. That's why UNC was in the Tire Bowl instead of the Peach Bowl and also why Joe Hamilton has two ACC championship rings, but we spent those years in the Gator Bowl.

9:05 AM  
Blogger Nathan said...

There was a 3 way tie for 3rd, with UNC having beaten Miami but lost to UVa, UVa having beaten UNC but losing to Miami and Miami beating UVa but losing to UNC.

Thus all 3 finished 3rd in the conference. About as confusing a situation as possible.

9:17 AM  

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