College Football Mid-Week Notes
Posted By:Brett Haynes - Greenville, SC Tags:
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After two quick wins, are Auburn people warming up to Gene Chizik as head coach? Can Miami and Georgia Tech provide the ACC - and the nation - with another entertaining game as they battle tonight on ESPN? Will the SEC once again own the ACC in the 2010 kickoff classic?
* Auburn people warming to Gene Chizik
* Georgia Tech, Miami Preview
* LSU, UNC to meet in 2010 Chick-Fil-A Classic
Auburn. After Auburn has opened 2009 by defeating Louisiana Tech, 37-13, and Mississippi State 49-24, the folks down in Alabama probably aren't hating so much on the hiring of Gene Chizik as head coach. The Tigers may be the most under-estimated team in America as they have tons of talent, but were somewhat written off after successful Coach Tommy Tuberville resigned, and a big name was not hired to replace him.
It was widely discussed down in Auburn last winter that Will Muschamp, the Texas defensive coordinator, was the fan favorite to be War Eagle's next coach. When that didn't happen, fans right off the bat came down hard on Chizik's hiring, claiming he was not experienced enough to lead a big-time SEC program. But Chizik has started off by doing exactly what he needed to do: win his first two games as head coach in an impressive manner.
Now, Auburn has a chance for win number three (this weekend against West Virginia) to really show the country that they aren't taking a step back just because of a coaching change. WVU isn't the high-ranked, high-powered team that they usually are as they lost quite a few players to graduation, including all-world qb Pat White. But the Mountaineers are still highly respected, and a win over them would do a lot for Chizik's credibility. It would also get Auburn back into the top 25. A year ago, Auburn went down to WVU in Morgantown.
No team's fans in America are probably as wrapped up in their team as Auburn is right now. With Alabama (a team they dominated this past decade) now firmly settled back into the nation's top five, Auburn has reason for concern. But the Tigers also have a winning tradition of their own, and with a win this weekend, will have momentum heading into the remainder of the season. This is a huge game for Auburn, and I think they get it done. After they beat WVU, the outspoken negative fans will disappear until Chizik loses his first game.
Georgia Tech, Miami. The 'Canes and Jackets meet tonite down in Miami in a huge ACC Coastal matchup. With these two teams, plus North Carolina and Virginia Tech, this division has to be one of the tougher divisions in America to win. Four quality teams will be vying for a spot in the ACC title game.
The last time these two teams took the field, they both won in dramatic fashion. GT beat Clemson on a last minute field goal, and Miami held off Florida State in one of the most exciting football games to be played in the young 2009 season. Both teams have worked their way into the top 20, and the winner of this game will have an early leg up in the division standings. A nice national ranking will also await the winner. A GT win would boost the Jackets into the top 10 most-likely from number 14. A Miami win would likely do the same as the 'Canes are a media favorite. A 3-0 start and ACC wins over FSU and GT would probably see the 'U' right at the edge of the top-10 as they currently sit in the 20th spot.
Miami quarterback Jacory Harris impressed the heck out of me in the win over Florida State. He made many big plays at big times, and seemed to do so without major effort at times. He is a very, very talented quarterback that could be the intangible in this game. He must protect the ball, and not give up easy points off of turnovers. If he plays within himself, UM will score at least 24.
On the other side of the ball, if the 'Canes want to slow down the Jackets, they need to look at what Kevin Steele and the Clemson defense did to it last Thursday night. Clemson held GT to just 16 offensive points, and just two field goals in the second half. GT will have to put a spark back in their offense to score a few points as last week they were saved by two special teams trick plays for 14 points.
This will be an interesting game to watch, and I think Miami comes away with the win tonite.
LSU vs. UNC. The ACC isn't giving up just yet on this Chick-Fil-A Classic game that takes place in the Georgia Dome the first weekend of the season. After Alabama pummeled Clemson in 2008, and then pulled away late to beat VT to open 2009, LSU will take the SEC wheel as it goes for its third straight win over the ACC.
In 2010, it will be the Tar Heels of North Carolina to take a shot at the Tigers of LSU in hopes of saving the conference's name in this game. UNC is a team on the rise, and will be in its fourth season under solid Coach Butch Davis. But LSU is always a national power, and the early feeling 11 months too early for this game is that LSU will win for the SEC once again.
But there is a reason you play the games, and with UNC having built up a fine group of players in Davis' first two recruiting classes, maybe the Heels can put together a big 2009 and ride into that 2010 game with confidence.
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