Week Six in the college football season is upon us, and as Carolina College Football fans, we have been treated to some stellar games and teams performing better than we expected. However, this week Carolina Colleges showed some vulnerability.
The most disappointing program this season has by far been the UNC Tar Heels. In preseason predictions, UNC was predicted to be fighting for a spot in the College Football Playoff led by Heisman candidate Sam Howell. UNC began the season ranked No. 10 in the AP Poll but now have fallen into purgatory after three losses to unranked teams. Their third coming this week in a 35-25 defeat to the Florida State Seminoles.
The game started well for the Tar Heels as they got a field goal on their first drive and added a touchdown on their second drive. Sam Howell looked comfortable in the pocket and was able to deliver a 33-yard strike to Josh Downs. But in the second quarter the script flipped as the Seminoles were able to put up three touchdowns giving them a 21-10 lead at half. The Seminoles were able to dominate the Tar Heel defense both through the air and on the ground, including quarterback Jordan Travis on one scoring play, keeping the ball on a read option for a 53-yard rushing touchdown without even being touched.
The Tar Heels played the second half just the same. Their defense got conquered by big play after big play. Sam Howell throws a 21-yard play-action pass for a touchdown to Kamari Morales, showing some fight. On the next drive, however, their defense gave up a 44-yard pass to Keyshawn Helton, setting up the Seminoles for another touchdown. Jordan Travis ended the game with five touchdowns, three passing, and two rushing, leading the way for the Seminoles second upset of the Tar Heels in as many years.
It appears that the prediction of Sam Howell playing like a Heisman level quarterback wasn’t just desired but necessary for UNC to win games as this defense has proven it cannot perform on a weekly basis. With three out of their final six games being against ranked opponents, it may be too late for the Tar Heels to piece things together.
No. 15 Coastal Carolina continued their dominance Thursday night with a 52-20 win over Arkansas State. Grayson McCall wasted no time throwing a 99-yard touchdown to Isaiah Likely on the Chanticleers’ second snap of the game. Likely later in the half would jump over two defenders and make an incredible one-handed touchdown grab. He would add two more touchdowns later in the game as he became the first tight end in Sun Belt Conference history with four touchdowns in a single game.
Deservedly so, the explosiveness of the Chanticleers offense tends to be the topic of success for this team. But, through five weeks this defense was the only one in the entirety of the NCAA to not allow a passing touchdown. They are the only one out of 662 teams. Unfortunately, this streak would end midway through the third quarter on a 15-yard pass from Layne Hatcher to Corey Rucker. Despite this, the Red Wolves struggled to move the ball all game long as the Chanticleers had four sacks and eight tackles for loss. The Chanticleers show no signs of slowing down as they have an in-state matchup with App State next week.
If you looked at the box score following the Charlotte versus FIU game, you’d assume that FIU dominated easily as quarterback Max Bortenschlager put up 466 passing compared to Chris Reynolds with 199 passing yards. However, both quarterbacks threw for four touchdowns in a back-and-forth affair ending in a 45-33 victory for the Niners.
Despite the Niners being the third-worst team at stopping the run in the nation, the Panthers did all their damage through the air. The key to this game was Shadrick Byrd, running back and kick returner for the Niners. Reynolds had brilliant field position every time and had little work to do because Byrd averaged 58.5 yards per return setting up the Niners for easy touchdowns.
The Demon Deacons needed overtime to outlast the Syracuse Orange 40-37. This game was a continuous back and forth. For every touchdown the Deacons scored, the Orange matched. For every mistake, they matched those as well. At the end of regulation, it looked as though the time had run out for Syracuse until with 21 seconds left to play a check-down to Sean Tucker ended in a 28-yard touchdown. Syracuse took the 37-34 lead in overtime on a field goal but the MVP of the game A.T. Perry hauled in a 22-yard touchdown in the back corner of the endzone to complete his day with 137 receiving yards, three touchdowns, and a win for Wake Forest.
Other Notable Finals:
ECU blew the lead with 23 seconds remaining as UCF squeaked out a victory 20-16
App State had four turnovers as Louisiana rolled to an easy 41-13 win.