NC, SC College Football Rankings Favor NC State, Wake Forest | Charlotte Observer

By Andrew Carter

And welcome to rivalry week.

Which, in the Carolinas, pretty much comprises two games: N.C. State vs. North Carolina, and Clemson vs. South Carolina.

A couple of thoughts:

One, We need more compelling end-of-regular-season games around these parts. Give us Appalachian State vs. Coastal Carolina (sorry, App folks, but the Georgia Southern series, as good as it was at the 1-AA level, hasn’t translated to FBS); Wake Forest vs. Duke; ECU vs. ... somebody it shares some history or geography with (though, hey, Cincinnati coming to Greenville offers a compelling storyline in the one-off vacuum of this season).

Thought two: Even though it’s really only two games, this is probably the most interesting rivalry week in the Carolinas in some time. South Carolina has a chance, after all, to beat Clemson for the first time in, oh, seems like forever (though, actually, the Gamecocks have only lost six straight here — seems like a longer stretch of futility against Clemson, doesn’t it?) And, in Raleigh, Carter-Finley Stadium is sure to be “lit,” as the kids say, when UNC visits on Friday night.

The stakes, in both Columbia and Raleigh: South Carolina has a shot to put a bow on Shane Beamer’s already better-than-expected head coaching debut. And N.C. State has a shot, still, to play for the ACC championship should it defeat the Tar Heels in front of a crowd that will have all day to consume leftover turkey, dressing and, ahem, perhaps other things in the parking lots surrounding the N.C. State fairgrounds.

Will be a fun time in Carolinas’ capital cities. Now onto the latest and greatest All-Carolina poll:

1. N.C. State (8-3, 5-2 ACC)

Previous ranking: 2

Last week: W 41-17 vs. Syracuse

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Up next: vs. North Carolina, Friday

Earlier this season, Dave Doeren suggested “the curse” (his words) was broken after his team’s dramatic win against Clemson. Yes, he was talking only about State’s poor fortune against that particular opponent. As for the greater, um, “stuff” that is known to befall the Wolfpack, there’d be no greater elixir than beating UNC and keeping alive State’s hope of winning the division.

2. Wake Forest (9-2, 6-1 ACC)

Previous ranking: 1

Last week: L 48-27 at Clemson

Up next: at Boston College, Saturday

No pressure, Demon Deacons. Just a once-in-a-decade (or more) chance to win the division and advance to play for an ACC championship. They last played for (and won) a league title back in 2006, the second year of the ACC Championship Game. Fun fact: With a win, Wake will play in its second ACC title game. Or, one more than Miami. Imagine predicting that back in 2005.

3. Clemson (8-3, 6-2 ACC)

Previous ranking: 3

Last week: W 48-27 vs. Wake Forest

Up next: at South Carolina, Saturday

It’d be perhaps the most ACC thing ever: If Wake Forest loses at Boston College and N.C. State loses against UNC — and these outcomes are certainly within the realm — then Clemson is back in the ACC championship game for the seventh consecutive season. It’d be a comical outcome, and a reminder that even when the Tigers are down, the rest of the division remains ... even downer.

4. Appalachian State (9-2, 6-1 Sun Belt)

Previous ranking: 4

Last week: W 45-7 at Troy

Up next: vs. Georgia Southern, Saturday

Make it five consecutive victories for the Mountaineers, who have also won eight of the past nine. The hot streak — none of their past four games have been close — makes the blowout defeat against Louisiana-Lafayette (though a fine team, itself) all the more confounding. App’s fifth 10-win season since making the jump to FBS is imminent.

5. Coastal Carolina (9-2, 5-2 Sun Belt)

Previous ranking: 6

Last week: W 35-21 vs. Texas State

Up next: at South Alabama, Friday

The difference between being undefeated and (likely) ranked in the top 10 and instead fading from the national college football conscience? Two losses by a combined five points, one of them without your starting quarterback. That’s how thin the margin has been for Coastal, which should still clinch its second consecutive 10-win season on Friday.

Wofford’s Donovan Anderson (20) is called for pass interference as he defends North Carolina’s Antoine Green (3) in the third quarter on Saturday, November 20, 2021 at Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill, N.C. Robert Willett [email protected]

6. North Carolina (6-5, 3-4 ACC)

Previous ranking: 5

Last week: W 34-14 vs. Wofford

Up next: at N.C. State, Saturday

Wasn’t all that long ago when it looked like the Tar Heels might not lose against N.C. State for a good long time. But that, as they say, is why they play the games. UNC has not fared well on the road (0-5) and this — a Friday night game at Carter-Finley Stadium — will be the most hostile of the season for UNC. One thing in UNC’s favor: As UNC’s head coach, Mack Brown hasn’t lost against State since 1992.

7. South Carolina (6-5, 3-5 SEC)

Previous ranking: 8

Last week: W 21-17 vs. Auburn

Up next: vs. Clemson, Saturday

Will Muschamp didn’t leave the cupboard completely bare in Columbia but, still, the rebuilding effort seems ahead of schedule in Year 1 under Shane Beamer. Few would have expected South Carolina to become bowl eligible earlier this month but, after victories against Florida and Auburn, here we are. And the Clemson game finally has a bit of intrigue to it again.

ECarolinaNavyFootball (1).JPG
Navy’s Michael McMorris takes down East Carolina’s Ryan Jones after a catch in the first quarter Saturday in Annapolis, Maryland. Paul W. Gillespie AP

8. ECU (7-4, 5-2 American)

Previous ranking: 7

Last week: W 38-35 at Navy

Up next: vs. Cincinnati, Friday

Well, it happened. The Pirates are bowl eligible for the first time since 2014, thanks to a pair of close victories the past couple of weeks. Wasn’t the prettiest of starts for ECU, which lost its first two games, but since then it has won seven of nine. Now it can play the role of ultimate spoiler with unbeaten Cincinnati coming to town. Think Greenville won’t be fired up for that on Friday?

9. Charlotte (5-6, 3-4 Conference USA)

Previous ranking: 9

Last week: L 49-28 vs. Marshall

Up next: at Old Dominion, Saturday

A most unkind second half of the season for the 49ers, who have now lost four of five — and the last two weeks haven’t been all too close. So now one question remains: Can Charlotte get it done against Old Dominion this weekend? Indeed, it’s for “all the marbles,” coach Will Healey told reporters after the Marshall loss — “marbles” being bowl eligibility.

10. Duke (3-8, 0-7 ACC)

Previous ranking: 10

Last week: L 62-22 vs. Louisville

Up next: vs. Miami

Wash, rinse, repeat. Since a close loss against not-all-that-good Georgia Tech on Oct. 9, Duke has regressed back to its mid-2000s heyday of non-competitiveness. Seven consecutive losses, and the past five by margins of 48, 38, 25, 31 and 40 points. Will Saturday be David Cutcliffe’s last game as the Blue Devils’ head coach? It seems more and more inevitable.

This story was originally published November 22, 2021 1:06 PM.

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