Greensboro, N.C.—Here’s some news and notes from the first day of the ACC Football Kickoff for 2009:
LSU-North Carolina at Georgia Dome in 2010?: Looks like the Chick-fil-A College Kickoff is headed for another blockbuster ACC-SEC matchup.
Two people close to the discussions told me Sunday night that North Carolina and LSU have tentatively agreed to play in the Chick-fil-A College Kickoff on Sept. 4, 2010 at the Georgia Dome.
North Carolina and LSU have indicated to the Atlanta Sports Council that they will play in the game if some scheduling issues can be resolved to open up the date for both teams. Those issues are expected to be resolved.
The Chick-fil-A College Kickoff began last season with Alabama’s 34-10 win over Clemson in front of a sold-out Georgia Dome and a national television audience. This season Alabama and Virginia Tech, both expected be in the most preseason Top 10s, will meet on Sept. 5 in another hard sellout.
LSU and North Carolina have met six times in their football history with LSU holding a 5-1 lead in the series. The last meeting between the two schools was on Oct. 25, 1986 in Baton Rouge.
Tennessee and N.C. State have already agreed to play in the Chick-fil-A College Kickoff in 2012.
Virginia Tech-Alabama huge for the ACC: How big is Virginia Tech’s Sept. 5 game with Alabama at the Georgia Dome?
For the ACC, it is as big as it gets.
A year ago Clemson, which was a consensus preseason Top 10 program and the standard bearer for the ACC, played Alabama in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff. The Tigers didn’t just get beat. They got embarrassed (34-10).
“We had a tough time getting over that one,” said Clemson running back C.J. Spiller. “We got kicked pretty good on national television.”
Clemson didn’t get over that game and by midseason Tommy Bowden was no longer the head coach.
The ACC has not had a real national championship contender since Florida State lost in the Orange Bowl to Oklahoma after the 2000 season. Virginia Tech, the defending ACC champs and preseason Top 10 pick, would appear to be the league’s best shot for a team to run the table. But in order to do that the Hokies have to beat Alabama in the Georgia Dome.
“We know that we’re representing the ACC in this game,” said rover Kam Chancellor. “We know how competitive the SEC is and that they’ve been whippin’ on the ACC for a while. Alabama is a power house with a lot of great athletes. We are going to go down there and five it our best shot.”
Mark your calendars: Playing the Florida Gators, the defending national champions and preseason No. 1 for 2009, is never an easy assignment. But Florida State will have the unenviable task of playing at Florida on Nov. 28. Barring injury, that will mark Tim Tebow’s final home game in a Florida uniform.
“That is already a tough place to play,” said Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder. “You know it will be crazy game. Our job is to make it a close game because we can’t worry about what Florida is doing. We’re trying to get Florida State back on top.”
Ponder, who is a junior athletically, has already completed his undergraduate degree and is in the second year of his MBA program at Florida State. His father, David, played defensive line at Florida State from 1980-83.
Who made this schedule? There is a pretty strong consensus that Miami will be a better football team in the third year under coach Randy Shannon. Shannon has hired a pair of new coordinators in Mark Whipple (offense) and John Lovett (defense) and both received high marks in the spring.
But Miami could be a very good football team and start 1-3 or even 0-4. Here are Miami’s first four games:
Sept. 7: at Florida State
Sept. 17: Georgia Tech
Sept. 26: at Virginia Tech
Oct. 3: Oklahoma
“When I first saw that schedule it really got my attention,” said offensive tackle Jason Fox. “But I see this as a great chance. We want to put Miami back on the map and this is our best opportunity to prove that we can do that. This is our year.”
Yates is finally healthy: North Carolina quarterback T.J. Yates, who played at Pope High School in Marietta, has 18 career starts for the Tar Heels. But rarely in his first two seasons has he been completely healthy. He missed six games last season with a sprained left ankle. He had shoulder surgery in 2007. He even injured his right (throwing) thumb playing a game of Ultimate Frisbee last April. That put him out of throwing for about six weeks.
But on Sunday Yates, who threw for 1,168 yards and 11 touchdowns in seven games last season, said: “This is the best I have felt in two years.”
Now Yates, who has completed 60 percent of his career passes, has to stay that way. If he does the Tar Heels are expected to challenge Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech in the ACC Coastal.
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