September 17, 2008
Round and round she goes, where the frontrunner ball stops, nobody knows ...
This week's bet: North Carolina. Until now, UNC hadn't been 2-0 since Mack Brown was coaching here ten yeas ago. Three in a row would seem almost miraculous, if Coastal Division foil Virginia Tech didn't look like it had at least as many issues as the Heels coming into Saturday's rubber match.
Let 'em Ride. The whole "UNC's a sleeper" thing was based on a) Butch Davis, who cleaned up Dennis Erickson's mess and made Miami smell sweet again, and b) the defense, way young but plenty grizzled after being thrown to the dogs last year. Against Rutgers, though, the offense was right in stride, lifting the cover off a competent T.J. Yates and a first-rate threat in Brandon Tate, a killer with the ball in his hands in every facet and all of a sudden half of the best receiving tandem in the conference along with Hakeem Nicks. Other than maybe Clemson, this is the only offense in the league that looks so far like it's capable of and willing to stretch the field.
Bet the Field. Rutgers is just bad, Officially Bad, possibly approaching its pre-Ray Rice level of bad or even Syracuse Bad, for all we know. An explosive game against the Knights doesn't mean much if half the Big East is about to do the same thing. This is still a young team with an iffy quarterback, and if you still find yourself regretting it when you tap Yates with no consistent running game against Virginia Tech, of all teams, you'll only have yourself to blame.
Payout. 12 to 1. This number could go way up or way down depending on what happens Saturday. The Tar Heels haven't won an ACC title since 1980 and haven't come close since Brown's last year, 1997, but the talent level is at a competitive standard for the first time in ages and both of the top Coastal Division contenders come to Chapel Hill. Historically, it's a bad play; at the moment, it makes about as much sense as putting the chips on any other team's square.