What: ESPN Thursday Night Game
Where: Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, NC
When: Thursday, October 22nd, 8:00 PM
Records: UNC 4-2, 0-2 ACC; FSU 2-4, 0-3 ACC
Biggest game of the season for both sides.
For the first time ever UNC hosts the Thursday Night Game on ESPN making this one of the more important UNC has probably played since...well..the last time they faced FSU in Chapel Hill in a night game on ESPN. I have already underscored the importance of this game both in terms of impressing a national audience as well as UNC pulling off the logistical aspects of this game given limitations. This can be a major step forward for the program under Butch Davis and moving to 5-2 with at least two winnable games left on the schedule will put the Heels in a position for another bowl game.
For FSU, there are equally high stakes as the once proud Seminoles are attempting to survive Bobby Bowden's coaching career in the finals throes of death. Unfortunately for Seminole fans, instead of opting for a quiet and dignified exit from the coaching ranks, Bowden is intent on prolonging the suffering through any means necessary even though the end result will be the same. As for the here and now, FSU is floundering, in danger of going 0-4 in the ACC with a loss here and risking three hours worth of Chris Fowler, Jesse Palmer and Craig Thompson discussing just how far the program has fallen. This is the FSU version of UNC's 8-20 in basketball which is motivation enough for the Seminoles to attempt to reclaim some pride with a win here.
In terms of the actual football, this is the ultimate "something has to give" game. UNC's highly ranked defense versus FSU's highly ranked and on the flip side UNC's really crappy offense versus FSU's equally crappy defense. The question is who gets the best of whom here. Does the UNC offense find a way? Is the prowess of the FSU offense too much for the UNC defense? Or does the Tar Heel defense manage to do what South Florida did to the Noles? UNC has yet to face a passing offense as proficient as the one FSU has. This game will prove to be as true a test of the secondary as the Heels have seen not to mention a nice warmup before the UNC plays Duke. Unfortunately this is the sort of game in which a good defensive effort might mean giving up 24 points and with the UNC offense as shaky as it is, that would be enough to win the game.
The idea that FSU could be 2-5 and 0-4 in the ACC is nearly inconceivable to me. That fact alone makes me think the Seminoles will find a way to pull this off leaving the Heels holding the bag. At the same time we are all waiting for this offense to convince us they are not as bad as the national rankings say they are. The offensive line is healthier than it has been for awhile, Zack Pianalto is due back in the lineup at tight end and maybe, just maybe, the coaching staff will not hesitate to lean on Ryan Houston more if it turns out Shaun Draughn is not getting it done.
UNC 28 FSU 27