Late Hits: Great day for the Pirates, the opposite for Florida

jgiglio@newsobserver.comNovember 24, 2013 

UP

East Carolina: Saturday was a total win for the Pirates – they dominated N.C. State on the field, their fans took over Carter-Finley Stadium and N.C. State removed its copycat logo from midfield.

At 9-2, the school record for wins (11) is within range with a game left at Marshall, a potential home game for the Conference USA title game and a potential trip to the Liberty Bowl in Memphis.

The state of Arizona: The Wildcats pounded Oregon, 42-16, while the Sun Devils clinched the Pac-12 South division title with a 38-33 road win over UCLA.

And on Saturday, they get to play for state supremacy in Tempe.

DOWN

Florida: There’s really no excuse for Florida to ever lose to a Division I-AA team. Yet, Will Muschamp’s Gators had the ignominy of dropping a 26-20 home game to Georgia Southern on Saturday.

Just a year ago, the Gators had a legitimate argument to be in the BCS title game, and now?

“The morale on this team is at an all-time low,” guard Jon Halapio said after the team’s seventh loss of the season, which assured their first losing season since 1979.

“We have a lack of leadership. We just really need to tighten up as a team.”

Upon further review

• Oregon’s Marcus Mariota has lost twice in a three-week span, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel was miserable in a lopsided loss to LSU and Florida State’s Jameis Winston finds himself facing a potential sexual assault charge.

Mariota, Manziel and Winston were the frontrunners for the Heisman Trophy at different points this season. Unless Winston is definitively cleared of any wrongdoing in the next day or two, none of the three is going to win the Heisman.

Where does that lead the way-too-long list of 929 voters? Gino Toretta is going to congratulate Alabama’s A.J. McCarron for his “team” Heisman, if it’s where I think it’s going. The Alabama quarterback is a fine player, having a very good senior season (2,399 passing yards, 23 touchdowns) but the Heisman is supposed to be about the most outstanding player in college football.

I’ve said it before about McCarron, who has won two national titles and has No. 1 Alabama on track for a third, and I’ll say it again: he’s not even the best player on his own team.

Not to mention, the Heisman is not supposed to be a career achievement award or recognition for a team’s supremacy. Voters had the common sense not to reward quarterback Ken Dorsey in 2002, for Miami’s incredible stretch of dominance over the 2001 and ’02 seasons, but not with Toretta, the Miami quarterback with two national titles, in 1992.

Getting back to the best player in the country this season, two names make the most sense at this point: Boston College running back Andre Williams and Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch.

Williams, who leads the country with 2,073 rushing yards in 11 games, has had five 200-yard games, including a 339-yard effort against N.C. State last week.

Lynch has thrown for 2,418 yards and 21 touchdowns and rushed for 1,434 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Neither Lynch nor Williams have had the exposure of McCarron though, whose model girlfriend is more famous than either worthy candidate. Hopefully, that won’t be included in the criteria for this year’s vote.

• As crazy as it sounds, North Carolina scored 80 points and didn’t run it up against Old Dominion. The Tar Heels got 14 points on special teams (a punt return and a kickoff return for a touchdown) and didn’t score in the fourth quarter. Shortening the fourth quarter to 10 minutes was more embarrassing to ODU, which lost 35-24 last month at Pittsburgh, by the way, than anything UNC did on the field.

Still, UNC coach Larry Fedora probably wishes he could have saved some of those points for Duke this week.

• Just in case you think N.C. State’s current situation can’t get any worse, consider next year’s opener is against Georgia Southern, conquerors of Florida.

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