- State has something to play for
- Fans can't stop talking about the Carolina game
- Miami got their rear ends beat by Georgia Tech
- CFN is finally picking us to win a game
1. I know that O'Brien, his staff and the players have all vowed not to let what happened last year (a shutout against Maryland with a bowl game on the line) happen again this year. That's all well and good, but the situations following the win against Carolina last season and this are eerily similar. State beat the Heels in Raleigh and then lost their final two games to finish 5-7. State is again sitting on five wins following the Carolina win, but unlike last year they only have one crack at making a bowl. And like last season they face a tough team that's as dangerous as any they've faced all year.
2. It's natural to revel in a victory over a rival, but doing so with the players and on the airwaves in ear shot of the team can lead to a hangover that may carry into the Miami game. O'Brien mentioned as much on his radio show Monday evening, stressing the need to move on from the Carolina win and focus on the 'Canes. Easier said than done. Of course, O'Brien didn't do himself any favors in making the talk go away with his proclamation of State as the top football program in the state. I love the smack talk, but things would've worked out better had the Carolina win and accompanying smack come in the final game of the year. As it stands now, it only serves as a deterrent.
3. Miami was feeling pretty good about themselves two weeks ago, having won five in a row and newly minted as a top-25 team. Then Paul Johnson and his triple option ran roughshod all over their asses in Atlanta. State put up 466 total yards against the Heels; Georgia Tech bested that number in rushing yards alone against Shannon's 'Canes. A beatdown like that stings twice as hard for a defensive coordinator-turned-head coach. He'll be reminding his team repeatedly of the thrashing they took, questioning their pride and desire on defense. A riled-up team with players as strong, fast and skilled as Miami's are on defense could pose serious problems for a team like State feeling good about itself.
4. CFN has been picking against the Pack for as long as I can recall. They picked Duke to pull the upset, for Wake to best the Pack and for Carolina to roll in Kenan. Now they've decided to toss their lot in with the Pack. Uh oh. I put way more stock in items 1-3 as legitimate reasons why the Pack can lose, but this one is like those harbinger moments you look at and say, "Oh crap...don't mess with our mojo. Please!" I'm a supperstitous sort, as I've said before, so this one plays to my irrational sensibilities. If Jenn Sterger picks the Pack as well, then I'll know we're doomed.