Rivalry Week is here! North Carolina favored by 6.5 points against NC State :: WRALSportsFan.com

Week 13 of the 2022 college football season, also known as rivalry week, has a lot of questions.

WRAL senior multiplatform producer Mark Bergin tries to answer some of them.

This story uses the College Football Playoff rankings.

North Carolina, NC State seeks redemption during rivalry week

N.C. State @ No. 17 North Carolina (3:30 p.m. ET Friday, ABC)

North Carolina (9-2, 6-1 ACC) hung on a thin chance to make the College Football Playoff before losing to Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets made up a 17-point deficit and scored 21 unanswered points with third-string quarterback Zach Gibson to defeat the Tar Heels 21-17.

UNC falls in stunning upset to Ga Tech, 21-17

Now the Tar Heels hope their second loss of the season doesn’t cost quarterback Drake Maye a trip to the Big Apple for the December 10 Heisman Trophy ceremony. Maye won’t win the award, but he deserves to be a finalist if the Tar Heels win. It’s an uphill task heading into rivalry week and the December 3 ACC championship game against Clemson.

Plus, there’s bad blood between North Carolina and NC State.

In September, Maye quickly apologized after saying at a press conference, “People who go to (NC) State just can’t get into Carolina”.

We’ll see if Maye’s comments provide additional motivation for the Wolfpack.

NC State (7-4, 3-4 ACC) has lost two consecutive games and three of its last five.

The Wolfpack has been plagued by injuries. They played Louisville without freshman quarterback MJ Morris, center Grant Gibson, linebacker Payton Wilson, tight end Trent Pennix, wide receiver Devin Carter, running back Demie Sumo-Karngbaye, and defensive back Tyler Baker-Williams.

Earlier this season, NC State also lost starting quarterback Devin Leary, the ACC preseason player of the year, to a season-ending injury.

Jack Chambers could start on Saturday if Morris can’t play. Ben Finley could also get into the mix.

The Wolfpack won last year’s game 34-30.

What’s the best college football game of the weekend?

No. 3 Michigan @ No. 2 Ohio State (afternoon ET Saturday, FOX)

Michigan finally defeated Ohio State in 2021, for the first time in the Jim Harbaugh era and first since 2011. The Wolverines won the 2021 game by dominating the line of scrimmage, 7.2 yards per carry, while defensively only 2. allowed 1 yards per carry.

The winner of this game likely represents the Big Ten in the CFP. It assumes the winner will beat the winner of the Big Ten West — likely Iowa — in the conference title game on Dec. 3.

Both teams have Heisman contenders: Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud and Michigan running back Blake Corum.

However, Corum injured his left knee against Illinois. He returned for one carry in the second half before sitting for the rest of the game. It’s unclear how limited Corum will be against the Buckeyes

Stroud’s performance on Saturday could determine whether he will win the Heisman.

USC quarterback Caleb Williams is considered Stroud’s biggest Heisman challenger to face this weekend. Last Saturday, Williams had a Heisman-worthy performance against UCLA.

Which team will Lee Corso pick on ESPN’s “College GameDay” broadcast? State of Ohio or Michigan?

Corso loves Brutus the Buckeye, who goes back to the origins of his legendary headgear. I think he picks Ohio State.

How is the rest of the CFP shaking out?

Assuming Georgia beats Georgia Tech on Saturday, the Bulldogs will likely make the CFP regardless of the outcome in the SEC title game on December 3.

Ohio State of Michigan will likely represent the Big Ten in CFP.

If TCU and USC win, both teams are likely to compete. However, both have heavy schedules. TCU has Iowa State and the Big 12 championship opponent (Kansas State of Texas). USC must beat Notre Dame and the opponent of the PAC-12 championship (Oregon, Utah or Washington).

If TCU and USC fall foul, the debate will turn to whether Clemson can remain a one-loss ACC champion or whether a two-loss SEC school is worth more under Alabama and LSU. The reason I’m omitting Tennessee is that Alabama and LSU are playing in the SEC West, which means they have a chance to play Georgia in the SEC title game.

What happens outside of rivalry week?

Bowling season is almost here and the coaching carousel is already underway.

There are several reasons why the rumors of Lane Kiffin going to Auburn are so juicy, including:

  1. Ole Miss, Kiffin’s current team, also plays in the SEC West.
  2. In 2009, when Kiffin left Tennessee—his first SEC coaching job—to take the USC gig, Vols fans rioted. It came despite the fact that USC reportedly paid Kiffin an average of $4 million a year, which was double his salary in Tennessee.
  3. The transfer portal will open on December 5 and the early signing period for high school recruiting will begin on December 21.
  4. Reports indicate that Kiffin met with Ole Miss players on Tuesday to tell them that he has not accepted a job at another school.
  5. Kiffin’s Twitter shenanigans.
  6. WCBI’s Jon Skoloff cites unnamed sources and sticks to his Monday coverage. Skoloff claims Kiffin plans to resign Friday and go to Auburn. Skoloff also reported that Auburn had not yet officially offered the job to anyone.

If Kiffin turns down Auburn, former Ole Miss coach and current Liberty coach Hugh Freeze could be the next candidate in line.

Say what you will about Freeze, there aren’t many coaches who have beaten Alabama’s Nick Saban in consecutive seasons. Since Saban first became SEC head coach at LSU in 2000, only Freeze, Steve Spurrier with Florida and Les Miles with LSU have beaten the legend in two straight games.

Current Auburn interim coach Cadillac Williams is also considered for the full-time position. Williams could grab the track with a big upset of Alabama in Saturday afternoon’s Iron Bowl. Alabama is a 22-point favorite.

Other openings include Wisconsin, Nebraska, Colorado, Arizona State, Georgia Tech, and South Florida.

Rumor has it that NC State head coach Dave Doeren would fill some of these vacancies. It should at least provide Doeren with leverage for a possible wage increase.

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