tampabay.com

Canes' title hopes hinge on beating Va. Tech

By wire services
Published October 31, 2005


CORAL GABLES - For the Hurricanes, the situation is simple.

Beat unbeaten Virginia Tech on Saturday and move closer to the Atlantic Coast Conference title game, a possible return to the Bowl Championship Series and stay in the national title picture.

With a loss, all that vanishes.

"We've played in a lot of games like this," coach Larry Coker said Sunday after reviewing the Carolina tape. "That's just something you like and hopefully if it affects us, it'll affect us in a positive way."

Virginia Tech came into the Orange Bowl last season and beat Miami 16-10 in the regular-season finale to clinch the ACC title.

PEP TALK: Saturday's game started eerily similar to the way it ended last year at UNC, Miami's defense sleepwalking through missed tackles.

But after defensive players gave impassioned locker-room pleas, the Tar Heels ran 15 plays in the third quarter and lost 13 yards.

Left end Bryan Pata said linebacker Roger McIntosh implored the 'Canes "to wrap up and make plays. But there was a lot of cursing involved, so you really can't put it in the newspaper."

Tackle Kareem Brown , who hoisted a huge U flag and waved it to the celebrating crowd, said the Hurricanes went out in the second half "with a chip on our shoulders. We had something to prove today."

NEW KICKER?: Tackle Eric Winston saved a potential UNC touchdown at 12:49 of the second quarter by kicking a tumbling ball from a bad snap through the end zone. Officials penalized Winston for illegally kicking a loose ball, and UNC declined the penalty, thereby earning two points on the safety.