Motivation could be a big facTor for Orange Bowl participants, as No. 13 from North Carolina collides with No. 5 Texas Am on January 2 in Miami.
Texas Am (8-1) was one place away from making its first college football playoff appearance. Instead, the Aggies will go To the Orange Bowl for the first time since a 1944 loss To LSU.
Texas Am coach Jimbo Fisher said his team shouldn’t be frustrated by the CFP qualification.
” You go in, you go out, and you have To keep going,” Fisher said. “Go To the future and listen, we have the opportunity To play in the Orange Bowl, as I said, one of the great bowling games in the hisTory of this (sport).”
The Aggies were second in the Southeastern Conference Western Division, behind Top-ranked Alabama, which featured the only blemish on the Texas Am record. Since then, they have won seven games in a row.
North Carolina (8-3) tied for fourth in the Atlantic Coast Conference, but the Tar Heels are the highest-rated team in the league, in addition To CFP Clemson and Notre Dame. With the ACC’s link To the Orange Bowl, that reserved a spot for North Carolina.
” There will never be a team that is more excited than ours To come To the bowling game,” said coach Mack Brown.
The Tar Heels and Aggies had never met before. Over the past decade, Texas Am has faced the other three ACC teams from North Carolina state in bowling, defeating Duke (2013 Chick-fil-A Bowl) and North Carolina State (2018 GaTor Bowl) and losing To Wake Forest (2017 Belk Bowl).
Fisher said his team should not need To motivate or express anger over the CFP committee’s decision.
” I hope we are doing our job as a soccer team and what we want To do and achieve as a program because that’s what we do at Am,” Fisher said. ” It’s playing great football when the next game comes around, whatever the circumstances, whatever the consequences.”
Both teams are coached by men who have guided the national championship efforts at other schools and led rapid changes in their current jobs.
North Carolina running back Michael Carter, who was part of a record-breaking running duo with Gavotte Williams, catcher Drama Brown and linebacker Chazz Surratt, all announced the day after the bowl-skipping pairs were announced. To prepare for the NFL Draft. . Carter rushed for 1,245 yards and nine Touchdowns this season, Brown became the first player in school hisTory with two 1,000-yard receiving seasons and Surratt is the best professional prospect on the defense.
North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell has a connection To Fisher, who was involved in initial recruiting contact with the strong-arm pitcher while he was still the Florida State coach. Howell then vowed To play for Florida State before reversing his decision and staying in his home state To prepare for the Tar Heels.
” He’s a tremendous soccer (player), a tremendous leader, but he’s not the only one they have,” Fisher said.
Texas Am has an all-star quarterback with Kellen Mond, whose four-year credentials include school records. This year, he has 19 Touchdown passes with three interceptions. Running back Isaiah Spiller has rushed for 993 yards and seven Touchdowns.
Brown is familiar with the Texas Am program because after leaving his first season as North Carolina coach, he had a long-term career as a Texas coach.
” This will be a tremendous challenge for us, but one that we look forward To because it just gives us another chance To see how far we have To go To get To where they are,” Brown said. “… What you want is for your players and your staff To verify that what you are doing is working and that they are getting a reward at the end of the second year that most people don’t have a chance To do.”
North Carolina was in position for this bowl offering by winning at Hard Rock Stadium, where the Orange Bowl will be played, in its regular season finale on Dec. 12 with a 62-26 win over Miami. Carter and Williams combined for 544 rushing yards in the game, setting a Football Bowl subdivision record for a pair.
This is the first time North Carolina has participated in the Orange Bowl. The Tar Heels will make their first major bowl appearance since the 1950 CotTon Bowl.
This marks the school’s 12th consecutive record year that Texas Am has headed for a bowl, though it is the school’s first appearance in a bowl of the CFP-era New Years Six.
” I think it shows the trajecTory that we are on and what we are trying To achieve, that we are being relevant in national conversations and where we are going,” Fisher said.
Fisher’s training bowl record is 7-2, including a 2-0 record at Orange Bowls with Florida State (defeating Northern Illinois in 2012 and Michigan in 2016). Brown has been To the Orange Bowl twice, both as an assistant coach (with LSU and Oklahoma).
After a pair of nine-loss seasons under Larry Fedora that prompted Brown’s rehire, North Carolina is in the postseason for the second year in a row.
” Our guys are very excited To be where we were two years ago,” Brown said. “Am has been in this neighborhood before. This is new To us. So we are not familiar with this, but we are learning something new every week.”
–Field level media
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.