By TIM REYNOLDS, AP Sports activities Author
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — If there’s one perception that Texas A&M and North Carolina share heading into the Orange Bowl, it’s that there’s no use in trying backward.
For the Aggies, which means not lamenting lacking the School Soccer Playoff.
For the Tar Heels, which means not fixating on 4 prime gamers skipping this recreation.
An opportunity to finish 2020 seasons and kickstart 2021 campaigns in major-bowl vogue awaits on Saturday evening when Texas A&M (8-1, No. 5 AP and CFP) meets North Carolina (8-3, No. 14 AP, No. 13 CFP) within the 87th version of the Orange Bowl.
“I at all times say this: The Orange Bowl is pretty much as good because it will get,” Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher mentioned Friday. “To have the ability to come to South Florida and play in such a prestigious recreation with such nice historical past, and the good gamers and coaches, individuals who have participated on this recreation, it’s phenomenal.
“We need to end this season off the proper means.”
When this matchup was put collectively, it seemed just like the quintessential collision of power vs. power: North Carolina, that includes two of the highest working backs within the nation, towards a Texas A&M rush protection that’s among the many nation’s greatest.
Factor is, neither of these working backs — Michael Carter and Javonte Williams — selected to play within the Orange Bowl. They opted out, as did large receiver Dyami Brown and linebacker Chazz Surratt.
“That’s 4,000 yards value of offense and our main tackler on protection and two captains,” North Carolina coach Mack Brown mentioned. “That is new for me as a result of I’ve by no means had a man not play in a ball recreation. So, what we’ve accomplished is we’ve dealt with it like guys are injured. It’s subsequent man up. Obtained to do the very best you are able to do.”
Carter and Williams mixed for almost 2,400 speeding yards this season together with 544 yards, an FBS report for teammates in a single recreation, towards Miami of their common season finale at Arduous Rock Stadium final month. With them gone, it means much more stress might be on North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell.
“Individuals aren’t actually giving us an opportunity anymore, particularly with these guys opting out, in order that they’re most likely pondering it’s going to be a blowout,” Howell mentioned. “We all know individuals are saying that about us, however we actually don’t care about that. We all know the blokes now we have.”
Texas A&M needed to be in Arduous Rock Stadium later this month, taking part in within the nationwide title recreation on Jan. 11. However the Aggies had been one spot away from making the four-team CFP discipline, a disappointment that they needed to transfer on from shortly to prepare for the Orange Bowl.
“I believe our mindset each week is that now we have one thing to show,” Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond mentioned. “I don’t suppose it’s something to show to different folks, however we simply need to proceed to get higher as a crew and proceed to develop, and I believe that’s simply the primary factor in our mindset each week that we play.”
Right here’s a few of what to know going into the Orange Bowl:
North Carolina is barely a 7 1/2-point underdog, however after the opt-outs the Tar Heels know they gained’t be a well-liked selection. It may very well be a rallying cry on Saturday evening. “Not one particular person in America goes to select us to win, exterior of our room,” Brown mentioned.
Fisher is 6-Zero at Arduous Rock Stadium; 4-Zero as Florida State’s coach towards Miami on the Hurricanes’ residence discipline, 2-Zero with the Seminoles in Orange Bowls. He mentioned coming again rekindled nice recollections. “I’ve been very blessed to come back out with some nice outcomes. Hopefully, we’ll have one other one,” Fisher mentioned.
The colleges have by no means met in soccer, although they’ve some postseason historical past towards each other. Some notable examples: Texas A&M is 2-Zero towards North Carolina in each the NCAA males’s basketball and baseball tournaments, and the Tar Heels are 4-1 towards the Aggies in NCAA girls’s soccer match matchups.
Of the 44 gamers beginning on offense and protection within the Orange Bowl, it’s doable greater than half might be both a freshman or a sophomore, based mostly on crew depth charts.
The Orange Bowl Braveness Award winner this 12 months is Alex Charlton, who left his job as an Arkansas State defensive analyst and determined to struggle the coronavirus pandemic as a nurse. Charlton has labored in New York and Texas on the entrance traces within the battle towards COVID-19.
Extra AP school soccer: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25
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