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Banged up North Carolina down three starters after trio of season-ending injuries

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North Carolina’s injury situation has gone from bad to worse in the blink of an eye this week.

The school confirmed via their weekly injury report on Thursday night that three starters were lost for the rest of the season as linebacker Andre Smith, offensive lineman William Sweet and receiver Thomas Jackson all won’t return to action. The trio, who were not listed with a specific injury, were part of a whopping 19 players who were banged up on the report.

Smith did not play in last week’s game for the Tar Heels but it appears both Sweet and Jackson went down against Old Dominion and did not return.

“It is what it is. It’s the same old thing: The next guy has to get up, and the next guy has to play,” head coach Larry Fedora said earlier in the week. “You hope you can build some type of continuity at some point.”

The three starters join a lengthy injury list for the Tar Heels that is now up to nearly a 1/10th of the roster — nine names long — out for the year.

Defensive lineman Jalen Dalton was also ruled doubtful for UNC’s game against triangle rival Duke on Saturday, along with cornerback Corey Bell. offensive lineman Cam Dillard and Bentley Spain, as well as wideout Dazz Newsome, were all listed as questionable.

Washington’s Dante Pettis returns punt for TD in third straight game, ties two NCAA records in the process

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Why you would ever, ever punt to Dante Pettis is beyond me.  Yet, here we are.  Again.

In the first two weeks of the 2017 season, the Washington returner extraordinaire had taken two punts to the house, giving him seven such touchdowns for his career.  In the first quarter of its Week 3 game, Fresno State opted to punt to him and, well, Pettis did what Pettis does.

Yep.

In one fell swoop, Pettis tied a pair of NCAA records.

The record for career punt returns for touchdowns is now shared by Pettis with Texas Tech’s Wes Welker (2000-03) and Oklahoma’s Antonio Perkins (2001-04).  Kansas State’s David Allen (1998) and North Carolina’s Ryan Switzer (2013) are the only other players to return one for a score in back-to-back-to-back games.

Vegas remains very high on Ohio State’s national title hopes

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Ohio State may no longer be viable national title contenders in the eyes of some fans, that’s not how one Las Vegas book sees it.

Despite an embarrassing home loss to Oklahoma Saturday night, OSU is currently an 8/1 favorite to claim the 2017 College Football Playoff championship according to Bovada.lv. That’s down just slightly from the 6/1 they were at after Week 1 and behind just two other teams — Alabama at 7/4 (13/5 on Sept. 5) and USC at 6/1.

And the team that convincingly dropped the Buckeyes? The Sooners are at 8/1 after being at 14/1 a week ago.

Of course, there is precedence for OSU bouncing back from such an early-season loss, which is surely in the back of Vegas’ oddsmaking minds. Three years ago, OSU stumbled in a double-digit Week 2 loss to Virginia Tech before going undefeated the remainder of the year and claiming the 2014 national championship in the first season of the CFP.

Getting back to the here and now, the 2016 national champions, Clemson (20/1), are at 14/1 in Bovada‘s latest title odds, as are Michigan and Penn State. Both of those Big Ten teams hold steady from their odds a week ago.

Houston, at 100/1, is the only Group of Five team still on the board.

Below is the latest set of 2017 national championship odds, again courtesy of Bovada.lv.

Lamar Jackson’s 6-TD day pushes No. 17 Louisville by UNC

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If you were wondering how long it would take for the reigning Heisman Trophy winner to storm back to the Heisman Trophy discussion in 2017, the answer was two games.

After a close call in Indianapolis a week ago against Purdue, Lamar Jackson accounted for six touchdowns to help No. 17 Louisville (2-0, 1-0 ACC) pull away for a road win against North Carolina (0-2, 0-1 ACC). The Cardinals and Tar Heels went back and forth for much of the afternoon, but a 20-7 fourth quarter saw the Cardinals pulls away for the 47-35 victory.

Jackson passed for 393 yards and three touchdowns without an interception. He also finished the day with 132 rushing yards and three more touchdowns. While he had some questionable moments, Jackson proved once again that when he is at his best, he is incredibly good.

UNC switched quarterbacks in the second half, moving on from Chazz Surratt in the first half to LSU transfer Brandon Harris in the second. Surratt played well in the first half, completing 12 of 14 passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns, but a possible ankle injury left him on the sideline after halftime. Haris had a fine afternoon with 216 passing yards and a touchdown. UNC receiver Austin Proehl‘s eight catches for 120 yards was impressive, but Louisville receiver Jaylen Smith led all players with 183 receiving yards, including a 75-yard bomb from Jackson.

Louisville will finally get to play a home game next week, and it will be a big one. The Cardinals welcome Clemson to town in a big time ACC Atlantic Division matchup. Clemson took last year’s meeting en route to the ACC and national championship, although Jackson piled up big numbers against the Tigers.

UNC will be on the road next week to play at Old Dominion of Conference USA.

Louisville letting UNC hang around in Chapel Hill

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Looking to shrug off any rust shown last week in Indianapolis against Purdue (who looked darn good last night, by the way), the Louisville Cardinals are once again on the road to take on another basketball-first school. So far, after one half of play in Chapel Hill against North Carolina, Louisville’s offense has had a much better showing with each offensive series resulting in points. Louisville leads UNC 20-14 at the halftime break.

But it hasn’t been all been pretty for the Cardinals. Knocking on the doorstep for another score, Lamar Jackson nearly threw away an easy three points with an ill-advised throw to get rid of the ball into a spot with nobody but Tar Heels around to make a play. Fortunately for Jackson, the ball fell incomplete.

Jackson has passed for 259 yards and two touchdowns and leads the Cardinals with 47 rushing yards. Jaylen Smith leads all players with 146 receiving yards, including a 75-yard touchdown pass from Jackson. UNC quarterback Chazz Surratt has completed 12 of 14 pass attempts for 168 yards and two touchdowns.

Louisville has held the upper hand in most areas, but the Tar Heels continue to hang around. Louisville has more than double the offensive yardage as UNC and has a 19-6 advantage in first downs, while holding on to the football for nearly nine additional minutes in the first half.