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BATTLE FOR N.C.: App. State first in state, No. 2 in Carolinas

Louisiana-Monroe No. 24 Appalachian State Football

FILE - In this Sept. 28, 2019, file photo, Appalachian State head coach Eli Drinkwitz shouts in the second quarter of an NCAA football game against Coastal Carolina, in Boone, N.C. No. 24 Appalachian State are ranked for the second time ever. They take on Louisiana-Monroe at home on Saturday, Oct. 19. (Allison Lee Isley/The Winston-Salem Journal via AP)

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Monday, November 11, 2019

Let's expand this exercise, for one week, to include South Carolina. The Battle for The Carolinas.

Clemson, obviously, would be No. 1. South Carolina would be fourth thanks to its win over Georgia.

No. 2? Appalachian State, which would own road victories over No. 3 North Carolina and fourth-ranked SC.

App. State regained its footing as the best team in North Carolina with a thorough 20-15 win at South Carolina on Saturday night. It came on the same day that Wake Forest looked overmatched in Blacksburg, Va., losing 36-17 to Virginia Tech.

Here are the updated (North Carolina-only) rankings:

1. Appalachian State

Record: 8-1.

Why No. 1? The Mountaineers are known for their skill players on offense, but their defense stifled a Southeastern Conference team in the defeat of the Gamecocks. A pick-six late in the second quarter was the biggest play in the game, and App. State's defense also made a final stand in the red zone as time expired.

2. Wake Forest

Record: 7-2.

Why No. 2? Wake was No. 1 last week for a brief stay at the top. The Demon Deacons were out-rushed 228-63 at Va. Tech. Now they have to play at Clemson, and then they host Duke for an important in-state matchup on Nov. 23.

3. North Carolina

Record: 4-5.

Why No. 3? After a gauntlet of a first month to the season, UNC has had a favorable second-half slate. The Tar Heels enjoyed a bye week before their huge matchup this Thursday at Pittsburgh, then games versus Mercer and N.C. State are ideal for momentum heading into the postseason.

4. Duke

Record: 4-5.

Why No. 4? The Blue Devils have been predictable, winning the games they should and losing their most difficult matchups. The runaway victory at Virginia Tech was the lone exception. Saturday's 38-7 defeat to Notre Dame followed losses at Virginia and at North Carolina.

5. N.C. State

Record: 4-5.

Why No. 5? N.C. State was in the inauspicious position as the team to play Clemson during the week of the first College Football Playoff rankings. Clemson was ranked No. 5, outside of the coveted top four spots, and proceeded to roll in Raleigh with an easy 55-10 victory. It's not fun facing a motivated Clemson.

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.

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