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CNN/SI Front '98-'99 Bowl Front More College Football news Schedule Scoreboard Picks Bowl Grid Stat Matchups Past Champs Extinct Bowls Message Boards Fan Poll
 

The Breakdown

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Posted: Saturday December 19, 1998 10:28 AM

San Diego State
(7-4 record; Ted Tollner, 5th year)
North Carolina
(6-5 record; Carl Torbush, 1st year)
School's Bowl Record: 1-3

Coach's Bowl Record: 1-2

Last Bowl Appearance: December 1991 Freedom Bowl (lost to Tulsa 28-17)

Record in Las Vegas Bowl: First appearance
School's Bowl Record: 10-12

Coach's Bowl Record: 1-0

Last Bowl Appearance: January 1998 Gator Bowl (beat Virginia Tech 42-3)

Record in Las Vegas Bowl: First appearance
Offensive Stud
Jonas Lewis, RB, Jr. (181 rushes, 897 yards, 7 TDs): While he wasn't always the go-to back this year, he finished the season averaging 116 yards in his last three games. Na Brown, WR, Sr. (55 catches, 897 yards, 6 TDs): The Heels' all-time leader in receptions with 165. He tied his own school record with 55 catches this season.
Defensive Stud
Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, DL, Jr. (14 tackles for loss, 7 sacks): One of the top defensive players in the WAC, having been named to the All-Pacific Division team the past two seasons Ebenezer Ekuban, DE, Sr. (96 tackles, 7 sacks): In just his second year playing defense after being converted from tight end, he led the ACC with 23 tackles for loss.
Player to Watch
Damon Gourdine, WR, Jr. (55 catches, 649 yards, 4 TDs): He is following the recent tradition of talented Aztec receivers such as Darnay Scott and Will Blackwell. Dre Bly, DB, Jr. (4 interceptions, 10 pass break-ups): A bona fide All-America candidate at the beginning of the season, he has had a very average year but is still the ACC's all-time leader in interceptions with 20.
Key Stats
Allowing just 16 points per game after getting blown out in the first three games of the year. Freshman phenom Ronald Curry rushed for 419 yards, tops in the ACC among QBs. The stat is even more impressive considering sacks are counted against rushing yards in college.
Surprise Stat
Despite playing in the alleged high-scoring WAC, the Aztecs are averaging just 20.9 points per game -- the lowest total among all bowl teams. Averaged just 329 yards in offense per game, seventh in the ACC. Only conference doormats Clemson and Maryland did worse.
1998 Turning Point
Playing a WAC schedule. The Aztecs opened the season with three straight losses to bowl teams Wisconsin, Arizona and USC by a combined score of 96-36. After that, they went 7-1 in the conference, losing only to division champs BYU. Only qualified for a bowl after knocking off in-state rivals N.C. State in overtime in the season finale. However, the Heels blew two 21-point leads during the game before winning.
Key to Victory
Trying to score some points. The defense has been relatively solid but the offense has been anemic at times. Getting some decent offensive production from QBs Curry and Oscar Davenport, who have been very inconsistent all season.
Outlook
While the Aztecs are 7-4, they were 0-4 against teams headed to bowls. Don't expect much of a change. The Heels are lucky to be in a bowl and even luckier to be playing San Diego State.

 
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