Sept. 22, 2010
By Wes Durham
There have been exactly two ACC games played to date. Wake Forest beat Duke two weeks ago, and last Saturday, Georgia Tech beat North Carolina in Chapel Hill, 30-24. This weekend there are three conference games on the schedule among the seven, including the noon kick on Grant Field.
The conference hasn’t faired very well in BCS non-conference games, but then again, most of them have been on the road. Last weekend the league went 2-4 in the non-conference rotation, with Florida State and Virginia Tech earning wins. Meantime, the two biggest chances to establish some national recognition ended in overtime when Clemson lost at Auburn, and late in the night when Wake Forest couldn’t keep up with Stanford.
While there are a few non-conference games left, most of the schedule after this weekend will be dominated by conference play. Let’s move on to the fourth weekend of the season.
OPEN DATE: Clemson (Oct. 2, v. Miami)
Virginia Tech at Boston College, 12 noon, ACC Network
The two early conference games might have the most interest, and given the track record of the Hokies and Eagles, this one could get real interesting. Virginia Tech got its first win last Saturday against East Carolina in Blacksburg. “Rock” Carmichael picked off two passes in the win, and figures to be busy Saturday trying to create havoc against BC. The Eagles Luke Kuechly is at it again this fall. Last year’s ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year, he had 10 tackles in BC’s win over Kent State two weeks ago.
The game is likely to be decided when Virginia Tech has the ball. The Hokies are 26th nationally in rushing offense (205.0), while the Eagles are 3rd nationally against the run (54.0).
Florida International at Maryland, 12 noon, ESPNU
The Terps fell behind early last Saturday at WVU and never could recover against the Mountaineers. But WR Torrey Smith did have touchdown catches of 60 and 80 yards in the game. Smith has developed into a nice all-purpose player for the Terps.
The Golden Panthers nearly shocked Rutgers in their opener (losing 19-14), and led at the half last week before losing at Texas A&M (27-20). This might be their best chance to get a BCS win in quite some time.
VMI at Virginia, 1:30 p.m., ESPN3.com
After a valiant effort at Southern Cal a couple weeks ago, the Cavaliers return home to face old in-state rival Virginia Military Institute. The Keydets are coached by former South Carolina boss Sparky Woods. A couple generations ago, this was one of the better rivalries, but now VMI has gone from the Southern Conference to the Big South.
VMI hasn’t beaten Virginia since 1978, and it has not played since 1991. The Cavaliers are rounding into form for coach Mike London, but after a 1-1 start, they need to use this game to get things sharpened up because their next three games are FSU, Georgia Tech and Carolina.
Army at Duke, 3 p.m., ESPN3.com
Somewhere this week, Duke hopefully shook off the Alabama loss and put things back in perspective and is ready to move on with the 2010 season. There was no “glass slipper” last Saturday against Alabama… no Chaminade… no “Miracle On Ice”, but the Blue Devils can’t let that game diminish their season goals.
Sean Renfree has put the Blue Devils in the nation’s top 20 among passing teams (288.0 ypg), and the Cadets are a top 30 team defending the pass. Rich Ellerson’s team has beaten Eastern Michigan and North Texas, but lost to Hawai’i.
Duke gets an early look at the “spread option” as Army is 7th in the country running the ball (283.6).
Wake Forest at Florida State, 3:30 p.m., ABC
After getting into a fast break game at Stanford last week, Wake Forest will try and avoid the same fate this Saturday at Florida State. The `Noles handled BYU last week, but now need to focus on a team that has given them fits the last few years. It has been since 2005 that FSU has beaten Wake Forest in Tallahassee. Seriously.
Tanner Price’s start at Stanford didn’t go as well as the second half effort against Duke. Price will need to play with some poise against FSU and the hostile crowd at Doak Campbell.
Chris Thompson rushed for 123 yards in the `Noles win against BYU. Thompson is just another of the guys who can help Christian Ponder set up the passing game with their run game.
North Carolina at Rutgers, 3:30 p.m., ESPNU
Carolina has lost both of its first two games by a 30-24 score. Curious? I think so. You just don’t see that happen very often. Despite all the stuff going on off the field, I think the Heels have played pretty well. A lot of people think Georgia Tech backed into the win last week, but I’m not one of those.
Rutgers is a team who has backed in wins over Norfolk State and FIU. They are top 40 in all team defensive stats, but I’m not sure that holds up on Saturday. Johnny White and Shaun Draughn will be a tough combination for the Kinghts to handle. Basically it sets up T.J. Yates to throw the ball to one of his receivers.