Oct. 14, 2010
Five ACC Games Highlight Week 7 Slate
By Wes Durham
While Georgia Tech spends the weekend in a non-conference game with Middle Tennessee State, there are five Atlantic Coast Conference games scheduled and one other non-conference game (NC State at East Carolina). The ACC race is pretty interesting after last Saturday’s games. The Florida State win over Miami brought six other teams back to the table in their respective divisions.
In the Coastal Division, Georgia Tech, Miami and Carolina all have one loss in conference play. Virginia Tech is undefeated (2-0), but both of its wins are on the road in league play. Georgia Tech and FSU are the only other teams with two road wins in ACC play so far.
In the Atlantic, Maryland has won its only ACC game to date (vs. Duke), but NC State is a one-loss team in conference play too. Things look good Saturday for FSU on that side, but remember, the Seminoles still have the following games to play: at NC State, vs. Carolina and vs. Clemson. It would seem that the October 28th game at NC State might very well be for the “inside track” to Charlotte in the Atlantic.
One other stat corrected itself last week too. Home teams had won just three of the first 10 conference games until last weekend. Only Miami failed to hold serve at home last week, meaning that home teams are now 6-8 in ACC play.
On with the breakdown…
Maryland (4-1, 1-0) at Clemson (2-3, 0-2), 12 Noon, ACC Network
It might not be the best of times for Maryland to visit Clemson. The Tigers have lost two straight games (vs. Miami, at North Carolina) and in the process might have to run the table to have any hope of returning to the championship game. The Terps have quietly gone about their business. The lone defeat was at West Virginia, but Ralph Friedgen’s team has been pretty one-dimensional so far. They are 102nd nationally in passing offense (161.4), but they are fourth nationally in turnover margin (+8).
There’s where things could get interesting for Clemson. The Tigers are -4 in takeaway/giveaway over the last two games. In their loss at Carolina last Saturday, the Tigers slowed down Carolina on offense, but couldn’t prevent big plays.
Maryland also features possibly the most dangerous punt returner in the country. Tony Logan has already returned two punts for touchdowns, and he leads the country at 27.7 per return. Clemson is seventh nationally in net punting (41.2), which means that portion of the game could be interesting on Saturday.
Boston College (2-3, 0-2) at Florida State (5-1, 3-0), 12 Noon, ESPN
After last Saturday night’s dominant win at Miami, everyone is starting to believe that Florida State is back, and possibly ready to make a run to the Atlantic Division title for the first time since the debut of the title game in 2005. The Seminoles face a Boston College team that has lost three straight games, including last week’s 44-17, decision at NC State.
FSU did a lot of things well last Saturday, but the running game of Chris Thompson and Jermaine Thomas has given Christian Ponder, a new wrinkle for the `Noles offense. Thompson had 158 yards rushing and the `Noles amassed 298 on the ground against the `Canes.
Boston College is the best run defense in the ACC, allowing just 80.2 yards per game (5th nationally). LB Luke Kuechly leads the nation in tackles per game with 14.2. FSU is pretty salty too, ranking 2nd in the ACC and 12th nationally against the run (93.8).
The Eagles have won three of the last four meetings, including the last two games at Doak Campbell. The road team has won four of the five games since 2005.
NC State (5-1) at East Carolina (3-2), 12 Noon, CBS College Sports
It has been two years since NC State and East Carolina have played. It will be the first road non-conference road game of the year for the Wolfpack, who have won the last two meetings. The Pirates had lost two straight ACC games (at Virginia Tech, at Carolina), before holding off Southern Miss last week for their third win.
For NC State, this game will be about their ability to pass the ball. The Pack is 8th nationally in passing offense (311.0) and the Pirates are 110th nationally in pass defense (265.6). Seems simple, but when these two teams get together… anything can happen.
A side note to the game is that NC State can become “bowl eligible” with a win.
Miami (3-2, 1-1) at Duke (1-4, 0-2), 1 p.m., ESPN3.com
After a disappointing loss last Saturday night at home to FSU, the Hurricanes will try to get back on track against a Duke team that has lost four straight games since their opening win over Elon. Miami is one of three teams who could potentially challenge Virginia Tech, but like Carolina and Tech, the `Canes can’t afford another ACC loss.
Last year in their 34-16 win over Duke, Jacory Harris threw for 348 yards. Duke is 105th nationally in total defense (431.8), while their pass offense (295.2) is solid, it might very well end up being a game of keep away on Miami’s part.
Unless Duke can keep the ball away from Miami by using their steady passing game, it could be a long day in Durham for the Blue Devils.
Wake Forest (2-4, 1-2) at Virginia Tech (4-2, 2-0), 3:30 p.m., ESPNU
Virginia Tech is in the Coastal “driver’s seat”. The Hokies were one of the biggest benefactors of the FSU win last Saturday night. Frank Beamer’s team has won four straight games since the opening week defeats to Boise State and JMU, in part because of Tyrod Taylor’s exploits.
Last week, the Hokie QB accounted for 288 of Virginia Tech’s 394 yards of total offense. While they wait on Ryan Williams to return from a hamstring injury, Taylor, using the combination of Darren Evans and David Wilson at running back, has allowed the Hokie defense to develop into what many thought they would ultimately be. In the win streak, VT is +5 takeaway/giveaway.
Wake Forest is on a four-game game skid, but the last two have been painful. Two losses in the last 41-combined seconds. The four-point loss to Tech was followed by last week’s one-point loss to Navy. Ouch.
Rookie Tanner Price threw for 326 yards in the Navy game, but the run game had no punch, posting just 77-yards.
The old adage of “teams that throw can be dangerous” applies in Blacksburg for sure on Saturday.
Carolina (3-2, 1-1) at Virginia (2-3, 0-2), 6 p.m., ESPN3.com
One of the south’s oldest football rivalries is renewed on Saturday when the Tar Heels meet the Cavaliers. Carolina has not won in Charlottesville since 1981, but is due on that front alone, but also building some on-field momentum behind solid play from QB T.J. Yates.
TB Johnny White tallied 179 total yards last week and scored two times in the 21-16 win over Clemson. The defense surrendered a big play, but on the whole it was another team effort by a team that has drawn together since the opening losses to LSU and Georgia Tech.
For Virginia, the disturbing trend of the last two weeks is how many yards they are allowing on the ground. The Georgia Tech number (477) might be unorthodox, but FSU ran for 256 the week before. Basically, the `Hoos have allowed almost 370 yards on the ground in the last two games.
Carolina doesn’t run the ball that well (11th in ACC, 122.4), but if Virginia is a willing participant, then the Heels might very well get their first win at Charlottesville since Reagan was in office.