Oct. 22, 2010
By Wes Durham
It is a relatively light schedule for the ACC this weekend. In fact, there are four conference games, with three inter-division games highlighted. The only non-division game is Georgia Tech’s visit to Clemson in a renewal of last year’s ACC title game in Tampa.
There are three teams enjoying open dates this weekend. NC State and Florida State are playing next Thursday night in Raleigh, which is a huge game in the Atlantic division. Wake Forest is the third school enjoying a “bye” this weekend. The Deacons have lost five straight since winning their first conference game against Duke, back on September 11.
With the details spelled out, here’s the slate for Saturday:
Duke (1-5, 0-3) at Virginia Tech (5-2, 3-0), 12 Noon, ACC Network
The Blue Devils of David Cutcliffe have lost five straight games and face a Virginia Tech team that is on a five-game winning streak since back-to-back losses to start the season. Duke’s biggest problem in the last three games has been turnovers. The Blue Devils have 14 giveaways in their last three games, while only forcing two turnovers. That’s a differential of -12. Sean Renfree threw five interceptions in last week’s 28-13 loss to Miami.
The Hokies rolled Wake Forest last Saturday in Blacksburg. Virginia Tech posted 605 yards of total offense in the 52-21 win over the Deacs. Since its 19-0 win at Boston College to start ACC play, Virginia Tech is averaging 45.6 points per game in wins over NC State, Central Michigan and Wake Forest. The other key element is the Hokies ability to run the ball. The Hokies are averaging nearly 280 yards rushing per game in the last three as well.
Duke has allowed nearly 200 yards rushing per game in last three games. Ouch.
Maryland (4-2, 1-1) at Boston College (2-4, 0-3), 1 p.m., ESPN3.com
Maryland is just two wins from being bowl-eligible. But after last week’s loss at Clemson, the Terps might need to have a sense of urgency about it. Three of their next four games are on the road, starting at Boston College on Saturday. Ralph Friedgen’s team only had 44 yards rushing in the game at Clemson and 124 on the ground against Duke. The Terps were also undone at Clemson by three turnovers as well. With six games left, it looks like long odds for the post-season for Maryland.
Boston College rallied at FSU last week, but fell short to the Seminoles. The Eagles defense helped force four turnovers from Christian Ponder and a fifth that was called back on penalty. Montel Harris was sensational in the first half, then got banged up. When healthy, Harris could single-handedly ruin Maryland’s day. Rookie Chase Rettig gets the call at QB for BC again this week.
The winner of this one might have the upper hand on a post-season game.
Eastern Michigan (1-6) at Virginia (2-4), 6 p.m., ESPN3.com
After losing three straight games, Virginia welcomes Eastern Michigan of the MAC to Charlottesville. The Cavaliers got thumped by the big play in a 44-10 loss at home to North Carolina last week. Big Keith Payne had 100+ yards of rushing against the Heels, but it wasn’t enough, as the Wahoos turned the ball over five times in the game. Virginia has to tighten that up because they have had 11 turnovers in the last four games, while allowing 1,015 yards in the last two games.
Eastern Michigan’s Ron English finally got into the win column last weekend with a 41-38 overtime win over Ball State. Not just the win column for this year — the win column for the first time since taking over the EMU post prior to 2009. Virginia is likely going to line up and run the ball. EMU is allowing 228.3 yards per game, which is 117th nationally.
North Carolina (4-2, 2-1) at Miami (4-2, 2-1), 7:30 p.m., ESPN2
A pivotal game in the Coastal is the last game of the day. Carolina has won four straight since losses to LSU and Tech to open the year. Miami won at Duke last week, but is still shaking off some of the lingering effects of the FSU loss. The `Canes defense had two interceptions for touchdowns, including one by DT Micanor Regis.
For the visiting `Heels, it might be a game of patience. Carolina has used balance on offense with TB Johnny White helping UNC to 140 yards of rushing last week. But they are +7 takeaway/giveaway in their last three games. That could be a critical stat on Saturday night.
Miami starts the stretch drive against a Carolina team that has won the last three games in the series, including last year in Chapel Hill when Jacory Harris threw the ball 50 times and had four interceptions.
Both the Hokies and Jackets will have an eye on this one in South Florida.