Who's the best team in North Carolina?
Van Davenport in Raleigh, N.C., writes: Hi Heather,Ok first things first. I am an avid reader of all your work here on ESPN.com. I have been a lifelong Wolfpack fan and am currently a sophomore at NCSU. My question here is that why on earth are you picking the tar heels to beat us. We have the better record, the better quarterback, and in my opinion, a defensive group that is really out to prove something this game. NC State is a team that is straddling the fence of the relevancy nationally and for a program that has struggled to get premiere football recruits in the Tom O'Brien era, this is huge. I think the men in red are going to take this game thanks to great defense and a couple TD strikes from Big Mike in the pocket. 31-21. PACK over heels for 6th straight.
HD: You might be right. I think NC State has the better quarterback, but as I mentioned in the Game of the Week video on Thursday, I think NC State's inability to run the ball consistently is going to be its downfall in this game. The best defense against Giovani Bernard and that offensive line is to keep them off the field by sustaining some drives. Duke figured that out. Follow that blueprint for a win, but I don't think the Pack will be able to.
Tim in Denver writes: HD, If Clemson finishes the season with only a loss to FSU (and FSU doesn't lose another game) is the Tigers schedule strong enough to get them into a BCS bowl? Or are we destined to another Chick fil A as a possible top 10 team?
HD: The first task is to get Clemson ranked in the top 14, Tim. Only teams ranked among the top 14 in the final BCS standings are eligible for an at-large bid. If and when that happens, then we can talk about that possibility. At No. 18, it's a definite possibility.
Austin Brown in Blacksburg, Va., writes: Heather It is hard for any Hokie fan to see the disappointing nature of our football team this year! Do you think that they have had so many consistent years that they were bound for a weaker and less productive season? Hokie football is definitely one of the biggest disappointments in college football this year. Do you believe a shift in coaching staff might get the ball down field for the 2013 team?
HD: Let's see how they do down the stretch. If they lose against Miami, suddenly the Florida State game doesn't look so significant anymore. I do think the offensive staff is in for some change, but you're not going to hear me calling for Frank Beamer's job. He's done way too much for that program.
Jordan in Richmond, Va., writes: I can't believe that more is not being made out of the 2 EXTREMELY awful calls against VT in the Clemson game. Those calls were at very critical points in the game and in my honest opinion changed the outcome. I'm not saying the VT would have won, but they sure would have had a shot. Those 2 calls affected the outcome of the game, something that the refs are not supposed to do. Can you please talk about the process behind close doors of teams appealing calls and things of that nature. Did VT say anything or do anything about those calls?
HD: If coaches don't like the call, they can send it to the ACC office. It happens every week. Here are some facts about how the process works:
The entry-level official in the ACC typically has 15+ years of experience.
There is an ACC observer in attendance at each game and every game is monitored and recorded at the ACC game day operations center.
After a thorough evaluation and review, every foul is graded and the scores are then converted to ratings that comprise every official’s annual performance rating. These ratings are then used as the basis for postseason assignments and retention for the following season. There is an average turnover of approximately six-seven officials every season. (This includes retirements and dismissals).
Every coaching staff submits any plays they question each week. ACC coordinator of officials Doug Rhoads reviews them and responds to the coach directly. Typically a coaching staff will submit between 6-8 plays each week from a game (there is an average of about 150 plays per game). Those plays, along with those selected by the ACC's observer/evaluator at each game, and those detected at the game day command center, form the foundation for a weekly training video that is provided to all coaches and officials.
An official that has a misapplication of the rules can receive a suspension and an official with an inordinate number of mistakes can be dismissed.
As for the VT-Clemson game? I disagreed with those calls, too, BUT ... there's no guarantee the Hokies would have scored, considering how inept the offense was in the second half.