Tuesday, September 29, 2009
On tap in the ACC: Week 5
By Heather Dinich
Posted by ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich
There are five divisional matchups this week, and ESPN’s College GameDay crew is heading to Chestnut Hill. Me? I’ll be in Miami watching the Canes. Here’s what this week’s schedule looks like:
Virginia (0-3) at North Carolina (3-1) (RAYCOM, noon ET)
The series: UNC leads, 57-52-4.
Last time: Virginia won, 16-13, in overtime in 2008.
At stake: The snowball effect. Virginia needs to halt its losing streak now, and North Carolina needs to prevent one from starting, as both teams are competing for leverage in the Coastal Division standings. UNC has dropped three straight and nine of the last 11 to the Wahoos.
Of note: This is the second straight week an opponent has had more than one week to prepare for the Tar Heels. Butch Davis and Al Groh have been on opposite sidelines as assistant coaches in the NFL. Davis was an assistant coach with the Dallas Cowboys from 1989-94 and Groh was an assistant with the New York Giants from 1989-91. As NFC East opponents, the two teams met twice each year. Davis is now 1-2 against Groh as a head coach.
Clemson (2-2) at Maryland (1-3) (ESPNU noon ET)
The series: Clemson leads 30-25-2.
Last time: Maryland won, 20-17, in 2008.
At stake: The Atlantic Division lead. If the Tigers win, they will be 2-0 against division opponents, and that’s exactly where they should be heading into the bye week. Let’s face it: With the way Maryland has been playing, there’s no reason for Clemson fans not to expect a win in College Park. The Tigers’ defense is better. Their special teams are better. The question is how much better Maryland can be offensively if it doesn’t turn the ball over.
Of note: The Terps are coming off their top defensive performance of the season, surrendering a season-best 249 yards of total offense to Rutgers. C.J. Spiller needs just 64 all-purpose running yards to become the ACC’s career leader.
No. 6 Virginia Tech (3-1) at Duke (2-2) (ESPN360.com noon ET)
The series: Virginia Tech leads, 9-7-0.
Last time: Virginia Tech won, 14-3, in 2008.
At stake: Duke’s confidence. This game isn’t about Virginia Tech, it’s about how Duke competes in the Coastal Division. Win or lose, the Blue Devils need a respectable performance and positives they can build on heading into another tough game at NC State. Tech has won the last four contests in the series by a combined score of 138-17. The Blue Devils need to at least assert themselves on Saturday and walk off the field knowing they left everything on it.
Of note: Senior cornerback Stephan Virgil, a native of Rocky Mount, N.C., has fared well in three games in his home state. In 2007, he blocked a punt at Duke. Last year against ECU in Charlotte, he scooped up a dropped lateral and returned the fumble 30 yards for a touchdown. He later picked up a blocked conversion kick and returned it 90 yards for a two-point PAT return. At UNC last year, he sealed the 20-17 win with a pick with just over a minute left.
Florida State (2-2) at Boston College (3-1) (ABC/ESPN, 3:30 p.m. ET)
The series: FSU leads, 4-3-0.
Last time: Boston College won, 27-17, in 2008.
At stake: Florida State’s direction this season. Which way are the Noles going to go, down or up? How will they respond to the loss to South Florida? BC proved it can overcome some of its deficiencies by playing smart, disciplined football and isn’t going to back down with College GameDay in the house to honor Mark Herzlich. If FSU loses for the third time this season, things could come unraveled in Tallahassee. And considering the way both teams played last week, anything is possible.
Of note: FSU defensive back Greg Reid ranks 18th nationally in punt returns averaging 15.7 per return. He also has averaged 25.8 yards on 10 kickoff returns and has returned an interception for a score. BC quarterback Dave Shinskie became the first Eagles quarterback to throw three touchdown passes in a single game since Matt Ryan did it against Michigan State in the Champs Sports Bowl on Dec. 28, 2007.
NC State (3-1) at Wake Forest (2-2) (ESPNU, 3:30 p.m. ET)
The series: NC State leads, 61-35-6.
Last time: NC State won, 21-17, in 2008.
At stake: The unofficial "state title," Wake’s chances at staying live in the Atlantic Division race and NC State’s three-game winning streak. Last year marked the first time NC State had defeated all four in-state FBS schools in the same season since 1986. The Pack is looking to lay claim again to the best program in the state, but the Atlantic Division standings are what count in November. The Demon Deacons are already behind with their overtime loss to Boston College, but could still be a factor in the division race by winning this game. NC State is looking to sustain its momentum from a big win over Pitt and earn its first conference win. The Pack has lost five of the past six games played in Winston-Salem.
Of note: Wake Forest leads the ACC in total offense with 412.2 yards per game. NC State leads the ACC in total defense, allowing just 201.2 yards per game. The Wake game could end up being the first game that the Pack comes out with the same starting secondary as the week before. Keep an eye on redshirt freshman safety Earl Wolff, who has started the last three games boundary safety spot and is second on the team with 26 tackles.
No. 8 Oklahoma (2-1) at No. 17 Miami (2-1) (ABC, 8 p.m. ET)
The series: Tied at 3-3-0.
Last time: Oklahoma won, 51-13, in 2007.
At stake: Miami’s status as a top-20 team. The Hurricanes dropped to No. 17 after their loss to Virginia Tech, and this is another game that will help the them gauge where they are against elite competition. It would be Miami’s third win over a ranked opponent this season. Oklahoma is ranked No. 8, and with or without Sam Bradford, this offense is rolling.
Of note: Keep an eye on Miami receiver LaRon Byrd and linebacker Colin McCarthy. McCarthy is coming off a career-high 13 tackles at Virginia Tech and has a team-high 25 tackles (nine solo, 16 assisted). After being held without a catch in the season-opener at No. 18 Florida State, Byrd has a team-high nine catches for 141 yards.
No. 25 Georgia Tech (3-1) at Mississippi State (2-2) (CSS, 7:30 p.m. ET)
The series: Georgia Tech leads, 3-0-0.
Last time: Georgia Tech won, 38-7, in 2008.
At stake: The ACC’s record vs. the SEC. So far, it’s 0-2 with losses to Alabama and South Carolina. Mississippi State looks like a completely different team than the one that lost 38-7 to Tech last season. The Bulldogs have already beaten Vanderbilt on the road, and nearly knocked off LSU Saturday in Starkville. Anytime the ACC can get a win over the SEC, the conference will take it.
Of note: After turning the ball over five times in the first two games of the season, Georgia Tech hasn’t lost the ball once in the past two games. The Yellow Jackets haven’t lost a fumble since the season opener. But, they’ve been fortunate. Tech fumbled five times over the last two games but recovered all of them. Georgia Tech only had one game without a turnover last year -- yep, Mississippi State.