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Friday, September 19, 2008
Things to watch for this weekend in the ACC

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

1. Graham Gano vs. Sam Swank: Swank is coming off a game-winner against Ole Miss and Gano is coming off the DL. Swank is 5-for-5 this season, but this is the first season Gano was going to kick field goals and extra points.

2. The rise (and fall?) of Maryland: Eastern Michigan should be a piece of cake, no? So should have been Middle Tennessee State. Watch to see if the Terps learned their lesson or if they continued to play to the level of their unheralded competition.

3. FSU receiver Preston Parker: Don't be surprised to see this versatile athlete run the ball again. He's back from a two-game suspension and with so much depth at receiver and so little at running back, the Noles could certainly use an extra playmaker there.

4. An upset in Chestnut Hill: Central Florida is not a team the Eagles can take lightly, especially after the Knights pushed South Florida to overtime. BC coach Jeff Jagodzinski said he wouldn't mind playing backup quarterback Dominique Davis if the situation permits, but finding mop-up time is unlikely.

5. NC State linebacker Nate Irving: He has had one interception in each of State's first three games, including a 33-yard touchdown return against Clemson last week. The Wolfpack defense will have to pressure ECU quarterback Patrick Pinkney to stand a chance against the surging Pirates.

6. Virginia Tech's passing game: If you're watching it, that means it's there, unlike last weekend. Tyrod Taylor only threw the ball 14 times against Georgia Tech and has a tendency to pull the ball down. How much has Taylor and his pass protection improved in the past week?

7. Dueling defenses: Mississippi State just lost a 3-2 game to Auburn, and Georgia Tech has one of the better defenses in the ACC. The Yellow Jackets don't change their scheme, so it will be up to the Bulldogs to adjust to the option quickly.

8. Turnovers: Wake Forest leads the league in turnover margin, as it has gained eight and lost three. Miami spent its bye week putting an emphasis on creating turnovers. And Georgia Tech is looking to stop giving it away.

9. How quickly Miami can adjust to the Aggies' defense: Coach Randy Shannon said the biggest thing in this game will be determining whether Texas A&M goes to a three-man front or a four-man front defensively.

10. UNC's linebackers: Brandon Tate has stolen the spotlight on this team, and deservedly so, but don't miss the play of linebackers Bruce Carter and Quan Sturdivant. They both had interceptions at Rutgers.