Tuesday, November 12, 2013
ACC upset watch: Week 12
By Andrea Adelson
Both games on this list came to fruition last week, as Pitt upset Notre Dame and Virginia Tech upset Miami. Yes, the upset watch is a dangerous place to be. Keep in mind these are not predictions, but a look at the favorites that could end up losing. Welcome back, Clemson.
1. No. 23 Miami at Duke. The Hurricanes are free falling after losing two straight and are no longer in control of their destiny in the Coastal Division. Now they face a surging Duke team that has won five straight games. Miami has won nine straight in the series, having lost only once to the Blue Devils in school history. But this is not your typical Duke team as evidenced by the 7-2 record and recent play of the defense. While the offense has struggled to move the ball over the last several games, the defense has put together some impressive performances. As a comparison -- Duke forced four Virginia Tech turnovers in a road win over the Hokies. Miami could not even slow down what is generally an anemic Virginia Tech offense at home, giving up 549 yards. The two defenses could have not performed any differently in their respective games against Virginia Tech. For Miami, the key to winning is simple -- avoid the turnovers that cost it last week, shore up a suddenly porous defense and find some help for Stephen Morris. OK, that may be simpler said than done.
2. Georgia Tech at No. 8 Clemson. I am sure Tigers fans are thrilled to see their team back on the upset watch, but Clemson is here given recent history in the series. Georgia Tech has won eight of the last 11 meetings, including the 2009 ACC championship game, a victory that has since been vacated. The most recent Jackets win, in 2011, has not been forgotten by anybody on the Clemson roster who played in that game. Clemson went into the contest unbeaten and ranked No. 5 in the country and proceeded to lose 31-17. The Tigers exacted their revenge last year but they needed a fourth-quarter comeback to do it in a game that went back and forth until the end. Clemson is favored to win Thursday night in Death Valley, but Georgia Tech has found a rhythm of its own in its last three wins and its defense is much improved over last season, ranking No. 3 in the league in total defense. This game should have been played in Atlanta this year, but a scheduling quirk with the addition of Pitt and Syracuse has given Clemson the home-field advantage for the second straight season. This game is generally competitive, so expect the same come Thursday.