NCF Nation: Kyle Parker

Spring preview: Atlantic Division

February, 15, 2011
It's that time of year, ACC fans. Duke kicks off the ACC's spring football schedule with practice tomorrow, so it's time to take a look at three storylines to watch for each program. We'll start with the Atlantic Division:


Spring practice starts: March 15

Spring game: April 16

What to watch:
  • The progression of quarterback Chase Rettig. As a true freshman, Rettig replaced Dave Shinskie as starter against Notre Dame on Oct. 2. He’ll only get better with more experience, and there’s room for improvement, as he threw nine interceptions and six touchdowns. He completed 51.3 percent of his passes for 137.6 yards per game. Two of those picks came in the 20-13 loss to Nevada in the Kraft Fight Hunger bowl, but he’s expected to take an important step forward this offseason and will need to if BC is going to graduate from the nation’s 109th best offense.
  • The offense under a new coordinator. Kevin Rogers replaced Gary Tranquill, who retired after the bowl game, and the Eagles will have to adjust to a new scheme and system, starting this spring. Rogers said he'll adapt his system to the personnel he has to work with, but considering he was hired on Monday, there hasn't been much time for him to evaluate film.
  • The revamped offensive line. BC has to replace three starters up front, including left tackle Anthony Castonzo, right guard Thomas Claiborne and right tackle Rich Lapham. Emmett Cleary and center Mark Spinney are returning starters, and left guard Ian White started a few games at the end of the year. Bryan Davis, Claiborne’s backup at right guard, and John Wetzel, Castonzo’s backup, are frontrunners to earn starts.

Spring practice starts: March 7

Spring game: April 9

What to watch:
  • Quarterback Tajh Boyd. Prior to the arrival of two early enrollees, Boyd was the only scholarship quarterback on the roster, and his experience alone -- albeit limited -- makes it his job to lose. The staff wants him to become a little more accurate and consistent this spring. His education was accelerated at this time a year ago when former quarterback Kyle Parker spent the spring playing baseball, but that was under former offensive coordinator Billy Napier. He’s got a new coordinator -- and a new offense to learn.
  • The new offensive scheme. First-year offensive coordinator Chad Morris brings an up-tempo style similar to that of Auburn’s, and the Tigers will have to learn it as quickly as he’ll want them to execute it. Morris has said Boyd is suited just right to lead it. Morris will want to stretch the field in every direction, depend on a strong running game and include long pass plays. He’s tasked with improving an offense that ranked No. 10 in the ACC in both scoring offense and total offense.
  • Defense up the middle. It starts up front, where the Tigers have to replace defensive tackle Jarvis Jenkins. Linebacker Brandon Maye, who played in the middle a lot, decided to transfer, and safety DeAndre McDaniel, who controlled the middle of the field in the secondary, has also graduated. The Tigers have the No. 1 inside linebacker and No. 1 outside linebacker in the country in this year’s recruiting class, but they won’t arrive until the summer. For now, Corico Hawkins returns as a starting middle linebacker, while Quandon Christian is likely to stay on the outside. Rennie Moore will replace Jenkins, but McDaniel’s spot is up for grabs.

Spring practice starts: March 21

Spring game: April 16

What to watch:
  • Big holes on the offensive line. There’s depth, experience and incoming talent, but there are also big shoes to fill with the graduation of left guard Rodney Hudson and center Ryan McMahon. Right guard David Spurlock has been seen snapping on the sidelines at practices, indicating he could move to center, while recovering from concussions and going through rehab. McMahon’s backup was Jacob Stanley. Henry Orelus, Bryan Stork and Rhonne Sanderson all started at right guard for Spurlock when he was out. Junior college transfer Jacob Fahrenkrug, the No. 4 overall junior college prospect, could have an immediate impact at left guard.
  • Backup quarterback battle. With EJ Manuel a lock as the starter, the attention turns to the No. 2 spot. Clint Trickett, a redshirt freshman and son of offensive line coach Rick Trickett, and Will Secord, a redshirt sophomore, are the top two candidates. Secord was named the most improved quarterback of the spring at this time a year ago. Neither of them have thrown a collegiate pass.
  • Linebackers. The Seminoles will have to replace two starters in Kendall Smith and Mister Alexander. Nigel Bradham is the only returning starter. This spring will feature competition among Christian Jones, Telvin Smith, Vince Williams and Jeff Luc. It’s a more talented crop waiting in the wings, but inexperience is a factor. It’s a chance for Luc and Jones -- two of FSU’s top recruits in the 2010 class -- to remind everyone why they were rated the No. 1 inside linebacker and No. 2 outside linebacker, respectively, in the country.

Spring practice starts: March 29

Spring game: April 30

What to watch:
  • New staff, new schemes. First-year coach Randy Edsall wants to be multiple, get vertical and take advantage of quarterback Danny O’Brien’s strengths. The departure of former defensive coordinator Don Brown to Connecticut was a surprise and a blow to the defense, which will now have to make a transition under a new coordinator who has yet to be hired.
  • Competition at linebacker. Two starters have to be replaced in Alex Wujciak and Adrian Moten, who were also both leaders of the defense. Demetrius Hartsfield returns as a starter, but the new staff will have to figure out who else fits into what slots. Ben Pooler has had knee trouble, but he is expected to compete with Darin Drakeford and Ryan Donohue, who were both No. 2 at their respective positions in 2010.
  • Special teams. Not only did the Terps lose a four-year starter in punter/placekicker Travis Baltz, they also have to replace their top kick returner and conference leader in all-purpose yards in receiver Torrey Smith, who left early for the NFL. Nick Ferrara handled kickoffs last year and was No. 2 behind Baltz at both kicker and punter, but he’s a placekicker first, and has to get back on track with consistency. He’ll be the only scholarship kicker on the roster until incoming freshman Nathaniel Renfro joins the team this summer. Dexter McDougle has returned kickoffs in the past, and Trenton Hughes is another option, but with a new staff, it could be a clean slate.

Spring practice starts: March 17

Spring game: April 16

What to watch:
  • Mike Glennon. The team is moving forward as if starter Russell Wilson won’t return, promoting Glennon to No. 1 on the depth chart. The offense will have a new look, as the plays will be suited to Glennon’s strengths. At 6-foot-7, he’s much taller than Wilson, a more prototypical drop-back passer with a strong arm. While the plays might look different to the fans, they’re the same ones Glennon has been practicing since the day he arrived on campus. He’s a smart, unflappable player scheduled to graduate this May, but we haven’t seen enough of him to know just how good he is.
  • A new crop of receivers. NC State will have to replace three seniors in Owen Spencer, Jarvis Williams and Darrell Davis. Spencer and Williams led the Pack in receiving last year, combining for nine touchdowns and over 1,600 yards. NC State will turn to Jay Smith, who had 10 catches in 12 games, Steven Howard, Quintin Payton, and T.J. Graham, who had four touchdowns and played in all 13 games. Payton played a little more toward the end of the year, and he’s a tall, big target (about 6-foot-4) and comparable to Williams. Bryan Underwood, who redshirted last year, could also contribute.
  • Running back competition. James Washington had taken over the starting job at the end of 2010, but he’ll be pushed this spring by Dean Haynes and Mustafa Greene, who led the team in rushing in 2010 as a true freshman. They’ll also be under the direction of a new assistant coach, as Jason Swepson is now the head coach at Elon. It will be the first time Greene has been in a spring practice, and Washington, who was hurt last year, is finally healthy.

Spring practice starts: March 15

Spring game: April 16

What to watch:
  • Progress of quarterback Tanner Price. The maturation of Price, who started nine games as a true freshman last year, will be crucial to the Deacs’ hopes of returning to the postseason. Price was forced to play earlier than expected and finished with seven touchdowns and eight interceptions. He completed 56.8 percent of his passes for 1,349 yards.
  • A defense in transition. Coach Jim Grobe has said the staff is committed to making the transition to a 3-4 defense. The Deacons used that scheme to defend the triple option against Georgia Tech and Navy, and continued to experiment with it as the season progressed. This linebackers in this year’s recruiting class were brought in specifically with the 3-4 defense in mind.
  • Redshirt offensive linemen. There were three true freshmen who redshirted last year who are expected to give four returning starters some legitimate competition -- Colin Summers, Dylan Heartsill and Daniel Blitch. The Deacs will also have to replace starting center Russell Nenon. Chance Raines was his backup last year.
It’s time to reload in the ACC. Here’s a look at the position needs for each team in the Atlantic Division for the 2011 signing class:


Offensive linemen: Six players on the final two-deep roster for 2010 were either juniors or seniors, and the Eagles will have to find replacements for Anthony Castonzo, Rich Lapham and Thomas Claiborne. There were two juniors at center in 2011, and the recruiting overall at this position hasn’t been as strong in recent years.

Defensive linemen: The Eagles have been thin at the position to begin with since the departures of Ron Brace and B.J. Raji. The interior line should be a priority, as tackle Damik Scafe will graduate, and Kaleb Ramsey will be a senior. Defensive end Brad Newman will also graduate.


[+] EnlargeDa'Quan Bowers
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesReplacing Da'Quan Bowers is a top priority for Clemson.
Defensive line: The early departure of defensive end Da’Quan Bowers and the loss of Jarvis Jenkins makes this group a priority. Seven of the eight players up front on the final two-deep roster were either juniors or seniors.

Quarterback: Prior to the early enrollees, Clemson only had one scholarship quarterback on the roster -- projected starter Tajh Boyd. The depth needs to be rebuilt after the loss of starter Kyle Parker and transfer of backup Willy Korn.

Running back: The early departure of Jamie Harper to the NFL left a hole in the Tigers’ lineup. It’s not completely empty, as Andre Ellington remains the best back on the roster and Roderick McDowell was a redshirt freshman backup to Harper.


Offensive lineman – The departures of Rodney Hudson and Ryan McMahon will leave gaping holes up front, and A.J. Ganguzza and Antwane Greenlee aren’t expected to return. Overall, the staff is looking for bigger, better players. With the exception of right guard, this was a veteran group.

Running back: Despite the current depth, the coaching staff still wanted to sign about three more running backs in this class.

Wide receiver: This would be the third priority for the staff. Bert Reed and Taiwan Easterling will both be seniors, but the team has lacked some dynamic playmakers at the position.

Linebacker: The Noles lost two starters from last year’s Atlantic Division championship team, and there are several young players on the rise like Jeff Luc and Telvin Smith, but the staff wants more numbers at the position.

Safety: The Noles need an upgrade at this position.

Defensive line: This is a matter of mostly building depth and size and continuing to get better.


Kicker/ Punter: Nick Ferrara has the ability to do both, but he also struggled at both in 2010. Travis Baltz was a four-year starter at punter who has to be replaced. The kicking game should be a top priority in this class, and a concern if Ferrara doesn’t become more consistent.

Wide receiver: The early departure of standout Torrey Smith to the NFL leaves quarterback Danny O'Brien without a favorite target. Seven of the nine receivers listed on the most current depth chart for 2010 were either juniors or seniors.

Running back: The Terps have to replace starter Da’Rel Scott, and Davin Meggett will be a senior. There is some talent behind Meggett in D.J. Adams, but the position could use more depth.

Secondary: Six of the top 10 players in the secondary were either juniors or seniors in 2010, including safety Antwine Perez, who will graduate. Kenny Tate and Cameron Chism will both be seniors, and the corner position is the biggest need.

Defensive end: Defensive coordinator Don Brown would like to bring in at least one player who can really bring some speed off the edge.


Kickers: The Wolfpack lost their starting punter and place-kicker, easily making kickers the biggest need in this recruiting class.

Defensive linemen: With the exception of sophomore Brian Slay, the entire 2010 line was comprised of juniors and seniors. The Pack have to replace two starters, and two returning starters, Jeff Rieskamp and J.R. Sweezy, will be seniors.

Linebackers: This was another veteran group for NC State, with five of the six players on the two-deep either juniors or seniors. Nate Irving’s graduation will be a big hit and Audie Cole will be a senior.

Quarterback: If Russell Wilson leaves early, the position will be even thinner, but backup Mike Glennon will be a junior, so the staff needs to build more depth.


Offensive linemen: The Deacs will have four redshirt juniors returning up front, and have to replace redshirt senior center Russell Nenon. The staff is looking to increase the depth and talent up front.

Linebackers: The position hasn’t been the same since the 2008 class (Aaron Curry and Stanley Arnoux). They were both drafted and two of the fastest players the program has ever seen. The staff needs to bring in more talent and speed here.

Bad day for ACC quarterbacks

December, 31, 2010
First it was Clemson quarterback Kyle Parker, who broke a rib in the first half of a loss against South Florida, but not before he threw an interception.

Then it was Miami quarterback Jacory Harris, who was benched after he threw three interceptions in the first half of a loss to Notre Dame.

And now, Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder threw the ball into the dirt on a fourth-and-1 from the South Carolina 2-yard line.

Expectations were soaring for all three of these guys heading into this season, but for various reasons, including injuries, none of them lived up to the billing. Unfortunately for them and for the ACC, that hasn't changed this bowl season. It has to be particularly disheartening and frustrating for Ponder and Parker, whose collegiate careers are coming to a close.
Here’s a quick recap of South Florida’s 31-26 win against Clemson:

How the game was won: Clemson's final attempt at a comeback fell short when the Tigers touched the onside kick before it went 10 yards, sealing the win for South Florida. Clemson’s inability to run the ball, get anything going on offense and convert third downs ended any hopes the Tigers had at a winning season. Quarterback Kyle Parker left the game early with broken ribs, but even when he was in the game he made poor decisions, including an interception that landed the Bulls on Clemson’s 10-yard line. The turnover led to a field goal and 10-3 lead for South Florida that it never relinquished.

Turning point: Clemson was penalized 11 yards for pass interference in the third quarter, moving South Florida to the Tigers’ 2-yard line. The Bulls scored on the next play, and had all the momentum with a 24-13 lead.

Stat of the game: Clemson converted just 5-of-16 third down conversions.

Player of the game: South Florida quarterback B.J. Daniels. He completed 19 of 26 passes for 188 yards, two touchdowns passing, one rushing, and an interception. In a game in which Clemson’s quarterbacks struggled through both injuries and rookie mistakes, Daniels was the difference with both accuracy and timing.

What Clemson learned: The Tigers have a lot of work to do offensively this offseason, starting with some growing pains at quarterback, where the Tajh Boyd era has already begun. Clemson lacks an offensive identity, and needs to find one before the 2011 season begins.

What it means: Clemson’s streak of 10 straight winning seasons came to an end, and the coaching staff will face even more scrutiny heading into an offseason which could bid farewell to some of the top players on the team. Clemson also now has a losing record in bowl games, as the Tigers dropped to

Meineke Car Care Bowl: 3 keys

December, 30, 2010
Here are three keys for Clemson heading into the Meineke Car Care Bowl against South Florida:

1. Smart quarterback play. Not only from Kyle Parker and Tajh Boyd, but from the coaching staff. There has to be good communication between everyone, regardless of who is on the bench or why. Parker will be starting it off, and it’s up to him to make good decisions. In the past six games, he has completed 108-173 passes (62.4 percent). He has passed for 1,107 yards (184.5 per game) during that stretch, but it’s the interception against South Carolina that many remember.

2. Win the battle up front. Defensively, Clemson should have the edge against South Florida’s offensive line with defensive end Da’Quan Bowers, but the Bulls’ front seven could present some challenges for the Clemson’s interior offensive line. Jamie Harper is going to have to work for his yards, but the Tigers should be able to get to B.J. Daniels if he returns from a bruised quad.

3. Win the one-on-one matchups in the secondary. South Florida’s secondary has been underrated but effective. The Bulls are No. 21 in the country in pass defense, and Clemson is No. 84 in passing offense. The receivers will have to get open and help Parker out.
Here’s a quick preview of Clemson’s game against South Florida:

WHO TO WATCH: Clemson quarterback Kyle Parker. This will be his last game for Clemson before joining the Colorado Rockies as a first-round Major League draft pick, and he wants to go out on a winning note. He and coach Dabo Swinney have been at odds during times this season, but Parker came back because he didn’t want to be perceived as a quitter and because he didn’t want his last collegiate pass to be an interception in a loss to rival South Carolina. Parker has been pushed by backup Tajh Boyd this season, and it’s possible that competition could remain through the bowl game.

WHAT TO WATCH: Clemson’s receivers against South Florida’s secondary. DeAndre Hopkins, Jaron Brown and tight end Dwayne Allen have each developed into more dependable options in the passing game, but the Bulls have the No. 21 pass defense in the country, allowing 187.83 points per game. South Florida will use a lot of man coverage, so it will up to the Tigers to win those battles and help Parker out. Hopkins needs one touchdown reception to set the Clemson single-season freshman record.

WHY WATCH: This game features two of the nation's stingiest defenses, and considering the Bulls beat Miami, nothing is a given. A win would give Clemson an 11th consecutive winning season, and the Tigers are trying to avoid their first losing season since 1999, when the Tigers were 6-6 in Tommy Bowden’s first year as head coach. A win would also give Clemson a bowl victory in consecutive seasons for the first time since the 1986-90 era, when Clemson won a bowl game in five straight seasons.

PREDICTION: Clemson 17, South Florida 10: Clemson’s defense will be the difference, especially up front, where the defensive line, led by Da’Quan Bowers, will have the edge. Bowers needs one sack to become Clemson’s single-season record holder.

Stepping up in the bowls: Clemson

December, 17, 2010
Clemson needs to beat South Florida in the Meineke Car Care Bowl to avoid its first losing season since 1998, but as Miami proved in its loss to the Bulls, nobody is invincible.

In order for the Tigers to have a better outcome, who needs to step up?

Clemson quarterback Kyle Parker: The last pass Parker threw was an interception in a loss to rival South Carolina. That didn’t exactly sit well. Instead of quitting early on his team, the first-round draft pick of the Colorado Rockies decided to stick around for one more game and give it his best shot to end his career on a positive note. It’s not going to be easy, as South Florida has the nation’s No. 21 pass defense and No. 19 scoring defense. Parker has completed 62.4 percent of his passes over the past six games, but it’s that INT against the Gamecocks that fans will remember if he doesn’t find a way to beat the Bulls.

ACC Power Rankings: Week 15

December, 6, 2010
Power Rankings: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

As we head into bowl season, the ACC power rankings remain status quo from last week, with Virginia Tech at the top. Florida State had a chance to change that but couldn’t do it, falling to the Hokies 44-33 in the ACC championship game. The best team in the conference will represent the league against Stanford in the Discover Orange Bowl. Here’s a look at how the rest of the league shakes out heading into bowl season:

1. Virginia Tech (11-2, 8-0 ACC; LW: No. 1): Quarterback Tyrod Taylor, the MVP of the ACC title game, couldn’t be stopped and the Hokies were phenomenal on third downs (13 of 18) against the Florida State defense. They’ll need more of the same against Stanford.

2. Florida State (9-4, 6-2 ACC; LW: No. 2): The Seminoles couldn’t make the stops defensively and lost the turnover battle. Backup quarterback EJ Manuel played a respectable game in place of injured quarterback Christian Ponder, but the Noles only had 53 rushing yards.

3. Maryland (8-4, 5-3; LW: No. 3): The Terps were hoping for a higher bowl than the Military Bowl Presented By Northrop Grumman, but poor home attendance likely outweighed an eight-win season and the second-best turnaround in the FBS. Maryland beat NC State, but the Wolfpack got the better bowl.

4. NC State (8-4, 5-3; LW: No. 4): The Wolfpack will be making their first appearance in the Champs Sports Bowl, where it will face West Virginia (9-3) on Dec. 28 in the Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium. NC State is looking for its first bowl win in four seasons under coach Tom O’Brien.

5. Miami (7-5, 5-3; LW: No. 5): The Hurricanes’ unsettled coaching situation didn’t deter the Hyundai Sun officials from picking them, and despite their struggles, the matchup against Notre Dame will feature two programs with rich tradition.

6. North Carolina (7-5, 4-4; LW: No. 6): UNC will be making its third straight bowl trip under coach Butch Davis, but its first appearance in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, facing Tennessee on Dec. 30. It will be the first meeting between the two teams from neighboring states since 1961 and their first time facing each other in a bowl game.

7. Boston College (7-5, 4-4; LW: No. 7): The Eagles became the first ACC team to follow a five-game losing streak with a five-game winning streak. They’re heading back to San Francisco for the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, where they’ll face a potent Nevada offense.

8. Clemson (6-6, 4-4; LW: No. 8): The Tigers don’t have to travel far, as they’ll face South Florida in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte, N.C. It’s the first meeting between the programs, and Clemson will be able to count on quarterback Kyle Parker, who decided to stick with the team instead of leaving early to prepare for his time with the Colorado Rockies.

9. Georgia Tech (6-6, 4-4; LW: No. 9): The Jackets will face Air Force in the Advocare V100 Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La. The game will feature two of the nation’s top rushing offenses, which means the defenses will make the difference.

10. Wake Forest (3-9, 1-7; LW: No. 10): The Deacs could use the extra bowl practices, but once again are home for the holidays. They at least have a road win over Vanderbilt to build off of heading into the offseason instead of a 10-game losing streak.

11. Duke (3-9, 1-7; LW: No. 11): Fortunately for Blue Devils fans, it’s basketball season, but those within the football program are confident they’re still taking steps in the right direction to make Duke a contender.

12. Virginia (4-8, 1-7; LW: No. 12): Recruiting will be key for the staff in the offseason, as it’s the only way to turn things around in Charlottesville. So far, coach Mike London has that going in the right direction.

Meineke Car Care Bowl

December, 6, 2010
South Florida Bulls (7-5) vs. Clemson Tigers (6-6)

Dec. 31, noon ET (ESPN)

USF take by Big East blogger Brian Bennett: South Florida finished with the same 7-5 record it posted in the previous two regular seasons, yet it feels like improvement.

That's because first-year coach Skip Holtz and his staff did an underrated job with this team. Holtz inherited a team torn apart by the Jim Leavitt firing last winter and a defense that lost five starters to the NFL. He had almost no experienced receivers and a quarterback still learning the finer points of the position.

After some struggles early on, the Bulls took off late, reversing their usual midseason slump trends under Leavitt. They won four of their final six, including an overtime victory at Miami, and nearly knocked off league champion Connecticut.

Expect quarterback talk to govern the Bulls' bowl buildup. B.J. Daniels, who missed the finale against UConn with a quadriceps injury, was erratic most of the season. Bobby Eveld, a walk-on, helped beat Miami and provided much-needed downfield passing skills.

But this offense, to put it kindly, is pedestrian. South Florida stays in games with its athletic defense and usually gets a big play or two on special teams. It should help the Bulls that they're playing another offensively-challenged team in Clemson. And they know a little something about beating ACC teams, having upset Miami and Florida State in back-to-back years.

Clemson take by ACC blogger Heather Dinich: The defending Atlantic Division champs made significant strides defensively in the second season under coordinator Kevin Steele, but the offense too often couldn’t hold up its end of the bargain. That was somewhat of a surprise, considering the expectations surrounding veteran quarterback Kyle Parker, who turned down a baseball-only contract as a first-round draft pick of the Colorado Rockies to return for one more season in hunt of an ACC title.

It took too long to find a dependable wide receiver, though, Parker didn’t show much progress from a year ago, and the Tigers could never truly compensate for the lack of production that graduated with C.J. Spiller and Jacoby Ford. Andre Ellington was injured in the second half of the season, and Jamie Harper couldn’t do it alone.

The Tigers are ranked No. 9 nationally in scoring defense, allowing just 17.75 points per game, but lost three of their final five, including the season finale to rival South Carolina. Parker could have declined to play in the bowl game and joined the Rockies early, but he didn’t want the final pass of his career to be an interception in a loss to the Gamecocks. He’ll have a chance to go out a winner now against South Florida.

Final: South Carolina 29, Clemson 7

November, 28, 2010
For 58 minutes, Clemson couldn't do a thing against South Carolina's defense.

Quarterback Kyle Parker was eventually yanked in favor of backup Tajh Boyd, and the Tigers lost to their rival for the second straight season, this time by a 29-7 score.

Clemson was held to just 61 yards rushing, and had three turnovers. The Tigers will head into the postseason having lost two of their past three games.

ACC: Week 13 predictions

November, 24, 2010
Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

Well, it was a 4-2 record last week, bringing my grand total to 61-24 (71.7 percent) heading into the final week of the regular season. It’s a passing grade, but I feel like Randy Shannon – not in championship form. Speaking of championships, the Atlantic Division title is on the line this week and so are some bragging rights. Here’s a look at who will come out on top in Week 13:

Syracuse 13, Boston College 10: Without leading rusher Montel Harris (knee), Syracuse will win this game. True freshman Andre Williams is good, but there is no relief behind him, and Syracuse has a better defense than Virginia does. It has the No. 34 rushing defense in the country, and is No. 6 in total defense. Regardless, expect a low-scoring game.

South Carolina 24, Clemson 21 – The Gamecocks are No. 7 in the country in rushing defense and holding opponents to under 100 rushing yards per game. It’s going to be a tough day for Jamie Harper, and this defense will get pressure on quarterback Kyle Parker and force him into a key mistake or two.

Florida 28, Florida State 24 – The Seminoles are the ranked team for a reason, and they’ve got the momentum and home field advantage in their favor. But Florida’s defense and special teams will be the difference. The Gators have also done a better job of protecting the football this year.

NC State 35, Maryland 21: Russell Wilson is that good. Danny O’Brien is smart, and he has been poised in big games, but he’s more of a facilitator right now while Wilson is a game-changer. You also have to wonder how motivated Maryland will be now that the Terps know they’re out of the Atlantic Division race.

Vanderbilt 24, Wake Forest 21: This is how it goes for the Deacs, even against a similarly bad team; They’ll lose on the last play of the game, probably a field goal, and finish the season on a 10-game losing streak. Ouch.

UNC 28, Duke 17: Regardless of who’s on the field for the Tar Heels, they’re still too good on defense to lose this game. UNC quarterback T.J. Yates is coming off a record-setting performance in the loss to NC State and won’t want to close his career with a loss at Duke. He and his team are good enough that they shouldn’t have to.

Georgia 35, Georgia Tech 21: The Jackets are going to score some points, but Georgia has bowl eligibility on the line and will play like it. The rushing defense is one of the best in the SEC and country, and they’re No. 18 in the country in turnover margin.

Miami 28, South Florida 27: South Florida has been playing pretty well down the stretch, and won three of its past four, but the Cane have the better athletes and as long as they don’t turn it over should win. South Florida has one of the worst offenses in the country and Miami will have the edge up front.

Hokies 42, Virginia 10: This one could get ugly. Don’t expect the Hokies to roll over just because they’ve already got the Coastal Division locked up. There’s still plenty on the line, including the Commonwealth Cup, bragging rights, and the chance to become the ACC’s first undefeated team in conference play since Florida State in 2000.

Final: Clemson 30, Wake Forest 10

November, 20, 2010
No big surprise here.

In the most lackluster game of the day, Clemson became bowl eligible, and much like Georgia Tech, avoided needing to get that sixth win against its SEC rival in the final week of the regular season. It's come to this for the defending division champs -- beating Duke and Wake Forest for bowl eligibility.

Kyle Parker completed all but two passes against the Deacs and threw for 194 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. It was another great day for Jamie Harper, who finished with 142 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries, but it's hard to measure the progress of Clemson's offense against a Wake Forest defense that entered the game ranked No. 100 in the country in rushing defense, No. 114 in scoring defense and No. 110 in pass efficiency defense.

Halftime: Clemson 10, FSU 3

November, 13, 2010
With starting quarterback Christian Ponder sidelined with an elbow injury, Florida State has gone nowhere. The Seminoles went three-and-out on their final three possessions of the half, and have been hurt by a lack of execution, a lost fumble, and not making the most out of E.J. Manuel's ability to run. The Noles had just three first downs in the first half and were successful on just 1-of-5 third-down conversions.

Clemson's defense is very good -- it might be the best in the ACC -- but the Seminoles aren't helping themselves any. Florida State's defense, which had been on the field for most of the half, intercepted Kyle Parker with about 20 seconds remaining, but ran out the clock.

Jimbo Fisher told ESPN that Ponder will not play in the second half, that Manuel is doing fine. The backup quarterback is always the most popular guy on the team -- even when he's the starter. But with only 8 rushing yards on 11 carries, it doesn't matter much who's under center.

ACC Power Rankings: Week 11

November, 8, 2010
Power Rankings: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

If everyone who lost this past weekend dropped in the rankings this week, three of the top four teams would lose their spots, as NC State, Florida State and Maryland all stumbled. It’s around this time where it gets tougher to give credit to head-to-head results.

The bottom line is this: There’s only one team that has separated itself from the rest of the pack, and that’s Virginia Tech, which is the only team still undefeated in conference play. This month is more about the race for No. 2, and right now, it’s whoever wants it the most.

Here’s a look at how the ACC stacks up this week:

1. Virginia Tech (7-2, 5-0 ACC; LW: No. 1) -- The Hokies weren’t flawless against Georgia Tech -- they allowed 426 yards -- but they were good enough to win. They’ve been the most consistent team in the ACC since their Sept. 11 loss to James Madison, but back-to-back road trips against North Carolina and Miami could be traps in the Coastal Division race.

2. NC State (6-3, 3-2; LW: No. 2) -- The Wolfpack couldn’t take advantage of Clemson’s numerous mistakes, and made one too many of their own. Fortunately for NC State, so did everyone else in the hunt for the division title.

3. Florida State (6-3, 4-2 ACC; LW: No. 3) -- Two words: Wide right. Once again, a missed field goal was the difference, and it could come back to haunt the Seminoles in the final standings. Florida State hosts Clemson this weekend, and the Tigers just proved anything is possible with their win over NC State.

4. Miami (6-3, 4-2; LW: No. 5) -- The Hurricanes are still hanging on, and they’re doing it with a true freshman quarterback in Stephen Morris. The defense is good, but is it disciplined enough to handle Georgia Tech this week? Is the entire team disciplined enough to win? Miami had 10 penalties for 100 yards against Maryland.

5. Maryland (6-3, 3-2; LW: No. 4) -- The Terps’ defense made several game-changing plays against Miami, but couldn’t make the stops when they needed to most and failed to capitalize on Miami’s numerous mistakes. Maryland allowed Miami possession for almost 37 minutes.

6. North Carolina (6-3, 3-2; LW: No. 8) -- This team has nine lives. At least. The Tar Heels are still finding ways to win, but now they’ve lost their injured leading rusher, Johnny White, for the rest of the season. Can they continue to win without him this week against the best team in the ACC?

7. Clemson (5-4, 3-3; LW: No. 6) -- The Tigers won’t quit, but they should be taking the defense out to dinner every night this week. The offense, for all of the experience and talent on it, isn’t going anywhere fast. And quarterback Kyle Parker is getting mixed signals from his coaches. The offense will need to be much more productive in Tallahassee this weekend.

8. Georgia Tech (5-4, 3-3; LW: No. 7) -- The Yellow Jackets lost one of the best quarterbacks in the ACC when starting quarterback Joshua Nesbitt broke his right forearm against Virginia Tech last Thursday. Backup Tevin Washington had a valiant effort, but his interception in the end zone sealed the win for the Hokies.

9. Boston College (4-5, 2-4; LW: No. 10) -- The Eagles will hit the road for the second straight week, but they’ll take something with them that Duke has been missing -- defense. BC has to win two of its next three to become bowl eligible, and this is one of its best shots.

10. Duke (3-6, 1-4; LW: No. 12) -- Duke earned its first conference win of the season over Virginia, and will have home field advantage again this weekend against Boston College. The Blue Devils have enough offense to win, but stopping Montel Harris will be a tough task.

11. Virginia (4-5, 1-4; LW: No. 9) -- The Cavaliers weren’t able to build on their momentum from the upset of Miami and fell on the road to Duke, making the third straight year they’ve lost to the Blue Devils. Virginia’s three turnovers and 11 penalties were the difference in the game.

12. Wake Forest (2-7, 1-5; LW: No. 11) -- Well, this is a first for coach Jim Grobe, at least as long as I’ve been covering the ACC. It’s impossible for the Deacs to become bowl eligible now, and with a road trip to NC State looming, it doesn’t look like things are going to get much better soon.

Halftime thoughts on early games

November, 6, 2010
Here are a few quick thoughts from the early games:

Duke 24, Virginia 21
Virginia's offense is clicking -- the Cavaliers have 323 total yards already -- and tailback Keith Payne is on his way to a 100-yard performance. Duke's defense continues to struggle, but if it's going to hang onto this lead, it's got to start making some stops, particularly on third and fourth downs. This isn't entirely a surprise -- it's not easy to win on the road, even in Wallace Wade -- but Virginia fans were probably expecting more after the upset of Miami.

Maryland 17, Miami 15

This game would be tied if it weren't for two missed extra-point attempts, but woulda, shoulda, coulda doesn't win. Miami has five missed extra-point attempts this season, the rest of the ACC has four. The Terps are playing well, but will need more offensively in the second half if they're going to distance themselves. Miami running back Lamar Miller has been doing well in the absence of injured leading rusher Damien Berry, and with the exception of the costly interception return for a touchdown, Stephen Morris is holding his own as a true freshman quarterback making his first career start.

NC State 7, Clemson 0

It still amazes me that Clemson is having so much trouble scoring. The first half was about mistakes and missed opportunities for both teams, as they combined for three turnovers. A holding penalty negated a touchdown and quarterback Kyle Parker was livid. This is not the season he came back for. Neither team has been able to run the ball, but Clemson's 1.5 yards per carry is, well, bad. Clemson's defense has been doing a good job against Russell Wilson.