Another painful week in the ACC saw three of the four ranked teams get sideswiped. The biggest shocker of course coming when Miami was swarmed asunder in the muck by the Hokies in what was expected to be a hard fought contest. UNC also turned in a disappointing effort, proving their offense was not ready to play real big boy football by posting only 17 rushing yards to GT’s 317. However, the FSU and USF game might have had the biggest impact locally as the school from a couple hours away thoroughly beat the Seminoles. Bobby Bowden’s post game quote epitomizes the feeling in the ACC for week four’s losers:
“They’re a lot better than we thought they were, they beat the heck out of us."
The league desperately needs a good showing from its two non-conference games against Oklahoma and Mississippi State in order to save some face before the full onslaught of conference games sets in for October.
Clemson @ Maryland (ESPNU, Noon)- Clay Matvick, David Diaz-Infante
Both teams enter this game coming off losses. However, Clemson at 2-2 has more talent, better in-game showings and a staff that energizes their fan base. In College Park injuries, turnovers and inconsistency have relegated the team to a spot once reserved for Duke in the ACC’s cellar. Redshirt freshman Kyle Parker has looked infinitely better than fifth year senior Chris Turner; safer with the football, more athletic and better prepared.
Maryland, a team looking to get on track, will not hit their stride against a Clemson unit that is among the league’s elite. Although the Tigers lost last weekend to TCU they only surrendered 14 points and look to strengthen that effort as their offense tries to mesh. CJ Spiller is nicked up but should play as the Tigers look to get to 1-1 in the ACC.
Virginia @ North Carolina (Raycom, Noon) Steve Martin, Rick Walker, Mike Hogewood
The Wahoos have owned Carolina for the last two decades, even being the thorn in the Heels paw during even the successes of the Mack Brown era. Since the Tar Heel’s 1982 victory over UVA the Heels have mustered only SIX total victories in 26 tries. This year, the 114th meeting of The South’s Oldest Rivalry things look to be slanted heavily towards the Tar Heels as a 3-1 UNC team battles a 0-3 UVA squad. Al Groh has been on the hot seat in the past but this year looks to have the coach staring down the barrel of an early dismissal.
North Carolina looks to find some continuity on offense this weekend as the unit sputtered and coughed through both BCS contests they’ve been in this young season. Youth along the receiving core and offensive line has manifested itself in the Tar Heels inability to sustain drives and get the defense off the field. Groh’s squad is looking for any semblance of cohesion as they’ve looked bad in all facets of the game; turnovers, ineffective passing as well as inept defensive and special teams’ efforts.
Virginia Tech @ Duke (ESPN360, Noon) Dave Weekley, Danny Kanell
Last season the Hokies sleep walked through this contest, squeezing out a 14-3 victory in Blacksburg. This season expect a massacre of epic proportions as the VT staff has made certain that the players do not go into let down mode by taking the Blue Devils lightly. The Maroon and Orange are squarely back in the national title hunt after their 31-7 shellacking of “Da U” and Beamer and Co. won’t allow this team to lose sight of their next ACC and BCS shot.
For Duke Thaddeus Lewis has been a major disappointment and Cutcliffe has resorted to a full blown “air raid” attack. The Devils are going no huddle to shake things up and try to disorient defenses, hoping this will disallow substitutions and make up for their utter lack of a running game. While running form the shotgun may give redshirt freshman Sean Renfree and Lewis some extra time VT’s Jason Worilds will just have to devour offensive linemen more quickly than normal.
Florida State @ Boston College (ABC/ESPN2, 3:30pm) Sean McDonough, Matt Millen, Holly Rowe
BC coming off a miraculous win over Wake squares off against an FSU team that looked like absolute garbage against USF and their freshman quarterback BJ Daniels. The Eagles offense has been perfectly status quo; pounding lesser opponents, being average against average opponents and absolutely horrendous against elite defensive talent such as Clemson. Quarterback David Shinksie has quietly emerged as the Eagles offensive leader as Frank Spaziani finds himself in familiar territory, sitting atop the ACC Atlantic, although it is early.
Florida State has similar woes of consistency; theirs is of the on again and off again nature; explosive in weeks 1 and 3, deplorable in weeks 2 and 4. The Noles are due to play an outstanding offensive game according to their schedule but BC will be playing inspired football this Saturday. They’re hosting the first annual “Mark Herzlich” day in Chestnut Hill to celebrate the BC linebacker battling cancer and with guests like Lance Armstrong the crowd will be juiced for a BC win.
North Carolina State @ Wake Forest (ESPNU, 3:30pm) Todd Harris, Charles Arbuckle
State’s offense has looked solid in weeks following their 3-7 loss to South Carolina. Russell Wilson has shown why he is a dark horse Heisman candidate and the Pack seem to be readying for a strong ACC campaign. On the other side Riley Skinner, the fifth year senior has made mistakes that the 2006 redshirt freshman edition Skinner didn’t make. In outings against Baylor, BC and the 1st half of the Stanford game Skinner played well below the standard Wake fans have come to expect.
The Wolfpack hung on to win last season with a less talented unit against Wake’s most talented roster in team history. This year O’Brien’s team has the talent edge and TOB should help further Jim Grobe and the Demon Deacon’s slide back down to earth at Wake Forest.
Georgia Tech @ Mississippi State (SEC Network, 7:30pm) Doug Bell, Chris Doering
Starksville, Mississippi; one of the hottest places on Earth, home to the cowbell, occasional random Florida Gator upsets and a whole new offensive scheme. Georgia Tech brings the flexbone down to the Magnolia state as MSU is reeling from what might have been; failing on a goalline opportunity to beat #4 LSU. The Bulldogs, under former Florida offensive coordinator Dan Mullen, are rushing the football for over 200 yards a game and appear to have found a decent quarterback option in Tyson Lee.
After the physical LSU contest this will be the Bulldogs second physically testing game; which plays right into the Jackets hands. Paul Johnson’s scheme will test Mullen’s squad as they must regroup to face his unorthodox attack. The Jackets will cut, trap and pull out against the Bulldogs front seven until the unit is battered and can not take anymore of the Wreck’s option attack.
Oklahoma @ Miami (ABC, 8pm)- Brent Musburger, Kirk Herbstreit, Lisa Salters
This game has lost a bit of its luster after Miami’s beat down in Blacksburg but the game is still an 8 pm national showcase of the up and coming Canes and the #8 Sooners. OU’s question about the availability of Sam Bradford have been put to bed for the time being while Miami still has questions surrounding their ability to live up to the new found expectations. Landry Jones will be starting the contest for the Sooners and the redshirt freshman has been lights out since making his first start against Idaho State.
For “Da U” they’ll have to deal with a defensive line that is far more talented than Virginia Tech’s strong willed unit. Gerald McCoy is a potential top three draft pick and after the U struggled with VT’s line keeping Jacory Harris upright will be a daunting task. Expect Brent Venables to dial up the pressure on the sophomore to rattle his cage and stop him from finding LaRon Byrd, Aldarius Johnson, Travis Benjamin and the other talented pass catching Canes.
On defense regardless of quarterback the Canes will be able to pin their ears back and attack as Oklahoma has shown they are susceptible to overload blitzes and speedy edge rushers. In coverage Miami’s young defense will have to be disciplined to stop the fast break attack of the Sooners.
This should be another interesting inter-conference match up as the two teams are both vying for their BCS lives. Each with one loss, both the Sooners and the Canes have the talent to move well up into the national title picture.
Clemson 27 Maryland 10
North Carolina 21 Virginia 13
Virginia Tech 31 Duke 3
Florida State 31 Boston College 27
North Carolina State 24 Wake Forest 17
Georgia Tech 27 Mississippi State 17
Miami 38 Oklahoma 37