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October 11, 2006
Best matchup: The ACC will throw its ace early with the Thursday night contest between Virginia Tech and Boston College. The Wake Forest-N.C. State matchup is a very close second here. Thursday's game is one that will decide which of these teams will rebound for the stretch run. Virginia Tech fell to No. 22 in the polls following its loss to Georgia Tech. BC has disappeared from the rankings after losing at N.C. State. While Tech and B.C. are in different divisions, this could still be an elimination game. The loser will have a very tough road to reach the ACC title game.
Worst matchup: Temple-Clemson. Puh-lease. At least the Clemson fans will have a fun trek up I-85 to Charlotte.
The pressure is on: In a way, the Wake Forest and N.C. State both have a large amount of pressure on them this week. Wake doesn't want to be derailed by its final-quarter collapse against Clemson last Saturday. N.C. State wants to sustain its momentum after back-to-back victories over Boston College and Florida State. A win would keep the Wolfpack at the top of the Atlantic Division standings. Pretty good position for a team that lost at home to Akron and was blown out by Southern Miss. ? Al Groh would seemingly be under pressure this week. However, when you lose at East Carolina the UVa. fans are probably more concerned with the opening of their new basketball arena.
Upset alert: What is beyond the "final nail in the coffin?" Perhaps an "extra" nail in the coffin? Well, we might find out if beleaguered North Carolina coach John Bunting loses to South Florida at home ? and that might indeed happen.
BCS implications/Most to gain or most to lose: The easy answer, and surely the one given by ACC detractors, is an emphatic "none" in this category. This may also be the correct answer, but the Wake-N.C. State game still means plenty to the Wolfpack. The longer N.C. State keeps a "zero" in its conference loss column, the better it is for Chuck Amato and the Wolfpack's dreams of reaching the ACC title game.
Who's hot: Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan leads the ACC and is 24th nationally in total offense (248.8 yards per game). ? Clemson's James Davis (607) and C.J. Spiller (334) have combined to rush for 941 yards and 15 touchdowns. Davis leads the ACC and is 17th nationally in rushing yards per game (101.2). He is bidding to become the first Tiger to lead the ACC in rushing since Raymond Priester did so in 1995. ? Clemson's Gaines Adams leads the ACC in QB sacks (6.5) and is second in tackles for loss (8.5). ? N.C. State sophomore quarterback Daniel Evans completed 13 of 22 passes for 190 yards and three touchdowns in Thursday's 24-20 win over No. 17 Florida State. ? Wake Forest freshman quarterback Riley Skinner has completed 68 percent of his passes for 788 yards and three touchdowns. Skinner leads the ACC in passing efficiency (146.4).
Who's not: The Virginia offense doesn't rank higher than 97th nationally in any of the major offensive categories. The Cavaliers are 98th in scoring offense (16.83 ppg), 113th in rushing offense (77.17 ypg), 97th in passing offense (154.83 ypg) and 115th in total offense (232.0 ypg). ? North Carolina quarterback Cam Sexton has completed just 16 of his last 50 passes while throwing three interceptions. ? Duke ranks last in nine of the major team statistics kept by the ACC. ? The North Carolina defense has allowed opponents to score 21 out of 23 times in the red zone this season. ? Boston College is last in the ACC in pass defense, allowing 257.8 yards per contest.
Must see TV: Once again, the prime time spot on Thursday night will be best one for the ACC. The Virginia Tech-Boston College game is a compelling one, especially when the remaining paths of both teams might be determined by the outcome.
Newcomer/Backup that could have an impact: Evans has paced N.C. State to its last two victories after earning the starting quarterback job. Given the fact these two wins may have saved his coach's job, look for Evans to remain behind center for a while. Evans has only completed 15 of his 31 pass attempts with one touchdown. While the stats aren't gaudy, the results have been.
Key stat: Over its last three games, Clemson is averaging 486 yards per game in total offense. The Tigers lead the ACC and rank 10th nationally in total offense (442.3).
Take the line: Take Boston College (+2?) at home against Virginia Tech. The Eagles may get the outright victory over the Hokies. The verdict is still out on Virginia Tech.
They said it: "I understand fans, I'm a fan too. I don't think fans understand coaches. I think that's reasonable. It's a great country, anyone can say what they want regardless of if they know the facts." ? Virginia coach Al Groh on the growing criticism from UVa. fans after the 2-4 start.
Injury update: For Clemson, backup defensive tackle Etta Etta-Tawo is now out for the year with heart complications that may make him have to give up football; Wide receiver Chansi Stuckey is still nursing a broken foot and will be out at least another week; Reggie Merriweather should return Thursday after missing the past three weeks with a sprained ankle. ? Florida State linebacker Derek Nicholson is out for the season with a torn ACL. ? North Carolina's Hakeem Nicks is doubtful with a sprained ankle, while teammate quarterback Cam Sexton is probable after suffering a concussion last week against Miami.
Worth noting: Nine ACC teams rank among the top 45 teams nationally in total defense. ? Georgia Tech's Reggie Ball is 11th among ACC career total offense leaders (8,649), 16th in passing yardage (7,237) and has either run or thrown for a TD in 26 of his last 30 games. ? ACC teams have started 18 quarterbacks through the first six weeks of the season, including nine who have made their first career start.
Freshman who impressed: Clemson's Spiller rushed for 104 yards on nine attempts and scampered 72 yards for the winning score as the Tigers downed Wake Forest, 27-17. The 100-yard game was the second in a row for Spiller. The 72-yard run was the longest by a Clemson running back in 13 years, and was the longest scoring run by a Clemson player since 2002.