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October 25, 2006

ACC: Week 9 Breakdown

Joyner's ACC picks
Rivals.com national writer Andrew Joyner's predictions for Week 9 in the ACC.
Thursday's game:
Clemson 21, Virginia Tech 14
Saturday's games:
Virginia 17, N.C. State 14
Boston College 31, Buffalo 3
Vanderbilt 23, Duke 13
Wake Forest 21, North Carolina 20
Miami 21, Georgia Tech 17
Florida State 13, Maryland 10

Last week: 5-1 Season: 48-14

Best matchup: A lot to pick from this week, but the Clemson-Virginia Tech contest on Thursday night is important. Clemson is the league's best team (OK, they may disagree with that in Boston), and it travels to Blacksburg, Va., - a tough place to win. This is the type of game in which a couple of special teams plays by the struggling Hokies could help upset the Tigers.

Worst matchup: Unless it's USC-Notre Dame, Florida-Florida State, etc., non-conference tilts in late October don't usually spur excitement. This is the situation for the Buffalo-Boston College matchup this week. This should be a yawner, not all that different than the Patriots-Bills contest of a week earlier.

The pressure is on: Miami and Florida State will be feeling some pressure this week. The pressure is most on Florida State offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden after the Seminoles offense again sputtered in the loss to Boston College. Bobby Bowden, in fact, spent some of the week defending his son/offensive coordinator from the mounting criticism. As for Larry Coker - suspensions or not - the Hurricanes had no reason being in a tight game at Duke. The heat on Coker's seat has been turned up a few degrees. The Yellow Jackets may simply be a better team than Miami this season, but that's not going to satisfy Coker's detractors.

The pressure is off: Embattled North Carolina coach John Bunting after it was announced Sunday evening that he would not be returning next season.

Upset alert: Maryland played well against N.C. State last week. Coupled with their strong second-half effort against Virginia two weeks ago, the host Terps certainly stand a chance to knock off Florida State.

BCS implications/Most to gain or most to lose: The winner of the Miami-Georgia Tech will definitely have the inside track on winning the Coastal Division - and thus a berth in the ACC title game. Clemson needs to keep winning, especially because they would lose an Atlantic Division tiebreaker to Boston College.

Who's hot: Clemson tailback James Davis leads the ACC and is second nationally with 16 rushing touchdowns. Clemson defensive end Gaines Adams has had a QB sack in six consecutive games and leads the ACC in QB sacks (8.5). Boston College junior quarterback Matt Ryan leads the ACC in total offense (237.9) and has thrown for a league-high 1,661 yards. Wake Forest freshman quarterback Riley Skinner has completed 68 percent of his passes for 912 yards and four touchdowns. He leads the ACC in passing efficiency (148.4). Virginia freshman quarterback Jameel Sewell has completed 58 percent of his passes this season for 803 yards and five touchdowns. In his last two games, Sewell has accounted for 541 yards of total offense and four TDs. Maryland is second nationally in fewest penalties per game (3.6). Virginia wide receiver Kevin Ogletree has caught three or more passes in each of his last seven games. He leads the team in receptions (36), receiving yards (425) and touchdown receptions (4).

Who's not: N.C. State is 114th nationally in turnover margin (-1.29). Florida State's rushing attack mustered just 28 total yards against Boston College. North Carolina's quarterback duo of Cam Sexton and Joe Dailey completed just 9 of 20 passes against Virginia last week for 88 yards and two interceptions. For the season, they have combined to throw 13 interceptions. North Carolina and Duke combined are last in 21 team categories kept by the ACC.

Must see TV: Several contests this week should be good, intriguing "watches" such as Miami-Georgia Tech, Clemson-Virginia Tech, Florida State-Maryland and Wake Forest-North Carolina.

Newcomer/Backup that could have an impact: Not sure if he truly counts as a newcomer, but Miami wide receiver Ryan Moore has been suspended indefinitely and hasn't played yet this season. Moore practiced this week and could play against Georgia Tech.

Key stat: Three ACC schools - Clemson (fourth), Virginia Tech (sixth) and Miami (eighth) - rank among the top 10 nationally in total defense.

Take the line: Clemson is a 4-point favorite at Virginia Tech on Thursday night. It's really a battle of two thoughts here: 1. Clemson is clearly playing well, and certainly better than Virginia Tech; 2. The Hokies are always good at home and this will be close. The former is probably the choice this week. Record: 5-3

They said it: "I pay no attention to it. They don't know what's going on, they don't see the film. What I can't understand about them is how can I have nine coaches and it's always one guy's fault? We are a team. We win and we lose. We don't divide and we don't point fingers, they do." Florida State's Bobby Bowden on published criticism about his son and offensive coordinator, Jeff, by Florida State boosters.

Injury update: For Clemson, James Davis is questionable with a shoulder injury. For Miami, Rome Davis is out after knee surgery while Jon Beason is questionable with a sprained knee. .. For Florida State, Brandon Warren(hamstring) should be back and Lorenzo Booker(thigh bruise) should also play after missing the fourth quarter against BC. De'Cody Fagg(high ankle sprain) and Geno Hayes (knee sprain) are definitely out. Georgia Tech quarterback Reggie Ball is questionable with a right leg injury.

Worth noting: Wake Forest is 6-1, its best start since 1979. The Demon Deacons are bowl eligible for the first time since 2002. Over the last five games Clemson has rushed for 1,589 yards (317.8) as compared to 317 yards (63.4) by its opponents. N.C. State has scored in 132 consecutive games, the fourth-longest scoring streak in ACC history.

Freshman that impressed: It's getting a little redundant in this category, but did you see the moves Clemson's C.J. Spiller made to juke Georgia Tech defenders last Saturday night? Those Yellow Jackets are still looking for the freshman speedster. Spiller had two touchdowns, rushed for 116 yards on 16 carries and caught one pass for a scintillating 50-yard touchdown.

Week 9 conference previews: Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC

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