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November 22, 2006

ACC: Week 13 Breakdown

Joyner's ACC picks
Rivals.com national writer Andrew Joyner's predictions for Week 13 in the ACC.
Thursday's game:
Boston College 24, Miami 21
Saturday's games:
North Carolina 17, Duke 14
Florida 20, Florida State 17
Clemson 24, South Carolina 17
Virginia Tech 20, Virginia 10
Georgia 21, Georgia Tech 14
N.C. State 21, East Carolina 20
Maryland 28, Wake Forest 24

Last week: 4-2 Season: 66-22

Best matchup: There are five traditional rivalry games (three that pit ACC vs. SEC), one rivalry game that is seemingly never played (N.C. State-East Carolina), one game that produced one of the most memorable contests ever (Boston College-Miami) and another that could decide the Atlantic Division representative in the ACC title game (Wake Forest-Maryland). Certainly, the Wake-Maryland matchup is likely to be the most significant because it will help decide the Atlantic Division representative in the ACC title game.

Worst matchup: North Carolina is a bad football team that has already fired its coach and hired his successor. But given the Tar Heels victory over N.C. State last Saturday, you can conclude they are the better team than Duke. Not sure if you followed all that, but the goal was to note that this could be a dreadful game - especially with the other ACC offerings this week.

The pressure is on: With Larry Coker's fate likely decided, the pressure is firmly on Chuck Amato. A loss to East Carolina, which would be the second loss of the season to a C-USA team, will certainly have Wolfpack fans calling for Amato's ouster. N.C. State athletic director Lee Fowler has tried to stand by his coach, but a loss this week might force Fowler's hand. In terms of non-job tenure pressure, Wake Forest would not want to see all their positive momentum dashed by back-to-back losses to end the regular season.

Upset alert: Never in recent memory has a Florida-Florida State game been so easily dismissed as this one. The Gators and coach Urban Meyer are crowing about the BCS and rematches and things like that. What about the Seminoles? FSU is 7-1-1 against Florida in the last nine games contested at Doak Campbell Stadium. The Gators may be the better team, but something may just happen on the way to the SEC title game.

BCS implications/Most to gain or most to lose: Even the Wake Forest media notes say it this week. For the Demon Deacons, the situation is simple: win and you're in the ACC title game. That's succinct enough for us.

Who's hot: Boston College has won six of its last seven games. Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan leads the ACC in total offense (252.6) and is seventh among career passing leaders at the school with 4,395 yards. Over his last four games Ryan has completed 66 percent of his passes for 1,132 yards and five touchdowns. Clemson's Chansi Stuckey and North Carolina's Jesse Holley have caught at least one pass in 29 consecutive games. Virginia Tech's Brandon Pace has made 21 consecutive field goals. Maryland's Darrius Heyward-Bey leads the Terps and all ACC freshmen in receptions (38) and receiving yardage (576). Florida State's Lawrence Timmons leads the ACC and ranks eighth nationally in tackles for loss (1.6). Wake Forest freshman quarterback Riley Skinner leads the ACC in passing efficiency (140.3), and his completion percentage (66.7) ranks eighth in ACC history. Over his last two games, N.C. State's Toney Baker has rushed for 244 yards and is averaging 155.0 all-purpose yards per game. Virginia's Kevin Ogletree has caught three or more passes in each of his last 10 games and is second in the ACC in receptions (4.6) and sixth in receiving yardage (50.1).

Who's not: Miami has lost its last four games. In those contests, Miami quarterbacks have thrown two touchdowns and six interceptions. N.C. State has lost six consecutive games. In the last four losses, N.C. State quarterbacks have thrown six interceptions and no touchdown passes. Duke is last in 12 major team statistics kept by the ACC. In its last five games, Florida State has only netted more than 100 yards on the ground twice.

Must see TV: With so many rivalry games and the Wake Forest-Maryland game having ACC title game implications, the best bet this weekend is to keep the leftovers and the remote close at hand. The only games that aren't must-see-TV? Well, that's probably East Carolina-N.C. State and North Carolina-Duke. However, Wolfpack fans questioning the future of Chuck Amato will certainly be keeping an eye on the matchup with ECU.

Newcomer/Backup that could have an impact: With Virginia Tech's Branden Ore likely out of the game with an ankle injury, look for Kenny Lewis Jr. to get the bulk of the carries against Virginia. Lewis ran for 74 yards on 17 carries against Wake Forest after Ore exited.

Key stat: Boston College has intercepted two or more passes in six consecutive games and is tied for fourth nationally with 18 interceptions on the season.

Take the line: Not easy picking this week. Maryland is favored by one over Wake Forest. I think the Terps will win by more than one point.

They said it: "I think he'd [Steve Spurrier] be a good candidate if this job was open. I know Steve. If this job were open I think he'd be a heck of a nice candidate." Embattled Miami coach Larry Coker when asked about his job security and rumors that Spurrier might be his replacement at Miami.

Injury update: For Virginia Tech, running back Branden Ore (ankle) is doubtful. For Wake Forest, running back Kevin Harris (concussion) and defensive end Jeremy Thompson (shoulder) are questionable. Linebackers Jon Abbate (ankle), Eric Berry (shoulder) and wide receiver Willie Idlette (back) are probable. For Florida State, running back Antone Smith is out with a dislocated shoulder. Fullback Joe Surratt (shoulder) is questionable.

Worth noting: Georgia Tech's Reggie Ball needs only 43 yards to become the 13th player in ACC history to throw for 8,000 or more yards. Eight of the 12 ACC teams have been ranked at least one week this season. The ACC and the SEC lead all conferences with five ranked teams in both polls. ACC place-kickers have made 11 of 21 field goal attempts from 50 yards or beyond in 2006.

Looking back: Depending on how you look at it, it was a either a good week or a bad one for the ACC. Convincing victories by Boston College over Maryland and Virginia Tech over Wake Forest at least showed that there are more than just three teams playing well in the league. Of course, critics would point out that it could have also shown that there are no "great" teams in the ACC. The debate will continue. Virginia surprised Miami 17-7 to give the Cavs a shot at a bowl game and to further push Larry Coker out the door in Coral Gables. North Carolina toppled rival N.C. State in the final home game for John Bunting in Chapel Hill. Florida State became bowl eligible with a 28-20 victory over Western Michigan.

Freshman that impressed: Virginia quarterback Jameel Sewell completed 23 of 33 passes for 217 yards and scored on runs of 12 and two yards in the Cavaliers' 17-7 win over Miami.

Bowl watch: Wake Forest (9-2), Georgia Tech (9-2), Boston College (9-2), Maryland (8-3), Virginia Tech (9-2), Clemson (8-3) and Florida State (6-5) are all bowl eligible. Miami (5-6) and Virginia (5-6) need a win this weekend to get to the magical six-win plateau.

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