Bourbonstreet’s ACC Capsule: Week 13

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Forest will now travel to play Maryland for the Atlantic bid to the ACC
Championship Game in Jacksonville on December 2nd at 1pm. However, the team
playing the best Atlantic Division football this year (Boston College) could be
seated 3rd or 4th at the ACC bowling dinner-table. Clemson could be on their way
to a nice looking nine win season, while Florida State is locked into a
next-to-last, but still bowl eligible Atlantic Division finish. Looks like there
will now be a second State in Boise.

The Rambling Wreck from Georgia Tech is locked into the Coastal half of the
ACC title tilt in Jacksonville, but will the ACC actually have eight bowl
eligible teams once the 2006 regular season wraps up in five days time? And then
there’s this … some small matter called the Commonwealth Cup is on the line
this Saturday in Blacksburg VA! But who will win? Let’s find out…

Current ACC Standings:

School Conference Overall
Wake Forest 5-2 9-2
Boston College 5-2 9-2
Maryland 5-2 8-3
Clemson 5-3 8-3
Florida State 3-5 6-5
NC State 2-6 3-8
School Conference Overall
Georgia Tech 7-1 9-2
Virginia Tech 5-2 9-2
Virginia 4-3 5-6
Miami 2-5 5-6
North Carolina 1-6 2-9
Duke 0-7 0-11

This Week’s Games:

Boston College-4.5 @ Miami (O/U=37.5)
: (11.23, Thursday 7:45pm, ESPN)

  • B.C. strengths: 5th in turnover margin, B+ quality special-teams, 20th in
    passing offense
  • B.C. weaknesses: 82nd in pass defense and that is about it
  • MiaFla strengths: 4th in rushing defense, 8th in total defense, 17th in
    Net Punting
  • MiaFla weaknesses: 88th in scoring, team looks like it has given up for

Game Outlook:

Boston College opened up strong, and only got stronger as the day grew longer
last week. Beating then 21st ranked Maryland by a score of 38-16 up in colonial
Bean-Towne two days ago. BC benefited greatly from a conference champion quality
+4 turnover margin on the day. In fact, the Flying-Eagles were up 14-zip before
their offense even set foot on the playing-field, as BC LB Jolonn Dunbar scored
twice on scooped up Terrapin fumbles in the games first 3:08 of play, on his way
to winning the ACC’s defensive player of the week award. Maryland never
recovered, and BC QB Matt Ryan was his normal efficacious self, hitting 66% of
his passes, while BC RB L.V. Whitworth notched his 6th career 100 yard day. 10
penalty flags is the only negative I could find on the Flying Eagles’
afternoon last week, and how ironic is it that the team playing the best ACC
football right now could possibly finish 3rd in their own division?

On the other hand, Miami opened up last week like an aircraft-carrier, a
carpenters dream, a perfect 180 degree surface, and only got flatter form there
as the day wore on in charlottesville, dropping a 7-17 decision to the french.
Now consider this…I actually saw ‘Cane players dogging it, laying-down,
taking it easy from about the 1st quarter of play on. Miami is a lot of things,
not all of them are good, but I’ve never seen Hurricane players so
contact-adverse? Hurricane QB Kirby Freeman was only so-so in his 2nd game
starting in relief of Kyle Wright, who is done for the year with thumb surgery.
The lone offensive bright spot in the ‘Canes recent 3-4 overall slide, is
freshman RB Javarris James, who continues to exhibit the look and feel of the
next great Miami pro RB. Other than that, the Miami ballers appear fully devoted
to seeing the Hurricane equipment manager ASAP, as they are all too eager to
turn in their pads for 2006.

The home team has won all six ACC weeknight games this year, but streaks are
meant to be broken. I’ll take the Flying-Eagles by three.

Probability of an upset=39%

South Carolina+5.5 @ Clemson (O/U=46.5)
: (11.25, Saturday 12noon, ESPN2)

  • USC strengths: #1 in Visors, 24th in passing offense, 21st in scoring
  • USC weaknesses: 76th stopping the run, poor return teams, less than top
    tier SEC depth
  • CU strengths: 5th in rushing offense, 5th in total defense, nine units
    still ranked 10th or better!
  • CU weaknesses: 75th passing offense, 75th in punt returns, health

Game Outlook:

Clemson had the week off last week, so there is not much to recap on that,
though the Tigers did snap a two game L streak two weeks ago vs. N.C. State,
20-14. South Carolina however was not, as the Gamecocks licked near D-1aa
quality Middle Tennessee State by 45 points at home. Clemson has won seven of
the last 10 in this series, out-gaining USC-East in all but two of those games.
However, the home-team has only won 33% of the last six games between these two,
so the Tigers may not be all that much of a favorite in Death-Valley.

I was considering picking USC-East here on the strength of their obvious
coaching edge. But that off week will help the Clemson Tigers recover their two
pro caliber RBs (James Davis and C.J. Spiller) to near 100% health, as both have
played nearly a full month pretty badly dinged-up. I’ll take the Clemson RBs
to beat the not-all-together great South Carolina run defense. Tigers by eight.

Probability of upset=40%

Florida-8 @ Florida State (O/U=42)
: (11.25, Saturday 12noon, ABC)

  • Fla strengths: superb offensive run-pass mix, 5th in rushing defense, 5th
    in scoring defense
  • Fla weaknesses: 88th in kickoff returns, very slightly negative turnover
  • FSU strengths: 1st in tackles for a loss, 10th in run defense, 12th in
    total defense
  • FSU weaknesses: 104th in turnover margin, 100th in rushing offense, health

Game Outlook:

Last week the ‘Noles played their 7th game decided by eight points or less
on 2006, but they did hold off the final drive of a very game Western Michigan
to win late at home, 28-20. Neither of FSU’s very highly touted QBs did much
on the day, nor did the Seminoles have much in the way of a ground game, but
that’s been the case all year in Tallahassee. The ‘Nole defense did hold
Western Michigan to a very manageable 257 total yards, but so much scoring
anemia for such a talent riddle offense all year long is just not gonna get it
done. Though it has left FSU fans wondering if Bobby Bowden can pull a
top-flight offensive coordinator hiring out of his hat. If he can, FSU should be
fine in 2007, as the Seminoles only start five seniors this year. File that stat
away for future use when FSU comes to Lane in 2007.

Florida totally destroyed D-1aa Western Carolina 62-zilch last week, and
looks primed to take a shot at perhaps sending the second FSU Bowden into
coaching exile. FSU will prolly play pretty hard at home, but I’ll side with
the healthier Gators who are playing for an outside shot at a MNC game birth.

Probability of upset=33%

Wake Forest+1 @ Maryland (O/U=40)
: (11.25, Saturday 7:45pm, ESPN)

  • WF strengths: 7th in net punting, 12th in turnover margin, 13th in scoring
  • WF weaknesses: 107th in passing offense, 100th in scoring offense, 85th in
    pass defense
  • MU strengths: excellent special teams play, QB protection, scrappy, gutty
    football team
  • MU weaknesses: 10 different unit rankings 61st or worse, 94th in turnover
    margin, 90th in run defense

Game Outlook:

Wake started out with three straight three and outs on offense, and only had
103 yards of total offense in the first 30 minutes of play. But only one bad
pursuit angle separated Wake from pitching a first half shut out down in
Winston-Salem. Wake QB Riley Skinner did fairly well in moving the Demon Deacs
up and down the field with his arm, but he only converted 25% of his 3rd down
attempts, and Wake’s ground game never got on track for the night. With
Branden Ore put out for the game early, you can argue that Wake could not
possibly have had a better chance to beat our Hokies. But the Demon Deacs do not
have the speed or athleticism to compete with Vah.Tech just yet, though they
still have chalked up one of the most impressive runs in all of D-1 for 2006.

As I suspected the very limited, though very willing to engage Maryland
Terrapins were finally beat-back into their shell up on Chestnut Hill last week
by BC, 16-38. Maryland struggled to mount any offense all day and turned the
ball over. Sam Hollenbach snapped his streak of six consecutive solid outings,
throwing 2 INT’s on the day, and the Terrapin offense barely broke 70 total
yards rushing for their New England road-trip last weekend. That’s not good,
and an overall -4 turnover margin is even worse.

Last week I called for both Maryland and Wake to get beat, and for both to be
held under 20 points scored. I’ll raise that to 25, and call for Wake to win
by 2.

Probability of upset=51%

East Carolina+2 @ N.C. State (O/U=40)
: (11.25, Saturday 7pm, ESPNU)

  • ECU strengths: 37th in turnover margin, 30th in passing offense, secondary
  • ECU weaknesses: 81st run defense, 83rd in rushing offense, too few TFL/Sacks,
  • NCS strengths: good special teams, C+ quality defense on the whole via
    defensive speed
  • NCS weaknesses: 85th in run defense, 100th in scoring defense, 111th in
    turnover margin

Game Outlook:

Last week ECU got beat by one point by the Rice Owls, while N.C.State fell on
the road to namesake rival UNC by the score of 9-23. Wolfpac QB Daniel Evans was
in the pre-holidays gift-giving mode, as he gift-wrapped three INT’s and
subsequently the game to the Tar-Heels down in Chapel Hill, NC. The always
speedy and athletically gifted State defense did hold UNC to only 262 total
yards on the day. But not much else went right for the Wolfpac, as coach Chesty
Amato’s Achilles-heel known as discipline problems reared its ugly head once
again. As three 4th quarter turnovers, three stalled drives inside the UNC 30
yardline, and six yellow flags in the final 30 minutes of play assured the
Wolfpac of their 6th straight L on 2006. Good defensive day, suspect offensive
effort, and precious little in the way of self-regulation; that is what the 2006
State epitaph will read.

ECU needs to win to have a good shot at a bowl, and State looks finished to
me. Steve Logan’s old team has won four of their last five, so I’ll call for
the Pirates to upset the Wolfpac by seven.

Probability of upset=52%

Georgia Tech+1.5 @ Georgia (O/U=42.5)
: (11.25, Saturday 3:30pm CBS)

  • GT strengths: #1 in net punting, ground game gets better every week, 25th
    in total defense
  • GT weaknesses: 92nd in passing offense, return teams, that’s it.
  • UGA strengths: best mascot in D-1, 14th in total defense, excellent return
  • UGA weaknesses: 94th in turnover margin, health, QB play

Game Outlook:

Georgia Tech RB Tashard Lewis came out running downhill, Yellow-Jacket QB
Reggie Ball regained his two week missing big-play touch, and the only time this
one was close was during the opening coin-toss, as GT routed Duke in the ATL by
a score of 49-21. Reggie Ball may have only completed seven passes on the day,
but when 43% of them go for TD’s, that’s a sensational day, or rather I
should type a sensational first-half. As Coach Chan Gailey pulled his starters
after only two quarters of play, gaining a XXL sized advantage in R&R in
prepping for in-State arch-rival Georgia, and in maintaining health for the ACC
Title tilt over in Jacksonville. But that’s what happens when your QB (Ball)
detonates for three second quarter TD’s and your wide-outs account for five
different touch-down grabs for the afternoon. 214 yards rushing, while holding
Duke to 42 yards on the ground, is a Coastal champion quality day. But gaining
some much needed rest to finish the year strong is a perfect day, and that’s
exactly what the Yellow-Jackets had last Saturday.

Georgia is finally playing a bit better with their replacement QB Matthew
Strafford finally setting into the pivot position, and they did upset Auburn two
weeks ago (the Bulldogs were open last week). Still, I’ll stick with the hot
team here and call for the Yellow-Jackets to win by three.

Probability of an upset=51%

North Carolina-7 @ Duke (O/U=44)
: (11.25, Saturday 12noon, ESPN360)

  • UNC strengths: big-name incoming coach, return teams, won last week
  • UNC weaknesses: 111th in turnover margin, 105th in total offense, 103rd in
    run defense
  • Duke strengths: kickoff returns, TFL, hoops season has begun
  • Duke weaknesses: 11 out of 17 units ranked 102nd or worse, playing to go

Game Outlook:

To their credit, North Carolina played pretty dag-gone hard for lame-duck
head coach Jim Bunting last week, beating N.C. State 23-9. Ronnie McGill was the
most eloquent expression of Tar-Heel resolve, as he carried the pigskin 18 times
in the first half-alone, rushing for an even 100 yards on the day vs. arch-rival
N.C. State. Pretty impressive for a 1-9 football team to overcome nearly a -100
total yardage margin for the afternoon, but that’s exactly what a +3 turnover
margin can do for you, as UNC played a rather impoverished game, but still won
by 14 at home. UNC is now positioned to finish 2-0 on 2006, as they continue to
audition for the head-coaching under-study known as Butch Davis this week.

I hit it above, and I’m not a fan of kicking a team while they are down,
but that does make Duke easier to reach. And who knows if the Blue-Devils have
another last-second half-court heave in them this year. Soooooo…Duke has been
drummed four straight weeks, being beaten by an average of 25 points in their
last five games, and not less than 17 points in four out of their last five.
Duke has been held to 0 points three times, held to single digits four times on
2006, and the Blue-Devils are totally worn out from injuries and very limited
ACC quality depth, especially on the offensive side of the ball.

Last week Georgia Tech worked Duke like a tax accountant at 1am on April
14th. This week the Blue-Devils do have something of a shot vs. UNC, but I’ll
take the Tar-Heels in a baseball scoreboard looking day. 10-7 favor of UNC.

Probability of an upset=34%

Virginia+18 @ Virginia Tech (O/U=36.5)
: (11.25, Saturday 12noon, Raycom)

  • vichy strengths: 20th in total defense, nice selection of wine and
    cheeses, only true western democracy on Earth
  • vichy weaknesses: 109th in total offense, 104th in QB protection, due for
    3rd German occupation any day now
  • VT strengths: no defensive unit ranked worse than 2nd best! excellent
    special teams, riding orange and Chicago-maroon wave of momentum from five
    straight wins!
  • VT weaknesses: Ore’s health, Ore’s health, Ore’s health

Game Outlook: (expanded Commonwealth Cup Coverage)

Virginia opened up very strong on offense last week, more that doubling up
the Hurricanes at half-time in total yardage gained, and went on to a fairly
comfortable 17-7 win. But upon further review, I noticed a few things that will
help us out in our annual Commonwealth Cup football game this weekend in
Blacksburg, VA. First off I noticed that french defensive line technique lacks
any knowledge of the Engineering Science & Mechanics concept of center-of-gravity.
As the hoo defensive linemen could not stand up and chicken-fight fast enough
after the snap. I also noticed what I will describe as a modified 3-4 version of
the historic Dallas Cowboys “Flex-Defense” as invented by Tom Landry, in
which the defensive line actually plays a version of zone coverage of the
opposing offense’s running lanes by shrinking the field of play laterally.
What I’m not sure about is, was this sloppy defensive linemen alignment by the
hoos, or predetermined intent? Whatever it was, it worked rather well, as only
one play separated the french from shutting-out Miami at home, as french QB
jameel sewell was effective if not spectacular, and hoo RB Jason snelling was,
well, snelling on the ground, but jason did have a nice day catching the ball.

I also took note of the french offense, which I described in my game notes as
“…similar to ours, with so many short-passes, but with a far less talented
RB, though they do field a mobile QB.” Miami’s 4X100 meter track-meet
quality defense held powerful but velocity challenged jason snelling to only two
yards per carry on the day. Bud’s defensive speed will do the same, or better,
and will match up very well vs. frenchy QB jamell sewell. He is athletic, to be
sure, but he is still rather medium-rare when it comes to throwing the football
more than 20+ yards. In all fairness, that was a fine win last week for the
parisian dinner-party crowd, and be aware that france will be bowl eligible with
a win this weekend, so I have to conclude we will take their best cruiserweight
shot. The good thing is that we are the only true heavyweight inside this
Commonwealth Cup squared-circle come Saturday.

Jus’ as I said last week, we were indeed Wake Forest’s worst defensive
match-up of the year. The Groves Stadium field-turf only amplified this match-up
disadvantage if you are a Demon-Deac fan. What I did not correctly calculate was
jus’ how much this speedy field-turf playing-surface would magnify our
offensive velocity advantage as well, as Wake had played FSU on the road on the
natural grass the week before (and did not play Miami all year), which masked
their team-speed disadvantage a bit.

Then our game got a little chippy, both sides flagged for obvious late hits,
many pancakes were served in each direction across any pile-up at the
line-of-scrimmage. But yet another Beamerball defensive score, a couple of Wake
Forest missed tackles in their secondary on bad pursuit angles, and 74 yards
from 1978’s 1,020 yard legacy running-back (Kenny Lewis, Jr.) and our Hokies
won on the road. But consider this; we were missing the guy who had accounted
for an unheard of, phenomenal, and absurd: 93% of all incoming VT rushing
yardage leading up to the Wake Forest game. Last Saturday night we got one carry
for f-i-v-e yards out of Mr. 93%, and beat the 14th ranked football team, in
their own backyard, at night, on national TV. That’s gotta be one of the most
amazing Hokie road wins, ever!

Three passing plays that traveled 35, 53, and 49 yards was the difference, as
the remaining Hokies not named Branden Ore made enough big plays happen, while
Bud’s defense stuffed Wake’s vaunted counter-based rushing attack, holding
the Demon Deacs to only 62 on the ground, and Brandon Pace remained perfect in
his field-goal kicking for 2006 (16 for 16). Then there was Sean’tana Glennon
(short for Joe’s last name: Montana), who had his best game as a Hokie thus
far, remaining cool as a cucumber all night long. Glennon connected on 67% of
his throws, for an all-ACC quality 18 yards per completion. Sean’tana appears
on the cusp of taking the next step as a major D-1 QB. He will get his chance
vs. a near A- quality french defense this week in the 89th meeting between these
two intra-state rivals. We lead the french head-to-head 45-37-5, but can we make
that stat-line read 46-37-5 with little to no expected contribution from the ACC’s
2nd leading rusher, one Branden Ore?

“The moral is to the physical as three is to one.” – Napoleon

Probability of an upset=25%

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