ACC Weekend Football Preview: Week 6

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Maryland (4-1) vs. Virginia (1-3)

Why Maryland might win: The Maryland Terrapins are coming off a huge road
win at Clemson to take on a bad Virginia team. UVA’s offense is currently
ranked 118 out of 119 teams in total offense and DEAD LAST in scoring offense at
9 ppg. The bend-but-don’t-break Maryland defense should be able to build on
last week’s performance where they held Clemson to 17 points, and zero in the
2nd half. UVA QB Mark Verica has thrown five interceptions in his two games
played, so the Terps’ defense can really help out their offense with field
position. Offensively, Maryland wants to run the ball and run it often. Even
last week when conference leading rusher, Da’Rel Scott (111 ypg), was going
nowhere (23 attempts, 39 yards), they continued to pound the run. Offensively,
the Terps seemed to have found their identity and are building on that each week
with steady play from QB Chris Turner.

Why Virginia might win: UVA has won seven of the last eight games played
in Charlottesville. Defensively UVA played well last week, only giving up 258
yards against a Duke team that was averaging close to 420 ypg coming in. UVA has
to protect the football, if nothing else, on offense. Six turnovers last week
was the biggest contributor to the beating they took on the scoreboard. QB Mark
Verica will make his first home start, which should help settle him down some,
so look for his play to improve. WR Kevin Ogletree is quietly putting up good
numbers and is tied for 2nd in receptions in the ACC. There will be plays to be
made for Ogletree against a Terp pass defense currently ranked 102nd in the
nation. If UVA does not improve on their 66 rushing ypg (117th nationally) they
will lose this game and every other game remaining. Take a look at their
schedule, they will not be favored in any of the remaining games and this
appears to be their best chance at winning #2.

Maryland 24, Virginia 13

Boston College (3-1) vs. North Carolina State (2-3)

Why Boston College might win: Statistically speaking, Boston College is
playing the 2nd worst team in the ACC (UVA is the worst). NC State is last in
the conference in total defense and second to last in total offense. After
posting 28 passing yards against Rhode Island the week before, look for BC to
run, run, run against an NC State defense that allows 174 ypg on the ground. The
BC starting QB Chris Crane is struggling and probably happy NOT to be playing at
home where he has been getting booed by the home crowd. Coach Jags is on record
saying he will go with the hot hand at quarterback, either starter Crane or back
up Dominique Davis. Defense is Boston College’s strong suit this season,
currently leading the ACC in pass defense, allowing just 137 ypg and only 116
ypg on the ground. BC would prefer to see NC State QB Harrison Beck, who is more
of a drop back passer playing into the defense’s hands. If BC gets behind
early, how will this offense respond? Can they respond?

Why NC State might win: The home team has won all three ACC meetings.
Coach Tom O’Brien gets to battle his former team on his own turf this time
around after losing last year 37-17. The difference in this game lies in the
hands of QB Russell Wilson and whether he plays. Reports on Tuesday had him
practicing, so it sounds as if he will lace them up. The State offense is
completely different with Wilson running the show, adding the scrambling
dimension to this team and another weapon on a team desperate for play makers.
The defensive game plan should be to stack the box with eight defenders and dare
Chris Crane to beat them all day long. LB Nate Irving would be a welcome
addition to the defense, but at this time it is unlikely he will suit up.
(Editor’s Note: NC State announced on Thursday that Russell Wilson will start.)

NC State 17, Boston College 16

Heavy Hors d’oeuvres

#23 Connecticut (5-0) vs. North Carolina (3-1)

Why Connecticut might win: The Connecticut Huskies are riding high and
full of confidence for their match-up with the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill. Why
shouldn’t they? They are undefeated on the year and boast the #9 rushing
attack in all of D1 football at 255 ypg. Running back Donald Brown is having a
huge season, leading the nation with 181 yards per game. UConn will try to wear
down UNC’s D and control the clock with the running game, and as some may have
seen in the UNC/VT game, the Tarheels were gassed on defense by the 4th quarter.
UConn will be without starting QB Tyler Lorenzen, who was second on the team
with 200 yards rushing on the year. New QB Zach Fraser performed well against
Louisville completing 8-15 for 90 yards and a touchdown. Don’t expect much
drop-off at QB, because Lorenzen had only lead UCONN to the 106th best passing
offense, but worse than that he had thrown SIX picks and only one touchdown. The
Connecticut defense will be focusing on UNC’s pass offense as their rush
offense is ranked 98th in the country.

Why North Carolina might win: North Carolina has faced better competition
so far this season and is battle tested with playing down-to-the-wire games
against Miami and Virginia Tech. UConn played a few tight games, but Baylor and
Louisville are not of the same caliber as Miami/VT. Evidently, UNC will not miss
a beat without QB T.J. Yates as 3rd stringer Cam Sexton came in for an
ineffective Mike Paulus and put up good numbers against “The U” (11-19, 242
yards, 2 touchdowns). This UNC offense might be licking their chops after seeing
Louisville put up 508 yards against UConn in their last game and Baylor having
scored 28 the week before at Connecticut. Wide receivers Nicks, Tate and Foster
should all continue putting up gaudy stats this weekend. On defense, it is quite
simple; stop the UConn running game, as the Huskies have not shown the ability
to beat teams through the air. If not, the Huskies will grind the Heels down
throughout the game and win it in the 4th.

UNC 35, UCONN 28

Duke (3-1) vs. Georgia Tech (3-1)

Why Duke might win: Duke has had the luxury of playing against the
Georgia Tech style of offense twice already this year with their games against
James Madison (similar) and Navy (same). The Blue Devil defense should be
prepared assignment-wise on what to expect and do. The difference this week is
the talent is much better than the other teams running the option offense. LB’s
Mike Tauiliili and Vincent Rey currently sit number one and two in the ACC for
tackles per game, and will have to come up big this week to pull out a victory.
Duke will attack Georgia Tech through the air facing a Yellow Jacket secondary
that has not been tested to date after facing VT, BC and Miss St., all ranked
below 75th nationally in pass offense. QB Thaddeus Lewis will have to get off to
a better start than last week and not turn the ball over on the road. Lewis has
been spreading the ball around, with four receivers catching at least 10 balls,
but his main target is Eron Riley who accounts for six of Lewis’ seven
touchdown passes.

Why Georgia Tech might win: The Yellow Jackets have won the past six
meetings in Atlanta, and 12 out of the last 13. The team should be fresh coming
of the bye week, but it appears QB Josh Nesbitt will miss this game with a bad
hamstring (did not practice Tuesday). True freshman Jaybo Shaw took over at QB
in the Mississippi State game and did great, orchestrating an offense that
totaled over 500 total yards while PROTECTING the football. That was one thing
Nesbitt was not doing previously. This upstart Duke team will be making their
first road trip this year, leaving the friendly and quiet confines of Wallace
Wade Stadium. The Georgia Tech front four will be looking to pressure Thaddeus
Lewis into mistakes by having him throw early or under duress. While Duke has
been running the ball better than previous seasons, they are still a one
dimensional offensive unit. A defensive staff that has had an extra week to
prepare for a one dimensional attack should cause issues for Duke’s passing.

Georgia Tech 42, Duke 24

Main Course

Florida State (3-1) vs. Miami (2-2)

Why Florida State might win: The last seven games in this series have
been won by eight points or less. Sounds like another defensive/special teams
battle which might favor Florida State. Just last week, Florida State blocked a
punt for a safety, returned a kickoff for a touchdown and went 3-3 in field
goals with a long of 52 yards. Offensively, the Seminoles are still feeling
their way, searching for their identity. Against Colorado they rushed the ball
46 times for 259 yards, led by RB Antone Smith who ran for 154 yards and three
touchdowns on 25 carries. QB Christian Ponder struggled once again, completing
less than 50% of his passes and adding another interception for a total of four
on the year. Miami’s defense has been vulnerable against the pass, ranking
10th in the ACC, but can Ponder and his receivers take advantage of the weak
link on this Miami defense? FSU must improve on the turnover margin, currently
-1 per game, in games such as this that could be the difference.

Why Miami might win: Miami must recover quickly from a heart-breaking
loss last weekend against North Carolina. Neither Miami nor FSU want to receive
their second league loss this early in the season, which would leave no room for
error with the bulk of their conference games remaining. The Miami rush defense
ranks #1 overall in the ACC, allowing just 65 ypg. Miami will want to get FSU in
obvious passing downs so they can pressure Ponder into mistakes. All things
being equal last week with UNC/Miami, the difference in the game was QB Robert
Marve throwing two picks. Can he play under control and not try to do more than
he’s capable of at this point in his career? Running back Graig Cooper needs
to get at least 23 carries in this game for Miami to be successful on offense.
Graig is averaging 5.2 ypc on the year and needs to shoulder the offensive load
while Javarris James remains out due to injury.

Florida State 20 Miami 13

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