Around the ACC: November 9, 2009

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This deep in the season, we’re starting to get a better idea of who will meet
in Tampa for the ACC Championship Game. Georgia Tech is just one win away from
clinching the Coastal Division, while two teams in the Atlantic Division have
what seems to be an insurmountable lead over the other four schools.

Every team in the ACC has four or more overall wins except Maryland and
Virginia. Maryland is already eliminated from bowl consideration, and Virginia
will be with one more loss. The other 10 ACC schools still have a chance to make
the postseason.

Atlantic Division



Clemson (6-3, 4-2)

Clemson got a big 40-24 home victory over Florida State on Saturday night.
The Tigers trailed 24-21 with less than 10 minutes remaining in the game, but
then poured it on the Seminoles over the final few minutes to pull away for the
blowout victory.

The Tigers put up 483 yards of total offense against the still inept Florida
State defense. Quarterback Kyle Parker, a r-freshman who has struggled for most
of the season, threw for 242 yards and a career-high four touchdowns. Parker has
been impressive in recent wins over Miami and Florida State, so he could be
turning the corner as a quarterback.

C.J. Spiller finished the game with 312 all-purpose yards, breaking his own
school record of 310 yards set previously this season.

If the Tigers beat NC State and Virginia in their final two ACC games, they
will play for the ACC Championship. Clemson returns to action this Saturday at
NC State. Kickoff is scheduled for noon, and the game will be televised by
Raycom.


Boston College (6-3, 3-2)

BC was off this weekend. Because of their head-to-head loss to Clemson, the
Eagles must hope for a Tiger loss if they want to play for the ACC Championship. They
play at Virginia this Saturday at 3:30pm on ESPN360.com.


Florida State (4-5, 2-4)

Florida State lost to Clemson 40-24 on Saturday night, and they lost for two
reasons. First, their defense allowed 483 yards of total offense, which is par
for the course this season for the Seminoles. Second, quarterback Christian
Ponder threw four interceptions after only throwing three interceptions in the
previous eight games.

With their latest loss, the Seminoles are now worried about making a bowl
game…any bowl game. They must win two of their last three games to finish 6-6
and become bowl eligible. You can forget about the season finale at Florida. FSU
must beat Wake Forest and Maryland, or they will be sitting at home in the
postseason.

This week Florida State gets Wake Forest on the road. Kickoff is scheduled
for noon on ESPNU.



Wake Forest (4-6, 2-4)

Wake Forest wins the prize for the ACC team with the worst luck. Their latest
loss was a 30-27 overtime defeat at Georgia Tech on Saturday. They have now lost
four games in a row. Their last three losses have come by a combined seven
points. The Deacons are very close to competing for the Atlantic Division
championship, but instead they might not even make a bowl game.

If the Demon Deacons don’t make a bowl game, it will be a tough ending to the
career of quarterback Riley Skinner. Skinner led the Deacs to a bowl in each of
his first three seasons. As a senior he is completing 65.5% of his passes for
2,561 yards, with 20 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He is playing at a high
level, but Wake doesn’t have the running game or the defense to help him out.

Wake Forest has to defeat Florida State and Duke in their final two games to
become bowl eligible. They play Florida State at home this week at noon on ESPNU.



NC State (4-5, 1-4)

NC State had not won a football game since September 26 until their 38-31
victory over Maryland on Saturday. The win isn’t much to write home about, as
the Terps are the worst team in the ACC, but it still gives the Wolfpack a
chance to win their last three games and go to a bowl.

Quarterback Russell Wilson threw for 343 yards and three touchdowns in the
win over Maryland. He also tossed three interceptions, which helped keep the
Terps in the game until the end.

Though not technically eliminated from a bowl, the Wolfpack have their work
cut out for them. They will take on Clemson, Virginia Tech and UNC in their
final three games. Since two of their four wins have come against 1-AA teams, NC
State must win their final three games to make a bowl. Against that schedule, a
bowl is unlikely for the Wolfpack.

They’ll host Clemson this Saturday at noon on Raycom.


Maryland (2-7, 1-4)

Maryland is the only ACC team officially eliminated from bowl consideration,
thanks to their recent 38-31 setback at the hands of NC State. The Terps are
easily the worst team in the ACC, and on paper it looks like they will finish
with just two wins on the season. Their final three games come against Virginia
Tech, Florida State and Boston College.

The Terps had just 270 yards of offense against a below average NC State
defense. The only thing that kept them in the game was Russell Wilson’s three
interceptions. Maryland made things worse by playing bad defense, allowing 483
yards to the NC State offense.

Maryland is now playing for pride. They host Virginia Tech this Saturday at
1pm on ESPN360.com.

Coastal Division



Georgia Tech (9-1, 6-1)

Georgia Tech knocked off Wake Forest 30-27 in overtime on Saturday, and they
are now just one win away from clinching the ACC Coastal Division. If the Yellow
Jackets beat Duke in Durham this Saturday, they are headed to Tampa. They’ll
likely face Clemson or Boston College.

Georgia Tech racked up 412 rushing yards, with 189 coming from B-back
Jonathan Dwyer. Five Georgia Tech players had at least 40 yards rushing on the
day. Josh Nesbitt was just 4-of-14 passing, but it didn’t matter. The running
game was all the Yellow Jackets needed.

As usual, Georgia Tech did show a weakness in defending the pass. Riley
Skinner was 26-of-40 for 263 yards and two touchdowns. Throwing the football
downfield is the way to beat the Yellow Jackets. Their next opponent, Duke,
certainly has that capability.

The Georgia Tech-Duke game is scheduled for noon on ESPN2.


Miami (7-2, 4-2)

After struggling for two weeks in a row, Miami righted the ship on Saturday
by annihilating Virginia 52-17. The stats in this game were exciting for Miami
fans, and appalling for UVA fans. The Hurricanes outgained the Cavaliers 515 to
149 in total offense, and they also returned a punt for a touchdown. 34 of
Virginia’s 149 yards came on one play.

This game was actually 24-17 at halftime before the Hurricanes outscored the
Hoos 28-0 in the second half. Jacory Harris threw for 232 yards and two
touchdowns, while tailback Graig Cooper had 152 yards and a touchdown on just 18
carries. Three different Miami tailbacks rushed for at least 50 yards, and a
whopping 13 players caught a pass.

The Canes have three winnable games remaining, and are poised to make a good
bowl this year. They are still mathematically in the hunt for the Coastal
Division championship with a Georgia Tech loss to Duke on Saturday.

Miami will play at North Carolina on Saturday at 3:30pm on ABC.



Virginia Tech (6-3, 3-2)

Virginia Tech got a much-needed road win 16-3 at East Carolina on Thursday
night. Tailback Ryan Williams ran for a career-high 179 yards, and the Hokie
defense played much better than they did in losses to Georgia Tech and North
Carolina. The Pirates never crossed midfield after their first possession of the
second half.

Tech outgained ECU 379-277, and only a fumble inside the one yard line
prevented this game from being a 20-point victory for the visiting team.
Defensively, Cody Grimm had perhaps the most impressive game of his career. He
finished with 12 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 sack, a forced fumble, a fumble
recovery, and he also broke up a pass in the end zone.

Virginia Tech isn’t mathematically eliminated from the ACC Championship Game,
but they are a long shot. The Hokies need Georgia Tech to lose to Duke on
Saturday to have a chance.

Tech plays at Maryland on Saturday at 1pm. The game can be seen on
ESPN360.com.



Duke (5-4, 3-2)

Duke was defeated 19-6 by North Carolina in Chapel Hill on Saturday
afternoon. The Blue Devils entered the game with a high-powered offense led by
quarterback Thaddeus Lewis, but the impressive Tar Heel defense limited them to
just 125 yards of total offense, which is almost unthinkable for a David
Cutcliffe team.

The Duke defense played well, limiting UNC to just 311 yards, but they could
not overcome their offense’s poor performance. Duke only managed 12 rushing
yards on the day, and their top three running backs combined for a total of five
yards.

Duke must finish with seven wins to make a bowl game. Their win over North
Carolina Central does not count, as that team is in the transitional stage
between Division II and Division I-AA. The Blue Devils have three games
remaining against Georgia Tech, Miami and Wake Forest, and they must win two of
them to make a bowl.

Duke hosts Georgia Tech this Saturday at noon on ESPN2.



North Carolina (6-3, 2-3)

UNC knocked off Duke 19-6 on Saturday. It was yet another dominating
performance for the talented Tar Heel defense, as they limited one of the ACC’s
best offenses to just 125 yards of total offense. After a slow start in ACC
play, the Tar Heels have now won two games in a row.

North Carolina has gone to a more ball control approach offensively. They
aren’t passing much downfield, but they are completing short passes, and they
are running the ball with 245-lbs tailback Ryan Houston. He had 37 carries for
164 yards against the Blue Devils, which followed an impressive second half
performance against Virginia Tech.

UNC hosts Miami in a big ACC game this Saturday at 3:30pm on ABC.



Virginia (3-6, 2-3)

Virginia was crushed 52-17 at the hands of Miami on Saturday, basically
ending the Hoos’ chances for bowl consideration. They will now have to win their
final three games of the regular season against Boston College, Clemson and
Virginia Tech to finish with six wins.

Outgained 515 to 149 by Miami, the Hoos never had a realistic shot of winning
this game. They only thing positive that they can take from this blowout loss is
the fact that they blocked two punts in the same game for the first time since
1996.

Virginia hosts Boston College this Saturday at 3:30pm on ESPN360.com.



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