Around the ACC: November 16, 2009

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With two weeks remaining in the regular season, we are inching closer to a
Georgia Tech-Clemson matchup in the ACC Championship Game. The Yellow Jackets
clinched the Coastal Division on Saturday as a result of their win over Duke,
while Clemson is just one win away from clinching the Atlantic.

The Tigers play struggling Virginia this Saturday at home, and Clemson will
be heavy favorites. They could still end up in a tie at the top of the Atlantic
Division with Boston College, but the Tigers would win the tiebreaker in that
scenario as a result of their head-to-head victory over the Eagles.

Atlantic Division

Clemson (7-3, 5-2)

Clemson went on the road an had an easy time defeating NC State 43-23 on
Saturday afternoon. The Clemson offense has kicked it in high gear recently, and
they rolled up 454 total yards. They have scored at least 40 points in their
last four games, and at least 38 points in their last five games. The Tigers
haven’t lost since October 3.

C.J. Spiller is making a strong case for ACC Player of the Year. He ran for
96 yards and a touchdown, and he also had a receiving touchdown. To top off an
impressive day, Spiller also threw a touchdown pass. Kyle Parker was 12-of-18
for 183 yards and two touchdowns against a struggling NC State defense.

The Clemson defense dominated quarterback Russell Wilson, who was just
12-of-32 for 183 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception. The Tigers are
big and fast defensively, and they could pose a major challenge to Georgia Tech
in the ACC Championship Game if they beat Virginia on Saturday.

Clemson hosts UVA on Saturday at 3:30pm on ABC.

Boston College (7-3, 4-2)

Boston College went on the road and beat Virginia 14-10 on Saturday in Scott
Stadium. The Eagles managed to pick up their first road win of the season, and
they are still alive in the Atlantic Division standings. However, they need UVA
to knock off Clemson on Saturday if they want to make the ACC Championship Game.

Montel Harris paced BC’s offensive attack with 151 yards on the ground.
Quarterback Dave Shinskie struggled, throwing two interceptions, but he did
throw for one touchdown and run for another. His one yard touchdown run in the
fourth quarter was the game winner.

The Eagles are a good team, and they’ll be going to a decent bowl. That
Orange Bowl prize is still there, but they must depend on Virginia beating
Clemson to have a chance.

BC hosts North Carolina this Saturday at noon on ESPN2.

Florida State (5-5, 3-4)

Despite having a losing record in the ACC, FSU is in third place in the
Atlantic Division and is still in danger of not making a bowl game. The
Seminoles defeated Wake Forest 41-28 on Saturday, and a win this week over
Maryland would make FSU bowl eligible with six victories.

Jermaine Thomas is finally healthy, and Florida State’s offense is very
dangerous as a result. The starting tailback had 149 yards rushing and a
touchdown on Saturday, averaging six yards per carry. Quarterback E.J. Manuel, a
r-freshman from Virginia, was very good in his first college start, replacing
the injured Christian Ponder. Manuel was 15-of-20 for 220 yards, with a
touchdown and an interception. He also ran for 45 yards and a touchdown.

Florida State must beat Maryland this week to become bowl eligible, because a
win in the season finale against Florida is very unlikely.

FSU hosts the Terps this Saturday at noon on Raycom.

Wake Forest (4-7, 2-5)

As a result of their 41-28 home loss to Florida State on Saturday, Wake
Forest’s three-year bowl streak has come to an end. Quarterback Riley Skinner
could not lead the Demon Deacons to their fourth straight bowl, despite putting
up good numbers during his senior season.

The Wake Forest defense has been mostly to blame. They lost most of their
front seven from last season, as well as two of their starting defensive backs.
Linebacker Aaron Curry and cornerback Alphonso Smith were arguably the best
players in school history at their respective positions, and the Demon Deacons
had two other defensive players drafted from that class as well.

Wake is now playing for pride. They are off this week, and they play Duke in
the season finale.

NC State (4-6, 1-5)

Because two of NC State’s wins came over 1-AA opponents, the Wolfpack are now
eliminated from bowl consideration following their 43-23 loss to Clemson on
Saturday. It has been a long, injury-plagued season for Tom O’Brien’s team.

NC State’s defense has been hit hard by injuries this year, and they were
rocked for 454 yards of total offense by Clemson. The Wolfpack were finally able
to get r-freshman quarterback Mike Glennon some reps at the end of the game.
Glennon went 4-of-6 for 56 yards and a touchdown.

Like Wake Forest, NC State is playing for pride. They play at Virginia Tech
this Saturday at 3:30pm on ESPNU.

Maryland (2-8, 1-5)

Maryland’s atrocious season is almost over. Their latest setback came at the
hands of Virginia Tech, a 36-9 beating in College Park. Quarterback Chris Turner
is out with an injury, and the Maryland offense is really struggling. Combine
that with a defense that can’t stop the run or the pass, and Ralph Friedgen does
not have a recipe for success this year.

Friedgen is feeling the heat at Maryland. Offensive coordinator James
Franklin has already been named head coach in waiting, but it’s not certain that
Friedgen will get the boot following the season. This is easily the worst season
the Terps have had this decade. The talent dropoff on the field is very

Maryland plays Florida State in Tallahassee this Saturday at noon. The game
will be televised by Raycom.

Coastal Division

Georgia Tech (10-1, 7-1)

Georgia Tech pounded Duke 49-10 on Saturday to clinch the ACC Coastal
Division. The Yellow Jackets will face either Clemson or Boston College in the
ACC Championship Game, and the winner will play in the Orange Bowl. Paul Johnson
has accomplished quite a lot in his first two years at Georgia Tech.

Duke jumped out to a quick 10-0 lead in this game, but after that it was all
Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets put up 519 yards of total offense, including
316 on the ground. Jonathan Dwyer ran for 110 yards and two touchdowns, while
quarterback Josh Nesbitt passed for 195 yards and two touchdowns on just six

Duke went down the field and scored easily on their first drive. After that,
the Georgia Tech defense took over. They held the Duke offense to just 281
yards, and limited the Blue Devils to only 25 yards on the ground.

Georgia Tech is off this week, and then they take on Georgia in a big ACC-SEC
battle in Atlanta.

Virginia Tech (7-3, 4-2)

Virginia Tech won their first ACC game since beating Boston College on
October 10. The Hokies beat Maryland 36-9 in College Park in a game that was
never close. Tyrod Taylor threw for 268 yards and a career-high three touchdown
passes, while Ryan Williams added 126 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

The Virginia Tech defense limited Maryland to just 236 yards of total
offense. It was the second straight game in which the Hokies have allowed less
than 300 yards. Tech is now allowing 304.7 yards per game, which ranks 17th
nationally. Bud Foster might not have a Top 10 defense this year, but it’s still
a solid stop unit.

If the Hokies win out, they are likely headed to either the Chick-fil-A Bowl
in Atlanta or the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville.

Tech returns to action this Saturday when they host NC State. Kickoff is
scheduled for 3:30pm on ESPNU.

Miami (7-3, 4-3)

Miami went on the road and got knocked off 33-24 on Saturday afternoon.
Quarterback Jacory Harris suffered through a miserable game, throwing four
interceptions, including three to cornerback Kendrick Burney. The Canes moved
the football, gaining 435 yards of total offense, but turnovers did them in.

Miami has a solid defense, and they need to learn to rely more on their
running game. Jacory Harris is a talented quarterback, but he’s still only a
true sophomore. He’s not ready to throw the ball 50 times per game, as he was
asked to do on Saturday. For the season, Harris has thrown 19 touchdown passes,
but he’s also tossed 16 interceptions. Those aren’t good numbers for a guy who
was once touted as a Heisman contender.

Miami is going bowling, but it doesn’t look like they’ll be in an upper-tier
ACC bowl. They will play Duke this Saturday at noon on ESPNU.

North Carolina (7-3, 3-3)

North Carolina has won three straight ACC games, and the Tar Heels are
probably wishing they could play their first three conference games over again.
They beat Miami 33-24, with the defense intercepting three passes. Kendric
Burney had three interceptions, and the UNC defense scored two touchdowns.

The UNC coaching staff has done a good job of reinventing their offense in
the middle of the season. They have stopped throwing a lot downfield to a group
of inexperienced receivers. Instead, they are going with a short passing game,
and tight end Zach Pianalto, who was injured for the first half of the season,
is heavily involved. At tailback, 245-lbs Ryan Houston is getting the bulk of
the work, and he’s helping the Tar Heels control the clock.

UNC plays at Boston College this Saturday at noon on ESPN2.

Duke (5-5, 3-3)

Duke was crushed 49-10 at home on Saturday by Georgia Tech in front of an
ESPN2 national audience. The Blue Devils just don’t have the talent and speed on
defense to compete with a team like Georgia Tech. Because Duke has one win over
North Carolina Central, a team that is transitioning from Division II to 1-AA,
the Blue Devils must win their final two games to become bowl eligible.

That’s going to be a tough task for David Cutcliffe’s team. Duke travels to
Miami this Saturday, and the Canes certainly have more talent than the Blue
Devils. If they do sneak past the Canes, they must play Wake Forest in the
season finale. The Demon Deacons are off this week, so they will have an extra
week to prepare. Nevertheless, Duke has already won one more game than they won
all of last season.

Duke plays at Miami this Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for noon on ESPNU.

Virginia (3-7, 2-4)

Virginia was officially eliminated from bowl consideration as a result of
their 14-10 home loss to Boston College on Saturday. The Hoos have the dubious
honor of being the only home team to lose to the Eagles this season. The UVA
defense played well, as they have for most of the season, but the offense was
again unable to move the football.

There are no miracles remaining for UVA coach Al Groh. The Hoos can’t make a
bowl game because of their latest loss, and even if they win their remaining two
games against Clemson and Virginia Tech, Groh is most likely finished in
Charlottesville at the end of this season.

Virginia plays at Clemson this Saturday at 3:30pm on ABC.

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