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September 13, 2006
Best matchup: Almost a tie here. Both Miami-Louisville and Clemson-Florida State are compelling and certainly meaningful contests. Since one is a non-conference tilt and the other is conference game, the edge goes to the Bowden Bowl. The matchup within the matchup there will be to see if Florida State's struggling offense can finally establish any sort of running game against the good, but now injury-depleted, Clemson defense.
Worst matchup: Oddly, it might be the traditionally intense Maryland-West Virginia game. The Mountaineers no doubt hear the whispers about their weak schedule. Even a subpar ACC team in Maryland is fodder for the Mountaineers to try and make a statement. A rout is the obvious prediction here. Given the fact that there is already bitterness in this rivalry, the Mountaineers likely will be ready to make this into their national statement.
The pressure is on: Who is the pressure not on this week? Chuck Amato's seat is burning right now after the Wolfpack's loss to Akron. John Bunting's seat may not be much cooler. Both face potential losses that this week that could be devastating. N.C. State travels to Southern Miss for a game that should be closer than the Wolfpack would like. Bunting hosts a Furman team that won in Chapel Hill in 1999. The cardinal sin for any Division I-A coach on shaky ground in his sixth season? Losing to a I-AA team at home. Take heed, Mr. Bunting. In the non-coaching portion of this segment ? did we mention Al Groh, too ? Lorenzo Booker and the Seminoles' rushing game must improve. The same can be said for Clemson's special teams.
Upset alert: Is it an upset when the No. 17 team (Miami) beats the No. 12 team (Louisville)? Technically, yes is the answer so we'll take the easy route in this category. Of course, the Cardinals didn't need Michael Bush against Temple. Now they face one of the quickest defenses in the nation with arguably the most talented secondary. If those Miami DBs take away the options for Brian Brohm, then the running game will take center stage without its fallen star. Another upset eye should be focused on Hattiesburg for that N.C. State-Southern Miss game.
BCS implications/Most to gain or most to lose: The game with the biggest BCS implications that involves an ACC team is in Louisville. The Bowden Bowl, however, still means more to the ACC as a league. There is a growing national sentiment that the ACC is perhaps a tad weak. Keeping a team undefeated would help the perception of the league. If Clemson beats Florida State and another drops from the unbeaten ranks, the league might be out-of-sight, out-of-mind nationally for the remainder of the season - especially with Boston College's roadblocks ahead. The ACC's daily-double? A Miami win and a dominating victory by the Seminoles. That might give conference commish John Swofford his biggest smile since expansion was completed.
Who's hot: Rivals.com national Freshman of the Week Jeff Smith of Boston College leads the nation in kickoff returns averaging 42.6 yards per return. ? Florida State leads the nation in rushing defense, allowing 13 yards per game. ? Boston College's Tom O'Brien is tied with Joe Yukica (1968-1977) for the most wins in school history with 68. ? Virginia Tech's Branden Ore has scored a league-high five touchdowns. ? Virginia Tech is ranked third nationally in scoring defense (5.00), Miami seventh in total defense (200.5) and Clemson eighth in scoring offense (43.50).
Who's not: The Seminoles have accumulated just 46 net rushing yards this season on 53 attempts (0.87 per carry). Lorenzo Booker has gained just 15 yards on 13 carries. ? Virginia is last in the ACC in total offense, averaging just 208.5 yards a contest in the first two games. ? N.C. State's passing offense has completed 23 of 45 attempts but is averaging just 122.5 yards per contest.
Must see TV: Clemson-Florida State and Miami-Louisville should keep the clicker going Saturday.
Newcomer/Backup that could have an impact: The always tight-lipped Al Groh has tried to avoid any mention of a quarterback change, but after last week's 13-12 OT victory over Wyoming it's quite possible that backup Kevin McCabe might supplant fifth-year senior Christian Olsen. ? With Florida State noseguard Paul Griffin out for the season with an ACL tear and his backup, Emmanuel Dunbar, also out with a back injury, redshirt freshman Kendrick Stewart probably gets the start this week.
Key stat: Miami is 9-0-1 against Louisville.
Take the line: Take the Hurricanes at +5 against Louisville because Miami has a good shot to win this game outright.
They said it: "In the 10 years I've been a head coach, I've had a lot more success than lack of success. I'm going to go with what has worked for me all these years." ? Clemson coach Tommy Bowden after the Clemson special teams played a critical role in the 34-33 double-overtime loss at Boston College.
Injury update: For Florida State, DT Paul Griffin (Torn ACL, lost for the season), DT Letroy Guion(ankle; questionable), DT Emmanuel Dunbar (lower back; questionable/doubtful), LB Derek Nicholson (ankle; questionable), and RB Marcus Sims (Concussion; not yet cleared). ? For Boston College, Brian Toal (shoulder) and Ron Brace (head) are both questionable while Matt Ryan (ankle) is probable. ? N.C. State's A.J. Davis (hamstring) and center Luke Lathan (concussion) are questionable. Miami tackle Reggie Youngblood is questionable but expected to play.
Worth noting: Through the first two weeks of the season, the ACC has posted an 11-5 mark in non-conference play. ? In the first two seasons of divisional play the Atlantic Division holds an 11-10 edge over the Coastal Division. ? Wake Forest's Sam Swank blasted a school-record 86-yard punt last week against Duke ? two yards shy of the ACC record of 88 yards set by John Fritsch of Maryland back in 1956. ? Miami's Jon Peattie leads all active Division I-A players with 281 career points. ... Florida State's Bobby Bowden is the winningest active coach with 361 career wins in 41 years, while Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer is third with 190 victories over 26 seasons.
Looking back: Boston College notched a 34-33 double-overtime victory over Clemson thanks in large part to a missed PAT by Jad Dean in the second overtime. The game definitely established the Eagles as contender while also making this week's contest against Florida State critical for the Tigers.
Freshman who impressed: Boston College's Jeff Smith returned five kickoffs for 213 yards. Smith opened the third quarter with a 96-yard touchdown return to tie the score at 17. He also had returns of 45, 39 and 29 yards.