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September 27, 2006

ACC: Week 5 Breakdown

Joyner's ACC picks
Rivals.com national writer Andrew Joyner's predictions for Week 5 in the ACC.
Saturday's games:
Virginia 17, Duke 10
Boston College 34, Maine 10
Georgia Tech 17, Virginia Tech 13
Wake Forest 34, Liberty 7
Miami 23, Houston 20
Clemson 48, Louisiana Tech 7
Last week: 6-1 Season: 27-10

Best matchup: The battle of the Techs in Blacksburg, Va., might not have been one touted as a key contest in the preseason, but it certainly is now. Can the Hokie defense clamp down on Calvin Johnson? Will Georgia Tech defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta create a game plan to stymie what has been a sometimes shaky Virginia Tech offense? This game could very well decide the Coastal Division's representative in the ACC title game in Jacksonville, Fla.

Worst matchup: Given their combined 1-6 record, the Virginia-Duke contest is not a real jewel on the ACC slate this week. The real worst matchup of the week, however, will surely be Louisiana Tech at Clemson. The Tigers are coming off a 52-7 victory over North Carolina, and their running attack may overwhelm the Bulldogs.

The pressure is on: John Bunting after the 52-7 loss to Clemson. N.C. State's Chuck Amato gets a reprieve - at least for a week - following the Wolfpack's comeback against Boston College. N.C. State is off this week and the win ever-so-slightly quieted the calls for his ouster. Virginia's Al Groh signed a long-term contract last summer but it's unclear how restless the Wahoo faithful might be if the Cavs were to lose to Duke. Of course, that situation is nothing compared to what Larry Coker could face if Houston somehow surprised Miami at home.

Upset alert: It is not too difficult to envision Georgia Tech being able to knock off Virginia Tech. Still, accomplishing the feat in Blacksburg would certainly be an upset. The Jackets have faced better competition so far, and the Hokies are perhaps the most untested of the remaining unbeatens. Add in that two key contributors - Chris Ellis and Josh Morgan - are suspended because of an off-field altercation, and the Hokies almost seemed primed to be upset.

BCS implications/Most to gain or most to lose: With all respect to 4-0 Wake Forest, Virginia Tech is the lone remaining ACC team that could be a major player in the national title/BCS race. The "zero" in the loss column is the Hokies' most prized possession. A loss to Georgia Tech would not only endanger its hold on the Coastal Division title but would also raise some legitimacy questions for Virginia Tech.

Who's hot: Georgia Tech's Calvin Johnson has caught at least one pass in 28 consecutive games. James Davis leads the ACC and is tied for third nationally in scoring (13.5) and has scored in eight consecutive games - five shy of Travis Zachery's school record. Davis has rushed for 85 or more yards in eight consecutive games and is second in the ACC in rushing (92.2). Clemson wide receiver Chansi Stuckey has caught a pass in 25 consecutive games, including 17 in a row with two or more receptions. The Hokies are ranked 11th in this week's AP poll. Tech has been ranked in the AP poll for 30 consecutive weeks ... Virginia Tech leads the ACC in total defense (223.5), scoring defense (5.8) and passing yardage defense (131.2)

Who's not: Virginia's quarterbacks this season have combined to complete 78-of-135 passes with seven interceptions and just two touchdowns. The Virginia rushing attack, however, is worse. The Cavaliers are last in the ACC in rushing offense, mustering just an average of 2.2 yards per carry this season. Duke is last in the ACC in scoring offense, averaging just 4.3 points a contest. Boston College's defense ranks last in both total defense and pass defense in the ACC and is next to last in scoring defense.

Must see TV: Again, it's not a game the ACC offices would likely have pushed in August, but the Georgia Tech-Virginia Tech contest is about the most compelling ACC contest of the season to date.

Newcomer/Backup that could have an impact: Playing last week for an injured Micah Andrews, Wake Forest's De'Angelo Bryant rushed for 105 yards and a touchdown in his first collegiate start. He helped lead the Deacons to a 27-3 victory over Mississippi. Bryant could have a big day this week as the rush-happy Deacons play host to Division I-AA Liberty.

Key stat I: ACC teams have started 18 different quarterbacks through the first four weeks of the season, including nine who have made their first career start.

Key stat II: The Hokies have won 35 of 36 games in September since the start of the 1997 season. Over the past two years Tech is 8-0 in the month of September with a 299-to-46 advantage in points scored.

Take the line: Take Virginia (-6) at Duke. Virginia is bad, but is still good enough to beat a worse Duke team by more than six - even on the road. Season: 3-1.

They said it: "I want everybody to know this season isn't over. We can have a good football team. Now we've got to get it done. We've got a lot to play for." Miami coach Larry Coker.

Injury update: Boston College wide receiver Brandon Robinson is out with a concussion. Clemson tailback Reggie Merriweather sustained a sprained ankle against North Carolina and is questionable for Saturday's game versus Louisiana Tech. Miami offensive tackles Reggie Youngblood and Tyrone Byrd both have returned to practice after recovering from injuries and will play Saturday. North Carolina defensive back Jordan Hemby is out for the season with a torn ACL. Florida State's Marcus Ball out for the season with an ACL tear.

Worth noting: Wake Forest is 4-0 for the first time since 1987 and is the only team in the country to have defeated four BCS opponents. Five of the nine ACC games played to date have been decided by seven or fewer points. Georgia Tech is playing at Virginia Tech for the second consecutive season because of the ACC's 10-year schedule to balance home-away series for divisional play.

Freshman who impressed: Clemson running back C.J. Spiller had 58 yards rushing on 12 carries and scored two touchdowns in last Saturday's 52-7 win over North Carolina.

More Week 5 Conference Previews: Big East | Big Ten | Big 12 | Pac-10 | SEC

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