Florida State Seminoles: Jim Grobe

ACC lunchtime links

December, 16, 2013
12/16/13
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It's HD's turn to do the links this week. For those of you who have been following the blog since its inception, you might remember it has been an annual tradition of mine to start the links each day with one of my favorite Christmas movie quotes. You guess what the movie is. If you don't know, get a clue.

Here we go with one of my all-time favorite lines, censored of course ...

"Where do you think you're going? Nobody's leaving. Nobody's walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We're all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here. We're gonna press on, and we're gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny [bleep] Kaye. And when Santa squeezes his fat white [bleep!] down that chimney tonight, he's gonna find the jolliest bunch of [bleep!] this side of the nuthouse." - Clark W. Griswold
For the first time in years, Florida State exceeded expectations.

The No. 1-ranked Seminoles, destined for the VIZIO BCS National Championship after finishing the season as the only undefeated team in the country, were predicted to play in the shadow of Clemson this season. FSU was picked by the media to finish second in the ACC's Atlantic Division, in large part because the program had to replace its starting quarterback, its entire defensive line, 11 NFL draft picks and six staff assistants.

[+] EnlargeJimbo Fisher
Kim Klement/USA TODAY SportsJimbo Fisher took a Noles team that sent 11 players to the NFL after last season and made it better.
Didn't matter. Jimbo Fisher has Florida State back.

While Florida State was unstoppable, Duke was simply unbelievable. A school-record 10-win season. Upsets of Miami and Virginia Tech. Back-to-back bowl appearances for the first time in school history. The program's first Coastal Division title, and a spot in the prestigious Chick-fil-A Bowl. Duke finished the regular season on an eight-game winning streak, punctuated by a victory over rival North Carolina for the second straight season.

Duke's 45-7 loss to FSU in the ACC title game wasn't an indictment of the Blue Devils. Rather, it was further evidence that the ACC this year was indeed Florida State "and everybody else."

Nobody else in the conference -- save for Boston College's heroic effort -- even came close to the Noles this fall. They steamrolled Clemson in Death Valley -- early proof that quarterback Jameis Winston was unflappable. They bulldozed in-state rivals Miami and Florida, leaving no doubt which program has ascended to the top in the Sunshine State. And in spite of legal allegations that could have derailed the season, they produced a redshirt freshman Heisman Trophy front-runner.

And then there was the rest of the Atlantic Division.

Wake Forest suffered its fifth consecutive losing season, ending in the unexpected resignation of longtime coach Jim Grobe. NC State, in its first season under coach Dave Doeren, was winless in league play and ravaged by injuries. Maryland's mediocre season ended on a positive note, with the Terps getting to a bowl game for the first time under coach Randy Edsall, but they will leave the ACC still ensnarled in a lawsuit with the conference. Boston College's quick ascension and the jaw-dropping numbers of running back Andre Williams were the surprise of the division in the Eagles' first season under coach Steve Addazio.

For all of the clarity within the Atlantic Division race, there was as much confusion in the Coastal, which once again came down to the final week of the regular season.

Duke, though, left no doubt that it was the best team in the division and earned its title outright. While Clemson's fifth straight loss to South Carolina and Georgia Tech's loss to Georgia in the regular-season finales were disappointments, the ACC this year had two special teams exceed expectations -- and they're not done yet.

Offensive MVP: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State. Winston was the best player in the country all season, setting FBS and ACC freshman marks with 38 touchdown passes and 3,820 yards. Winston also ranks first in the nation in QBR and passer rating, won the Davey O'Brien Award as the top quarterback in the country, the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award and both ACC Offensive Player of the Year and ACC Player of the Year honors.

[+] EnlargeAaron Donald
Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY SportsAaron Donald was a relative unknown in August. Then he wreaked havoc on the ACC.
Defensive MVP: Aaron Donald, DT, Pitt. Donald went from an unknown before the season to the best defensive player in the nation, taking home four major awards -- the Outland Trophy, the Chuck Bednarik Award, the Lombardi Award and the Bronko Nagurski Trophy. Donald also was named ACC Defensive Player of the Year. He leads the nation in tackles for loss and ranks 13th in sacks. Of his 54 total tackles, nearly half have been behind the line (26.5).

Newcomer of the year: Winston. What makes the season he had more impressive is that he is a redshirt freshman and has played in only 13 career games. But Winston has looked like a veteran behind center and is a major reason why the Seminoles are playing in the BCS national championship game.

Biggest surprise: Duke. The Blue Devils were picked to finish last in the Coastal Division but ended up becoming one of the most surprising teams in the nation. Duke won a school-record 10 games, made a first-ever appearance in the ACC title game and is now going to consecutive bowl games for the first time in school history.

Biggest disappointment: NC State. Even though the Wolfpack went through a coaching change and returned a young team, nobody anticipated they would be one of the worst outfits in the ACC. Thanks in part to injuries and inconsistent play at quarterback, NC State went winless in league play for the first time since 1959 and posted its worst record since 2006.

Best nonconference game: Clemson 38, Georgia 35. The marquee opening-weekend matchup did not disappoint as the two top-10 teams battled back and forth throughout the game. The turning point came after Georgia flubbed a chip-shot field goal attempt late in the third quarter that would have tied the game. Instead, the Tigers stretched their lead to 10 before thwarting a late-game rally. Tajh Boyd had one of his best games of the season, scoring five total touchdowns and racking up 312 total yards.

Best ACC game: Duke 27, North Carolina 25. Duke needed to beat hated rival North Carolina on the final day of the regular season to secure a spot in the ACC title game. As expected, this game went down to the wire. The lead changed six times, and Duke rallied in the fourth quarter for the victory. After North Carolina went up 25-24 with 7 minutes, 3 seconds to play, Duke went 66 yards in 11 plays to set up what became the game-winning 27-yard field goal from Ross Martin with 2:22 remaining.

ACC Power Rankings: Week 15

December, 11, 2013
12/11/13
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For the first time all season, the power rankings remained unchanged. That’s because the only game last week was the ACC championship game, which went as many had expected it would. Not only is FSU still the No. 1 team in the ACC, it’s still tops in the BCS standings. Here’s how the ACC’s pecking order looks heading into bowl season:

1. Florida State (13-0, 8-0 ACC; LW: No. 1): The Seminoles started slow in the first quarter, but eventually cruised to a 45-7 win over Coastal Division champ Duke. Quarterback Jameis Winston won the game’s MVP award and was named a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. The next challenge for FSU will be stopping Auburn’s run game in the Vizio BCS National Championship.

2. Clemson (10-2, 7-1; LW: No. 2): The Tigers will play Ohio State in the Discover Orange Bowl, not a bad consolation prize for the No. 2 team in the ACC this year. Clemson could use a win to help its fans forget its last appearance in the Orange Bowl as well as a dreadful performance in a fifth straight loss to SEC rival South Carolina.

3. Duke (10-3, 6-2; LW: No. 3): The Blue Devils have nothing to be ashamed of after the loss to Florida State, as they held the Noles scoreless for a quarter and were simply overmatched like every other team on FSU’s schedule. Duke still earned a spot in the prestigious Chick-fil-A Bowl and will have a chance at another marquee win in a matchup against Texas A&M.

4. Virginia Tech (8-4, 5-3; LW: No. 4): The Hokies had a respectable season, but it was still far below their expectations and those of their fans. With losses to Boston College, Duke and Maryland, Virginia Tech’s hopes of returning to the ACC title game were out of its control. The program will get another shot to finish the season on an impressive note, as it will face a tough UCLA team in the Sun Bowl.

5. Miami (9-3, 5-3; LW: No. 5): The Hurricanes were a tough team to judge this year, but they remain a work in progress and drew one of the league’s most interesting bowl matchups, facing Louisville in the Russell Athletic Bowl. Quarterbacks Stephen Morris and Teddy Bridgewater will be the main storyline as the Canes aim for a 10-win season.

6. Georgia Tech (7-5, 5-3; LW: No. 6): The Yellow Jackets squandered a 20-point lead in a loss to rival Georgia, but will get another chance at the SEC when they face Ole Miss in the Music City Bowl. The Rebels’ offense has struggled in the past two games, while Georgia Tech is looking to build on its bowl success after last year’s win over USC snapped a seven-game bowl losing streak.

7. North Carolina (6-6, 4-4; LW: No. 7): The Tar Heels are thrilled at their opportunity to return to a bowl game after serving a one-year postseason ban last year because of NCAA sanctions. They’ll face Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl, a great chance for coach Larry Fedora to showcase the program to in-state recruits. This will be UNC’s fourth appearance in the Belk Bowl, but the program is looking for its first win there.

8. Syracuse (6-6, 4-4; LW: No. 8): The Orange beat Boston College 34-31 in the regular-season finale to become bowl eligible in the first year under coach Scott Shafer, but Syracuse has already struck out twice against the Big Ten and Minnesota is playing well. Generating offense isn’t going to get any easier against the Golden Gophers’ stingy defense.

9. Boston College (7-5, 4-4; LW: No. 9): Despite his injury in the Syracuse game, running back Andre Williams was named a finalist for the prestigious Heisman Trophy. Williams is the second player in school history to travel to New York for the Heisman Trophy announcement, joining former Eagles quarterback Doug Flutie. Williams and the Eagles will get an interesting matchup against Arizona in the AdvoCare V100 Bowl.

10. Maryland (7-5, 3-5; LW: No. 10): The Terps get a virtual home game against Marshall, as they will travel to nearby Annapolis for the Military Bowl -- their final game as members of the ACC before moving to the Big Ten. It’s going to be a good test for Maryland, as Marshall won the C-USA East title and seven of its last eight regular-season games.

11. Pitt (6-6, 3-5; LW: No. 11): Pitt lost four of its final six games and barely snuck past Syracuse to become bowl eligible with just one game remaining. The Panthers will face a successful 10-win Bowling Green team that just won its first MAC championship in 21 years and has the nation’s No. 5 scoring defense at 14.8 points per game. Bowling Green is in transition, however, as coach Dave Clawson is leaving to take the Wake Forest job. Speaking of the Deacs …

12. Wake Forest (4-8, 2-6; LW: No. 12): After five straight losing seasons, coach Jim Grobe has resigned. The Deacs ended the season with five straight losses, and ahead of only NC State in the Atlantic Division standings. On Monday afternoon, the university officially announced Clawson as its next head coach.

13. NC State (3-9, 0-8; LW: No. 13): First-year coach Dave Doeren knew it would be a bumpy ride, but not even he could foresee the amount of injuries to key players that would contribute to a winless record in the ACC. Doeren said there are plenty of positives to look forward to, and the team is ready to move forward with transfer Jacoby Brissett as its new starting quarterback.

14. Virginia (2-10, 0-8; LW: No. 14): Coach Mike London is hitting the recruiting trail hard, as he should after a winless season in ACC play. The quarterback position continues to be an issue, and the staff overhaul that was made last offseason didn’t translate in the win column.

ACC mailblog

December, 6, 2013
12/06/13
4:00
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Thanks for the great comments this week, keep them coming.

We start with a difference of opinion on who should play in the BCS national title game.

Hans in Winter Haven, Fla., writes: Notre Dame went undefeated with a lame schedule last year and this year we have Ohio State with the 53rd rated schedule toughness and FSU with 70th in schedule toughness but now 42nd with Duke on schedule. How many undefeated teams in the NFL won the Super Bowl? In other words when are reporters actually going to talk about what if Auburn played FSU's schedule or maybe Alabama playing Ohio State's schedule then who would be undefeated at the end of the year? An undefeated team playing lesser opponents and getting into final two is a joke. Thank goodness for some sort of playoffs next year because Alabama or Auburn would kill FSU and beat overrated OSU. Complete bias and horrible voting. The two best teams are Auburn and Alabama with Missouri not far behind.

Andrea Adelson writes: Where should I begin? First, college football is not the NFL so there is no need to even compare or talk about the records of teams in the Super Bowl. They have a playoff. College football does not yet. Second, what purpose would it serve to imagine Alabama hypothetically playing another conference's schedule and vice versa? These teams cannot up and flip conferences. Florida State and Ohio State must play the schedules laid out in front of them. It is an impossibility to switch them into the SEC just to see how it would play out. Also, we are talking about two legitimate conferences here, not the Sun Belt and the MAC. I am completely dumbfounded as to why only an unbeaten run in the SEC should be celebrated in college football. What makes you believe Auburn, with two fluke wins and several others that came down to the final possession, would beat Florida State? Because they are in a superior conference? That is hogwash. It should matter when you WIN all your games. Auburn should not get a mulligan for losing by two touchdowns to a three-loss team that almost lost to Arkansas (winless in SEC play).

Adam in Nashville, Tenn., writes: "Winning all your games in a power conference should be good enough for a shot at a national championship."Tell that to the '04 Auburn team.

Adelson writes: I felt bad for Auburn that year. But guess what? Two undefeated teams made it in ahead of the Tigers. This year, a one-loss Auburn team is asking to move ahead of an unbeaten squad. Not the same.

Greg in Newark, Ohio, writes: Thank you for putting together a well thought out article that gives a viewpoint of why FSU and OSU should get the chance to play for the NC provided they win.

Adelson writes: Thanks, Greg. I will reiterate: going unbeaten matters.

Jason in Atlanta writes: Am I correct in assuming that bowls must select 7-5 teams over 6-6 teams? So my Jackets (and BC and Maryland) are safe, right?Thanks!

Ryan in Clemson writes: Hey Andrea, I saw that you had Miami in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, however I thought there was a rule that would force them to pick Duke. The "Boston College" rule or something like that. I'm probably just remembering the rule wrong, but I was wondering if you could explain it? Thanks and have a great day!

Adelson writes: Let me answer Jason and Ryan at the same time. There is only one rule requirement in the bowl selection process: the one-win rule. Using the conference records of each team, if a bowl passes on a team with the best available league record, it can only choose another team within one conference win. So for example, if a bowl passes on a team that went 5-3 in league play, it could only choose another team that went 4-4. In the case of the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, Miami would be an eligible candidate. We kept the Hurricanes there based on a better potential national matchup vs. the SEC. Either Clemson, Miami or Duke will play in that game, depending on what happens with the Discover Orange Bowl.

[+] EnlargeJim Grobe
Jeremy Brevard/US PRESSWIREJim Grobe resigned on Monday as Wake Forest coach after 13 seasons at the helm.
Mark in Roanoke writes: Andrea, Thank you for the kind words you have written about Coach Grobe. I have been a Wake fan for just about my whole life. As a kid growing up in nearby High Point, N.C., I can tell you that very few people in the Piedmont Triad area of NC even cared about WF football. Coach Grobe changed that. You are right, Wake lost a great coach today, but college football lost an even better man. Jim Grobe succeeded at a place few thought anyone could succeed. Thanks again.

Adam Kessler in Charlotte, N.C., writes: Thank you for your incredible profile of Coach Grobe. I was at Wake during probably the best 4 years of sports imaginable (2004 - 2008), and Coach Grobe was an absolute standout. I am so glad you were able to share his Wake Forest legacy with the rest of the country with your wonderful article. In a time filled with coaching scandals, recruiting violations, and testy media relationships, Coach Grobe always did things the right way. I think our fan base agrees with his decision to step down, and while we're sad he's leaving, we're excited to have (hopefully) some new life in our football program. Thanks again!

Adelson: I know I speak for Heather when I say we are going to miss talking to Coach Grobe dearly. One of the nicest coaches I have ever had the privilege of knowing.

Vern in Atlanta writes: Andrea: I just saw the "All-ACC" team. All I can say is WOW. The No. 1 scoring defense and No. 1 pass defense (FSU) has only ONE player listed on the "first team" (Lamarcus Joyner). Moreover, the placekicker from FSU has only missed one kick -- all year -- and he's second-team" Who selects the "all-ACC" team - a Florida Gator cheerleader???

Adelson: Very funny, Vern. The team you referenced was selected by 65 voting members of the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association. I do not have a vote and neither does Heather. I understand why Florida State fans were upset, but there are other players in this league who had outstanding seasons. I only had issues at two spots: I would have had Telvin Smith and Christian Jones in at linebacker. Timmy Jernigan could have made it in over Nikita Whitlock at defensive tackle. You can also make the case for Roberto Aguayo at kicker, but Nate Freese made all 18 of his attempts, including two 50-yarders. Aguayo obviously got many more opportunities to score points because he was on a far better offensive team. I did not think that choice was as egregious, even though Aguayo is the Groza finalist over Freese. Let us also remember Florida State had 17 total selections to lead everyone. The coaches will come out with their own team next Wednesday, so we can compare then.

ACC's lunchtime links

December, 6, 2013
12/06/13
12:00
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Enjoy the weekend!

ACC's lunchtime links

December, 3, 2013
12/03/13
12:00
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It was fun while it lasted, but I think I’m done with “Homeland.”
 

ACC Power Rankings: Week 14

December, 2, 2013
12/02/13
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Not much movement in the latest installment of the Power Rankings. As has been the case this season, there is a clear top and a clear bottom. The others can duke it out in the middle.

1. Florida State (12-0, 8-0; last week: No. 1). The Noles are the new No. 1 team in the nation after they completed their regular season unbeaten and Alabama lost. All that is left to secure a spot in the BCS title game is a win over Duke in the ACC championship game Saturday. This FSU team has been utterly dominant all season long, beating its opponents by an average of 42 points per game.

2. Clemson (10-2, 7-1; LW: No. 2). The same old problems plagued the Tigers in their fifth straight loss to rival South Carolina: turnovers. Six of them, to be exact, in a 31-17 loss. Though this team ends the regular season with 10 wins for just the fifth time in school history, losing to both Florida State and South Carolina has to be utterly disappointing for a group that went into the season with national championship aspirations.

3. Duke (10-2, 6-2; LW: No. 3). The history-making season continues. Duke beat in-state rival North Carolina 27-25 to post the first 10-win season in school history and win the Coastal Division outright. The challenge grows steeper now against Florida State in the ACC title game. Winning the Coastal is one thing. But now Duke will see how it measures up against the best team in the nation.

4. Virginia Tech (8-4, 5-3; LW: No. 4). It was not pretty, but Virginia Tech beat Virginia yet again to close the season on a high note. There will be plenty of "what could have beens" spoken among Hokies fans, considering some of the ugly losses that ended up costing them dearly. Still, this season was an improvement over last even if it didn't feel that way at times.

5. Miami (9-3, 5-3; LW: No. 5). Give the Hurricanes credit for finishing the season out the right way after a three-game losing streak threatened to derail them. Miami soundly beat Pittsburgh on the road and has won nine games for the first time since 2009. A win in the bowl game would give Miami at least 10 wins for the first time since going 11-2 in 2003. There is no doubt progress is being made.

6. Georgia Tech (7-5, 5-3; LW: No. 6). What a heartbreaking way to end the season for the Jackets, who blew a 20-0 lead on in-state rival Georgia and lost in double overtime. This team can take pride in its effort, though it is little consolation today. Still, Georgia Tech did beat Duke soundly in September. It could not get out of its own way in losses to Virginia Tech and Miami, and that ended up costing it a spot in Charlotte.

7. North Carolina (6-6, 4-4; LW: No. 7). The Tar Heels saw their five-game winning streak come to an end in a loss to Duke, but that should not take away from what this team accomplished in the second half of the season. There is not much doubt this team is playing some of the best football in the ACC right now and has rising stars on its roster in Marquise Williams, Ryan Switzer, Bug Howard, Quinshad Davis and T.J. Logan.

8. Syracuse (6-6, 4-4; LW: No. 11). The Orange could not have waited any longer to become bowl eligible, running out all but six seconds on the season before beating Boston College with a last-second scoring pass. Though this was not as successful a season as last season, give the Orange props for standing on the verge of making consecutive bowl games for the first time since 1998-99.

9. Boston College (7-5, 4-4; LW: No. 8). One week after winning a heart-stopper over Maryland, the Eagles lost a heart-stopper to Syracuse. Still, there is no way to look at this season as anything other than a rousing success. Boston College is going back to a bowl game and has instilled a toughness on this team that will be a signature as long as Steve Addazio is the coach.

10. Maryland (7-5, 3-5; LW: No. 10). The Terps closed out their final ACC season with a 41-21 win over NC State in another outstanding performance for quarterback C.J. Brown. Definite progress was made after two miserable losing seasons, but the Terps are headed into the unknown as they switch over to the Big Ten.

11. Pitt (6-6, 3-5; LW: No. 9). The Panthers closed the season 2-4 and are lucky to be bowl eligible given the way they have played for a majority of the season. Special teams did them in again in a 41-31 loss to Miami to end the year. Among the myriad issues this team dealt with, it was an inability to run the ball that probably vexed it most. Tom Savage was simply asked to do too much.

12. Wake Forest (4-8, 2-6; LW: No. 12). The Deacs closed another tough season with a heartbreaking loss to Vanderbilt. On the season, they lost four games by a touchdown or less. Wins in two of those would have gotten them to bowl eligibility again. Instead, coach Jim Grobe is facing another long offseason full of questions.

13. NC State (3-9, 0-8; LW: No. 13). Nobody anticipated the Wolfpack would go from a bowl team to one of the worst teams in the ACC under new coach Dave Doeren. But injuries, scheme changes on offense and defense and instability at quarterback sent this team spiraling. The Wolfpack lost eight of their nine games by double digits.

14. Virginia (2-10, 0-8; LW: No. 14). The Hoos completed their worst season since 1982 with a 10th straight loss to in-state rival Virginia Tech. Athletic director Craig Littlepage has given coach Mike London a vote of confidence headed into next season, but there cannot be any margin for error in 2014. London must win to save his job.

ACC Saturday setup: Week 14

November, 30, 2013
11/30/13
7:00
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Here's one final look at what's on tap on the final regular-season weekend in the ACC. All times are ET.

Florida State (11-0) at Florida (4-7), noon, ESPN

What's at stake: A win would move Florida State to 12-0 for the first time since finishing the 1999 national championship season with a 12-0 mark. A loss would ruin any shot at a national championship.

Statistically speaking: Coach Jimbo Fisher is looking to improve his record to 7-1 against in-state rivals Florida and Miami.

Quotable: "What we have to do is worry about playing well this weekend in Gainesville and if we do that, then the outcomes come. When you’re asked about it and you’re 18-22 years old, they can create distractions. It’s how much you believe in the system we have and what’s going on and can you compartmentalize all the other things and the questions that are going on about that. It is very tough. If it wasn’t tough, people would do it all the time." --- Fisher

No. 24 Duke (9-2, 5-2) at North Carolina (6-5, 4-3), noon, ESPN2

What's at stake: If Duke wins, the Blue Devils clinch a spot in the ACC championship game opposite Florida State, their first 10-win season and their first outright Coastal Division title.

Statistically speaking: Duke and Georgia Tech are the only teams in the nation that have converted 100 percent of their goal-to-go opportunities into touchdowns. The Blue Devils have converted all 22 of their chances, headlined by Brandon Connette’s 13 rushing scores.

Quotable: "You start out 1-5 then every one of them is more important. Each time you’re successful, the game becomes more important and a bigger game. They know where it’s at right now. I can assure you I’m not going to have to do anything to create more motivation for our guys. They’re going to be prepared and they’re going to be excited to play." -- North Carolina coach Larry Fedora

Wake Forest (4-7) at Vanderbilt (7-4), 12:21 p.m., GamePlan

What's at stake: The Deacs are trying to avoid their worst season since going 3-9 in 2010. A win would break a two-game losing streak in the series.

Statistically speaking: Wake Forest nose guard Nikita Whitlock has recorded a tackle for loss in 10 of 11 games this season. On the year, he has nine sacks (tied for No. 5 in the ACC) and 17 tackles for loss (third in the ACC). Both totals are team highs.

Quotable: "I think the thing that stands out with most of our seniors is that they've kind of maxed out what they can do. We may see a couple of guys that could have played better or could of had better careers, but most of these guys in the senior class really tried every year to be the best they could be and that's what you feel good about. I think these guys are a pretty close group and they care about each other and they've just tried as much as possible to be the best players they can be in our program." -- Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe

Maryland (6-5, 2-5) at NC State (3-8, 0-7), 12:30 p.m., GamePlan

What's at stake: The Terps surely want to win their final conference game ever, while NC State is hoping to avoid its first winless season in ACC play since 1959.

Statistically speaking: The games in this series are generally close. Of the last 13 contests between them, 11 have been decided by 10 points or fewer. Five of those 13 games have been decided by four or less points and 10 by less than 10 points.

Quotable: "As hard as it’s been we’ve grown very close as a team and these guys want to see our seniors finish the season the way they want to finish it. Playing at home, playing an ACC team at home and playing in our last game with these guys is enough of a reason for these guys to want to play well." -- NC State coach Dave Doeren

Georgia (7-4) at Georgia Tech (7-4), 3:30 p.m., ABC

What's at stake: Georgia Tech has an opportunity to beat the Bulldogs for the first time since 2008 and just the second time since 2000.

Statistically speaking: Georgia Tech, Ohio State and Wisconsin are the only teams in the nation to rank in the top 10 nationally in both rushing offense and rushing defense. The Jackets rank fourth in rush offense, 10th in rush defense.

Quotable: "I never had a chance to coach against him, but Herschel Walker. He's a big guy who runs through people and is fast. I mean he's a good player and he's going to be a good player for a long time if he doesn't get hurt. He's not only going to be good at Georgia, he's going to be a heck of an NFL running back too. He's got all the tools that they look for. He's good at running the football and is big and physical. He's a good receiver coming out of the backfield. He can do a lot of things." -- Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson on what player compares to Georgia running back Todd Gurley

Boston College (7-4, 4-3) at Syracuse (5-6, 3-4), 3:30 p.m, GamePlan

What's at stake: The Orange must win out to become bowl eligible for the second straight season. As for BC, running back Andre Williams is now in the Heisman race. Another 200-yard performance will certainly help the cause.

Statistically speaking: The most recent meeting between these teams came at the Carrier Dome in 2010, with Boston College winning 16-7. Williams, then a backup freshman, filled in for injured starter Montel Harris and rushed for 185 yards on a school-record 42 carries to lead the Eagles.

Quotable: “We always knew at Syracuse that we were going to come into this game at the end of the year and it was going to be a really rough, physical, black-and-blue game. We prided ourselves at that time on being a physical team, and I know BC did, and we just knew that it was going to be one of those games at the end where it was going to be a real fistfight. Everyone was jacked about it and everybody couldn’t wait to get to that game. It was targeted, it was red letter game. I learned that when I went to Syracuse my first year as an assistant coach. It was quickly explained to me how important the BC-Syracuse game was, and I never lost that. I have a unique perspective on it obviously and I have a great appreciation for it.” -- Boston College coach Steve Addazio

Virginia Tech (7-4, 4-3) at Virginia (2-9, 0-7), 3:30 p.m., ESPNU

What's at stake: Virginia Tech should know before this game starts whether it still has a shot at making the ACC championship game. The Hokies need Duke to lose to North Carolina, and then have to go out and beat the Hoos.

Statistically speaking: The Hokies have actually fared better on the road than at home over the last 11 seasons against the Cavaliers. In the five games at Scott Stadium since 2002, the Hokies have averaged 37.2 points per game. In six games at Lane Stadium since 2002, Virginia Tech has averaged just 18.7 points per game.

Quotable: "Well I think both of us compete very, very hard against each other. You try to have success against their program. I don’t think what has happened in the past makes a lot of difference, I think what happens this Saturday makes all the difference. Every year it’s a new year, different teams, different people and what happens this Saturday is what is really important for us." -- Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer

No. 6 Clemson (10-1) at No. 10 South Carolina (9-2), 7 p.m., ESPN2

What's at stake: South Carolina has an opportunity to extend its winning streak in the series to a school-record five games. BCS hopes are on the line for both teams as well.

Statistically speaking: This is the third straight season Clemson and South Carolina have both been ranked in the AP top 20 entering the game. This series is one of just four nationally where that has been the case. The others are LSU-Florida, LSU-Alabama and Oregon-Stanford.

Quotable: "They are what you would expect when you look at a top-10 football team. They are a top-10 football team because they have a bunch of great players. They play hard and play tough and play with a lot of confidence. Our focus is on trying to finish and it has been. We want to have the best finish that we possibly can and, obviously, winning this game is huge part of that." -- Clemson coach Dabo Swinney

ACC Week 14: Did you know?

November, 29, 2013
11/29/13
10:00
AM ET
As always, thanks to ESPN Stats & Info and sports information departments everywhere for these tidbits.

MIAMI: Against Virginia, Miami had 45 points with only 11 first downs. The last time that happened at the FBS level was Sept. 13, 1997, when Minnesota (with 11 first downs) beat Iowa State 53-29.

PITTSBURGH: Tyler Boyd is having one of the most productive seasons by a freshman receiver in school history. With one regular-season game left, Boyd has 68 catches, the most of any freshman in the country and one catch shy of Larry Fitzgerald’s Pitt rookie record of 69.

FLORIDA STATE: Alabama and Florida State are 1-2 in the Championship Drive Ratings, while the only other undefeated team, Ohio State, was three spots back at No. 5. FSU has a Championship Drive Rating of 94.3, OSU has a 93.3. While both teams are 11-0, Florida State has controlled in-game win probability (84.6 percent to 81.2) more and has played a slightly tougher schedule (81st to 86th).

DUKE: At 9-2, Duke has already tied its most wins in season (most recently done in 1941) and will be going for its first 10-win season. Duke is looking for its first conference championship since 1989 (co-champion in ACC). The Blue Devils have won seven straight games for the first time since 1994 and are looking for their first eight-game winning streak since 1941 (won nine in a row).

NORTH CAROLINA: The Tar Heels are 21-2 against Duke in their last 23 meetings, but they dropped last year's contest in Durham, N.C. They have not lost consecutive contests to the Blue Devils since dropping three in a row from 1987-89.

WAKE FOREST: The Demon Deacons will play their final game Saturday at Vanderbilt, but they have a few records worth aiming for. Jim Grobe remains tied with "Peahead" Walker for the most wins as a head coach in school history with 77. And quarterback Tanner Price (64 total TDs -- 52 passing, 11 rushing, one receiving) remains one off the school record of 65 career touchdowns held by Riley Skinner (60 passing, four rushing, one receiving).

MARYLAND: Following Alex Amidon’s 74-yard touchdown reception for BC, linebacker Marcus Whitfield blocked the ensuing point-after attempt. Defensive back Anthony Nixon grabbed the ball and went 98 yards for the defensive extra point. It marked the first time in program history that the Terrapins have scored a defensive extra point and it is the first defensive extra point scored by an ACC team since Duke’s Kyler Brown intercepted a two-point attempt against FIU on Sept. 1, 2012. Whitfield is the first Terp to block a PAT since A.J. Francis did it against Georgia Tech on Nov. 3, 2012.

NC STATE: With the exception of one game (vs. No. 2 Florida State), Wolfpack conference games have been relatively competitive. In the Wolfpack's other ACC contests, the average difference in the score after the third quarter has been just 7.1 points. In only one game (vs. then-No. 3 Clemson) did the Pack trail by more than a touchdown, and that was only by 13 points following the third quarter.

GEORGIA TECH: Senior A-back Robert Godhigh is one of the nation’s most explosive all-around players. The 5-foot-7 former walk-on has 961 yards from scrimmage (623 rush, 338 catch), and his average of 13 yards per play leads all FBS running backs. 55 percent of his offensive touches result in rst downs or touchdowns. Godhigh has 13 plays from scrimmage of 30-plus yards, which is the fth-most among all FBS players. Of Godhigh’s 961 yards, 389 yards (40.5 percent) have come after contact.

BOSTON COLLEGE: Andre Williams has gained 958 of his FBS-leading 2,073 yards after contact, 254 more such yards than any other AQ running back. Only 35 FBS players have more total rushing yards than Williams has after contact. Williams has broken 28 tackles this season, seven more than any other AQ running back.

SYRACUSE: The Orange have played BC 46 times, the fifth-most frequent opponent in school history. Syracuse owns the series record, 28-18, including an 18-6 mark at home. The old Big East rivals have not met since 2010, when the Eagles won 16-7. A win Saturday would make Syracuse bowl-eligible for the third time in four years. Syracuse is one of three teams (Ohio State and Wisconsin) to not allow a 100-yard rusher this season, though it will certainly get a test from Williams.

VIRGINIA TECH: Florida's nation-best streak of 22 straight bowl appearances will be snapped, meaning the Hokies will be the new leaders, as they will go to their 21st straight bowl this postseason. Opponents have failed to gain a first down on 49 percent of their drives against the Hokies, the highest percentage in the nation. Virginia Tech is also fourth nationally in fewest yards allowed before contact per game on designed runs, giving up just 52.5 ypg.

VIRGINIA: The Cavaliers' eight-game losing streak is their longest in a single season since 1975. They actually outgained Miami by a margin of 483-304, but they were hurt by the Hurricanes' two defensive touchdowns. They are 37-52-5 all-time against Virginia Tech, but the important number to keep an eye on is 32, as Virginia has scored at least that much in each of its last seven Commonwealth Cup wins dating back to 1989.

CLEMSON: Tajh Boyd's five touchdown passes in a 52-6 Senior Day win over The Citadel gave him 102 for his career. The only other active quarterbacks in the FBS with 100 career touchdown passes are Georgia’s Aaron Murray and Old Dominion’s Taylor Heinicke. But the biggest challenge for Boyd comes Saturday at South Carolina, which is 4-0 against the Tigers during Boyd's career, with Clemson failing to score more than 17 points in any of the contests.

ACC Saturday setup: Week 11

November, 9, 2013
11/09/13
7:00
AM ET
Here's one last quick look at what's going on in the ACC this week:

No. 2 Florida State (8-0, 6-0) at Wake Forest (4-5, 2-4), noon, ABC. #FSUvsWAKE

What's at stake: Plenty for both teams. A win gets the Noles into the ACC championship game and keeps their national championship hopes alive. Wake Forest is nearing must-win territory for bowl eligibility. A loss means the Deacs have to beat Duke (6-2) and Vanderbilt (4-4) to get back to a bowl game. The last time Florida State visited Winston-Salem, Wake Forest won. But both coaches insist things are different this time around. Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe said this Florida State team is the best he has faced in 13 years with the Deacs.

Statistically speaking: According to ESPN Stats & Information, Jameis Winston completes an AQ-high 71.9 percent of his passes on plays in which he is pressured (knockdown or hurried). The AQ average for a quarterback when pressured is 35.8 percent.

Quotable: "You know the situations and the media hype you get. But like we tell them, the only thing you can control is how you play this week. What's important for us is to continue to play well, reach our goals in the games of getting better each week, learning to prepare each week and getting better as a team." -- Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher.

Virginia (2-7, 0-5) at North Carolina (3-5, 2-3), 12:30 p.m., ESPN3. #UVAvsUNC

What's at stake: Plenty on the line for the Tar Heels, who are fighting for a bowl berth. Another win would give them three straight after a 1-5 start to the season. A bowl game does not look all that bleak right now, even with Bryn Renner out for the season with a shoulder injury. The Hoos are the only team left on the schedule with a losing record, so getting a win here is critical for bowl hopes. A loss means the Tar Heels have to win at Pittsburgh, then beat Old Dominion and Duke. That is doable, but certainly a win against Virginia gives a tad more margin for error.

Statistically speaking: Virginia safety Anthony Harris is quietly putting together one of the best seasons in the ACC. Harris has six interceptions on the season, tied for second in the nation. Those six interceptions are two more than the entire UVa team had in 2012. They also are the most by a UVa safety since Shernard Newby had five in 2001.

Quotable: "This team has become mature enough to understand the pitfalls of a lack of focus or worrying about what else is going on out there. Now you’ve got people who want to pat you on the back. If you do, you better watch out. Better just stay the course, keep doing what we’re doing, focusing on one game, and let’s try to be 1-0." -- North Carolina coach Larry Fedora.

Syracuse (4-4, 2-2) at Maryland (5-3, 1-3), 3:30 p.m., ESPN3. #CUSEvsMD

What's at stake: Let's stick with the bowl theme. The Terps become bowl eligible for the first time since 2010 with a win; the Orange inch closer to bowl eligibility for the second straight year with a win. One area to watch with both teams is the running game. The Terps have hit a bit of a dip in their last two losses, rushing for a combined 121 yards. Syracuse, meanwhile, has over 180 yards total rushing in three of four ACC games this year and is facing an injury-depleted Maryland D that gave up 247 yards rushing to Clemson.

Statistically speaking: Talk about extremes with the Syracuse defense. Twice this season, the Orange have shut opponents out, the first time that has happened since 1997. But on the flip side, they have also given up 48 or more points three times this season.

Quotable: "He's a really good leader and he's a guy that knows the offense, understands it and has experience. So that means a lot to us, and like I said hopefully he can continue to stay healthy." -- Maryland coach Randy Edsall on C.J. Brown.

Boston College (4-4) at New Mexico State (1-8), 3:30 p.m., ESPN3. #BCvsNMSU

What's at stake: Plenty for Boston College. The turnaround in Year 1 under coach Steve Addazio has been impressive. Now the goal he set for his team when the season started is there for the taking -- bowl eligibility for the first time since 2010. Having to travel to Las Cruces, N.M., in the middle of November is not an ideal situation, especially after such an emotional win over Virginia Tech. BC also has been a different team on the road this year, scoring an average of 10.3 points in three losses, so Addazio has to find a way to keep his players focused against a much weaker opponent.

Statistically speaking: Receiver Alex Amidon needs 54 yards to break the school record for career receiving yards. Current BC graduate assistant coach Rich Gunnell set the mark of 2,459 yards from 2006-09.

Quotable: "There's a tremendous amount of focus right now with our seniors and everybody in this program about just centering in on trying to get win number five, and I think our kids understand, I certainly hope they understand that it's all hands on deck with us. When we win, it's because we are just scratching and clawing, and we're not turning it over, and we don't have a lot of penalties, and we have that kind of team concept. And that's hard to do week in and week out." -- BC coach Steve Addazio.

NC State (3-5, 0-5) at Duke (6-2, 2-2), 4 p.m., ESPNU. #NCSTvsDUKE

What's at stake: Duke needs to win to stay in the race for the ACC championship game. NC State needs a win to keep its bowl eligibility hopes alive, with games against Boston College, East Carolina and Maryland ahead. The Wolfpack are off to their worst start in ACC play since going 0-6 in 1959. Duke, meanwhile, is off to a 6-2 start for the second straight year, but the Blue Devils hope to avoid the same type of losing streak that dampened the end to the 2012 season. NC State has won 11 of the past 12 meetings, but Duke won the last one in 2009. This is the last meeting between the schools until 2020.

Statistically speaking: In ACC play this season, Duke is 0-2 at home and 2-0 on the road. Duke joins Clemson and Florida State as the only two teams in the league without a loss away from home.

Quotable: "We've been in four of the games we've lost in the fourth quarter, whether it was tied and we were down by a touchdown or less, we know we're close, and we're just going to keep grinding and fighting and find a way to win those close games as we fight down the stretch." -- NC State coach Dave Doeren.

Virginia Tech (6-3, 3-2) at No. 11 Miami (7-1, 3-1), 7 p.m., ESPN. #VTvsMIA

What's at stake: Simply put, the Coastal Division. Virginia Tech needs a win to stay alive and end a two-game losing streak. Miami needs a win to stay in the driver's seat. Virginia Tech remains stingy on defense, ranking in the top 10 in total defense (No. 3), passing defense (No. 1), rushing defense (No. 9) and scoring defense (No. 8). The problem has been the eight turnovers in the last two losses. Miami, meanwhile, must win this game without two of its best offensive playmakers -- running back Duke Johnson and receiver Phillip Dorsett.

Statistically speaking: While Miami has one of the best rush offenses in the ACC, Virginia Tech has one of the worst. The Hokies are averaging 3.2 yards per carry, on pace to be their lowest in the last 10 seasons. The Hokies have four rushes that gained 20 yards or more, tied for seventh fewest in the FBS.

Quotable: "I think this Miami team is really, really good. If you look at them defensively, they’re maybe the best defensive team we’ve played and we’ve played Alabama." -- Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer.

No. 23 Notre Dame (7-2) at Pitt (4-4, 2-3), 8 p.m., ABC. #NDvsPITT

What's at stake: This is almost a must-win situation for the Panthers, who are trying to become bowl eligible for the sixth straight season. After the Irish, Pitt faces an improving North Carolina, has to travel to Syracuse (where it lost last season) and then closes against No. 11 Miami. The Panthers have played Notre Dame tough, though players have said the triple-overtime loss a season ago is in the past. What Pitt needs to do is find its run game and fast. The offensive line play has deteriorated as the season has gone on, hampering both the run and quarterback Tom Savage. Pitt has given up a league-high 29 sacks, tied for No. 116 in the nation.

Statistically speaking: Pitt is on pace for its worst rushing offense since 2005. Right now, the Panthers are averaging 122.5 rush yards per game. In 2005, Pitt averaged 116.8 rush yards per game.

Quotable: "We haven't been real good running the football. You know, we're certainly working on it, and there are different reasons that have contributed to it. But we need to -- hopefully we can get that squared away because we're a better team if we can do a better job of running the football." -- Pitt coach Paul Chryst.

What to watch in the ACC: Week 11

November, 7, 2013
11/07/13
10:15
AM ET
Clemson and Georgia Tech have the weekend off. The other 12 ACC teams take the field for Week 11, which includes two nonconference contests, with one serving just slightly bigger than the other.

Here is what to keep an eye on as we enter the home stretch in the ACC:

1. FSU looks to avoid letdown: The Seminoles have a lot to lose the rest of the way, starting Saturday in Winston-Salem, N.C., where they lost two years ago. It is telling, in a good way, that the word "adversity" has been thrown around so much in regard to Florida State's most recent contest. It was a 41-14 win against a previously undefeated and seventh-ranked Miami team. And its quarterback, despite whatever criticisms were lobbied his way, finished with an adjusted total QBR of 94.6, sixth best in the nation for the week. If this team ever got its act together …

2. Wake adjusts to life without Campanaro: Wake Forest is without all-time leading receiver Michael Campanaro, probably for the season, after the redshirt senior broke his collarbone in a loss at Syracuse. Coach Jim Grobe was honest about how difficult things now are offensively without Campanaro, who, despite missing the first game of the season, had 67 catches -- or 52 more than Jonathan Williams and Sherman Ragland III, the Demon Deacons' next-highest catchers, with 15 apiece.

[+] EnlargeMarquise Williams
Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesCan Marquise Williams lead North Carolina to a bowl game?
3. Marquise Williams' time at UNC: Bryn Renner's North Carolina career is over because of a detached labrum and fracture in his non-throwing shoulder suffered in a win over NC State. He had split plenty of time lately with Williams, who started the Virginia Tech game, but now it is the redshirt sophomore's chance to carry the Tar Heels to the postseason. They can inch a step closer toward with a win over Virginia that would make them 4-5. Williams has completed better than 60 percent of his passes this season for 537 yards with six touchdowns and three picks, adding 201 yards and a score on the ground.

4. C.J. Brown's return: Maryland is on the brink of its first bowl berth under third-year coach Randy Edsall, and the expected return of its quarterback should provide a big boost against Syracuse. Caleb Rowe has been so-so in Brown's place as starter, going 1-2. Brown's return after a concussion and then a "trunk injury" cannot come at a better time for a Terrapins team that has dropped three of four, though he will have to adjust to a receiving corps that has been decimated by season-ending injuries to Stefon Diggs and Deon Long.

5. Terps honor former Cuse halfback: Kudos to Maryland, which will pay tribute Saturday to Wilmeth Sidat-Singh, who was barred from the Syracuse-Maryland 1937 game because he was black. Orange players will wear No. 19 decals on their helmets in memory of Sidat-Singh, whose family will join both schools' athletic directors and Maryland pioneer Darryl Hill between the first and second quarters for an on-field tribute. Sidat-Singh had joined the Army after Pearl Harbor and was in the first graduating class of the group later known as Tuskegee Airmen. He was killed on a training flight in 1943 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

6. Duke looks to finish strong: Whether it is fair to criticize the Blue Devils' late-season slide last season, the fact remains that they went winless after clinching bowl eligibility in 2012. Things are different this time around, especially with a defense playing night and day from earlier this season and with the Coastal Division potentially up for grabs. Duke will need to keep its foot on the pedal as it comes off a historic win and a bye week to face a desperate NC State team that has dropped four straight and remains winless in ACC play.

7. Logan Thomas looks to rebound: Virginia Tech's redshirt senior quarterback was unusually defiant this week when speaking to reporters in Blacksburg, Va., about criticism that has come his way. Thomas had appeared to turn a corner midseason but his turnovers woes have bubbled to the surface these last two weeks, as he threw four picks in a loss to Duke and threw two more, and lost two fumbles, in a loss at Boston College. Still, a strong performance at a Miami team coming off its first loss of the season could play the Hokies right back into the thick of things in the Coastal Division race.

8. Crawford, Miami look to rebound: It's Dallas Crawford's time to step up, as the Hurricanes will turn to the redshirt sophomore first after losing Duke Johnson for the season. In looking to rebound from its loss No. 1 and maintain control of the Coastal Division, coach Al Golden said all three backs will probably see time in the first quarter Saturday against Virginia Tech. Crawford is expected to get the bulk of the carries after rushing for 294 yards and nine touchdowns so far this season.

9. ND-Pitt theatrics: Will it be like the four-overtime game from 2008? The ugly 15-12 contest from 2011, a game that, fittingly, featured 666 total yards of offense? Or last year's triple-overtime near upset? When the Irish and Panthers take the field, craziness ensues, and who knows what awaits a prime-time audience at Heinz Field in a game featuring two banged-up teams.

10. Pitt's offense looks to get it together: The Panthers defended the option well in recent weeks, holding Navy and Georgia Tech to 24 and 21 points, respectively. But the offense simply has to score points after breaking the 21-point plateau just once in its past five games, against Old Dominion (35). The run game in particular has struggled, tallying minus-5 yards last week against the Yellow Jackets, but the passing game could use some big plays as well.

ACC Saturday setup: Week 10

November, 2, 2013
11/02/13
7:00
AM ET
Here’s one last quick look at what’s going on in the ACC this week:

Virginia Tech (6-2) at Boston College (3-4) (ABC/ESPN2 12 p.m. ET)

What’s at stake: The Hokies’ hopes of staying in the ACC’s Coastal Division race. Last week’s loss to Duke put Virginia Tech behind Miami, and the Hokies still have to play the Canes. They have no more margin for error, though, if they want to get back to Charlotte. Three of the Hokies’ final four games are on the road, starting today.

Statistically speaking: Nine of the Hokies’ nation-leading 17 interceptions have been contributed by true freshmen.

Quotable: “Now do you come back stronger than ever, mentally tougher than ever, or do you give into it? I think in everyday life people go through that struggle. We as a football team, that's what we'll find out this week.” -- Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer

North Carolina (2-5) at NC State (3-4) (ACC Network, 12:30 p.m. ET)

What’s at stake: In-state pride, recruiting turf wars, bragging rights and bowl hopes. North Carolina has to win four of its last five games to become bowl eligible. NC State has to win three of its last five, but the Pack is still looking for its first conference win. UNC is also looking for its first road win in the series since 2005. The Tar Heels snapped a five-game losing streak to their rival last year. The Wolfpack will play four of their final five regular-season games within a 23-mile radius of Carter-Finley Stadium.

Statistically speaking: UNC TE Eric Ebron has 599 receiving yards this year, just 26 yards shy of matching his own school record for single-season receiving yards by a tight end of 625, set in 2012. Ebron is also just five catches behind his school-record tight end reception mark of 40 from a season ago.

Quotable: “All Of These Wolfpack Fans Are In For RUDE AWAKENING Come Saturday! #BeatState #BADLY” -- Ebron, via Twitter

Wake Forest (4-4) at Syracuse (3-4) (RSN, 12:30 p.m. ET)

What’s at stake: The Deacs’ bowl hopes. With Florida State and road trip to Vanderbilt on the schedule, Wake’s best hopes at becoming bowl eligible will come today against Syracuse and on Nov. 23 against Duke. For Syracuse, the Orange are looking for their second league win of the season. Cuse has to take advantage of these winnable home games (Wake Forest, Pittsburgh and Boston College). There’s still time for Cuse to get to six wins, but they’ve got some pride on the line right now.

Statistically speaking: Wake Forest quarterback Tanner Price has accounted for 62 career touchdowns, just three shy of Riley Skinner’s school record of 65 (60 passing, 4 rushing, 1 receiving) which he set from 2006- 09. Price has thrown 51 touchdown passes, run for 10 touchdowns and was on the receiving end of a pass in the win over Maryland on Oct. 26.

Quotable: “Our guys, really for three games now, have played really, really hard, and we were able to get NC State and we were able to get Maryland and then had a great chance to get Miami and didn't get it done. We've got a team that any time you've got a team that really plays their hearts out and comes up short, your biggest worry as a coach is being able to get them back up again.” -- Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe

Clemson (7-1) at Virginia (2-6) (ESPN, 3:30 p.m. ET)

What’s at stake: Clemson’s BCS hopes and Virginia’s bowl hopes. With the loss to Florida State, Clemson simply can’t lose again if it wants to salvage the season with a BCS bowl game. If the Tigers win out, there’s a good chance they can either earn a bid to the Orange Bowl or the Sugar Bowl, depending on how the rest of the ACC and top 10 shakes out. Virginia, meanwhile, has to win out just to become bowl eligible.

Statistically speaking: Sammy Watkins has an AQ-high 516 yards after the catch this season. Watkins had a season-high 109 yards after the catch against Maryland last week. Virginia has scored 13 points off turnovers this season, tied for the sixth fewest in the nation.

Quotable: “But I think their future is very bright, and they're just a few plays away. Nobody wants to hear that, but I think with a little patience this team is going to step up and be one of the surprise teams in the next year or so.” -- Dabo Swinney on Virginia

Pitt (4-3) at Georgia Tech (5-3) (ESPNU, 7 p.m. ET)

What’s at stake: The Jackets can become bowl eligible today, and earn the program’s 700th win -- the latter being a milestone Syracuse and Virginia have already reached this season. The good news for the Jackets is that last Saturday’s win assured the program of finishing .500 or better in ACC play for the 19th straight season. Pitt, playing its second straight road game, is trying to bounce back from last week’s surprising loss to Navy. The Panthers still have plenty of time to reach the six-win mark, but they’ve also got two ranked opponents remaining in Notre Dame and Miami.

Statistically speaking: Pitt receiver Devin Street became Pitt’s all-time leader in career receptions last week with 179. He surpassed Latef Grim who tallied 178 career catches from 1998-2000. He now has 186 career catches. Street now has 2,692 career receiving yards and is approaching the all-time record which is held by Antonio Bryant (3,061).

Quotable: “We played really poorly against Virginia Tech. That's probably about as poorly as I've seen our football [team] play maybe since I've been here. I think you have to give them some credit for that, too, but we played horrendously.”—Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson

No. 7 Miami (7-0) at No. Florida State (7-0) (ABC, 8 p.m. ET)

What’s at stake: Everything. Florida State, tangled up in a battle with Oregon for the No. 2 spot in the BCS standings, could regain the lead over the Ducks with a convincing win over the Canes. There’s no margin for error if the Noles want to have a shot at playing for the national title. For Miami, the Canes are playing for a possible BCS bid, but they can get to the Orange Bowl by winning the Coastal Division and the ACC championship. With two undefeated top 10 teams, anything is still possible for the winner. If Miami loses, it will even the score with the Hokies and set up a showdown for the Coastal Division lead next week. And, of course, you’ve also got bragging rights, state supremacy and recruiting battles on the line.

Statistically speaking: Jameis Winston has an FBS-high 99.5 third-down Total QBR, on pace to be the highest by any player in the last 10 seasons. Stephen Morris has a 26.9 third-down Total QBR this season, 108th best out of 127 qualified FBS quarterbacks. Morris converts a first down on 30% of his third-down passing plays (sacks + pass attempts), 95th best in the FBS and seven percentage points lower than the national average.

Quotable: “It's good for both schools. It's good for the state of Florida. It's good for the ACC, and it's good for college football. I think it's good all the way around, and like I say, it's one of the great traditional rivalries in the game, and it's great to see both teams up there.” -- Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher


ACC Week 10: Did you know?

November, 1, 2013
11/01/13
10:00
AM ET
Miami and Florida State renew their rivalry in Week 10 in a battle of top-10 teams. For fun facts from that contest and all other ones in the ACC this weekend, we thank the schools' sports information departments and ESPN Stats & Info.

BOSTON COLLEGE: Andre Williams leads the ACC and ranks fifth among FBS players with 144.3 rush yards per game this season. Since joining the ACC in 2005, only one BC player has led the conference in rushing over an entire season: Montel Harris in 2010 (113 yards per game).

CLEMSON: Through five games, Tajh Boyd had thrown 14 touchdowns, two interceptions, notched an 80.9 Total QBR rating and was sacked 11 times. In his three games since, Boyd has thrown just three touchdowns with three interceptions while tallying a 56.5 Total QBR rating and getting sacked eight times. Sammy Watkins, meanwhile, has an AQ-high 516 yards after the catch this season, including a season-high 109 yards after the catch last week against Maryland.

FLORIDA STATE: Jameis Winston has an opponent-adjusted QBR of 92.6 this season, third among FBS players. He leads the country in passing touchdowns per attempt, throwing the highest percentage (12.6) of touchdowns per pass attempt in the nation. Of his 183 pass attempts this season, 23 have gone for touchdowns. The Seminoles have won every game by at least 14 points and are one of only three FBS teams that haven’t trailed yet in the second half this season (Alabama and Oregon).

GEORGIA TECH: The Yellow Jackets have won two in a row after a three-game losing streak. They have rushed for 394 yards in each of their last two games, and only 11.8 percent of their runs went for zero or negative yards. By contrast, during the three-game losing streak, Georgia Tech averaged 234 rushing yards per game and nearly a quarter of its rush attempts (23 percent) resulted in zero or negative yards.

MIAMI: Stephen Morris has a 26.9 third-down Total QBR this season, 106th-best out of 127 qualified FBS quarterbacks. Morris converts a first down on 30 percent of his third-down passing plays (sacks and pass attempts), tied for 95th-best in the FBS and seven percentage points lower than the national average. His opponent, Jameis Winston, has an FBS-high 99.5 third-down Total QBR, on pace to be the highest by any player in the last 10 seasons. Andrew Luck currently has the highest third-down Total QBR for a completed season (98.9, 2010). Duke Johnson, meanwhile, is averaging an ACC-high 3.3 yards after contact per rush (min. 50 rush).

NORTH CAROLINA: Eric Ebron leads the Tar Heels with 35 catches for 599 yards and needs just six catches and 26 yards to eclipse his school-record marks for receptions and receiving yards by a tight end. Ebron caught 40 balls last season for 625 yards.

NC STATE: Shadrach Thornton rushed for a career-high 173 yards in last week's loss at Florida State, the most rushing yards in a game by a Wolfpack player since 2006 and 18th-most all time. He eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for his career, too, as he now sits at 1,051 career rushing yards through 16 games.

PITT: Since its 598-yard effort in a win over Duke in its third game, Pitt has averaged just 279.2 yards per game during its last four games. That's the fewest YPG over that span in the ACC. The third quarter could be the difference when the Panthers play Georgia Tech, as Pitt has a negative-19 scoring margin in the third quarter, worst in the ACC. The Yellow Jackets, meanwhile, are outscoring opponents by a combined 63 points in the third quarter, second-best in the conference behind Florida State.

SYRACUSE: The Orange have played Wake Forest just twice before, but the most recent contest was a memorable one, as Syracuse scored 22 straight points in the final nine minutes and overtime to rally for a 36-29 win. The Demon Deacons won the other contest, in Winston-Salem, N.C., in 2006.

VIRGINIA: The Cavaliers face No. 8 Clemson, and Virginia’s last win against an AP top-10 team came in 2005 when it knocked off No. 4 Florida State in Charlottesville. Since then the Wahoos are 0-6 vs. AP top-10 teams, including a 59-10 shellacking by Oregon earlier this season.

VIRGINIA TECH: Logan Thomas threw a career-high four interceptions in last week’s loss to Duke. Virginia Tech is 19-4 in starts by Thomas in which he’s thrown one or fewer interceptions, including a perfect 14-0 mark when he’s pick-free. The Hokies are just 5-7 when he throws multiple interceptions. The Hokies lead FBS schools with 17 interceptions this season and have picked off 17 Boston College passes since 2005, tied for their most against any team over that span (Duke).

WAKE FOREST: Coach Jim Grobe is tied with "Peahead" Walker for the most coaching wins all time with the Demon Deacons, at 77. Quarterback Tanner Price is three total touchdowns away from matching Riley Skinner's school career record of 65.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said that last season the Tigers probably played their “worst game of the year” against rival South Carolina.

And then turned around and played their best game against LSU.

Last year, Clemson had a tough road loss to Florida State.

And then came back to beat Boston College.

[+] EnlargeBoyd-Swinney
Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly/USA TODAY SpoClemson must put the FSU debacle behind quickly as it travels to Maryland.
The program has shown its resiliency, and it’s going to have to do it again on Saturday at Maryland if it wants to stay in the top 10 of the BCS standings. With all four of the ACC’s ranked teams playing on Saturday, this weekend is about maintaining the status quo and avoiding upsets. No. 14 Virginia Tech can expect Duke’s best shot, as the Blue Devils are one win away from bowl eligibility and have never been to back-to-back bowls. No. 7 Miami will be without one of its top receivers in Phillip Dorsett and facing a Wake Forest team that has won back-to-back Atlantic Division games. No. 2 Florida State will host NC State, which is thrilled about the return of starting quarterback Brandon Mitchell in time for the biggest game of the season. And No. 9 Clemson? Well, the Tigers’ margin for error disappeared last week, and they’re on the road for the first time in three weeks.

“You really come together from a leadership standpoint,” Swinney said. “Everybody takes accountability and then you go back to practice. That's what we've done, and that's what this team has done really for the last couple of years. That's why we've had the success that we've had and the consistency that we've had, because they've responded, whether we've had a big win or we've had a really, really tough loss. We're 17-3 in the last 20 games, and those three losses were all painful. But they responded.”

As FSU prepares to host NC State, it’s impossible not to recall last year’s shocking 17-16 loss to the Pack in Raleigh, but both teams have gone in different directions since then. NC State fired former coach Tom O’Brien, and the Pack has a new coach in Dave Doeren and a new quarterback. It has also been plagued by injuries and will face a tough environment that will be welcoming back former coach Bobby Bowden as well as almost 400 former players.

"They're having Bobby Bowden Day where he is spiking the spear at midfield with all his former players," Doeren said. "I think they've done a good job of eliminating the trap game with their marketing."

Still, Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said “all games are trap games if you don’t prepare for them.”

“I mean, if you say it's a trap game -- because what the kids hear, it's this game and this game you worry about,” Fisher said. “Well, if you're a mature team, you don't allow those things to happen. But yes, there's things that you have to look at, but it has nothing to do with NC State's ability, it just has the national media's focus that the other two teams are more highly ranked, but hopefully we'll be mature enough to look past that and be able to prepare because we know NC State will definitely be ready to play and bringing their A game.”

Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe said Miami already played its trap game last week at North Carolina. The Canes needed a touchdown from backup running back Dallas Crawford with 16 seconds remaining to beat UNC in spite of four turnovers.

“I think North Carolina has got a really, really talented group of kids, and I really thought that was going to be a tough game for Miami, and it turned out to be that way, unfortunately for the Deacs,” Grobe said. “I think they're wide awake right now, so I've got a feeling we'll be taking their best shot.”

Don’t think the Deacs won’t be prepared, though, to give it back.

Everyone is playing for something, and for Duke, a win over the Hokies would be so big that coach David Cutcliffe conceded his team would probably need the bye week next Saturday to celebrate it. It has been 19 years since the program has beaten a ranked opponent.

“We do have an open date after beating them because we'd probably all be on Cloud 9,” Cutcliffe said. “That's just as honest as I can be. You don't want to be that way. You don't want to be giddy, if you will, about any win. But I'm certain the squad and the program itself would feel that way.”

So would Maryland, Wake Forest and NC State.

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October, 23, 2013
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