Florida State Seminoles: Paul Johnson

ACC's lunchtime links

March, 12, 2014
Mar 12
12:00
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ACC tournament is up for grabs!

ACC's lunch links

March, 11, 2014
Mar 11
12:00
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Miami, NC State, North Carolina and UVa are all on spring break and resume practice next week.

ACC's lunchtime links

February, 12, 2014
Feb 12
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So there's a big hoops game tonight, eh?

ACC's lunch links

December, 31, 2013
12/31/13
12:00
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Be safe tonight.

ACC's lunchtime links

December, 23, 2013
12/23/13
12:00
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Shopping days are nearly gone.

ACC's lunchtime links

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

ACC Saturday setup: Week 14

November, 30, 2013
11/30/13
7:00
AM ET
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 predictions: Week 14

November, 27, 2013
11/27/13
9:00
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Andrea and Heather each went 7-2 last week, so AA retains her one-game lead in the standings with a 78-21 overall record. We disagree on a few games this week.

Now on to the picks!

Friday

Miami (8-3, 4-3) at Pitt (6-5, 3-4), 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC. #MIAvsPITT. The Canes need a victory for their first nine-win season since 2009 and to keep their slim Coastal Division hopes alive. But they are banged up in the secondary and continue to have problems stopping the run. That could end up being what cures the ailing Pitt offense, which did just enough to beat Syracuse last week and clinch bowl eligibility. Aaron Donald plays his final game at home, too, and will help the Panthers stuff the Miami run, which has been mostly ineffective since losing Duke Johnson for the season.

Andrea Adelson picks: Pitt 24, Miami 21

Heather Dinich picks: Pitt 24, Miami 21

Saturday

No. 2 Florida State (11-0) at Florida (4-7), noon ET, ESPN. #FSUvsUF. The only question heading into this game is how badly the Seminoles are going to beat the sliding Gators, who lost to FCS Georgia Southern a week ago. Injuries have taken a toll at Florida at just about every position on the field, including quarterback, where Tyler Murphy remains questionable. It seems a near certainty that Florida State will set a record with 40-plus points scored for the 12th consecutive game.

AA picks: Florida State 40, Florida 10

HD picks: Florida State 52, Florida 3

No. 24 Duke (9-2, 5-2) at North Carolina (6-5, 4-3), noon ET, ESPN2. #DUKEvsUNC. This is one of the toughest games to call on the weekend. Duke has proven itself to be worthy of a Coastal Division championship with seven straight wins -- including victories over Miami and Virginia Tech. North Carolina is surging, too, with five straight wins to clinch bowl eligibility.

AA picks: Duke 31, North Carolina 28: This game is going to come down to the fourth quarter, where the Duke defense has been stellar, allowing 34 total points all season. The Duke D will be the difference, getting the Blue Devils to the ACC championship game.

HD picks: North Carolina 28, Duke 24: Duke has been a fourth-quarter team, but a slow start this Saturday will be the difference. The Tar Heels, energized by their winning streak, Senior Day and what will be the final home game for standout tight end Eric Ebron, will jump out to an early lead and be too much for another heroic comeback by the Blue Devils. Marquise Williams will have the edge at quarterback, Ebron will close his career in Chapel Hill with a bang and the Coastal Division title will fall into the hands of Virginia Tech.

Wake Forest (4-7, 2-6) at Vanderbilt (7-4, 4-4), 12:21 p.m. ET, GamePlan. #WAKEvsVANDY. The Deacs have lost four games in a row and will not be going to a bowl game for the fourth time in five seasons. Wake Forest's defense has played well enough to win in a majority of its games this year, but the offense has not been able to get out of its own way. Vanderbilt has a clear edge in this game at just about every position and should not have any problems getting the win.

AA picks: Vanderbilt 35, Wake Forest 17

HD picks: Vanderbilt 28, Wake Forest 17

Maryland (6-5, 2-5) at NC State (3-8, 0-7), 12:30 p.m. ET, GamePlan. #MDvsNCST. AA picked NC State on a flyer last week to beat East Carolina, then watched the Wolfpack confirm their status as one of the worst teams in the ACC. We have no doubt NC State is going to be supremely motivated to avoid a winless season in ACC play, on Senior Day no less. But the Wolfpack have been unable to overcome their major issues at quarterback, while Maryland is much more stable with C.J. Brown under center.

AA picks: Maryland 31, NC State 20

HD picks: Maryland 28, NC State 21

Georgia (7-4, 5-3 SEC) at Georgia Tech (7-4, 5-3), 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC. #UGAvsGT. The Bulldogs have dealt with injury issues all season, and now they have to go up against Georgia Tech without starting quarterback Aaron Murray, who is out for the season with a torn ACL.

AA picks: Georgia 35, Georgia Tech 31: But it might not be as dire as it seems. Backup quarterback Hutson Mason helped the Georgia offense gain 309 yards on 37 plays in a lopsided win over Kentucky last week after Murray's injury. Mason had two scores himself. Todd Gurley also is in the backfield, which is huge for Mason and the entire offense. Georgia Tech is much better than Kentucky, but the Jackets have only beaten one team with seven or more victories this season (Duke, back in September).

HD picks: Georgia Tech 31, Georgia 28: Yes, Georgia has Gurley, but it doesn’t have its quarterback. Mason, who has 82 career passing attempts, is the next man up, and he’ll be facing a Georgia Tech defense that has made significant strides under Ted Roof and is led by Jeremiah Attaochu, whose 27 career sacks are the third-most by any active FBS player. The Jackets’ answer to Gurley will be Robert Godhigh, who leads all FBS running backs with 13 yards per play. Paul Johnson is 1-5 all-time against Georgia, including one loss as coach at Georgia Southern. With Murray out, this is the game in which Johnson starts to improve that record.

Boston College (7-4, 4-3) at Syracuse (5-6, 3-4), 3:30 p.m. ET, GamePlan. #BCvsCUSE. The teams revive their Big East rivalry as ACC teams in the same division. Syracuse needs a victory to become the 11th bowl-eligible team in the ACC, but faces a formidable task of trying to slow down Andre Williams, the top rusher in the nation with 2,073 yards. What makes the Eagles' running game so effective is their ability to wear down teams in the fourth quarter. Williams also has broken more tackles than any back from an automatic-qualifying conference, despite typically facing a loaded box. Expect more of the same this week.

AA picks: Boston College 28, Syracuse 21

HD picks: Boston College 27, Syracuse 21

Virginia Tech (7-4, 4-3) at Virginia (2-9, 0-7), 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU. #VTvsUVA. The Hokies had a bye week, after their tough loss to Maryland, to prepare for their in-state rivals. They need a victory in this game and a Duke loss to keep ACC Coastal Division hopes alive. Virginia, meanwhile, needs a victory to avoid its worst season since 1982, when the Cavaliers finished 2-9 under first-year coach George Welsh. Virginia Tech has won nine in a row in the series and has the clear edge on defense.

AA picks: Virginia Tech 30, Virginia 7

HD picks: Virginia Tech 28, Virginia 24

No. 6 Clemson (10-1, 7-1) at No. 10 South Carolina (9-2, 6-2 SEC), 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2. #CLEMvsSC. Tajh Boyd and his teammates do not need anybody to tell them what is on the line. They need a victory, and they need it badly. South Carolina has looked beatable for most of the season, but Connor Shaw is one of the guttiest quarterbacks in America and a healthy Mike Davis is one of the toughest runners the Tigers will face this season.

AA picks: South Carolina 30, Clemson 28: I give the edge to Jadeveon Clowney and his linemates against the Clemson offensive line, and they will be the difference in the game.

HD picks: Clemson 31, South Carolina 28. For the first time in four games, Clemson will not lose the turnover battle. (South Carolina overall has won in that key statistic 9-3 in the past four meetings.) For the first time in three games, Boyd will have the upper hand – and the pass protection he needs to do it (he’s been sacked 14 times for minus-15 yards). The one thing that won’t change too much is that Clemson will continue to struggle to run the ball against the Gamecocks. But Boyd will stay on his feet long enough to sustain drives and snap a four-game losing streak in the series.

ACC Power Rankings: Week 13

November, 25, 2013
11/25/13
9:00
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Sorting out the ACC after Week 13:

1. Florida State (10-0, 8-0 ACC; LW: No. 1): The Seminoles were their usual dominant selves in an 80-14 dismantling of Idaho, leaving little doubt their on-field performance this season makes them worthy of playing for a national championship. They will try to close their first unbeaten regular season since 1999 against sinking in-state rival Florida.

2. Clemson (10-1, 7-1; LW: No. 2): As expected, the Tigers had no problems against The Citadel. This week will not be so easy as they try to end a four-game losing streak to South Carolina. Tajh Boyd has thrown 12 touchdown passes to two interceptions in his past three games, and is completing 78.3 percent of his passes in that span.

3. Duke (9-2, 5-2; LW: No. 3): We could be on the verge of witnessing history. After beating Wake Forest 28-21 on Saturday, Duke wins the Coastal with a victory over North Carolina on Saturday. Anthony Boone had his best game since returning from a collarbone injury, and the defense had another stellar fourth-quarter performance. Duke has won nine games for the first time since 1941.

4. Virginia Tech (7-4, 4-3; LW: No. 4): While it is true the Hokies have not looked so hot recently, they are the best positioned after Duke to make the ACC championship game. If the Blue Devils lose to the Tar Heels and the Hokies beat Virginia, there are several scenarios that favor Virginia Tech for a spot in the ACC title game. Plus, they own a 4-1 record in the Coastal and victories over Miami and Georgia Tech.

5. Miami (8-3, 4-3; LW: No. 5): The Canes ended their three-game losing streak with a much-needed win over Virginia thanks to their maligned defense, which came through with four turnovers -- two returned for scores. Concerns remain about an inconsistent offense and a struggling Stephen Morris, who was off once again in the win over the Hoos.

6. Georgia Tech (7-4; 5-3; LW: No. 6): No surprise at how soundly the Jackets dispatched Alabama A&M for a second win over an FCS opponent this year. Now comes the best opportunity in years to beat in-state rival Georgia, heavily handicapped because of injuries. Coach Paul Johnson has beaten Georgia only once in five meetings, and that came in his first season as head coach.

7. North Carolina (6-5, 4-3; LW: No. 7): The surging Tar Heels have won five straight and are playing some of the best football in the ACC. You could make an argument they deserve to be ranked higher. But they did lose to the three teams ahead of them in the power rankings, and their victories have come against UVa, NC State, Pitt and Old Dominion. Not exactly heavyweights there.

8. Boston College (7-4, 4-3; LW: No. 8): A bit of fortune helped Boston College beat Maryland on Saturday, along with a lot of Andre Williams. The senior running back has now topped 2,000 yards on the season, and folks across the nation are taking notice. Expect him to earn a few more votes in the ESPN.com Heisman Watch on Tuesday. BC now has a chance to win eight games for the first time since 2009.

9. Pitt (6-5, 3-4; LW: No. 11): The Panthers secured bowl eligibility following a 17-16 win over Syracuse, despite being outgained, losing the turnover battle and falling short in time of possession. Special teams was the reason. Aaron Donald came up with a blocked extra point, and a timeout call just as Syracuse was about to fake a field goal were the two big turning points.

10. Maryland (6-5, 2-5; LW: No. 10): There is no way around it. Maryland lost a heartbreaker to Boston College on senior day. Coach Randy Edsall decided to call timeout to ice kicker Nate Freese, who ended up missing the 52-yard attempt. When he got his second shot, Freese nailed the kick to win the game. The Terps did lose head-to-head to Syracuse but they are bowl eligible, so that gives them the spot ahead.

11. Syracuse (5-6, 3-4; LW: No. 9): Talk about losing a heartbreaker. Syracuse did, too, and now the Orange's bowl hopes are on life support with a game against former Big East rival Boston College to close the season. Terrel Hunt played better, but injuries have really taken a toll on this team defensively.

12. Wake Forest (4-7, 2-6; LW: No. 12): The Deacs put forth a great effort in a loss to Duke, jumping out to a 14-0 lead before ultimately coming up short. They will not make a bowl game for the fourth time in five seasons, putting a damper on a season that began with postseason expectations.

13. NC State (3-8, 0-7; LW: No. 13): Hard to say what the low point has been this season for new coach Dave Doeren. Losing to East Carolina certainly did not seem like a certainty when the season began. But everything has unraveled for the Wolfpack, who went 0-4 against teams from North Carolina this season. They will try to avoid their first winless season in ACC play since 1959 against Maryland this weekend.

14. Virginia (2-9, 0-7; LW: No. 14): The Hoos have lost eight straight, and have only one win over an FBS program this season. Virginia has now allowed 35 or more points in seven losses this season, and Greyson Lambert has come in to finish the last three games.

ACC Saturday setup: Week 13

November, 23, 2013
11/23/13
7:00
AM ET
Here’s one final look at what’s on tap today in the ACC:


Game: Duke (8-2) at Wake Forest (4-6)

What’s at stake: The Coastal Division title is on the line for Duke, which can win it outright with two more wins, against Wake Forest and North Carolina. A win would guarantee Duke at least a share of the division title, while a loss by the Blue Devils would send them into a tie with Georgia Tech, and also possibly Miami, North Carolina and Virginia Tech. A win would also give Duke a ninth win for the first time since 1971. Wake Forest, meanwhile, has to win out just to become bowl eligible.

Statistically speaking: All four of Duke’s running backs -- Jela Duncan, Shaquille Powell, Josh Snead and Juwan Thompson -- average at least five yards per rushing attempt this season. A total of 43.8 percent of Duke’s offense has come from its ground game this year.

Quotable: “This isn't a flash in the pan. We're going to be good next year if our team has the kind of work ethic that this team has.” -- Duke coach David Cutcliffe


Game: Virginia (2-8) at Miami (7-3)

What’s at stake: Miami still has a slim chance at playing in the ACC title game. It needs to win its final two games and hope Duke loses, for starts, so there is no margin for error against the Hoos. Virginia is looking to snap a seven-game winning streak and finish on a strong note.

Statistically speaking: UVa true freshman Keeon Johnson made his collegiate debut in the Cavaliers’ fifth game of the season after originally being slated to redshirt. He has 17 catches for 226 yards (13.3 yards per catch) and one touchdown. He’s on pace to have the best true freshman receiving season for a UVa wide receiver since Billy McMullen had 28 catches for 483 yards (17.2 yards per catch) and six touchdowns in 1999.

Quotable: “A lot of players on this team have been successful against Miami. It's one of those things you have to create that mindset, that balance of, we got two games left, and we want to play to the best of our ability to send these seniors out.” -- Uva coach Mike London

Game: Old Dominion (8-3) at North Carolina (5-5)

What’s at stake: North Carolina would become bowl eligible with a win, completing one of the best turnarounds in college football this year. The Tar Heels started out 1-5, but enter this game on a four-game winning streak.

Statistically speaking: UNC freshman Ryan Switzer has the single-season school record with three punt return touchdowns. The ACC single-season record is four by Maryland’s Steve Suter in 2002. The ACC career mark is six, also held by Suter. Three of Switzer’s last five punt returns have gone for touchdowns.

Quotable: “The kids kept believing. They kept working extremely hard. They had great attitudes. And that's one thing that I can say about these guys: Their attitude after a game or going into a game has been the same each and every week. That has been very consistent, which is what we're looking for.” -- North Carolina coach Larry Fedora

Game: The Citadel (5-6) at (7, 8, 6) Clemson (9-1)

What’s at stake: A BCS bowl. Pride. Senior Day. There shouldn’t even be a whiff of an upset in Death Valley, and this should be an easy week before ending the regular season against rival South Carolina. Clemson has to keep winning, though, to help ensure a shot at a BCS bowl. If Clemson can defeat The Citadel, it will give the Tigers 31 wins over the last three years, the most in a three-year period in school history.

Statistically speaking: Saturday will be the final home game for Clemson’s 19 seniors. Only 10 of the 19 are scholarship players. The class has a 36-14 record over the last four years, the sixth-most wins for a class in Clemson history. That includes 24 wins over ACC teams, the most in school history in a four-year period.

Quotable: “He has I think been the best receiver in the country. I don't think there's any doubt about it in my mind.” – Dabo Swinney on WR Sammy Watkins


Game: East Carolina (8-2) at NC State (3-7)

What’s at stake: Pride. Recruiting. There’s plenty of history between ECU and NC State, as the Pirates are located in Greenville, N.C. The two teams met every season from 1970-1987, but since then have played just nine times. This one is important because of the state of both programs within the state -- ECU is trending up and NC State? Well, the Pack have lost six straight and are winless in league play. This is a chance for first-year coach Dave Doeren to reassert the program’s place within the state, and to avoid what could be an embarrassing home loss.

Statistically speaking: Freshman wide receiver Jumichael Ramos has 18 catches this season, and eight of them have been to convert a third or fourth down. Only one time when Ramos was targeted on a third or fourth down play did the rookie fail to convert and that was a third and 15 against Syracuse when he gained 11 yards.

Quotable: “I know what they're saying at that school. Those things have been talked about here. We feel like we have a lot to prove, probably more than them to be honest with you. It's a game that means a lot for a lot of reasons.” – NC State coach Dave Doeren

Game: Pitt (5-5) at Syracuse (5-5)

What’s at stake: Bowl eligibility and bragging rights. These former Big East teams will play for the first time as ACC opponents, and one of them will finish bowl eligible. The loser of the game will have one more chance to reach the six-win mark in the regular-season finale. This is also a chance for Pitt to redeem itself from last year’s 14-13 loss to the Orange.

Statistically speaking: S Ray Vinopal has created four turnovers in his last two games, including a forced fumble and recovery to set up a Panthers’ touchdown against North Carolina.

Quotable: “With the push towards the big mega-conferences, to some degree, I'm saddened that some of the rivalries are not played anymore. We don't play West Virginia anymore. That was a great game. So I'm glad that we are able to do two things, first and foremost, this week playing a Pitt team that we've been playing for the last 55 years; I think it's great for the fans in both towns and for the fans in the northeast that have watched these games for so many years,” -- Syracuse coach Scott Shafer

Game: Alabama A&M (4-7) at Georgia Tech (6-4)

What’s at stake: It’s the first meeting between the schools, and the first time Georgia Tech will play a team from the SWAC, and the first time coach Paul Johnson will coach against a team from that conference. As far as the ACC race goes, Georgia Tech has to wait and see how it plays out, as the Jackets have wrapped up their ACC play at 5-3. They’re in sole possession of second place in the division this week. The only thing at stake here for Georgia Tech really is avoiding an embarrassing loss and using an unheralded opponent to tune up for the regular-season finale against Georgia.

Statistically speaking: Georgia Tech’s defense has not allowed a rushing play longer than 34 yards. The Yellow Jackets are one of just 10 FBS teams that have not allowed any rushing plays of 40 yards or longer. In Georgia Tech’s six wins this season, the defense has allowed just 11.5 points per game.

Quotable: “We could have -- had we played better Thursday night and found a way to beat a good Clemson team; we knew going into that game we had a chance. If we won that game, I felt like we had a chance to win the division without the tiebreaker or outright. There's still that chance. I think the Coastal is pretty well balanced and I don't know that there's one team that's head and shoulders better than the rest. You just step back and let the guys play out and see what happens.” -- Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson

Game: Boston College (6-4) at Maryland (6-4)

What’s at stake: Maryland is trying to break a two-game losing streak to the Eagles, and with two more wins, the Terps could finish the ACC season at .500 -- a huge improvement from the past two seasons under Randy Edsall. It would also be a strong finish for Maryland in what will be the program’s final year in the ACC before moving to the Big Ten. Both teams are already bowl eligible, so this game is about continuing the positive momentum, and positioning themselves for one of the better bowls.

Statistically speaking: BC is fifth in the country and second in the ACC in red zone offense, having scored on 21 of 22 chances. BC has scored 13 touchdowns (six rushing and seven passing ) and has kicked eight field goals to account for their 18 scores from inside the red zone.

Quotable: “I think Andre is an outstanding football player. The answer to that is yes. The definition is being a dominant football player, leading rusher in America. High, high character. A great human being. A real student-athlete. Certainly extremely valuable to our football team. I would say he fits all that criteria.” -- BC coach Steve Addazio on whether RB Andre Williams is a Heisman contender

Game: Idaho (1-9) at (2, 2, 2) Florida State (10-0)

What’s at stake: The national championship. It doesn’t change for Florida State, which must win out to maintain its No. 2 spot in the BCS standings.

Statistically speaking: The Seminoles have outscored their opponents 170-21 before halftime during their last five games -- a stretch that featured two top 10 opponents (No. 3 Clemson and No. 7 Miami). During the five-game span, FSU has nearly tripled its opponent’s yardage in the first half -- averaging 301 yards before halftime and allowing just 110 yards to opponents. With Florida State resting most of its starters for the better portion of the second half in these games, opponents have gained nearly 50 percent more yards after halftime (156.8).

Quotable: “We have played good football, but there are still things we need to clean up and we know that. We have not played our best football yet in my opinion.” -- Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher

ACC predictions: Week 13

November, 21, 2013
11/21/13
9:00
AM ET
Hard to believe that only two weeks remain in the regular season. Andrea is clinging to a one-game lead on Heather in the overall predictions standings at 71-20, after they each went 4-2 last week. Neither saw Maryland coming into Blacksburg, Va., and upsetting Virginia Tech. Bet we were not alone there.

On to the picks!

OLD DOMINION (8-3) at NORTH CAROLINA (5-5), noon, ESPN3. #ODUvsUNC. The Tar Heels are going for their fifth straight win and bowl eligibility against a team that is 0-2 against ACC competition already this year. Old Dominion has put up some points this season, but the Tar Heels' D has been vastly improved in this recent winning streak and will be able to shut the Monarchs down. With another punt return for score, Ryan Switzer would tie the ACC single-season record.

AA picks: North Carolina 40, Old Dominion 17

HD's pick: North Carolina 44, Old Dominion 24

DUKE (8-2, 4-2) at WAKE FOREST (4-6, 2-5), noon, ESPN2. #DUKEvsWF. Before winning last season, Duke had lost 12 straight games to the Deacs. But the Blue Devils today are the superior program, with better athletes all the way around. They have successfully used two quarterbacks all season, and their defense is filled with young talent and playmakers at linebacker. Duke is 3-0 on the road and should pick up another win against an offensively challenged Deacs team still trying to find some answers with Michael Campanaro out.

AA picks: Duke 35, Wake Forest 20

HD's pick: Duke 24, Wake Forest 21

CITADEL (5-6) at No. 7 CLEMSON (9-1), noon, ESPN3. #CITvsCLEM. It's senior day at Clemson, giving the Tigers the opportunity to honor Tajh Boyd and his fellow seniors. The question is just how much Boyd will play after bruising his collarbone last week, especially with a big game looming next week against South Carolina. Coach Dabo Swinney says he prefers to have an FCS opponent in this slot, giving the Tigers ample time to prepare for their in-state nemesis.

AA picks: Clemson 56, The Citadel 3

HD's pick: Clemson 45, The Citadel 10

VIRGINIA (2-8, 0-6) at MIAMI (7-3, 3-3), noon, ESPNU. #UVAvsMIA. Miami's issues against UVa are common knowledge, so this game sets up to be closer than what some might anticipate. Plus, the Hurricanes have lost three straight after a 7-0 start and have seen their defense drop off considerably. Virginia does not scream offensive juggernaut, but neither did Virginia Tech and the Hokies racked up 42 points in a win two weeks ago. The Hoos have a solid back in Kevin Parks, No. 3 in the ACC in rushing, and a good tight end in Jake McGee, who will make some plays, but ultimately, Stephen Morris and the Miami offense will make a few more plays to win.

AA picks: Miami 28, Virginia 27

HD's pick: Miami 34, Virginia 24

EAST CAROLINA (8-2) at NC STATE (3-7), ESPN3. #ECUvsNCST. The Pirates took down North Carolina earlier this year, nearly beat Virginia Tech, and go into this game as the favorites. NC State has looked like a ragged bunch, losing six straight in its worst season since 2006. There is no doubt East Carolina has the much better quarterback, as Shane Carden has turned in an outstanding season. But NC State is going to find a way to dig deep and come out with a win thanks to a few big plays from its pass game.

AA picks: NC State 28, East Carolina 24

HD's pick: East Carolina 41, NC State 14: ECU is No. 10 in the country in scoring offense at 41.5 points per game, and Carden leads the No. 8 passing offense in the country. The Pirates undoubtedly have the edge at quarterback, as NC State has struggled with both Brandon Mitchell and Pete Thomas. The two have combined for 15 interceptions and five touchdowns. Carden threw that many TDs by himself last week. If North Carolina was embarrassed by the Pirates at home, there’s no reason to believe the Wolfpack will fare much better. ECU is a solid eight-win team that, unlike NC State, is bowl eligible.

PITT (5-5, 2-4) at SYRACUSE (5-5, 3-3), 12:30 p.m., ESPN3. #PITTvsCUSE. This game is a toss-up, as is nearly every league game these two teams have played this season (excluding Clemson and Florida State). Both are coming off losses, and both need one win for bowl eligibility. The problem for the Panthers is they have no real identity on offense. Syracuse does, and that is pounding the football. The Orange will get enough out of their run game and keep Aaron Donald at bay to win a close one.

AA picks: Syracuse 24, Pitt 23

HD's pick: Syracuse 21, Pitt 17

ALABAMA A&M (4-7) at GEORGIA TECH (6-4), 1:30 p.m., ESPN3. #AAMUvsGT. Like Clemson and Florida State, Georgia Tech also gets a warm-up game before it closes with its in-state rival next week. Coach Paul Johnson says the focus is on getting better at what his team does this week. You can bet Robert Godhigh will have another terrific performance, following his 100-yard rushing/100-yard receiving day against Clemson. Godhigh is on pace to set the ACC mark for highest average yards per carry, currently at 9.5.

AA picks: Georgia Tech 55, Alabama A&M 3

HD's pick: Georgia Tech 56, Alabama A&M 10

IDAHO (1-9) at No. 2 FLORIDA STATE (10-0), 3:30 p.m., ESPNU. #IDAHOvsFSU. Once again, the question is how long will Jimbo Fisher keep his starters in, especially with a bigger game against rival Florida looming. This also seems as good a time as any to get backup quarterback Sean Maguire some reps. Idaho is one of the worst teams in the entire country, and this game should be out of hand by the end of the first quarter.

AA picks: Florida State 65, Idaho 0

HD's pick: FSU 72, Idaho 3

BOSTON COLLEGE (6-4, 3-3) at MARYLAND (6-4, 2-4), 3:30 p.m., ESPN3. #BCvsMD. This may have been the toughest game to pick this week. Maryland is coming off an impressive win at Virginia Tech, while Andre Williams has put together two straight games of incredible performances. So which direction will this game go? It is hard to pick against the Eagles given what Williams and the offensive line have done this season. Simply put, they have worn the opposition down. Maryland has had injuries to contend with on defense, so I think BC will end up wearing the Terps down in the end.

AA picks: BC 24, Maryland 21

HD's pick: Maryland 21, Boston College 17: This game could go either way, but with it being the final home game in Byrd Stadium, it was hard to pick against the Terps. More importantly, Maryland has fared well this year in stopping the run, and is ranked No. 30 in the country in rushing defense, holding opponents to 139.8 yards per game. Boston College has made its living this fall with its running game, and Williams is certainly no secret. The Terps will be looking to slow down the ACC’s all-time single-season rushing leader, and they’ve also got the advantage in quarterback with C.J. Brown.

Friday mailblog

November, 15, 2013
11/15/13
4:00
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In case you missed it, the mobile office has moved to ... Oregon. But I'm still with you at heart. And in the mailbag ...

Hey, whaddaya know, there's a Georgia Tech fan in Portland!

[+] EnlargePaul Johnson
Mitch Stringer/USA TODAY SportsGeorgia Tech coach Paul Johnson needs QB Vad Lee to improve on his passing.
James Meinke in Portland, Oregon writes: So, been thinking about it here lately, and as a devoted Yellow Jacket fan I have to ask if you think Georgia Tech has reached its ceiling with Paul Johnson and the Triple Option offense? The only thing I have to look forward to every season is a winning record and a shot at the ACC Championship. While I like the consistency and drama it brings every year of wondering who will play from the Coastal, Va Tech or Ga Tech, I want more. I believe it is time for a new head coach and new play style, perhaps Pro or Spread. And what will it take for us to get this so we can potentially compete with the bigger programs? Thanks for your time.

HD: I've said before that Georgia Tech can win and has won ACC titles (and finally a bowl game) with Johnson's offense. They key is to find a quarterback who can pass it well enough that they can resort to that when they're trailing. I always go back to the Orange Bowl I saw a few years ago against Iowa as the perfect example. Georgia Tech was good enough to get to the OB, but Iowa's defense was disciplined enough to stop them, and the Jackets had no answer in the passing game. They don't have to throw it 30 times a game, but they will have to be more efficient when they do to take it to another level, in my opinion.

Preston in Lewisburg, WV writes: Heather, with the way FSU's recruiting class looks right now, what are your thoughts on the future in Tallahassee and the impact it will have on the rest of the ACC?

HD: Right now the Noles have the No. 3 class in the country, Preston, and I expect much of the same. The Noles and Jimbo Fisher have proven me wrong. I thought they blew it last year. I thought last season was their best chance to get to the national title, what with every starter on the D-line leaving, six assistants leaving and the starting QB leaving. Instead, they're even better. Fisher has always been a great recruiter, but to me, this is really the first season that we've seen the results of that depth, to be able to reload from last year like they did. I don't see it changing anytime soon.

Doug Genaille in Woodbridge, Virginia writes: How is it that Virginia, a team that was 4-8 last year and is riding high at 2-7 this year is able to land two five-star recruits? What could you possibly tell those kids to get them to go there (unless it's that they'd get a good education)? If they want to stay relatively close to home, it would seem that there is another in-state school which would afford the opportunity to actually win while preparing to hopefully go pro (granted, maybe not win a lot until they get their offense straightened out, but with one of the best defenses in the country, the coaching has to be better, especially for the two five-stars who play defense).Doug (not a fan of Virginia)

HD: Well, um, yeah, getting a good education counts to some parents, Doug, and UVa can definitely sell that. It can also sell Mike London. He's one of the good guys who knows the state and its high school coaches as well as his own living room. UVa has a new indoor facility, it has a veteran staff, it can sell immediate playing time in a BCS conference. Clearly, the man can recruit. His biggest challenge now is not bringing in quality players, it's keeping them.

Ryan in Nashville, NC writes: We already know that Duke has made a bowl game, and if Carolina does. When was the last time both teams went to a bowl game in the same year?

HD: Had to have been 1994, because when Duke went last year, UNC was ineligible for the post season, and before that, Duke hadn't gone bowling since 1994.

Dion in Charlotte, NC writes: Is this the UNC team we expected to see all along, and what do you think they need to do the rest of the season to make it to a bowl game?

HD: Not necessarily, because I'd gather most of us thought Bryn Renner would stay healthy and just generally have a better season than he did. With that being said, this version of UNC seems to make the loss to ECU even more inexcusable. There are plenty of reasons to believe the Tar Heels can go bowling, though. I really like how they're using Marquise Williams and what he brings to the table in the run game, and the defense has been limiting the big plays. Larry Fedora and the staff and players deserve a lot of credit for the turnaround.

ACC's lunchtime links

November, 12, 2013
11/12/13
12:00
PM ET
Cannot wait for this 30 for 30.

ACC lunchtime links

October, 31, 2013
10/31/13
12:00
PM ET
#ACCpumpkins

What we learned in the ACC: Week 8

October, 20, 2013
10/20/13
10:00
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We learned plenty about the ACC in Week 8:

1. Florida State looks like a national championship contender. If you watched the Noles' complete and utter dismantling of No. 3 Clemson on Saturday night, you probably had flashbacks of the swashbuckling, swaggering days of old. This group has the markings of some of the best teams that helped Florida State establish its rep as one of the most feared programs in the nation. What we saw in Death Valley was merely a continuation of what we have seen to this point in the season -- an outstanding quarterback in the thick of the Heisman race, talent and incredible depth at the skill positions, a dominant offensive line and a suffocating defense. But to see it on the road, in a stadium where the Noles had not won since 2001, cemented this Florida State team as a contender. Now the challenge is playing this way for the remainder of the season. No slip-ups against NC State or Wake Forest. Beating rivals Miami and Florida. This team is completely capable of running the table and winning every game by double digits. Time for these guys to shed their underachiever label and get the job done.

[+] EnlargeJameis Winston
Scott Clarke/ESPN ImagesFlorida State signal-caller Jameis Winston was 22-of-34 passing vs. Clemson with 444 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.
2. Clemson does not. Clemson fumbled on the first play of the game, and it just went downhill from there. But here is the thing: Clemson is not a bad team. Florida State made Clemson look like a bad team; Florida State made Clemson look like Maryland. That is more a testament to Florida State than anything. Having said that, quarterback Tajh Boyd had perhaps the most disappointing game of his career. He has played poorly before and lost rival games before. But there was more on the line in this game than in any previous contest he started. Simply put, he did not rise to the occasion. Boyd and his teammates let the big moment swallow them up, and they let the mistakes they made early in the game rattle them. They were out of this game mentally by halftime. Boyd finished 17-of-37 for 156 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions, along with a lost fumble and a Total QBR of 34.7. His counterpart, redshirt freshman QB Jameis Winston, was the one who remained calm, confident and poised.

3. Miami has work to do. After the Canes struggled to beat North Carolina on Thursday night, just about everybody started to question whether they were a top-10 team. That win looks a lot different today after the chaos that unfolded Saturday. Miami is fortunate to have escaped Week 8 with a victory, and that will keep the unbeaten Canes in the top 10. Still, there are some issues to address. Two stand out: turnovers and QB Stephen Morris. To reiterate, Miami has 12 turnovers in its past three games. If the Canes keep giving the ball away at this clip, they will not stay unbeaten. Morris has been inconsistent all season, but he played his worst game Thursday against the Tar Heels, throwing four interceptions, zero touchdown passes and compiling an adjusted Total QBR of 46.1. All of a sudden, Virginia Tech looks like it has as much of a chance of winning the Coastal as Miami.

4. Wake, Duke, Georgia Tech bolstered bowl hopes. Believe it or not, Duke and Wake Forest are the class of North Carolina football to this point, the only two ACC programs in the state with winning records. The Blue Devils need just one more win to become bowl-eligible for a second straight season; Wake Forest needs two more after completely handling Maryland 34-10 in a game that featured quarterback Tanner Price scoring three different ways (passing, rushing and receiving). Meanwhile, the Jackets ended a three-game losing skid with a 56-0 win over Syracuse in the type of offensive performance coach Paul Johnson had been waiting on. The rushing game worked to near perfection (394 yards, 14 different rushers), and perhaps best of all, the Jackets had zero penalties.

5. Mike London watch. There is little doubt that Virginia coach Mike London is firmly on the hot seat after his team blew a 22-0 lead at home to Duke, giving up 35 unanswered points and losing 35-22. After building the lead, Virginia had five consecutive three-and-outs. Duke finally found a rhythm with both Anthony Boone and Brandon Connette after struggling early in the game. Virginia has now lost four straight, dropping to 0-3 in the ACC. The remainder of the schedule is brutal, too. Of the five games left, only one team -- North Carolina -- has a losing record. The Hoos might have blown their best shot at a victory the rest of the way. London is 6-13 since the start of last season, leaving you to wonder how much time he has left in Charlottesville.

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Scene and Heard: Top 10 Predictions
In a conversation with ESPN's Antonietta Collins, national recruiting reporter Gerry Hamilton breaks down the recruiting momentum building at Auburn and offers predictions for where the top 10 recruits will commit.Tags: Trenton Thompson, Kerryon Johnson, Jeffery Holland, Martez Ivey, Torrance Gibson, Cece Jefferson, ESPN 300, RecruitingNation, high school football recruiting, Gerry Hamilton
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