October 4, 2006

ACC: Week 6 Breakdown

Joyner's ACC picks
Rivals.com national writer Andrew Joyner predictions for Week 6 in the ACC.
Thursday's games:
Florida State 17, N.C. State 14
Saturday's games:
Clemson 31, Wake Forest 17
Miami 23, North Carolina 10
Georgia Tech 33, Maryland 10
Virginia 17, East Carolina 14
Alabama 34, Duke 0
Last week: 6-0 Season: 33-10

Best matchup: It might be hard to imagine, but the most relevant ACC game this week features the Demon Deacons facing the Tigers. If someone could have accurately predicted that this would be an important game, they should be doing something more important than predicting football games. The Deacons are off to their first 5-0 start since 1987, and Clemson's recent performances indicate that the Tigers are the best team in the league. This might be the biggest contest ever at Wake's Groves Stadium, where the Deacons have beaten Clemson the last two times.

Worst matchup: At this point, any game involving Duke would have to be the worst matchup of any week. It doesn't help that the Blue Devils (0-4) travel to face an angry Alabama team Saturday. 'Bama is coming off two consecutive losses, and this one could get ugly quick.

The pressure is on: The Seminoles face their first significant road game contest since the opener at Miami when they travel to Raleigh, N.C., on Thursday night. N.C. State has won three of the last five games against Florida State, including a 20-15 victory last season in Tallahassee. Florida State can't lose if it has any hope of capturing the ACC title. Bobby Bowden has already lost to his son this season. Bowden can't afford a loss to his former assistant, Chuck Amato. Of course, the N.C. State coach is feeling plenty of pressure, too.

Upset alert: An eye definitely has to be on the state of North Carolina. The Wolfpack certainly could make things interesting Thursday night for the Seminoles. However, the game to really watch may be the Virginia-East Carolina matchup in Greenville, N.C. East Carolina is currently favored over Virginia (2-3), and Pirate fans are always a little more rowdy when an ACC foe comes to town.

BCS implications/Most to gain or most to lose: With its victory over Virginia Tech last week, Georgia Tech holds a somewhat tenuous Coastal Division lead. The Yellow Jackets don't need any slip-ups, especially against Maryland.

Who's hot: Georgia Tech's Calvin Johnson has caught at least one pass in 29 consecutive games. Clemson's James Davis leads the ACC in rushing (102.4) and has scored two or more touchdowns in four consecutive games. He has had at least one TD in nine consecutive games. N.C. State linebacker Patrick Lowery leads the ACC and ranks 20th nationally in tackles per game (9.8). Wake Forest freshman quarterback Riley Skinner has completed 47 of 72 passes (.653) for 619 yards and two touchdowns. Skinner has yet to throw an interception and is three pass attempts shy of ranking second in the ACC in passing efficiency (146.7). Miami's Javarris James set a Miami freshman record with 148 yards rushing as the Hurricanes defeated previously unbeaten Houston 14-13 Saturday night.

Who's not: N.C. State is 117th in the nation in turnover margin (-1.75). North Carolina is last in the ACC and 104th nationally in total defense, allowing 402.8 yards a game. North Carolina quarterbacks Cam Sexton and Joe Dailey rank eighth and 10th, respectively, in the ACC in passing efficiency. Duke is last in the conference in nine major team categories.

Must see TV: Florida State-N.C. State has the prime-time spot and will certainly be compelling. The Clemson-Wake contest might be the slightly bigger draw because of the novelty factor of the Deacons' strong start.

Newcomer/Backup that could have an impact: Freshman Riley Skinner, filling in for the injured Ben Mauck, is not asked to pass a lot in Wake's offense. However, there will come a time Saturday that he'll be asked to make a key pass against Clemson if the Deacons are going to have a chance to win.

Key stat: The ACC's five ranked teams - Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Boston College - ties the SEC for the most teams ranked in this week's AP poll.

Take the line: Take Virginia (+6) at East Carolina. Virginia is not a good football team, but making East Carolina a six-point favorite over an ACC team not-named Duke is trying to project an upset that might not be there. Record: 4-1.

They said it: "There will be a lot of electricity. It's their biggest season since 1987. I know it is a big game for them, but it's a big game for us." Clemson coach Tommy Bowden on the Wake Forest matchup.

Injury update: Clemson's Chansi Stuckey has caught a pass in 26 consecutive games, including 18 in a row with two or more receptions, but that streak is over. Stuckey will miss up to five weeks after breaking his foot in practice this week. For N.C. State, starting linebacker James Martin is out (dislocated bone in his wrist) and Darrell Blackman is questionable with an MCL sprain. Florida State's Tony Carter is out this week with a knee sprain. Clemson running back Reggie Merriweather is questionable this week with a sprained ankle. Sophomore safety Michael Hamlin will return this week after sustaining a broken foot against Boston College.

Worth noting: ACC teams have started 18 quarterbacks through the first five weeks of the season, including nine who have made their first career starts. Wake Forest is tied for first in the ACC with 17 sacks. A year ago Wake Forest was last in the ACC with 15 sacks in 11 games. Clemson's Jacoby Ford returned a kickoff 94 yards for a TD against Louisiana Tech. He became the first player in school history to score on punt and kickoff returns of longer than 90 yards.

Freshman who impressed: In his first collegiate start, Miami running back Javarris James rushed 18 times for 148 yards and one touchdown in Saturday's 14-13 win against Houston. The performance was a school record for rushing yards by a freshman.

More Week 6 Conference Previews: Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC




 

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