Tragedy strikes: Miami defensive lineman Bryan Pata was shot and killed shortly after leaving practice on Tuesday. The 6-foot-4, 280-pound lineman was in his fourth year with the Hurricanes. He appeared in 41 games, making 23 starts, and was expected to be selected in next spring's NFL draft. A University of Miami spokesman said a decision has not been made at this point if the team will practice today or play in the scheduled game Saturday at Maryland.
Best matchup: The Wake Forest-Florida State game is the best offering this weekend. The Demon Deacons and Maryland are moving toward a showdown for the Atlantic Division title. The Wake-Florida State game will be in Tallahassee, Fla., and will a be a nationally televised showcase game for the Deacons. It will be their opportunity to prove wrong any doubters - if there are any remaining.
Worst matchup: Kent State at Virginia Tech. The month of November should be for meaningful games. This is only meaningful for the Kent officials. No doubt their payday for this game was hefty.
The pressure is on: Wake Forest and Maryland. Nationally, those teams' accomplishments are not lauded as much as the ACC is criticized. With upcoming opponents like Florida State and Miami, respectively, both squads could make genuine statements this week - regardless of how down the Seminoles and Hurricanes may be this season.
Upset alert: No alerts to be sent out this week. Check back next week. The only possible surprise would be if Clemson's recent freefall is so bad that the Wolfpack could snare an upset in that one.
BCS implications/Most to gain or most to lose: Georgia Tech can clinch at least a share of the Coastal Division title with a win against North Carolina on Saturday. That's about as close to a certainty – in more ways that one – the ACC has at the moment. In terms of pure drama, wins by Wake and Maryland this week would create more buzz about their showdown on Nov. 25 for the Atlantic title.
Who's hot: Virginia Tech's Branden Ore has rushed for 489 yards in the last three game. For the season, Ore has rushed for 1,018 yards and 13 touchdowns and leads the ACC in rushing (113.1). … Wake Forest is No. 18 in the AP poll this week. The ranking is Wake's highest since Nov. 12, 1979. … Clemson's Gaines Adams has had a sack in eight consecutive games and leads the ACC in that category with 10.5. … Maryland's Erin Henderson had an ACC season-high 18 tackles against Clemson. … Quarterback Sam Hollenbach has completed 62 percent of his passes this season and is sixth on the school's career passing yardage list with 4,283 yards. … Georgia Tech's Calvin Johnson had nine catches for 168 yards and two TDs in Saturday's 31-23 win over N.C. State. He is fifth in school history in career reception (151) and third in receiving yardage (2,520). … Georgia Tech's Tashard Choice ran for a career-high 164 yards against N.C. State. Choice has rushed for 100 yards or more in four of his last five games and is third in the ACC in rushing (91.2 yards per game).
Who's not: Miami's Kyle Wright is 34-for-60 with three interceptions in his past two games. … Duke ranks last in 11 team statistics kept by the ACC. … Clemson has averaged just 111.5 yards on the ground the past two games (both losses). In their previous six-game winning streak, the Tigers were averaging 290 yards rushing per contest. … Virginia freshman quarterback Jameel Sewell struggled against Florida State, completing 17-of-32 passes for 125 yards and two interceptions. Right now, the Virginia offense ranks last in the ACC in total offense (262.5 yards per contest).
Must see TV: Compared to other games around the country, none of the ACC contests this week can be put in the "must-see" category. However, the Wake Forest-Florida State contest is certainly quite compelling. The surprising Deacons get a regionally televised game to display what has made them 8-1 to this point.
Newcomer/Backup that could have an impact: While his numbers were not gaudy, Xavier Lee did manage to get the Florida State offense going against Virginia. The Seminoles' 33 points against the Cavaliers were the most they've scored against any teams this year not named Duke and Rice. Entering the game, Virginia's defense ranked within the top four in the ACC.
Key stat: The Deacons have lost 14 consecutive games to the Seminoles and haven't won in Tallahassee since 1959. The Deacons actually haven't won in a game in Florida – period – since 1959 (0-17).
Take the line: Virginia Tech is a 28-point favorite at home against Kent State. The Hokies will take any flash out of the Golden Flashes. Record: 6-4
They said it: "It is a very sad situation. I obviously feel for his parents, his mother - who I had gotten to known well - and his sister. He was a young man who came in rough and tough and wanted to fight the system. He grew up to become a great individual." – Former Miami defensive line coach Greg Mark on Brian Pata, who was shot and killed shortly after practice Tuesday.
Injury update: Wake Forest's Jon Abbate and Josh Gattis both have sprained ankles but are probable for Saturday. ... For Florida State, wide receiver De'Cody Fagg (high ankle sprain) and linebacker Geno Hayes (knee) returned to practice Monday. Both are hoping to be able to play on Saturday. Also for the Seminoles, safety Darius McClure (dislocated shoulder) is likely out against Wake. ... For N.C. State, defensive end Martrel Brown is questionable with a knee sprain. ... For Miami, Kyle Wright is questionable with thumb injury and safety Kenny Phillips is out with a broken bone in his hand. Phillips may miss the rest of the season with the injury.
Worth noting: The ACC ties the SEC with five teams – Boston College, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest – ranked in this week's AP poll ... Six ACC teams are bowl eligible ... Eight of the 12 ACC teams have been ranked at least one week this season. … Atlantic Division teams have won nine of the 13 inter-divisional contests ... 14 of the last 19 ACC games have been decided by eight or fewer points.
Looking back: The Demon Deacons continued their magical year with a 21-14 victory over Boston College. That win, coupled with Maryland's 13-12 upset in Clemson, will likely make the Nov. 25 season-ending contest between Wake and Maryland for a spot in the ACC title game. Virginia Tech got past Miami with a 17-10 victory in the Orange Bowl. Georgia Tech virtually wrapped up the Coastal Division title with a 31-23 win over N.C. State, while Florida State may have righted the ship – at least momentarily – with a 33-0 decision over Virginia.
Freshman that impressed: North Carolina wide receiver Hakeem Nicks set the Tar Heel single-game freshman record with 171 receiving yards on six catches in the 45-26 loss at Notre Dame. Nicks caught touchdown passes of 13 and 72 yards against the Irish. The 72-yarder was the Tar Heels' longest play from scrimmage this year.
Bowl watch: Wake Forest (8-1), Georgia Tech (7-2), Boston College (7-2), Maryland (7-2), Virginia Tech (7-2) and Clemson (7-3) are all bowl eligible. Miami (5-4) and Florida State (5-4) are still trying to get the magical six-win plateau.