Buffalo (0-1) at Florida State (0-1), 7:00 PM, ESPN3
What to watch: Florida State’s three-point defense. If you’re going to knock off a team like Florida State, and you’re a team like South Alabama, it helps to make 9-of-15 three-pointers. And if you’re a team like Florida State that relies on its defense, that can’t happen.
Random Buffalo facts: They’re not the Buffalo Bills…..they’re the Buffalo Bulls. Even the note on the top of their Wikipedia page says “Not to be confused with Buffalo Bills”. Oh, and Elizabeth Taylor and one of her 15 husbands, Mike Todd, donated the first live mascot to Buffalo in 1957.
Prediction: Florida State, 71-60.
Fairfield (1-0) at Virginia (0-1), 7:00 PM, ESPN3 (NIT Season Tip-Off)
What to watch: Virginia’s defense. The Cavaliers allowed George Mason to shoot 53% from the floor in a narrow loss last Friday. That’s not the Virginia we’re used to seeing. UVa did struggle against more athletic opponents last year from time to time – Fairfield is not one of those such opponents – but their defense was good enough to hold down the less talented teams. If it’s the Virginia defense we’re used to, they should shut down Fairfield tonight.
Random Fairfield facts: Imagine that: a mascot that actually means something associated with the University or its location.
Prediction: Virginia, 68-46.
Presbyterian (0-0) at Clemson (0-0), 7:00 PM, ESPN3
What to watch: Milton Jennings. The senior has admitted that he has played disinterested basketball from time to time. But in Clemson’s exhibition win, he had 14 points, eight rebounds and two steals in 26 minutes. If Clemson’s going to win games this year, he needs to stay interested against all opponents.
Random Presbyterian facts: Presbyterian used to have an annual rivalry game with Newberry College, where they played for a derby. The prize stems from a huge brawl after a 1946 basketball game when a Newberry student stole the derby off the head of a Presbyterian student.
Prediction: Clemson, 72-49.
Rhode Island (0-1) at Virginia Tech (1-0), 7:00 PM, ESPN3
What to watch: Virginia Tech’s rebounding. In an impressive 80-62 win in the opener over East Tennessee State, the only blemish was being out-rebounded 39-37. The Hokies don’t have a ton of size, but they should be able to handle the boards against smaller opponents, or they’ll be in big trouble when they get to the tougher portion of their schedule.
Random Rhode Island facts: There’s an entire Wikipedia section devoted to Rhode Island’s similarities to North Carolina, everything from the mascot to the color to the fight song. You be the judge.
Prediction: Virginia Tech, 84-61.
Morehead State (1-0) at Maryland (0-1), 8:00 PM, RSN
What to watch: Alex Len. He was unstoppable against Kentucky. But the sophomore had some good games last year – he had a two-game stretch against Miami and North Carolina where he averaged 11.5 points and 8.0 rebounds – but he totaled 41 points in his final ten games, including two games with no points. He looks like a different player – if he continues playing like that, he’ll prove that he is.
Random Morehead State facts: Morehead State’s mascot is an eagle named Beaker. And one time, this happened:
Prediction: Maryland, 81-52.
Last week: 11-1
Stetson at Miami, 5:30 PM, ESPN3
What to watch: Miami’s big men. Reggie Johnson and Kenny Kadji combined for 39 minutes, ten shot attempts, five free-throw attempts, five rebounds and eight turnovers in the Hurricanes’ exhibition loss to Saint Leo. It goes without saying that can’t become a trend.
Random Stetson facts: The Hatter mascot recently got a makeover, since the previous Mad Hatter with “crazy Doc Brown hair and large teeth” scared the children. Now, it’s this guy:
Prediction: Miami, 78-63.
Gardner-Webb at No. 11 North Carolina, 7:00 PM, RSN
What to watch: Marcus Paige. The freshman point guard is going to be the guy this year for North Carolina no matter how he plays. So he’s going to need to play better than he did in Carolina’s exhibition against Shaw (six points, 2-of-7 shooting, one assist and three turnovers). He’s going to have some growing pains, but he needs to start gaining some confidence.
Random Gardner-Webb facts: I suppose Gardner-Webb’s version of the Bulldog – the “Runnin” Bulldog – differentiates it somewhat from the 7,500 other schools that use it. He does give dancing tours of campus, so there is that.
Prediction: North Carolina, 87-63.
Georgia State at No. 8 Duke, 7:00 PM, ESPNU
What to watch: Duke’s offense. Georgia State was one of the best defensive teams in the country last year. Though the Panthers lost four of five starters, Duke’s offense has struggled some in the exhibition season and this game should be an indicator of where Duke really is offensively. Duke has potential to be a very good offensive team, but they lack a true scorer. Who – if anyone – can step up to fill that role, or will it be a team effort?
Random Georgia State facts: Georgia State chose the Panther mascot supposedly based on the Florida Panther, which was once native to Georgia. Of course it was.
Prediction: Duke, 84-62.
Miami (Ohio) at No. 6 NC State, 7:00 PM, ESPN3
What to watch: NC State’s rotation. Even in an exhibition game, NC State played nine people ten or more minutes and just seven played over 15 minutes. Jordan Vandenberg and Thomas de Thaey were thought to be rotation players in the post, but they saw a combined 25 minutes of action. NC State needs them to be productive, but head coach Mark Gottfried won’t play them just for the sake of having depth. Their minutes tonight should indicate how much he trusts them right now.
Random Miami (Ohio) facts: The RedHawks were actually the Redskins up until 1997, when they changed hteir name. Of course, the original nickname in 1928 was “Big Red-Skinned Warriors”. Oops. “RedHawk” was chosen over “the Miamis” and the ThunderHawks”. The Miami’s?
Prediction: NC State, 94-75.
Radford at Wake Forest, 7:00 PM, ESPN3
What to watch: The Wake Forest freshmen. Codi Miller-McIntyre, Tyler Cavanaugh and Devin Thomas will all start tonight, and plenty of other freshmen will see time. Radford is far from a juggernaut, but a convincing Wake Forest win might mean that the youngsters are ready to at least make Wake competitive.
Random Radford facts: The Highlander is a reference to Radford’s Scottish heritage. But I prefer to think it is a reference to this classic (HAPPY HALLOWEEN, LADIES!):
Prediction: Wake Forest, 76-61.
South Alabama at No. 25 Florida State, 7:00 PM, ESPN3
What to watch: Florida State’s turnovers. It’s always been an issue for the Seminoles, even against lesser opponents. In two exhibition games, Florida State had 25 assists to 33 turnovers, and starting point guard Ian Miller had eight turnovers. FSU has to cut back on that this year because they have less of a margin for error on both ends of the floor right now.
Random South Alabama facts: A few years ago, the USA cheerleaders were asked to stop leading a popular cheer after made free throws, which was, “USA, South in your mouth!” By all indications, they still do it.
Prediction: Florida State, 77-59.
Tulane at Georgia Tech, 7:00 PM, ESPN3
What to watch: Um, how about if Georgia Tech wins? The Yellow Jackets were so bad last year that they lost games like this – in fact, they literally did lose this game at Tulane a year ago, 57-52. Ken Pomeroy has Tulane 110th in his preseason rankings, and this is no gimme. But if Georgia Tech is even going to be decent this year, they need to win this one.
Random Tulane facts: Tulane was known as the “Greenbacks” and the “Greenies” before the “Green Wave” nickname stuck in the 1920’s. The pelican riding the wave had been used as a symbol in the past, but so had Gumby. The pelican stuck in 1998.
Prediction: Georgia Tech, 65-57.
Virginia at George Mason, 7:00 PM
What to watch: Virginia’s freshmen. The Cavaliers, because of injuries and suspensions, are going to be starting three freshmen (Justin Anderson, Mike Tobey and Taylor Barnette). Barnette will have to run the point guard against a pretty good opponent, and he doesn’t have any experience.
Random George Mason facts: George Mason really experimented with its mascots over the years. They still use the Patriot, and they also use this….thing named Gunston:
Prediction: George Mason, 61-53.
No. 3 Kentucky vs. Maryland, 8:30 PM, ESPN (Brooklyn, NY)
What to watch: Dez Wells. Maryland was projected to have a good year anyway, but the announcement on Wednesday that Wells won his NCAA appeal and would be immediately eligible changed the Terrapins’ expectations. It’s too early to judge how good they will be based on how they play against the defending national champs, but his impact should be obvious tonight.
Random Kentucky facts: Kentucky has three mascots: The Wildcat (a student), Scratch (a kid-friendly version) and a live Bobcat named Blue. They used to have a live mascot at games, but that stopped about 50 years ago. Here’s the Wikipedia quote about today’s Blue:
▪ Blue — A live bobcat (note that in American English, “wildcat” generally refers to this particular mammal). He lives at the state-operated Salato Wildlife Education Center near the state capital of Frankfort. Unlike the school’s two costumed mascots, he never attends games, because bobcats are very shy by nature and do not react well with large crowds.
Prediction: Kentucky, 79-64.
East Tennessee State at Virginia Tech, 2:00 PM, ESPN3
What to watch: Virginia Tech’s offense. Despite a ridiculously thin roster, first-year head coach James Johnson has said that he wants to push the tempo. I suppose anything is faster than the offense Seth Greenberg ran, but it seems like an odd choice considering his personnel. It will be interesting to see how it looks.
Random East Tennessee State facts: Here was the description given to Pepper the Parrot:
“Once upon a time, on one of the deserted Canary Island, there lived a giant parrot named Pepper. Like most parrots, he had aspirations of playing in the NBA and perhaps having his own line of breakfast cereals. But the big bird had one problem. He wanted to make people happy, but there were no people where he lived. So Pepper packed his suitcase and left his island home. As he flew across the ocean, he was swept up in a hurricane. Pepper, being the strong parrot that he is, fought the storm. Finally, though, he became exhausted and was forced to land. He fell asleep on a sandy beach. When he awoke, he saw a rainbow in the sky. He followed the rainbow to its end at ETSU’s blue and yellow Memorial Center. Since that fateful day, Buccaneer fans have laughed and cheered with Pepper, making him a very happy bird.”
Prediction: Virginia Tech, 72-59.
Michael: [discussing evidence that links George Sr. to Saddam Hussein] If this information was so damaging, why didn’t you just shred it?
George Sr.: Well, Saddam owed us money.
Michael: And you didn’t realize that he wouldn’t pay?
George Sr.: Your mom had a good feeling about him.
Narrator: Gob, getting the feeling he could not return a completely frozen dead dove to a pet store and get the full refund the felt he was entitled to, decided to join him.
Georgia Tech is still paying former head coach Paul Hewitt, who they fired in March 2011. Hewitt is now at George Mason. But he managed to negotiate a $7.2 million buyout over five years. There have been major attendance problems in Atlanta, although the hope is that the new arena, McCamish Pavilion (opening Friday), helps reenergize the fans. And the team is certainly as bad as it ever was under Hewitt. Second-year head coach Brian Gregory has a lot of work to do.
2012 record/results: 11-20 overall, 4-12 ACC. Georgia Tech’s best win (per Ken Pomeroy’s rankings) was against NC State, which finished 35th. Naturally, the ACC eats its own.
Reason for optimism: Big men Daniel Miller and Kammeon Holsey are juniors now, and both ended their 2012 playing well. Miller averaged 9.4 points and 7.3 rebounds in Tech’s final ten games while Holsey added 10.7 points and 5.7 boards in that span. Last year’s leading scorer Glen Rice, Jr.’s departure is probably a good thing for this team, and they have some really good freshmen.
Reason for pessimism: Even without Rice, Georgia Tech returns over 80% of its scoring. But the Yellow Jackets averaged just 60.2 points last year. They have a senior point guard returning in Mfon Udofia, but that’s not necessarily a good thing: he had 88 assists to 85 turnovers last year. Jason Morris and Brandon Reed, Georgia Tech’s other two likely backcourt starters, didn’t shoot well either.
Tobias Fünke: Do you see me more as the respected dramatic actor or more of the beloved comic actor?
Carl Weathers: Whoa, whoa, whoa. There’s still plenty of meat on that bone. Now you take this home, throw it in a pot, add some broth, a potato. Baby, you’ve got a stew going.
Tobias Fünke: Yes, that’s fine, but I would like to focus on my acting, Mr. Weathers. I did give you my last $1,100.
Carl Weathers: Let me tell you a little story about acting. I was doing this Showtime movie, Hot Ice with Anne Archer, never once touched my per diem. I’d go to Craft Service, get some raw veggies, bacon, Cup-A-Soup… baby, I got a stew going.
Tobias Fünke: [pause] I think I’d like my money back.
George Sr.: [via satellite from prison] Sorry, some of my students are arguing the significance of the shankbone on the seder plate. But we do not – not wag our genitals at one another to make a point.
None of these quotes really fit Maryland this year, but Carl Weathers could really make an interesting stew with Maryland’s mixture of returning players, the late addition of Xavier transfer Dez Wells and some very talented freshmen. Okay, that’s a stretch.
2012 record/results: 17-15 overall, 6-10 ACC. Maryland deserves a special shout-out for not embarrassing the league in the non-conference last year. Their worst loss was at home to Illinois, a team that started 15-3 before losing 13 of its final 15.
Reason for optimism: Dez Wells. The sophomore averaged 9.8 points per game at Xavier, but he was just a freshman. By all accounts, he’s been dominant so far this year. Losing last year’s leading scorer Terrell Stoglin might seem like a big hole, but Stoglin had become more of a hindrance than a help by the end of last season. Sophomore Nick Faust hit double figures in nine of Maryland’s final 11 games. Seven-footer Alex Len has put on 30 pounds. Everyone seems ready to take the next step up from last year while incorporating a class of very talented freshmen into the mix.
Reason for pessimism: Is there enough talent around Wells for Maryland to be an NCAA Tournament team? Faust was fairly steady for a freshman, but Len was all over the place last year, and he was more down than up. This is not meant as a joke or sarcasm in any way: Stoglin literally took such a huge percentage of Maryland’s shots (37.8% when he was on the floor, per Pomeroy) that it could be difficult for his teammates to get used to being more involved. And while this year’s freshmen are good, they’re still freshmen.
Gob: My gut is telling me no… but my gut is also very hungry.
Lucille: What’s a Forget-Me-Now?
Gob: They’re pills that create a sort of temporary forgettingness. So if somebody finds out how you do a trick, you just give ’em one of these, and they forget the whole thing. It’s a mainstay of the magician’s toolkit, like how clowns always have a rag soaked in ether.
Every ACC reporter ever has been sucked into the Miami vortex. And we’ve all been burned by it, too. Yet every year, Forget-Me-Now pills cause some of us to slot them them too high – this year, it was fifth. Maybe this is the year. The Hurricanes have already shown why trusting them is dangerous by losing an exhibition game at home. Can Miami be elite? We’ll believe it when we see it.
2012 record/results: 20-13 overall, 9-7 ACC, NIT (L 2nd Round to Minnesota). Miami saved its worst for last, losing six of its final 11 games, including a 78-60 home loss in the NIT to Minnesota that was not as close as even that score would indicate. Miami’s best win over anyone not int he ACC last season, per Pomeroy’s rankings, was against No. 72 Massachusetts. Their six non-conference losses were all to teams inside the top 90 of Pomeroy’s rankings out of conference: but they were still losses.
Reason for optimism: There are always reasons for optimism when it comes to Miami basketball. This year, Miami returns most of its best players from a year ago, including mainstay Durand Scott and starting big men Kenny Kadji and Reggie Johnson. Speedy point guard Shane Larkin ended the year on a good note, averaging 12 points and 2.7 assists in the final three games. They have a ton of depth in all the important areas.
Reason for pessimism: From a personnel perspective? There aren’t any. Miami is capable of being as good as any other team in this conference, particularly considering the Duke, North Carolina and Florida State rosters this year. But will they? Despite having Kadji and Johnson, the Miami guards tend to ignore them: in Miami’s final two postseason losses last year, Johnson and Kadji combined for 24 shots in 85 minutes.
Tobias Fünke: Boy, I sure feel like a Mary without a Peter and a Paul.
Lindsay: [saying how stress can lead to drugs] … like the stress you put on George Michael, even when he gets an ‘A’.
Michael: *Minus*, and he knows an ‘A’ gets him ice cream.
North Carolina lost a lot to last year’s NBA draft, including over 66% of its scoring and four out of five starters. There’s enough young talent and veteran steadiness on this team for it to have a good year. But in Chapel Hill, expectations don’t change much – NCAA Tournament or bust – but even North Carolina fans understand that this team’s ceiling isn’t as high as past UNC teams. Rarely are there “freebie” years like this one.
2012 record/results: 32-6 overall, 14-2 ACC, No. 1 seed in NCAA Tournament, Elite 8 (L to No. 2 seed Kansas). Obviously, Kentucky was playing very well last year and might have beaten North Carolina again anyway. But injuries cut Carolina’s title run short as point guard Kendall Marshall broke his wrist in the Round of 32 game against Creighton.
Reason for optimism: Carolina returns some of its best defensive players from last year (Dexter Strickland, Reggie Bullock and James Michael McAdoo). While the young Tar Heels wait for their offense to click, defense shouldn’t be an issue. McAdoo and P.J. Hairston weren’t needed as freshmen much until the end of last year, but both responded with some big names (particularly McAdoo, obviously). Carolina has a veteran backcourt with Strickland, Leslie McDonald (who redshirted last season after tearing his ACL), Bullock and Hairston.
Reason for pessimism: Their veterans have experience, but they’re largely complementary players. Even their young talent isn’t as elite as it has been in past years. There is no go-to scorer on this team and there may not be throughout the course of the season, which might mean that the Tar Heels are offensively challenged for long stretches. Carolina’s early-season schedule is brutal and could cause the team to lose confidence quickly. Oh, and freshman point guard Marcus Paige – who will be the starter – weighs 160 pounds soaking wet.
No. 8/6 Florida State (8-1, 5-1) at Virginia Tech (4-5, 2-3), Thursday, 7:30 PM, ESPN
Moments in Florida State-Virginia Tech history: This is the first time these two teams have faced off since the 2010 ACC Championship game, when Virginia Tech won 44-33. Since the Hokies joined the league, the series is tied at 2-2 and two of the four meetings have been in the ACC Championship. Virginia Tech leads the series 6-5-1 at home. Shockingly, this will be the first time FSU and Virginia Tech have played on a Thursday night. The Seminoles are 7-5 on Thursday night. They’ve only faced one ranked team in those games (in 1995, at No. 24 Virginia) and lost. FSU has been ranked in nine of the 12 games and is 4-5 when ranked (including three straight losses: 2006 at NC State, 2007 at Wake Forest and 2010 at NC State). Virginia Tech is 19-6 on Thursday night, including 11-3 at home.
Hey, FSU? Remember when you did this? The ACC needs you to, um, do this again. And soon, please. First wire-to-wire No. 1 team ever culminated in a national title win over Virginia Tech in 2000.
While we’re on the subject, remember when Virginia Tech’s defense used to make hits like this? Sigh.
Prediction: Florida State, 31-16. Yes, strange things happen on Thursday nights in Blacksburg. But Florida State has already done its Florida State thing for the year with the loss at NC State. The Seminoles understand what’s at stake for them. Oh, and most of what made Blacksburg a difficult place to play had to do with how good Virginia Tech was. This year, they’re not great. Virginia Tech has forced one turnover and committed seven in its last two games, leading to two straight losses. Florida State has actually committed six turnovers and gained just two, but has still won by a combined 53 points.
Miami (5-4, 4-2) at Virginia (3-6, 1-4), 12:00 PM, ABC
Moments in Miami-Virginia history: Miami doesn’t have the commanding lead you’d think in this series – just 5-4 – but they played just once prior to the Hurricanes joining the league, a 31-21 Miami win in the 1996 Carquest Bowl. The fact that series is tied at 4-4 since Miami joined the league says a lot about how disappointing the Hurricanes have been in that span (and also that Virginia used to be pretty good, too).
This is just about the only thing that went wrong for UVa last week against NC State, but it was unbelievable:
This is meant without sarcasm: it really is crazy how much Sun Life Stadium fills up (relatively speaking) after kickoff:
Sebastian the Ibis makes sure the frat guys go to the games.
Love the comment section after this video of UVa students rushing the field post-the 2010 win. “Didn’t we used to wear ties?” “We still do.”
Prediction: Miami, 37-33. Virginia has found some offense during its bye week, and its defense has played very well too. The Cavaliers are still rotating quarterbacks Michael Rocco and Phillip Sims, but the key to their success (or failure) will be on the ground, both running the ball and defending the run. Miami has let up at least 200 rushing yards in eight straight games, but has held six opponents to less than 215 yards passing. Virginia Tech’s 248 rushing yards last week were a season-high for the Hokies, and Miami is last in the league in rush defense by nearly 12 yards per game. Since letting Duke run for 182 yards, Virginia has allowed 122 total rushing yards in its last three games. Miami is 4-1 when running for 100 or more yards, but the Hurricanes don’t always commit to the run like they should. The Hurricanes should be well higher than seventh in the league in rushing, particularly since they have two of the league’s top-ten rushers.
Maryland (4-5, 2-3) at No. 10/8 Clemson (8-1, 5-1), 3:30 PM, ESPNU
Moments in Maryland-Clemson history: When people refer to Clemson “Clemsoning”, they’re generally talking about them losing to Maryland. Or almost, as was the case last season. The series is very close, as Clemson leads just 32-26-2 and just 17-13 at home. Maryland has been the most ACC team ever recently, beating four of the five ranked teams it faced in 2008 (including winning at No. 19 Clemson), but losing to teams like Middle Tennessee State and a bad Virginia team. From 2001 until present day, Clemson is just 5-6 against Maryland, though the Tigers have won the last two. Just one game in that span has been decided by 20 or more points, but considering Maryland’s roster has approximately 95 injuries right now, Clemson had better hope this one is a blowout.
Randy Edsall might want to find 20 more similar videos: he showed it to his team before last year’s Clemson game, and Maryland very nearly won.
Can you imagine if this happened today? After a Maryland come-from-behind win in 1985, the Clemson players jump a Maryland player.
Clemson Tom, you’re my favorite: “Crab cakes, football and ugly jerseys”.
Prediction: Clemson, 44-12. Against weaker opponents the last few weeks, and considering how well Maryland’s defense had been playing, it was easier to predict a Maryland win somehow. Clemson is not a weaker opponent. Also, Maryland has lost four starting quarterbacks – four! – and will be without star freshman wideout Stefon Diggs and starting running back Wes Brown. Really?! And seriously – Maryland now has to play at Clemson, host Florida State and go to North Carolina for its final three games? What did Maryland do to upset the football gods?
Boston College (2-7, 1-5) vs. No. 4 Notre Dame (9-0), 8:00 PM, ABC
Moments in BC-Notre Dame history: The Holy War is actually a relatively new rivalry that didn’t begin until 1975, but it’s been a good one over the years. Notre Dame leads 12-9 in all games and it’s tied 4-4 at Boston College. BC’s first win in the series came in 1993 when the No. 17 Eagles upset No. 1 Notre Dame at home. After Notre Dame started out with a 9-3 edge in the rivalry through 2000, from 2001-08, BC won six straight, including a 14-7 win over No. 4 Notre Dame in 2002. BC is 2-0 against top-five Notre Dame teams, which could be about to change this weekend. Notre Dame has won the last three games, but two of those wins have been by four points or less.
“Kind of ironic, isn’t it, that I cheer for Notre Dame and I’m not Catholic?” That’s not what irony means.
BC has a pep rally every year before the Notre Dame game. Here’s a clip from 2010:
And here’s Notre Dame’s video from its pep rally last year:
Game Day at BC, for Notre Dame? Here you go.
Prediction: Notre Dame, 36-12. It’s pretty simple: while BC’s offense has improved this season, it’s nowhere near good enough to do anything against Notre Dame’s stout defense. And BC’s defense has been pretty terrible all year: the fewest yards it has allowed to an FBS team was 337 to an injury-riddled Maryland team two weeks ago. Notre Dame’s offense isn’t great, but if Wake Forest put up 409 on the Eagles, the Irish should move the ball just fine.
Week 10: 3-2 (3-2 ACC)
TOTAL: 48-17 (21-11 ACC)
Virginia Tech (4-4, 2-2) at Miami (4-4, 3-2), Thursday, 7:30 PM, ESPN
Moments in Virginia Tech-Miami history: Miami won the first 12 meetings between the two teams (from 1950-94) and then Virginia Tech won five in a row from 1995-99. Neither team has had a streak longer than three since, and Virginia Tech has won three straight since 2009. The biggest win by either team at Miami since 2002 was a 31-17 Virginia Tech win in the Hokies’ last trip there in 2010.
In 2011, it looked like Miami would get the win over Virginia Tech. But then this happened:
And last year’s game was the first that was preceded by a special message from Metallica before “Enter Sandman” was played:
By Miami fan standards, this isn’t a great video, but I’m curious as to what is going on in the background of this one:
This is not meant to be a recruiting video. But it worked. I would like to go back in time and go to Miami for college.
Prediction: Miami, 24-21. If Miami wants to win the Coastal, the Hurricanes have to win this game. Virginia Tech is poised to do what it always does: win the division, even in a down year by their standards. But to avoid Coastal Division Groundhog Day, Miami needs to have a head-to-head edge. Duke is still alive as well, but the Blue Devils have two losses (one to Virginia Tech) and still have Clemson, Georgia Tech and Miami remaining. That Miami-Duke game to end the year might decide it, but only if Miami gets this win. Otherwise, Virginia Tech can lose to Florida State next Thursday and only need to beat Boston College and Virginia to win the division. (Assuming Duke loses to Clemson, that is.) Coastal Chaos, everybody!
Hard to know how good or bad Virginia Tech really is, but it’s also difficult to trust Miami against almost anyone. Still, quarterback Stephen Morris should be healthier coming off of a bye and Virginia Tech’s defense still has a lot of issues. Miami’s best chance to beat the Hokies is on the ground, so expect to see a lot of Duke Johnson and Mike James. Virginia Tech, meanwhile, needs to try to exploit this young Miami defense with some imaginative play-calling. I’ll continue to hold my breath waiting for that to happen.
Georgia Tech (3-5, 2-3) at Maryland (4-4, 2-2), 12:30 PM, ACC Network
Moments in Georgia Tech-Maryland history: This will be Georgia Tech’s first trip to the Byrd-muda Triangle since 2007, when they lost 28-26. Georgia Tech has kind of owned this series over the years with a 14-6 record, but just 5-5 at Maryland. It will be their first trip there since 2007, the final year of the Chan Gailey era (never forget). Georgia Tech has a worse record against Navy (16-9) than Maryland. Maryland head coach Randy Edsall has never beaten Georgia Tech (0-1 at Maryland and 0-3 at UConn). But the last three meetings have been decided by a total of 11 points, so maybe we’re in for a thriller! Set your DVR’s, everyone!
This doctor is using the Maryland quarterback situation as a starting point to teach us all about ACL’s. Sort of. Like, he mentions it in passing and that’s it.
Reggie Ball had a huge game against Maryland in 2006. No, seriously.
Who could ever forget Maryland’s unstoppable Jafar Williams? And is it me, or does Ralph Friedgen look skinny in this clip? (Relatively speaking, of course.)
“What’s the term, Rob? Flame spraying?” That is a quote from this clip, re: Paul Johnson being mad at a player:
Prediction: Maryland, 16-14. Guess who’s still alive in the Coastal Division? Georgia Tech! They’re like the Michael Myers of the Coastal, except Virginia Tech generally is their Laurie Strode. Killing them off might not be necessary this year, though. Last week, BYU held the Yellow Jackets without a rushing touchdown. Georgia Tech’s defense has looked better since they fired Al Groh, but that’s not saying much.
Georgia Tech seems to be playing uninspired football, while that scrappy Maryland team just keeps fighting. Of Maryland’s seven season-ending injuries this season, four have been to quarterbacks and one to their starting kicker. They lost C.J. Brown prior to the season, then lost three quarterbacks – Perry Hills, Devin Burns and Caleb Rowe – in the last two weeks. Converted linebacker Shawn Petty will be the next in line. He ran the triple option in high school, and he’s going to use some of that within Maryland’s zone-read offense (for more on that, check out this great piece from Testudo Times). Hard not to root for that bunch, and maybe wanting it more will finally somehow translate into a win?
Boston College (2-6, 1-4) at Wake Forest (4-4, 2-4), 3:30 PM, RSN
Moments in Boston College-Wake Forest history: When thinking about the ACC’s best rivalries, BC-Wake likely wouldn’t be among the first ten mentioned. Or 20, for that matter. But since 2003, the teams have played nine times and all have been decided by ten points or less. BC has a 5-4 lead in that span. Wake was able to end a four-game losing streak last year at BC with a 27-19 win, but BC had won the last four before that.
Perhaps my favorite moment in recent BC-Wake Forest history (albeit tangentially) is BC head coach Frank Spaziani saying this about the Eagles’ win over Maryland last week: “We had some spontaneous excitement in the locker room.” Whoa, don’t get carried away!
In 2006, a Wake Forest win at home over BC put the Deacs in the driver’s seat to win the league, and they rushed the field.
Um, this is a very cute cheerleader, but I don’t understand the music choice for this video.
A “welcome to Winston-Salem” parkour video? Yes, please!
Prediction: Wake Forest, 24-22. After all that spontaneous excitement in the locker room last week, how could I possibly pick against Boston College? Well, because they’ll be visiting the BB&T Black Hole of (Jim) Grobe at Wake Forest. And because they were facing Maryland’s fourth-string quarterback who was playing on a torn ACL a week ago.
Week 9: 2-3 (2-3 ACC)
TOTAL: 45-15 (18-9 ACC)
Clemson (6-1, 3-1) at Wake Forest (4-3, 2-3), Thursday, 7:30 PM, ESPN
Moments in Clemson-Wake Forest history: At this point last year, Clemson began to show vulnerabilities: their first loss came in Game 9 to Georgia Tech, which was at least somewhat understandable. But the Tigers would go 2-4 in their final six games.And the first real sign of impending disaster was two weeks after their first loss, at home against Wake Forest. Clemson hung on for a 31-28 win and arguably, they should have lost. They clinched the Atlantic Division against the Deacons, but would get blown out at NC State and at South Carolina to finish the regular season.
Oh, and Clemson Tom is tired of Clemson fans looking back at the past. This team is different. It’s Pawsome.
Prediction: Clemson, 27-16. Clemson has looked a little, well, Clemson-ish lately. The Tigers have won three straight since losing to Florida State, but in rather uninspiring fashion, allowing Boston College and Georgia Tech to put up 31 points each and then slogging their way through last week’s Virginia Tech game. Clemson trailed 7-3 early and while they eventually took control, they looked pretty bad, particularly on offense. Wake Forest is not much better or worse now than it was a year ago, and the Deacons under Jim Grobe have been known to pull off a few upsets. It won’t be easy for Clemson, but Dabo Swinney should have his team’s attention heading into this Thursday night primetime matchup. Wake Forest still has a number of players suspended or injured, though star wide receiver Michael Campanaro should make his return. If Clemson messes around too much with the Deacons, they might just get themselves beat.
Georgia Tech (3-4, 2-3) vs. BYU (4-4), 3:00 PM, RSN
Mascot facts: Cosmo the Cougar made his first (costumed) appearance in 1953, and the name derives from BYU being selected as a “Cosmopolitan school”. Seriously. BYU did have live cougars briefly, Cleo and Tarbo. An alum captured a cougar and her kittens and donated the little ones to BYU. Tarbo died in 1930 and Cleo was sent to a Salt Lake City zoo.
Oh, and here’s a nice “this is Sportscenter” commercial spoof with BYU quarterback Riley Nelson’s summer internship at BYUtv.
Prediction: Georgia Tech, 23-21. This prediction is based almost solely on BYU’s road struggles this year. The Cougars were actually fairly competitive in their last outing at Notre Dame, losing just 17-14. But they don’t have a great win on their schedule. It’s difficult to gauge how good they really are, particularly since they are winless on the road. But Georgia Tech is difficult to assess: coming off of a bye week (and firing defensive coordinator Al Groh), the Yellow Jackets thumped Boston College at home 37-17. It was the fewest points they had allowed since September 8th. (Of course, Boston College had the ball for a little over 16 minutes out of 60, so that helps. They still averaged 6.3 yards per play.) BC converted just 1-of-9 third downs and turned it over twice, which helps. But Georgia Tech’s offense can be its best defense when it gets going, and they need to hope BYU’s inconsistent offense stalls.
Maryland (4-3, 2-1) at Boston College (1-6, 0-4), ESPN3
Moments in Maryland-Boston College history: Until Boston College joined the league, there wasn’t much history. BC leads the series 6-3 (5-2 since joining the league), and there were only two meetings prior to ’05 (1985 and 1986). But perhaps the most significant game for either team was Maryland’s 42-35 home win over No. 8 Boston College. It was just BC’s second loss of the season, while the win brought Maryland to 5-5. Just a week prior to that, BC lost for the first time that season to Florida State. So close to playing for a national title with quarterback Matt Ryan, but it wasn’t to be. And Byrd Stadium helped grow its legend as the Bermuda Triangle of the ACC (hat tip to NC State head coach Tom O’Brien).
For the uniform buffs out there, Boston College will be wearing these Saturday:
This is UConn era-Randy Edsall, but someone edited a video to make it seem like he’s doing the Soulja Boy dance:
And for those who like to kill BC fans for not showing up to games, I’d remind them that this happened at Notre Dame after a BC win there just five years ago. So it is possible.
Prediction: Maryland, 19-12. Not a lot of scoring, and a lot of general hideousness. Although it will be interesting to see which quarterback plays for Maryland, Devin Burns or Caleb Rowe. Maryland’s not talking, as you might imagine, and there’s some speculation that the athletic Burns and the accurate Rowe could split time. It may not matter, though. It’s difficult to say that BC has given up on head coach Frank Spaziani, who appears to be on his way out. But things aren’t going well right now. The Eagles are struggling to run the ball, and the last thing you want facing a pretty good Maryland defense is a one-dimensional offense. The Eagles will hit some big plays in the passing game, but BC’s defense has been – and remains – pretty bad, even against some less-potent offenses.
Week 8: 5-1 (5-1 ACC)
Total: 43-12 (16-6 ACC)
NC State’s 17-16 win over Florida State two weeks ago was a potential season-changer for the Wolfpack. But after a bye week to bask in the victory, NC State (4-2, 1-1) is ready to get back to business at Maryland (4-2, 2-0). “This is going to tell us where we want to go, whether we want to just stay complacent with a Florida State win and that would be our season, or whether we want to go farther in the season,” NC State wide receiver Quintin Payton said.
Losing after a big win has been a bit of a trend in recent Wolfpack history. The best example was 2010, when NC State won at Georgia Tech and started 4-0 before falling in a close one at home to Virginia Tech. They got a huge win over Boston College the next week, finally beating head coach Tom O’Brien’s former school, a week before losing at a mediocre ECU team in overtime. They followed that up with a win over a ranked Florida State team before losing at Clemson the next week.
But in 2011, the roller coaster ride of NC State football seemed to even out towards the end of the year. They won their final three games, beating a top-ten Clemson team at home and then coming back for a win in the regular-season finale against Maryland.
The comeback is what’s key there, though: for awhile, it looked like the same old Wolfpack was back. They inexplicably crushed Clemson the previous week. Nearly three quarters of football later, they were down 41-14 at home to a two-win Maryland team. “You never want to put yourself in that position. Looking back, I think we tried too hard early. I’ve certainly never been in a situation where you had to score 35 fourth-quarter points,” O’Brien said.
And yet, they did: NC State scored 42 unanswered (35 in the fourth quarter) to win, 56-41. O’Brien knows that this year’s game will be different, though. “Their psyche at that point, they were a 2-9 team and now they’re 4-2 and they’ve won two in a row and they’ve won two ACC games. Certainly going to College Park has been a tough place for us to play,” he said.
But every Atlantic Division venue has been tough for the Wolfpack, seemingly: they are winless on the road in division since O’Brien took over as head coach. “It just means I’m a bad coach against opponents in our conference on the road,” O’Brien said dryly. “It’s my fault when we lose. I’ll try to be a better coach this week.” He added a derisive sniff.
Maryland has been one of the places NC State has had a chance to win a division road game more often than not under O’Brien. But Byrd Stadium is one of those sneakily difficult places to play for all ACC teams, not just NC State. In 2010, NC State only had to beat Maryland to win the Atlantic Division crown, and they led by 14 points late. But Maryland came back to win 38-31.
“It was cold,” defensive end Brian Slay said of his memories of that game. “It wasn’t a good trip to say the least. They spoiled our chance to go to the ACC Championship game a few years ago. So we’re going to keep that in mind and also just try to go out there and use what happened two years ago and be the first time in awhile that’s won at Maryland at NC State.”
NC State is 2-3 against Maryland under O’Brien and has lost eight of the last 12 meetings. This will only be the second time NC State and Maryland have faced off with NC State coming off of a win under O’Brien, and NC State is 1-1 in those games (including last year).
NC State has control of the Atlantic Division at this point after beating Florida State. The win over Florida State can revitalize this team for the second half of the schedule, but only if it takes care of a team it should beat.
The 2010 loss is still on the minds of this NC State team. A lot of the players remember it very well, and don’t want history to repeat itself. “(The team) was saying how two years ago Maryland ruined (Atlantic Division title hopes) for us, so let’s not let it happen again at Maryland,” Slay said.
Moments in NC State-Maryland history: Sorry in advance, NC State fans. But it’s the Torrey Smith game in 2010.
And sorry about this one too, but with a Doc Walker “locked up in the closet” reference and a long Chris Turner run, I had to:
But I’m going to make up for it now (from last year):
And from 2009:
And of course, the NC State-Maryland rivalry gave us this from Ron Cherry, otherwise known as one of the most important moments in ACC history.
Prediction: NC State, 26-13. Maryland’s defense is very good, but the offense is…not so much. And NC State’s defense is playing with renewed confidence after controlling Florida State’s powerful offense two weeks ago. At some point, O’Brien has to win a division road game. This feels like that point.
Okay, I went through and actually predicted this game by game because I’m either insane or…no, just insane. My ACC ballot was based on those predictions.
1. Florida State (14-4)*
2. Duke (14-4)*
3. NC State (13-5)**
4. UNC (13-5)**
5. Miami (13-5)**
6. Maryland (9-9)
7. Clemson (7-11)
8. Wake Forest (6-12)
9. Virginia (5-13)
10. Boston College (5-13)
11. Virginia Tech (4-14)
12. Georgia Tech (3-15)
*Duke and Florida State only face off against each other once, and I have Florida State winning. Ergo, Florida State wins the ACC regular-season. (But not the Tournament. I think NC State will win that. Since that’s the actual ACC winner, I figured I might as well go ahead and call that one, too.)
**Those 3-4-5 teams finish with the same record, so I just sort of arbitrarily ordered them because I didn’t feel like going back and looking at tiebreakers.
ACC Player of the Year: Michael Snaer, Florida State. NC State’s Lorenzo Brown, C.J. Leslie and maybe even Richard Howell will make a run at this. I think Miami’s Reggie Johnson and Kenny Kadji might also have something to say about this. But Snaer is a man on a mission, and while those other teams will be more offensively balanced, Snaer will be FSU’s best player on both ends of the floor.
ACC Rookie of the Year: T.J. Warren, NC State. Call it a hunch.
All-ACC First Team:
Michael Snaer, Florida State
Lorenzo Brown, NC State
Erick Green, Virginia Tech
Reggie Bullock, North Carolina
Mason Plumlee, Duke
(Honestly, they said “last call for ballots” and I panicked, writing down the first five or so names I could think of that I had been considering. But in hindsight, I think it’s a good list.)
North Carolina (4-2, 1-1) at Miami (4-2, 3-0)
Moments in North Carolina-Miami history: Sure, there’s the 2003 UNC upset over No. 3 Miami that essentially saved John Bunting’s job. But with all the recent twists and turns this rivalry has taken since, that one doesn’t seem as memorable. In a moment that summed up the rivalry throughout the Butch Davis era, the Miami players – down 20-0 in Chapel Hill in 2007 – began dancing during a TV timeout. Carolina didn’t appreciate it, and Brandon Tate scored on the next play to give UNC a 27-0 lead. (Now, UNC went on to win just 33-27, but still.)
Jacory Harris giveth, and….Jacory Harris giveth.
Imagining this guy arguing with Tom O’Brien about which team beat itself more, NC State or Miami, makes my head hurt. “Wieclaw, man….Wieclaw.” “He kind of looked like Sean Taylor for a second, man!” Oh, and “firing on all pistons”.
Prediction: North Carolina, 54-48. Yep. A basketball score. Considering how both of these teams have struggled on defense, especially Miami (and Carolina’s defense on the road), this figures to be a high-scoring affair. Which probably means one of the teams will win like 20-6. Carolina has looked like the better all-around team, and a 48-34 beatdown of Virginia Tech last weekend more or less proved that the Tar Heels are for real. Carolina has been much crisper offensively over the past few weeks, and that figures to carry over to the Miami game. They wore down Virginia Tech’s defense as they executed their up-tempo offense to near perfection. Tailback Giovani Bernard’s impact on the offense was on display against Virginia Tech as he turned ordinary-looking runs into explosive plays, and he will be back in his home state on Saturday in front of tens…of fans. Miami quarterback Stephen Morris put up 566 yards against NC State, though, so he could be in for a big day too.
Duke (5-1, 2-0) at Virginia Tech (3-3, 1-1)
Moments in Duke-Virginia Tech history: We’ll go the funny video route.
Bud Foster isn’t just a defensive coordinator. He can also surf.
I’m sorry, Anthony Boone. Still funny.
Duke safety Chris Tavarez was in “Avalon High”, a Disney movie. When you have a chance to see him act alongside another great in WTVD’s Mark Armstrong, you can’t pass it up.
Prediction: Duke, 26-24. It seems like too tall an order to ask Duke to go up to Blacksburg and beat an angry Virginia Tech team for the first time since 1981. But almost everything Duke has accomplished this year, particularly considering all of its injuries, has seemed improbable. Also, I’m not convinced that Virginia Tech’s players aren’t starting to give up on this season. They seemed demoralized last Saturday. All it will take is Duke sticking around in this one, or even getting out to an early lead. But if Duke reverts to the team it has been at times that can’t move the ball and/or turns it over, Virginia Tech will gain confidence. Duke quarterback Sean Renfree is questionable for the game, but backup Anthony Boone performed well in his absence. But Duke will need to run the ball effectively on the Hokies to win the game, and the defense will have to play as well in the first half as it has in the second to have a chance.
Boston College (1-4, 0-2) at No. 12/11 Florida State (5-1, 2-1)
Moments in Boston College-Florida State history: Well, this is recent history: BC’s Jaryd Rudolph was charged with secretly making an audio recording of two students having sex. We’ll just avoid comment there.
Not sure how I missed this, but a Boston College fan threw a fake flag in from the stands. That is just awesome.
This guy involves his daughter, a state championship and Tyga in a “Chop City” FSU rap.
I could be wrong, but I’m reasonably sure there are a number of personal fouls in this pump-up video.
Prediction: Florida State, 44-17. If Jimbo Fisher is ever going to trust quarterback EJ Manuel, now’s the time to show it. Boston College’s defense is horrendous. But it’s more than just a strategic decision: Fisher clearly didn’t trust Manuel to put his proverbial foot on NC State’s throat a week ago after he threw an interception. Even Manuel said he thought the Seminoles would have thrown more against the Wolfpack. FSU is clearly not “back”, as they say, but they’re getting closer. It would be nice to see Fisher trust himself, and his starting quarterback, more going forward. Bobby Bowden was a lot of things, but he was never someone who played not to lose. There’s something to be said for that.
Maryland (3-2, 1-0) at Virginia (2-4, 0-2)
Moments in Maryland-Virginia history: In 2003, there was a pregame scuffle between Virginia head coach Al Groh and former Maryland offensive coordinator (and current Vanderbilt head coach) James Franklin. It resulted in a bizarre moment where Maryland’s team got a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty by running onto the field just before kickoff as a group. And ACC fans everywhere I’m sure were comforted to see it was Ron Cherry meting out justice.
Prediction: Maryland, 24-16. Oh and also, pain. Virginia’s Phillip Sims had some nice moments in his first start at Duke before the Cavaliers were forced to go one-dimensional and try to make a comeback. But Maryland’s defense has been excellent this year. Virginia’s defense has struggled, but Maryland’s offense would seemingly struggle to score against no defense. This game figures to be a low-scoring slugfest, and I mean that in the worst way possible.
Last week: 5-2 (4-1 ACC)
TOTAL: 35-10 (8-4 ACC)
Boston College (1-3, 0-2) at Army (0-4)
Mascot facts: Army has always had a mule as its de facto mascot, but the Black Knight became its official mascot in the 1960s. They were known as the “Black Knights of the Hudson” before that, which was later shortened to the Black Knights. According to Wikipedia, the Black Knight mascot inspired this book called “The Black Knights God: Horror Anthology”. I find that hard to believe. But everything on Wikipedia is true, so.
The Black Knights will say, “I move for no man”, but then BC will cut their arm off and say, “Stand aside, worthy adversary.”
Prediction: Boston College, 44-24. Boston College continues to look better than expected. The Eagles also have the good fortune of playing a pretty bad team. Army is coming off of a 23-3 loss at home to Stony Brook. Of course, after Wake Forest allowed the Black Knights to put up 37 points, the stout Seawolf defense holds them to just three. Go ACC, indeed.
Georgia Tech (2-3, 1-2) at No. 15 Clemson (4-1, 1-1)
Moments in Georgia Tech-Clemson history: This is actually a very storied rivalry. The first meeting between the teams was in 1898, and Georgia Tech leads the all-time series 50-25-2. The bad blood dates back to 1904, when Georgia Tech poached Clemson’s coach John Heisman (yes, that Heisman). What was so attractive that he couldn’t resist? He got a $450 pay raise, 25% of his total salary.
And of course, that rivalry has led to videos like this one. This Clemson fan has a championship belt, poor lighting and a beer with a Koozie. What else would anyone need? Oh, great smack talk like: “The little honeybees are coming into town with their little honeycomb jerseys.” OR “Go ahead Paul Johnson, get your little triple, quadruple option going. It ain’t gonna work. It worked last year, but it ain’t gonna work this year.” Clemson Tom is my favorite.
Prediction: Clemson, 45-42. To say that both Clemson and the ACC need the Tigers to win this game – badly – would be an understatement. The ACC as a league has had some embarrassing losses this year, but Georgia Tech’s home loss to Middle Tennessee State is the early leader for the worst loss of the year. Somehow, though, whenever an ACC team has humiliated itself out of conference, it manages to embarrass the league further by beating a good team. Clemson’s defense hasn’t been great, and this feels like a close one.
Miami (4-1, 3-0) at No. 9/10 Notre Dame (4-0)
Moments in Miami-Notre Dame history: If a team converts a 3rd down and 40 or more yards, the game should end right there and that team should win. That’s pretty much what happened in 1989 when No. 1 Notre Dame came to Coral Gables to face Miami. Miami faced third down and 43 near their own goal line in the third quarter, but quarterback Craig Erickson found Randall Hill for a 45-yard gain. First down. The Hurricanes won 27-10 and went on to win the national title. This video also features Lou Holtz either eating or sniffing some grass.
And if you like Brent Musberger, awesome intros and Catholics vs. Convicts history, try this one out for size (from the 1988 matchup – and he calls Miami the “nouveau riche” of college football!):
Prediction: Notre Dame, 38-17. Miami has to have a lot of confidence right now, but the last time the young Hurricanes went on the road and faced a ranked team didn’t end well. Notre Dame’s offense is hardly a juggernaut, but Miami’s defense has been horrendous. Notre Dame’s defense, on the other hand, has been very stout and should keep even Miami’s explosive offense in check.
Wake Forest (3-2, 1-2) at Maryland (2-2, 0-0)
Moments in Wake Forest-Maryland history: Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe has beaten the teams he’s supposed to (and plenty he’s not supposed to) during most of his tenure at Wake Forest. Maryland seems to be the exception. He’s 5-7 against the Terrapins (for perspective, he’s 4-8 against Florida State) and 1-4 at Maryland. The only win came the year the Deacons won the ACC title (2006). And it’s been ugly: Wake lost 62-14 there in 2010 and a ranked Wake team was shut out 26-0 there in 2008.
Prediction: Maryland, 37-16. Wake’s best win of the year is going to remain the North Carolina game, in all likelihood. The Deacons’ offense is fine, but the defense is not great. Maryland’s defense, on the other hand, is surprisingly stout. And Wake’s offense is going to struggle without go-to receiver Michael Campanaro. Adding that to the fact that Byrd Stadium has been a house of horrors for Wake, this one could get ugly.