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September 20, 2006

ACC: Week 4 Breakdown

Joyner's ACC picks
Rivals.com staff writer Andrew Joyner's predictions for Week 4 in the ACC.
Georgia Tech 28, Virginia 10
Clemson 35, North Carolina 13
Virginia Tech 35, Cincinnati 10
Florida State 35, Rice 3
Maryland 27, Florida International 7
Wake Forest 20, Ole Miss 17
Boston College 27, N.C. State 21
Last week: 5-5. Season: 21-9.

Best matchup: Is there one? The ACC lineup lacks some star power this week. By default, the nods go to Wake Forest-Ole Miss and Boston College-N.C. State. The Demon Deacons are 3-0 for the first time since 1987 and the Rebels are reeling after consecutive losses to Missouri and Kentucky. That should make the "khaki and polo" bowl quite interesting in Oxford, Miss. The BC-N.C. State game has the pure curiosity factor. Will the Eagles win another game in double OT? Will this be the last game for Chuck Amato in Raleigh? Certainly enough drama there for an otherwise lackluster week.

Worst matchup: Given Virginia's recent woes, its nationally televised game against Georgia Tech could be ugly. The Cavaliers lost 17-10 at home to Western Michigan last week, and this game may have even die-hard football fans switching to Grey's Anatomy. An angry and perturbed Florida State team may take out some frustrations against overmatched Rice, making that matchup a contender in this category.

The pressure is on: Once again, the coaches dominate this category. Amato desperately needs a win - his job security is in serious jeopardy after last week's loss at Southern Miss. John Bunting did little to quiet the whispers after his Tar Heels escaped with a 45-42 win over Furman. Still, yielding 42 points to a Division I-AA team is hardly something on which to hang your hat. Al Groh also could certainly use a victory. A bad loss on national TV will not aid the Cavalier coach. The unreliable Florida State offense and its coordinator Jeff Bowden will also have many eyes on them, even against the Owls of Rice. The good news for embattled Miami coach Larry Coker? The Hurricanes are off this week.

Upset alert: Certainly not a visible one on this week's radar. There is a chance that N.C. State rallies around Amato and plays Boston College tight for a while, but that seems unlikely. The "not-an-upset-but-still-somewhat-surprising-pick" is visiting Wake Forest over Ole Miss.

BCS implications/Most to gain or most to lose: This category hardly seems appropriate anymore after the league's dismal effort last weekend. Of course, the ACC still has a BCS bid for the league winner, but it would appear now that no ACC team will be a true national title contender.

Who's hot: The Virginia Tech defense has two shutouts in its first three games and ranks first in the nation in scoring defense allowing 3.33 points per game. Since joining the ACC in 2004, the Hokies have registered a league-best six shutouts. Boston College's Matt Ryan completed 29 of 48 passes for a career-high 356 yards and two scores in the double-overtime win over BYU. With last week's victory, Tom O'Brien became Boston College's all-time winningest coach (69 wins) in his 10th season at BC. Clemson's James Davis rushed for 87 yards and two TDs as the Tigers beat Florida State for the third time in four years. Davis leads the ACC in rushing (91.3) and has rushed for a TD in seven consecutive games. Georgia Tech's Calvin Johnson has caught at least one pass in 27 consecutive games ... Wake Forest is 3-0 for the first time since 1987 and for just the eighth time overall.

Who's not: Most ACC teams. Virginia ranks last in the ACC in total offense (225.0 yards per game), 11th in rushing offense (51.0 ypg) and 11th in scoring offense (12.0 ppg). Florida State is last in the ACC in rushing offense (49.3 ypg). Florida State's Antone Smith and Lorenzo Booker have combined for 126 yards on 48 carries so far this season. Miami's defense has yielded scores in all seven of its opponents' red-zone opportunities. Clemson's special teams have allowed blocked kicks on three of its last six attempts.

Must see TV: Go play golf or mow the lawn. Boston College-N.C. State is certainly of some interest, and the Wake Forest-Ole Miss contest actually should be quite interesting. That said, most of the country won't be able to see it.

Newcomer/Backup that could have an impact: In his first career start, North Carolina quarterback Cam Sexton completed 14 of 20 passes for 265 yards and two touchdowns - but that was against Furman. The Palmetto State competition this week is a little tougher. Redshirt freshman Virginia QB Jameel Sewell completed 7-of-10 passes for 51 yards and rushed four times for 17 yards last week against Western Michigan. For Virginia's offense, those are more than serviceable numbers and might get the nod this week.

Key stat: Virginia Tech has won 34 of 35 games in September since the start of the 1997 season. Over the past two years, the Hokies are 7-0 in the month of September with a 270-to-33 advantage in points scored.

Take the line: The 4-0 Deacons? Has a weird ring to it, but take the Deacons (+2.5) for the outright win at Ole Miss.

They said it: "You don't have to ask me that question." Florida State offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden when asked if he's still avoiding reading newspapers and message boards that have criticized his playcalling.

Injury update: N.C. State's Darrell Blackman is doubtful with an MCL sprain. Teammates A.J. Davis (hamstring) and Luke Lathan (concussion) are questionable. Florida State backup MLB Jae Thaxton is out with a concussion. Wake Forest's Micah Andrews is out indefinitely with an ACL tear. Arby Jones has a less severe knee injury and is likely to play against Ole Miss.

Worth noting: Boston College became the first team in ACC history to win back-to-back double-overtime games. Four ACC teams - Virginia Tech, Florida State, Clemson and Boston College - are ranked in both polls. Four of the six ACC games played to date have been decided by seven or fewer points. True freshman Jeff Smith of Boston College is third nationally in kickoff returns (36.3).

Freshman who impressed: Virginia Tech defensive end William Wall had five tackles, including three sacks, as Tech posted its second shutout of the season - a 36-0 win over Duke.

More Week 4 Conference Previews: Big East | Big Ten | Big 12 | Pac-10 | SEC



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