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November 1, 2006
Best matchup: Boston College at Wake Forest. If anyone would have guessed that the best matchup in Week 10 of the ACC slate would be in Winston-Salem, N.C., they deserve a big pat on the back. The winner of this game ? especially if it is Boston College ? has the inside track to be the Atlantic Division representative in the ACC title game. In all honesty, it's hard to argue these aren't the two best teams in the ACC at the moment. The third-best team? That might be Maryland. Neither Wake nor Maryland nor BC were picked higher than third in the Atlantic Division during the preseason.
Worst matchup: North Carolina-Notre Dame might not be watchable. A hapless team with a lame-duck coach traveling to one of the most storied venues in sports doesn't sound compelling, but rather a setup for a slaughter.
The pressure is on: Larry Coker. The Bowdens, both Bobby and Jeff, certainly are right up there. However, perhaps no one in the nation is feeling the heat as much as Coker. After winning four consecutive games against lackluster competition - and then overseeing the season ugliest moment - Coker's Hurricanes fell at Georgia Tech last week. Now Miami needs a win just to make a bowl game, and the Hurricanes' schedule is less than favorable down the stretch. A win over the suddenly resurgent Hokies could quiet the critics momentarily, but it still may not be enough to prolong Coker's stay in Coral Gables.
Upset alert: At this point only history and tradition would deem it an upset, but Virginia has never won in Tallahassee. A lot better Cavalier teams than this one have tried but always encountered better Florida State squads. The same might not be true this time around.
BCS implications/Most to gain or most to lose: At this point, it's not likely that the ACC will place a team other than the automatic qualifier in the BCS - and many would question if they deserve that. Still, in terms of relevance, the Boston College-Wake Forest game has quite a bit on the line in terms of who will win that topsy-turvy Atlantic Division.
Who's hot: Clemson's Gaines Adams has had a QB sack in seven consecutive games and leads the ACC in QB sacks (9.5). ? Clemson's James Davis leads the ACC and is tied for second nationally with 17 rushing touchdowns. ? Over the last four games the Boston College defense has allowed only 28.8 yards per game rushing and has improved from 60th nationally (130.8) in rushing defense to 10th (76.5). ? Wake Forest's Sam Swank has made 10 of his last 11 field-goal attempts. Swank is 11th nationally in field goals per game (1.5) and 24th in punting (42.2). ? Wake Forest's Josh Gattis has had an interception in three consecutive games. ? Virginia freshman quarterback Jameel Sewell has accounted for a least one TD in five of his last six games, and has completed 58 percent of his passes this season for 934 yards and six touchdowns. ? Virginia Tech's Branden Ore became the first player in school history and the fourth player in the ACC to surpass 200 rushing yards in consecutive games after totaling 203 yards and two TDs in the win over No. 10 Clemson. Ore leads the ACC in rushing (117.4) and is 61 yards shy of becoming the 12th player in Tech history to rush for 1,000 yards or more in a season.
Who's not: North Carolina is 117th in the nation in both scoring defense and rushing defense. ? Duke is 101st or worse nationally in scoring offense, rushing offense, total offense, passing defense and turnover margin. ? After back-to-back wins over Boston College and Florida State, N.C. State has lost its last three contests. ? Clemson quarterback Will Proctor completed just 11 of 28 passes with an interception and fumble against Virginia Tech last week.
Must see TV: This week offers a lot of games worth watching, except North Carolina-Notre Dame. The best choice of the bunch? Probably Boston College-Wake Forest because of what's on the line. When was the last time ? before this season ? there was a game worth watching at Groves Stadium?
Newcomer/Backup that could have an impact: Sophomore Xavier Lee started in place of an injured Drew Weatherford last week and will do so again against Virginia. A certain faction of Seminoles fans have felt "X" is the answer to the offense's woes. We should find out if that is true Saturday.
Key stat: Atlantic Division teams have won eight of the 11 inter-divisional contests this season.
Take the line: Virginia Tech is a two-point underdog at Miami this weekend. Take the Hokies to win this one outright. Record: 5-4
They said it: "What I tell recruits is that I have a number of years left on my contract. I want to serve out those years and probably a few more after that." ? Miami coach Larry Coker when asked about his job status.
Worth noting: Wake Forest is 7-1 for the first time since 1979 and only the third time ever (1944, 1979, 2006). The Deacons earned a sweep of Duke, North Carolina and N.C. State for the first time since 1987. ? ACC teams have started 20 different quarterbacks through the first nine weeks of the season, including 11 who have made their first career start. ? Nine of the last 13 ACC games have been decided by seven or fewer points. ? Five ACC schools rank among the top 25 nationally in total defense.
Looking back: Something happened in Blacksburg, Va., to likely knock Clemson out of the ACC title game. The Tigers took a six-game winning streak to Virginia Tech last Thursday night, but saw their positive momentum disappear underneath a 24-7 loss to the Hokies. Much of league's Week 9 drama was reserved for late Saturday afternoon and evening. Georgia Tech held on for a 30-23 victory over visiting Miami, and host Maryland toppled Florida State 27-24. Combined with wins by Wake Forest and Boston College, the ACC might be summarized in this way: Upheaval in the Atlantic, calmness in the Coastal region and dark and stormy in the Sunshine State.
Freshman that impressed: Maryland wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey had two touchdown catches in the Terps' 27-24 victory over Florida State. Heyward-Bey had a team-high three catches for 57 yards, including scoring receptions of 30 and 5 yards.
Bowl watch: Boston College (7-1), Wake Forest (7-1), Clemson (7-2), Maryland (6-2), Georgia Tech (6-2) and Virginia Tech (6-2) are all bowl eligible. Miami (5-3), Florida State (4-4) and Virginia (4-5) are still trying to reach the magical six-win plateau.