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November 22, 2007
MEGARGEE'S ACC PICKS
Best matchup: Virginia Tech OT Duane Brown vs. Virginia DE Chris Long. Brown's versatility ? he's a former tight end who has played both tackle spots ? makes him one of Virginia Tech's most valuable linemen. His performance Saturday could determine whether the Hokies win the Coastal Division title. Brown probably will be lined up against Long for the majority of the afternoon. Long leads the ACC with 12 sacks and has recorded at least one sack in nine of the Cavaliers' 11 games.
The pressure is on: Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey. The whispers surrounding Gailey's future have increased in volume now that the defending Coastal Division champions have split their eight conference games this season. Perhaps the biggest complaint surrounding Gailey is his lack of success against Georgia, which has beaten Georgia Tech six consecutive times. If Gailey loses to the Bulldogs again this week, he may not get a chance to face them again next season.
Who's hot: Clemson DE Phillip Merling has recorded two sacks in back-to-back games. ? Florida State CB Patrick Robinson has six interceptions in his past seven games. ? Duke LB Michael Tauiliili has recorded at least eight tackles in eight consecutive games. He has averaged 11.3 tackles per game during that stretch. ? Georgia Tech TB Tashard Choice has rushed for at least 150 yards each of the past two games. ? North Carolina WR Hakeem Nicks has caught 37 passes in his past five games. ? North Carolina State DE Willie Young has 12.5 tackles for loss in his past six games. ? Virginia Tech CBs Brandon Flowers and Victor Harris have combined to pick off six passes in the Hokies' past four games.
Who's not: Clemson TB James Davis has gained 72 yards on 33 carries in his past two games. ? Duke QB Thaddeus Lewis has completed less than half his passes in two consecutive games. ? North Carolina State QB Daniel Evans has thrown five interceptions in the past two games.
Keep your eye on: Florida State's Preston Parker. Florida defeated Florida State last season in part because of versatile WR Percy Harvin, who rushed for 86 yards and a touchdown on only four carries before getting hurt. Now the Seminoles have their own multi-purpose threat in Parker, a sophomore who moved from wide receiver to tailback last week and rushed for 133 yards in a 24-16 victory over Maryland. Parker can line up wide or in the backfield, giving the Seminoles the same options that Florida has with Harvin. The game could come down to which of these two big-play guys performs better.
Numbers game: Bobby Bowden earned his 300th win at Florida State last week when the Seminoles defeated Maryland 24-16, allowing him to join Penn State's Joe Paterno as the only Division I-A coaches to win 300 games at one school. The victory also guaranteed Bowden would win at least seven games for the 26th consecutive season. Bowden owns an overall career record of 373-117-4 in 42 seasons. He leads Paterno (371-125-3) by two victories in their race to become the winningest coach in Division I-A history.
Injury update: Boston College LB Alex Albright broke a forearm against Clemson and could miss the rest of the season. Boston College WRs Brandon Robinson (shoulder) and Kevin Challenger (ankle) and DT Damik Scafe (ankle) are questionable for the Miami game. ? Florida State TB Antone Smith has returned to practice and should play Saturday after missing the Maryland game with a shoulder injury. Seminoles CB Tony Carter (shoulder) is questionable. ? Virginia's Long has a case of strep throat, though he is expected to play Saturday.
"It's not difficult. Really, it's not. Auburn showed that when they played on a couple of goal-line stops. There's an old saying, 'The bigger they are, the harder they fall.' He's a great quarterback ? take nothing away from him ? but it's not like we're going to go in there and give up because he's bigger and more agile at his size. It's nothing we can't handle."
"Any time you beat Virginia, it's a great feeling. But this game is so big. A lot of times, the games didn't have any real importance to it. It was more of a pride thing ? who wanted to win the game more. This one, you'll probably always remember."
"I take it very serious. When I committed here, I knew that was the deal, so no more red."
- Maryland TE Joey Haynos to TerrapinTimes.com. The loser of the Maryland-North Carolina State game won't be bowl eligible
"I just knew in my head that before going to the game, we were going to the ACC title game. It was in my head. I don't know about a lot of other guys, (but) I pretty much thought we had the game in the books."
"I think sometimes the teams we play, they put those rumors out there ? all the people we've got to compete against. I think they want those rumors out there as much as anything. But it's all just speculation and conjecture, and it's been that way for seven years. And I hope it continues because that just means we're doing some good things. I think our players are used to it now. I don't think our players even blink when they hear that stuff because it's been going on for a long time."
Bowl Implications: North Carolina State, Maryland and Miami probably are competing for one bowl bid. The winner of the North Carolina State-Maryland game becomes bowl eligible. Miami also can become bowl eligible if it knocks off Boston College. Florida State, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest almost certainly clinched bowl invitations last week by earning their seventh wins of the season.
Etc.: Boston College FS Jamie Silva has been selected as one of three finalists for the Jim Thorpe Award, which goes to the nation's top defensive back. Silva is competing with LSU SS Craig Steltz and Arizona CB Antoine Cason. ? Georgia Tech's Durant Brooks joined Cincinnati's Kevin Huber and Toledo's Brett Kern as finalists for the Ray Guy Award, which goes to the nation's top punter. ? Maryland QB Chris Turner will start Saturday's game with North Carolina State, but he might not finish it. "We'll start off with Chris and see how he plays," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen told The Sun of Baltimore. ? This marks the first time in history that seven ACC schools have won at least seven regular-season games. ? North Carolina WR Brandon Tate became the ACC's career leader in kickoff return yardage last week. Tate has 2,360 yards.
Steve Megargee is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.