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November 15, 2006

ACC: Week 12 Breakdown

Joyner's ACC picks
Rivals.com national writer Andrew Joyner's predictions for Week 12 in the ACC.
Saturday's games:
Maryland 23, Boston College 20
Virginia 17, Miami 14
N.C. State 17, North Carolina 10
Georgia Tech 28, Duke 10
Florida State 24, Western Michigan 10
Virginia Tech 20, Wake Forest 17

Last week: 5-1 Season: 62-20

Best matchup: The Maryland-Boston College and Virginia Tech-Wake Forest matchups have their fill of intrigue and importance this week. The Maryland-Boston College game should go right down to the wire, but it is the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest game that is truly the best matchup. The 30-0 win at Florida State proved the Deacons are for real. However, it could be argued that the Seminoles are having one of their worst seasons in recent memory. Virginia Tech is a good team that has played well of late. There will be a lot of curious onlookers, including bowl representatives, that want to see if little old Wake Forest can keep this momentum going.

Worst matchup: Considering Florida State-Western Michigan could certainly be a competitive game (Western Michigan already has one ACC road win this season at Virginia on Sept. 16), the focus shifts to the N.C. State-North Carolina game. It's a rivalry contest for sure, but both teams are sliding badly. John Bunting is the ultimate lame-duck coach - his successor, Butch Davis, has already been named. It will still mean a lot to folks in the state of North Carolina, but otherwise it's just a matchup of two bad football teams.

The pressure is on: Again, you could talk about coaches like Larry Coker or even Chuck Amato, but the pressure is definitely on Maryland and Wake again this week. Both squads are sort of carrying the banner for the ACC at the moment. While their respective games this Saturday might not have direct impact on the Atlantic Division race, wins by both would help the perception of the ACC. If both were to lose badly, more criticism would be heaped on the conference, especially considering one of them will be a representative in the ACC title game. Of course, Wake and Maryland want to keep their momentum going as well.

Upset alert: Not sure if beating Miami qualifies as an "upset" anymore. However, Virginia has had a week off, Kyle Wright is out with injury, the game is at Virginia and it's impossible to predict the Hurricanes' emotional state at the moment.

BCS implications/Most to gain or most to lose: Georgia Tech has clinched the Coastal Division. Wake Forest will win the Atlantic if it defeats Maryland next week. Maryland will play in the title game if it wins its two remaining games. Boston College still has a shot, but needs to win out and needs Wake Forest to lose its last two games.

Who's hot: Over his last three games, Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan has completed 66 percent of his passes for 883 yards and three touchdowns. Maryland sophomore linebacker Erin Henderson has 10 or more tackles in five consecutive games. Over his last three games, Henderson is averaging 14.3 tackles per game. Clemson's C.J. Spiller leads all ACC freshmen with 759 yards rushing and eight TDs. Virginia Tech's Brandon Pace has made 19 consecutive field goals. Wake Forest freshman quarterback Riley Skinner has completed 69 percent of his passes for 1,259 yards and seven TDs. He leads the ACC in passing efficiency (145.8). Virginia Tech's Branden Ore has rushed for 1,090 yards and 14 touchdowns and leads the ACC in rushing (109.0). Virginia's Jeffrey Fitzgerald leads all ACC freshmen with 5.5 QB sacks.

Who's not: In its loss to Georgia Tech, North Carolina totaled just 211 yards and quarterback Joe Dailey completed just 13-of-34 passes with two interceptions (both in the end zone). Florida State mustered just 121 yards of total offense in its 30-0 loss to Wake Forest. That included just 26 yards on the ground and a combined 9-for-28, four-interception effort by the quarterback duo of Xavier Lee and Drew Weatherford. Duke is last in 12 major team statistics as kept by the ACC. N.C. State quarterback Daniel Evans has three interceptions and no touchdowns in the last three games.

Must see TV: None of the ACC contests this week would truly be put in the "must-see" category compared to some others around the nation. However, the Wake Forest-Virginia Tech contest is certainly quite compelling. The surprising Deacons get a prime time (regional) contest to display what has made them 9-1 to this point.

Newcomer/Backup that could have an impact: Kirby Freeman has backed up Kyle Wright for last two seasons - sometimes patiently, sometimes not. Freeman will get the nod again this week for Miami. His talents have long been touted, and this will be his opportunity with Wright out for the remainder of the season.

Key stat: The 30-0 win at Florida State was Wake Forest's first road shutout victory since 1985 against Boston University. The Terriers no longer field a football team.

Take the line: Maryland is a 7-point underdog against Boston College. Considering this is a game that will go down to the final minutes, that spread seems a little too high to us. Record: 6-5

They said it: "Yes, I think I'm back to normal now." Wake Forest freshman defensive tackle Boo Robinson when asked if he and the team had come down emotionally from their 30-0 win over Florida State.

Injury update: Miami quarterback Kyle Wright (hand/thumb) is out for the remainder of the season. Virginia Tech tight end Greg Boone (ankle) and safety Cam Martin are out this week. Offensive tackle Brandon Frye (ankle) and cornerback Macho Harris (shoulder) are questionable. At Florida State, tight ends Brandon Warren (deep hip bruise) and Charlie Graham (sprained ankle) are probable.

Worth noting: The ACC leads all conferences with six ranked teams in the AP and coaches' polls. Eight of the 12 ACC teams have been ranked at least one week this season. Clemson's Chansi Stuckey has caught at least one pass in 29 consecutive games ... Georgia Tech's Reggie Ball is eighth among ACC career total offense leaders (9,248) and 13th in passing yardage (7,835). Miami has held each of its first 10 opponents to fewer than 100 yards rushing.

Looking back: Maryland wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey caught five passes for 165 yards, including scoring catches of 65 and a school-record 96 yards, as the Terrapins downed Miami, 14-13.

Freshman that impressed: Wake Forest continued its magical season in most impressive fashion - it defeated Florida State 30-0 in Tallahassee. The victory ended a 14-game skid against the Seminoles, who were shut out for the first time in Bobby Bowden's tenure. Maryland marched toward a surprising season-ending showdown with the Demon Deacons. The Terps toppled a somber Miami squad. Georgia Tech struggled at North Carolina but managed a 7-0 victory, while Clemson got back on the winning track with a win over N.C. State.

Bowl watch: Wake Forest (9-1), Georgia Tech (8-2), Boston College (8-2), Maryland (8-2), Virginia Tech (8-2) and Clemson (8-3) are all bowl eligible. Miami (5-5) and Florida State (5-5) are still trying to get the magical six-win plateau.

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

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