2009 ACC Fearless Predictions
Week 11 ... Nov. 14 Games, Part 2
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Georgia Tech (9-1) at Duke (5-4),12:00 EST, ESPN2, Saturday, November 14
Why to watch: One win in Durham is all that separates No. 7 Georgia Tech from a trip to Tampa and a spot in next month's ACC title game. The Yellow Jackets needed overtime on Saturday, but shook off Wake Forest, 30-27, for their seventh win in-a-row. Lurking right behind Tech in the Coastal Division is Miami, who won when the two met in September, so there's little margin for error for the league's front-runners. Has the clock struck 12 for Duke? The league's feel-good story of 2009 lost in Chapel Hill on Saturday, snapping a rare three-game winning streak and keeping the Blue Devils a win away from that coveted bowl eligibility. They've got three more cracks at ending a 15-year bowl drought, and not one of them will be a pushover. Oddly enough, the improbable sweep of Georgia Tech, Miami, and Wake Forest would send the Devils to the league championship game on Dec. 5.
Why Georgia Tech might win: Duke is tired, banged-up, and short-handed on defense, which is no way to head into a game against a well-oiled triple-option. Since getting shut down by the Hurricanes two weeks ago, the Jackets have been cranking out the yards on the ground, rising to No. 2 nationally in rushing offense. In fact, that was the last time an opponent held Tech to fewer than three rushing touchdowns in a game. From QB Josh Nesbitt to backs Jonathan Dwyer and Anthony Allen, everyone has gotten involved with a machine that'll simply overpower the Blue Devil front seven.
Why Duke might win: QB Thaddeus Lewis and the Blue Devil were brought back to Earth by Carolina last weekend. They'll be back in the stratosphere, however, against Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets have been leaky all year on defense, allowing a whopping six yards a play and ranking 98th nationally in pass efficiency D. Lewis will get back on track through the air, with the help of budding receivers Donovan Varner, Conner Vernon, Austin Kelly, and Johnny Williams. Tech will put points up, but Duke has the firepower to keep pace in a high-scoring game.
Who to watch: The Yellow Jackets' secret weapon on offense is full-bodied WR Demaryius Thomas. No, he doesn't catch a ton of passes in this offense, but, boy, does he make them count. He's caught 37 balls, 32 more than any other Tech player, and turned them into 861 yards and five touchdowns. It's the conundrum when facing this attack. You've got to
over-commit to stop the run, but it leaves you naked four or fives a game when Thomas starts barreling downfield with the ball in his hands.
What will happen: While Lewis has the receivers and the opponent to keep this game interesting for a while, brief spurts of success are not enough to take down Georgia Tech these days. The Yellow Jackets will wear down an overmatched Blue Devil defense after halftime, pulling away and cranking out more than 300 soul-sapping yards on the ground.
CFN Prediction: Georgia Tech 38 … Duke 23 ... Line: Georgia Tech -12
Must See Rating: (The Legend of Jimmy the Greek 5 … 2012 1) … 3
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Virginia Tech (6-3) at Maryland (2-7),1:00 EST, ESPN360, Saturday, November 14
Why to watch: No longer in contention for the Coastal Division or an ACC crown, Virginia Tech gets back to the business of improving its postseason destination. It's not what Hokie fans have grown accustomed to in November, but it's the reality that comes with losing back-to-back conference games in October. Although hardly refrigerator material, Tech got back on track in its last outing, shutting down East Carolina in Greenville, 16-3. By losing to NC State a week ago, Maryland officially dropped out of bowl contention and sunk into the ACC basement. There's not much intrigue left in College Park, though an MCL injury to starting QB Chris Turner could create a glimpse of the future if sophomore Jamarr Robinson is forced to make the first start of his Terrapin career.
Why Virginia Tech might win: A lame Turner or an inexperienced Robinson is no way to go into a game with the Hokies. They've got the speed and the veteran talent to torment either passer into costly mistakes. From the outside, Jason Worilds and Nekos Brown have the explosiveness to run circles around a gimpy Terrapin line that's consistently failed in pass protection. Tech, bolstered in the secondary by Stephan Virgil, Kam Chancellor, and Rashad Carmichael, are have the nation's No. 8 pass defense, which will force Maryland to lean on a feeble, depleted ground game.
Why Maryland might win: Can the Hokies score enough to avoid the upset? Over the last three games, they've managed to average just 19 points a game and have struggled to move the ball through the air. First-year RB Ryan Williams has been fantastic, breaking the 1,000-yard barrier last week, but the Terps have the linebackers to keep him in check. Alex Wujciak and Adrian Moten are the mainstays in run defense, and young Ben Pooler has really come on since Demetrius Hartsfield was injured. In just the last two games, the sophomore has racked up 24 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, and a pair of sacks.
Who to watch: Hokie QB Tyrod Taylor has the arm to do much more as a passer. This is one of those times when the coaching staff might let him show it off. The Terrapins house one of the league's worst defensive backfields, which will create open spaces for Tech receivers Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale to run patterns without a whole lot of resistance. If too much attention is given Williams and the running game, Taylor will hurt Maryland over the top.
What will happen: As long as motivation doesn't become a factor, Virginia Tech has way too many edges on both of sides of the ball for this game to be tight after the first quarter. The Hokies will gang tackle Maryland ballcarriers, stripping the ball and frustrating the quarterbacks. Williams will roll for 150 yards and a score no matter how many Terps line up in the box.
CFN Prediction: Virginia Tech 34 … Maryland 13 ... Line: Virginia Tech -17.5
Must See Rating: (The Legend of Jimmy the Greek 5 … 2012 1) … 2
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Boston College (6-3) at Virginia (3-6),3:30 EST, Saturday, November 14
Why to watch: Although Boston College is tied in the loss column with Clemson, it needs to take care of business and scoreboard watch in order to win the Atlantic Division; the Eagles lost to the Tigers back on Sept. 19, putting them at a disadvantage in tiebreakers. BC is coming out of its first bye week of the season, a much-needed time to get healthy and get some rest before the stretch run. Streaky Virginia lost three to start the season, won the next three to get even, and have lost the last three to slump out of the bowl picture. The Cavaliers have bottomed out during the most recent losing streak, getting waxed by Georgia Tech, Duke, and Miami by an average of 24 points a game. The fate of downtrodden head coach Al Groh is about the only drama left around Charlottesville.
Why Boston College might win: Since taking it on the chin in Blacksburg on Oct. 10, the Eagle defense has stiffened, allowing an average of just 17 points over the last three games. And that was against three quality quarterbacks, Russell Wilson, Jimmy Clausen, and Dan LeFevour. Marc Verica and the nation's 119th-ranked offense will be no match for this unit. Boston College has been especially tough against the run, clogging the interior with tackles Damik Scafe and Austin Giles, and getting ample support from linebackers Mike Morrissey and Luke Kuechly. If the Cavs have to make plays through the air, they have no shot of winning.
Why Virginia might win: Sure, the Cavalier defense has buckled lately, but the secondary remains one of the deepest in the ACC and it's not as if Boston College boasts a scary offense. The Eagles are 92nd nationally and have piled up most of their points in two games against Northeastern and NC State. Erratic QB David Shinskie will have a difficult time navigating Ras-I Dowling, Chris Cook, and the rest of that athletic, hard-hitting Virginia defensive backfield. Without the support of a passing game, BC's top offensive weapon, RB Montel Harris, will feeling contact at or near the line of scrimmage.
Who to watch: Although Shinskie hasn't completed a ton of passes this season, he has helped elevate the play of young receiver Colin Larmond. Still a little raw, he has great size at 6-3 and 200 pounds, and can challenge the Virginia defensive backs on jump balls. In his first season of extensive action, the big-play sophomore has caught 21 balls for 449 yards and four touchdowns, providing a nice complement to sure-handed Rich Gunnell.
What will happen: Virginia has nothing left in the tank. Boston College still has plenty to play for in November. It'll show. In a low-scoring game, the Eagles will toy with the Cavalier offense, while Harris smashes the 100-yard mark on the ground for the fifth time this season.
CFN Prediction: Boston College 27 … Virginia 10 ... Line: Boston College -4
Must See Rating: (The Legend of Jimmy the Greek 5 … 2012 1) … 2.5
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