Conference Stock Report

Last week was a tough one for the ACC. Miami losing to Clemson is a big hit for the league's chances to get two BCS bids this year. Just as important, key losses last week leaves open the possibility that as many as eight teams could finish the season with just six wins. This week's stock report looks at what each team has to do to reach the post-season.

Buy

Georgia Tech: The big question facing Georgia Tech was whether they could keep rolling after winning a huge game at home against the Hokies. Virginia was playing well and it looked like a potential trap game. Instead, they rolled over the Hoos in a monsoon. They racked up 447 yards of offense and held the ball an amazing 42 minutes. They put together a drive in the second half that ran off 10 minutes and 47 seconds off the clock, the longest in school history.

The win, coupled with Miami's loss, put the Jackets in first place in the Coastal. With just two conference games left, Wake at home and on the road at Duke, they are close to a lock to win the Coastal. Theoretically they could get an at-large BCS bid, but that is unlikely, even if they finish in the top-10. Like Boston College, it is BCS or bust for them and that means winning the division and beating whoever comes out of the Atlantic in the title game.

Clemson: The win over Miami was an upset that few saw coming. Clemson gave up 433 yards and 37 points, yet managed to pull it out in overtime. What saved them was the offense, something that has not happened this season. Kyle Parker was 25-of-37 for 326 yards, his best performance of the season. Clemson has the 76th rated passing attack and faced the 32nd rated pass defense. So, the result was a shocker.

The win sent shock waves through the conference. It knocked Miami out of the top-10 and out of the Coastal race. It also diminished the league's chance to have a second BCS big this year. More important to Clemson, it put them in the driver's seat for the Atlantic. They have three ACC games left; two of them are at home. The combined record of those three teams in conference is 3-and-7.

Virginia Tech: The week off probably did not help the psyche of the Hokies. They had to watch Miami lose, thus putting them behind Georgia Tech in the Coastal race. In a three way race, they had a decent chance to come out on top, depending upon how the computers treated their loss to Alabama. In a two-way race, they need Georgia Tech to lose.

On paper, the Hokies should run the table. Three of their final five are on the road, but those teams are 10-and-13 this year. In reality, four of their final opponents will have a special reason to play hard against VT. UNC is desperate for a win, ECU has become a rivalry of sorts and NC State and Virginia are playing for their lives and maybe the future of their coaches.

Boston College: It has been a tough year for BC in many ways. Yet, they remain in the hunt for another Atlantic title. The loss at Notre Dame was tough emotionally, but insignificant in terms of the league or even their bowl prospects. As is always the case, the post-season is either the BCS, which means winning the ACC, or the lowest possible bowl in the league rotation.

Despite the loss at Notre Dame and the loss of two players this week, the Eagles have plenty of reasons for optimism. They have their final out-of-conference game this weekend. CMU is a tough team and will offer a chance at a quality win and a chance to remain undefeated at home. After that they get a break and then face three ACC teams to close the season. If they win out, they just need a Clemson loss and they make a return trip to the title game.

Hold

Miami: Before last week, Miami was poised to win the division and maybe get a BCS bid, even as an at-large. Instead, their defense fell apart against Clemson and they turned the ball over four times. The result was a heart breaking loss at home that dropped them behind Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech. It also ended any chance for an at-large BCS bid. At 18 in the polls, they have no chance to qualify, even if they run the table.

The goal now is to win the rest of their games and jockey for one of the league's consolation prizes. Miami has four conference games left, two on the road and two at home. They also have a road trip to USF to close the season. If they are to have a shot at the Peach Bowl or Gator Bowl, they need to run the table and do so with some style. Otherwise, they will be squeezed out by schools like Clemson and Virginia Tech that have huge fan bases and are known for traveling well.

Florida State: Just when it looked like they were headed off a cliff, Florida State staged a stunning comeback on the road at UNC, to win a game they had no business winning. UNC dominated them in the first half and should have been up by four scores. Instead, FSU stuck around and was able to score twice in the fourth quarter to get the win.

That was a big win. FSU is fighting to make a bowl bid. With four losses, they have little room for error. With Florida waiting at the end of the season, the Seminoles can afford just one more loss. The ‘Noles have four conference games remaining, two at home. The road games at Clemson and Wake Forest will decide their season. If they get a split, they can finish with six wins and be in the mix for a bowl game. Otherwise, their post-season streak comes to an end.

Duke: Beating Maryland was a big win for the Dukies as it brought them one step closer to becoming bowl eligible. They also have the league's leading passer in Thaddeus Lewis. He threw for 371 yards against hapless Maryland. That put Duke in the top-10 nationally for passing offense. Lewis is 11th in passing yards nationally.

The road to the post-season is simple. Duke has to win two of their final five. That could be tough as they go on the road for three and one of their home games is against Georgia Tech. That means they need a road win and the best chance comes this week at Virginia. They get that win and they have to beat Wake at home to finish the season in order to become bowl eligible.

NC State: The best thing to happen to them this year was the bye week. Three straight losses against conference teams dashed all hopes of a championship. It also put them in danger of missing the post season. There are also questions about coaching and the mental toughness of the team. Despite having the fifth best offense in the league and the third best defense, the Wolfpack has yet to win a game.

All is not lost. They need three wins of their final five to get bowl eligible. They have three games at home, all of them winnable. So, holding serve at home puts them in the post season. That may depend on how they play at Florida State this week. A team with a fragile psyche coming off three losses and a bye week needs a win out of the shoot. Otherwise, it may be tough to bow up and win those homes games, even against modest opponents.

Sell

Wake Forest: A few weeks ago, Wake was a lock to make a bowl, even if they were out of the division race. The lost last week at Navy puts them into the sell category and maybe out of the post-season hunt. Granted, the rain gave a decided advantage to Navy, but Wake should be able to beat them even without a great passing day.

The loss now puts the Deacs in a tough spot. They need two wins and three of their final four are Miami, Georgia Tech and Florida State. They finish with a game at Duke, a team looking for their first bowl big in forever. The bottom line is Wake has to win one of those tough games, probably Florida State and then hope they can go to Duke and win a tough game against a rival.

North Carolina: The loss last week to Florida State was a killer for more than just their bowl hopes. They had Florida State on the ropes and their vaunted defense could not hold. They gave up 312 yards in the second half as FSU stormed back to win. FSU scored on four of their six second half possessions.

The loss puts UNC in a tough spot for the post-season. They need three wins to become bowl eligible. They have two wins over FCS teams and only one count for bowl eligibility. That means winning three of their final five and three of those are on the road. Four of their final five are likely to be bowl eligible teams. Worse yet, they finish with two road games, including the finale against rival NC State.

Virginia: The question answered last week was whether Virginia had really turned the corner or caught a break in the schedule. The Cavs had won three straight, but the opponents were suspect. Georgia Tech was coming off a huge win and was primed for a letdown. It was a chance to show they were for real. Instead, they looked like the same team that opened up with three straight losses. Georgia Tech dominated both sides of the ball on the way to a 25-point win.

This week the season hangs in the balance. Virginia needs to win three of their final five to get bowl eligible. That means beating Duke at home. That will not guarantee anything as they face four top teams to finish the season, two are on the road. With Miami, BC, Clemson and Virginia Tech to finish the season, getting even one win is a long shot. So, the season probably comes down to beating Duke this week.

Maryland: Things just keep getting worse for Maryland. They went on the road last week and lost to Duke. Granted, the Blue Devils are better than typical, but it is a game Maryland needed to win. For a team struggling to remain respectable, beating one of the weaker teams in the ACC is required.

The Terps are all but out of the post-season. They need to win all of their remaining games and that is unlikely. The big question at this point is the future of Ralph Friedgen. It is an open secret that he is looking at retirement. His contract runs through 2011, but Maryland has named offensive coordinator James Franklin the coach in waiting. Will this season lead to the early retirement of Friedgen or will the school force him out and get on with the future of the program?


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