North Carolina (7-2) at Maryland (6-3) Kickoff 3:30 PM
The biggest question I have heading into this game is how much have the Tar Heel players been searching the internet this week? It has to be a distraction when you are continually reading or hearing that your head coach may be headed some place else. Six points is all that separates UNC from a 5-0 league mark instead of their current 3-2 record. Meanwhile in College Park, Md. there are no such coaching rumors surrounding Ralph Friedgen at Maryland. The last time out for the Terps they got run over by Virginia Tech 23-13 on a Thursday night in Blacksburg. That was the game in which Darren Evans galloped through the Maryland defense for 253 yards.
If Maryland is going to win this weekend they must get solid play from quarterback Chris Turner. Turner's game management has led his squad to victories over top 20 opponents such as Cal (23), Wake Forest (21) and of course Clemson (20). The only other team in the country with three wins over teams ranked in the top 25 is Texas. Vote for Pedro. Prediction: Maryland 28 UNC 24
Wake Forest (6-3) at NC State (3-6) Kickoff 3:30 PM
This will be the 102nd meeting between the Demon Deacons and the Wolfpack in a series that started back in 1895 with NCSU leading 60-35-6. Tom O'Brien's State squad broke a four game losing streak last week with a 27-17 win over Duke. If I were to ask you who leads the ACC in passing efficiency and told you the answer was Pack QB Russell Wilson would you be surprised? I know I am. Wilson in his last three games has gone 63-of-101 for 802 yards with seven touchdowns. The red-shirt freshman is definitely going to be one of the building blocks for NC State over the next three seasons.
Meanwhile Wake has now won back to back games over Duke and Virginia and they have done it with the ball in Riley Skinners hands. The Deacon quarterback is now 24 and 9 as a starter. His career completion percentage of .677 (580 of 857) is second best in ACC history. Wake is still in the hunt for a berth in the ACC Championship game, so they have more to play for. Prediction: Wake Forest 31 NC State 20
Boston College (6-3) at Florida State (7-2) Kickoff 8 PM
Simply put, Boston College controls their own destiny in the ACC Atlantic division. With this game and then a road game at Wake Forest and then wrapping the season up at home against Maryland, if the Eagles can win out they will make the ACC Championship game. But if that is going to happen Boston College needs to its their defense. The Eagles shut out Notre Dame last week 17-0 and for the fourth consecutive game they scored a non-offensive touchdown. The BC defense is ranked fourth in the country in pass efficiency defense, ninth in total defense and 14th in scoring defense. In addition, the shutout last week was the fourth game this year that Boston College did not give up an offensive touchdown.
The Eagles are going to need all the defense they can get because the FSU offense is beginning to kick into another gear behind the play of Christian Ponder. Ponder is fourth in the ACC in total offense and sixth in passing efficiency. By the way, as good as Boston College has been on the defensive side of the ball the Seminoles aren't any slouches. Mickey Andrews' defense is fifth in the nation in total defense and 18th in scoring defense. If it comes down to a kick then the advantage goes to FSU. Place-kicker Graham Gano has converted 17 in a row and is 18-of-19 on the year with five of those makes have been from better than 50 yards. Daddy Bowden turned 79 last week and he will pick up win number 381 this week. Prediction: FSU 31 Boston College 14
Duke (4-5) at Clemson (4-5) Kickoff 12 PM
All the pressure is on the Tigers in this one. First of all, if the Tigers are to be bowl eligible they must win their remaining three games. Secondly, this is Duke. Tiger fans don't expect to beat the Blue Devils 90 percent of the time, they expect to beat Duke 100 percent of the time no matter who is coaching. As Dabo Swinney continues his search for offensive consistency he saw first hand last week how an injury to tackle Chris Hairston can change the complexion of Clemson's offense. The good news is Hairston will be back this week. bit the bad news is the offensive line is still struggling.
The other bad news for Clemson was the play of the defense last week. After putting together seven games in a row in which they played good enough to win, last week was Alabamaques. The Tigers have to find some way to get to the quarterback. Vic Koenning's defense has only nine sacks on the season. Coach Swinney has talked this week about the corners pressing the receivers more at the line of scrimmage to disrupt the timing of the Blue Devil passing attack. It doesn't matter how much you press the receivers if no one is putting pressure on the QB. Speaking of, Duke has got a player that might be the best QB in the league in Thaddeus Lewis. Lewis leads the league in total offense and passing yardage and he loves to get it to Eron Riley. Riley has 51 receptions on the year. Duke is giving up 200 yards per game through the air and 146 on the ground. One would hope the Tiger passing game attacks the Blue Devils vertically and thus open up the running game. Tiger fans go home happy on Homecoming day. Prediction: Clemson 34 Duke 24
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