There are two huge matchups with standings implications, one game with employment issues for both coaches, a trap game for Georgia Tech, Virginia returning to earth after a Saturday on planet Duke, and the Blue Devils looking for more than three points a game.
Thursday, October 5th
#17 Florida State at NC State, 7:30 PM, ESPN
Always an entertaining tilt these two simply because Chuck Amato finds a way to beat his former employer or at least has done so with more success than any other North Carolina based ACC school. If I had to hazard a guess I would speculate that perhaps Bobby Bowden and his offensive coordinator offspring are far too predictable in their play calling to the point Amato has an easy time preparing his team. There is also an emotional factor and Amato gets his boys ready to play the Seminoles. The ultimate question we are looking to answer in this game is how young Daniel Evans, who looked every bit like a big time QB versus BC, will respond when faced with an FSU defense that has speed at every position. Rumor has it that FSU is also looking to shake things up a bit on defense to attempt to confuse Evans. Steve Logan pointed out this week that the best thing NC State can do for Evans is get good yardage on first and second down so there can be flexibility on third down for short passes and minimize the pressure on the QB. Florida State needs to find some offense and I think NC State's defense might be up to the task of giving the Seminoles enough trouble to keep them out of the end zone. So the key for the Wolfpack is to take care of the ball and avoid costly penalties. The stakes are high for the Seminoles. Two losses in the ACC with Clemson, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Boston College, and Miami all with legitimate shots to make noise would put the Noles in a bad spot for winning the Atlantic division. I think FSU has the chops, Evans will still play well but face the reality of a quality defense. FSU 21 NC State 10.
Saturday, October 7th
#15 Clemson at Wake Forest, 12:00 PM, ESPN
Clemson comes into Winston-Salem to play a Wake Forest team that is (A) 5-0 and (B) winners of two straight games over the Tigers in Winston-Salem. Clemson also comes in averaging 51.5 points in the last two games but will be without WR Chansi Stuckey who broke his foot this week. Of course it is not like Clemson relies heavily on the pass as much as the running game though Wake is much better against the run than they are the pass. Clemson is sitting in a similar position as FSU in that they really cannot afford to drop a game and have two losses in the conference, especially with the two Techs waiting in mid-October. I think the Tigers will come to play, the run ends for Wake though I think they will show themselves to be competitive. Clemson 35 Wake 21.
North Carolina at Miami, 12:00 PM, Raycom/Lincoln Financial
The more intriguing part of this game is not the game itself but the coaching hot seat sublpots for both schools. I will have more on this one later. Miami 38 UNC 20.
Maryland at #18 Georgia Tech, 3:30 PM
This is a trap game for Georgia Tech following the big win in Blacksburg. Of course it is against Maryland whose offense did not bother showing up when the cupcakes came to Byrd Stadium so I just do not see it showing up here against a real defense. GT 31 Maryland 10.
Virginia at East Carolina, 6:00 PM
Cavaliers! Repeat after me: You are not a 37 point a game football team. I was actually suprised Duke gave up 37 points, it is not like they are the fifth worst scoring defense in the country like their neighbor eight miles away. As for Virginia, I expect they will resume to low scoring mentality this week and ECU is not to be trifled with, just ask West Virginia. ECU 24 UVa 13.
Duke at Alabama, 7:07 PM
Only one question: Will Duke score? Somehow I think not. Alabama 45 Duke 0.
Last Week: 5-1