ACC preview: the bowl push

ACC preview: the bowl push
November 21, 2013, 11:30 am
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Terps are bowl eligible but what's next?


Old Dominion @ North Carolina, Sat. 12:00 p.m. on CSN
Duke @ Wake Forest, Sat. 12:00 p.m.
Citadel @ No. 7 Clemson, Sat. 12:00 p.m.
Virginia @ Miami, Sat. 12:30 p.m.
East Carolina @ NC State, Sat. 12:30 p.m.
Pittsburgh @ Syracuse, Sat. 12:30 p.m.
Alabama A&M @ Georgia Tech, Sat. 1:30 p.m.
Idaho @ No. 2 Florida State, Sat. 3:30 p.m.
Boston College @ Maryland, Sat. 3:30 p.m. on CSN

Matchup of the week: Boston College @ Maryland, Sat. 3:30 p.m. on CSN

At six wins each, both Boston College and Maryland have already reached bowl eligibility, but no one is guaranteed an invitation just yet. Now that Florida State has wrapped up the Atlantic division, the goal for the rest of the season is to push for the best bowl possible. That’s what is on the line for these two teams.

Maryland reached that elusive sixth win last week with their improbable upset of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. The Terps managed to put up 27 points and 319 total yards against the vaunted Hokies defense and perhaps have found an offensive rhythm they had been missing since the season-ending injuries to Deon Long and Stefon Diggs.

Winning this one, however, will be up to the defense.

Boston College running back Andre Williams leads the nation with 1810 rushing yards and has made a legitimate case to be a Heisman finalist. The Eagles are 21st in the nation in rushing offense and 113th in passing offense; without Williams they cannot move the ball.

The best way to take a running back out of the game is to score and force the other team to abandon the run. While the Terps played well offensively last week, they are not prolific enough to run away with this one early. The defense will have to be ready to play this week. If they shut down Williams, they will win this game.

Player to watch: Brandon Connette, QB, junior, Duke

The Blue Devils like to use two quarterbacks, but after last week’s it is not hard to pick out who their go-to playmaker is.

Connette scored five total touchdowns last week against Miami in one of the biggest games in the program’s history. Now Duke controls its destiny and sit two games away from winning the Coastal division.

But there is still work to do.

The Blue Devils will face Wake Forest this week in what could be a classic trap game. Duke is coming off a win over ranked Miami, they are in complete control of the division, they are one week away from facing archrival North Carolina and now have to travel to Salem to face a struggling Wake Forest team. It is easy to see why Duke may overlook the Demon Deacons.

That’s where Connette steps in. Despite a 4-6 record, Wake Forest has at times played well defensively ranking a respectable 43rd nationally in points allowed per game. While there is no reason to believe Wake Forest can win this game, it is not hard to see how Duke could lose it. They need a big performance from their leader and playmaker to make sure they stay the course on their way to an improbable Coastal title.

Upset alert: East Carolina @ NC State, Sat. 12:30 p.m.

This is a cheap pick because you could argue that regardless of who wins it is an upset. Whenever a team from a non-automatic qualifying conference like East Carolina can come into a big-boy stadium and get a win, it has an ‘upset’ feel to it. The difference in this case is that ECU has been better than NC State this season by far.

ECU comes into this game with an 8-2 record, a prolific passing attack, and a four-game winning streak. The Wolfpack? They’ve lost six straight and have fewer ACC wins (0) than ECU (1).

Still, it is never easy for a team like the Pirates to visit a place like NC State and walk away with a W. NC State does not want to close out the season with eight straight losses and a win over ECU would help them salvage some shred of credibility for the season. Despite their records, there is still a stimga attached to a conference like the C-USA and you know the Wolfpack do not want to lose to one of those 'lesser' teams. They will put together a better effort than we have seen in recent weeks and this should be a close one.

On CSN: Old Dominion @ North Carolina, Sat. 12:00 p.m.

The post Bryn Renner era in North Carolina is off to a good start with the Tar Heels winning their first two games since Renner's season-ending injury. They will try to keep it up this week against an Old Dominion team that, despite their 8-3 record, have struggled against FBS teams this season. Tune in to CSN at noon on Saturday to catch this one.

And stay tuned afterwards for Boston College at Maryland. Kick off for that game is at 3:30.

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