ACC preview: Rivalry week

ACC preview: Rivalry week
November 28, 2013, 1:30 pm
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Miami @ Pittsburgh, Fri. 3:30 p.m.

No. 2 Florida State @ Florida, Sat. 12:00 p.m.

No. 24 Duke @ North Carolina, Sat. 12:00 p.m.

Wake Forest @ Vanderbilt, Sat. 12:21 p.m.

Maryland @ NC State, Sat. 12:30 p.m.

Georgia @ Georgia Tech, Sat. 3:30 p.m.

Boston College @ Syracuse, Sat. 3:30 p.m. on CSN

Virginia Tech @ Virginia, Sat. 3:30 p.m.

No. 6 Clemson @ No. 10 South Carolina, Sat. 7:00 p.m.

Matchup of the week: Clemson @ South Carolina, Sat. 7:00 p.m.

The Battle of the Palmetto State features two top ten teams this year. Both teams started the season with national championship hopes and though both will fall short of that goal, there is still plenty left to play for when it comes to this rivalry.

Clemson began the season on a high note, defeating Georgia in what was a statement win. In the battle for ACC supremacy, however, Clemson was demolished by Florida State in Death Valley 51-14. That remains their only loss of the season.

South Carolina did not have the type of start they were hoping for to the season, losing in their second game to Georgia just one week after the Bulldogs were spanked by Clemson. They also lost in a surprising upset to Tennessee midway through the season. The Gamecocks, however rebounded nicely by handing Missouri its only loss on the season.

The two main players to watch in this one are the quarterbacks. This will be the Swan song for both Tajh Boyd and Connor Shaw, two playmakers in whom both teams rely on.

In Clemson’s current four game winning streak, Boyd has thrown 13 touchdowns and is averaging 327.3 yards per game. Shaw showed how invaluable he is to the Gamecocks when he entered the game against Missouri in the fourth quarter and erased a 17 point deficit, leading South Carolina to an overtime win.

South Carolina has won four straight against Clemson, but despite their loss to Florida State, this may be the best Clemson team head coach Dabo Swinny has had. The Gamecocks may also find themselves distracted as they still have a chance at earning a spot in the SEC championship game should Missouri lose to Texas A&M. That game kicks off at 7:45. Clemson is too good a team for South Carolina to play with one eye on the scoreboard.

This will be a great matchup between two senior quarterbacks. Can Boyd finally get over the hump and beat the Gamecocks or will Shaw continue his team’s supremacy over the Palmetto state?

Player to watch: Jameis Winston, QB, freshman, Florida State

If this season has taught us anything about Winston, it is that the young freshman phenom has ice water in his veins. Staying poised in a big game, however, is much different than what Winston is currently experiencing.

Winston could face charges stemming from a sexual assault complaint filed in December 2012. The Tallahassee police issued a timeline saying a decision will be made regarding wehther to charge him in two weeks.

Winston has been remarkable in his rookie season, but he is human. Eventually, with the investigation, Florida State being on the verge of earning a berth in the BCS National Championship game, and facing archrival Florida on Saturday, you can’t help but wonder if he will finally crack under the pressure.

Florida State is highly favored over the Gators, but if their star quarterback suddenly implodes on the field, can the Seminoles recover?

Upset alert: Georgia @ Georgia Tech, Sat. 3:30 p.m.

Both Georgia and Georgia Tech will come up short of their lofty goals this season, but that all will be forgiven for whoever walks away victorious in this storied rivalry. There’s a reason why this rivalry is called Clean, Old-fashioned Hate.

The Bulldogs are a much better team than Georgia Tech, but the Yellow Jackets have several things going in their favor.

First, this game is at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Georgia is a much better team between the hedges in Athens. The Bulldogs are 5-1 at home this season and 1-3 on the road, not including the game against Florida which is annually played on a neutral field.

Second, Georgia’s star quarterback, Aaron Murray is out for the season with a torn ACL. It is impossible to overstate what Murray has meant to this team and that is a serious blow.

Lastly, you can never count out the impact of the option attack. Though the Yellow Jackets are probably not going to become a national power with their unique offense, they have proven themselves difficult to beat each and every week. Sometimes teams just are not ready defensively to stop the option.

Georgia may be the better team, but things definitely look to be trending in Tech’s favor, at least on paper.

On CSN: Boston College @ Syracuse, Sat. 3:30 p.m. on CSN

Boston College is enjoying a remarkable turnaround season in Steve Addazio’s first year with seven wins on the season. They won only twice last year. Running back Andre Williams leads the nation in rushing yards and could be running himself into Heisman contention.

This Saturday they will face Syracuse, a team with everything to play for. With only five wins, the Orange are tantalizingly close to becoming bowl eligible, but this is their last chance.

Can the Orange earn that sixth win for an impressive ACC debut? Find out this Saturday on CSN. Kick off is at 3:30 p.m.