ACC preview: upset week?

ACC preview: upset week?
November 14, 2013, 2:00 pm
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Georgia Tech @ No. 8 Clemson, Thurs. 7:30 p.m.
NC State @ Boston College, Sat. 12:30 p.m. on CSN
North Carolina @ Pittsburgh, Sat. 12:30 p.m.
Maryland @ Virginia Tech, Sat. 12:30 p.m.
Syracuse @ No. 2 Florida State, Sat. 3:30 p.m.
No. 23 Miami @ Duke, Sat. 3:30 p.m.

Matchup of the week: Georgia Tech @ Clemson, Thurs. 7:30 p.m.

Georgia Tech and Clemson has been an intriguing matchup through the years as the Tigers never seem to know how to handle the option attack. The Yellow Jackets have served as a roadblock against Clemson’s resurgence in recent history and will look to yet again derail a strong Clemson team in Death Valley on Thursday night.

With the Atlantic division solidly in Florida State’s grasp, the Tigers are doomed to fall short of their lofty goals yet again. This year, however, they did not fall victim to “Clemsoning”, meaning they did not simply lose to a team they should have beaten. No one really knew just how good Florida State was until they cut through Clemson like a buzz saw. The Tigers rebounded with two straight wins and hope to finish the season strong regardless, but now face a Georgia Tech team that has given them fits in the past.

Strange things happen when it comes to the triple option. The Yellow Jackets can look almost anemic at times, incapable of generating any sort of offense and at other times they can take some of the best teams completely by surprise. In the past, Clemson has been one of those teams.

Georgia Tech has beaten Clemson in eight of the last 11 meetings between the two, including the 2009 ACC championship game. In 2011, they handed Clemson their first loss and were poised to pull off the upset again last year if not for a late fourth quarter comeback. The Yellow Jackets have hit their stride in recent weeks, winning three straight in dominating fashion. Could they be positioning themselves for another upset of the Tigers?

Clemson may have had their eye on an ACC championship and a possible national title bid, but there is still plenty to play for going forward. If they try to coast through the rest of the season, they may just get stung by Georgia Tech yet again.

Player to watch: Dallas Crawford, RB, sophomore, Miami

Miami previously had one of the most dangerous running back tandems in the nation with Crawford and Duke Johnson in the backfield. With the primary carrier Johnson now out for the remainder of the season with a broken ankle, the onus falls on Crawford to carry the load.

He did not deliver last week against Virginia Tech.

Crawford only managed 37 yards on 10 carries as the game quickly got away from the Hurricanes. If Miami wants to finish the season strong, they’ll need more from their now top running back.

Now with a pivotal game against Duke, Crawford needs to step up in order to take some of the pressure off of quarterback Stephen Morris. The Blue Devils allow 167.2 yards per game on the ground, so it will not be a walk in the park, but Crawford will need a big game if the Hurricanes hope to stay in the Coastal division race.

Upset alert: Miami @ Duke, Sat. 3:30 p.m.

Just a few weeks ago, Miami was undefeated, a ranked in the top 10, and in complete control of the Coastal division. Now, they have lost two straight, are without their top running back, and in desperate need of a win.

Enter Duke, one of the hottest teams in the conference that now suddenly has a legitimate shot at winning the division.

Miami is ranked and have won nine straight against the Blue Devils. In their history, the Hurricanes have only lost to Duke once. Even so, this game is ripe for an upset.

These aren’t the Blue Devils we all have come to know, the lovable losers who help people in Durham pass the time until basketball season. They have won five straight including a win over Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. Duke held the Hokies to only 10 points. That same Virginia Tech team put up 42 against the Hurricanes in Miami.

And don’t forget, this game is being played at Duke. Wallace Wade Stadium may not be known as a formidable place to play, but this may be the biggest game for Duke since the 1958 Orange Bowl (yes, Duke played in an Orange Bowl). There will be a crowd and they will be rocking.

History is in Miami’s favor, but Duke could actually do the unthinkable this weekend and beat the Hurricanes.

On CSN: NC State @ Boston College, Sat. 12:30 p.m.

NC State will travel to Boston College this Saturday as the Wolfpack try desperately to earn their first ACC win of the season. Despite a horrendous five-game losing streak, NC State can still reach bowl eligibility if they win their remaining three games. Right now, however, they just need to stop the bleeding.

Boston College meanwhile is enjoying a complete turnaround season. A 5-4 record may not seem all that impressive, but the Eagles only managed two wins all year in 2012 and one was to an FCS opponent. Reaching a bowl would be a real feather in the cap for head coach Steve Addazio’s first year and the Eagles are just one win away. You know they would love to earn that final win in front of their home crowd, too.

To see if the Eagles do reach that sixth win or if NC State keeps their bowl hopes alive, tune in to CSN. Kickoff is at 12:30.