ACC Football Pick’Em – 11/1-3

Posted by Brandon Rink on October 31, 2012 under ACC Football | Read the First Comment

It's been a tough season for Frank Beamer and co., but they can position themselves well in the Coastal with a Thursday road win at Miami (Pic per OrangeandWhite.com)

ACCBlogger.com picks week ten in the ACC…

  • 11/01/12 – Virginia Tech (4-4, 2-2) [-1.5] @ Miami (4-4, 3-2) / 7:30 p.m. ET / ESPN

The Lead: Round two of Thursday ACCtion sets things in motion in the Coastal, as in basically a pick’em game, the Hokies or ‘Canes will have a leg up with three to go with the victory.

Watch 4: ‘Canes to balance offensive attack, hold off Hokies

This goes against most every pick reflex I have – the Hokies won on the road in this same scenario last season at Georgia Tech, have found some answers offensively of late and actually were pretty solid defensively against Clemson (four turnovers flipped that game). But Miami’s season, for the most part, has been about Al Golden maxing out his team’s potential (mostly on offense) and therefore pulling upsets. He has the weapons on offense to give the Hokies headaches – it’s just a matter of stopping Logan Thomas and co.

The Picks: Brandon Rink – Miami 27-24; Griffin Wong – VT 28-20; J.J. Greenstein – VT 31-27; W. Gustin Vandiford – Miami 38-24; Billy Watson – Miami 28-20;

  • 11/03/12 – Georgia Tech (3-5, 2-3) [-7.5] @ Maryland (4-4, 2-2) / 12:30 p.m. ET / ACC Network

The Lead: Georgia Tech is coming off one of its worst offensive performances in the Paul Johnson era, with a QB competition in full-go – Maryland, on the other hand, would just like a quarterback to take a snap without some sort of leg injury.

Watch 4: GT to struggle move the ball again, Maryland to struggle more

BYU shut the nation’s third-best rushing attack down last week – 3.3 yards per carry (117 total) and no offensive touchdowns. The task isn’t much easier this week for whoever wins out at QB, whether senior Tevin Washington or sophomore Vad Lee, facing the No. 4 rushing D in Maryland (77.6 YPG). The Terps actually contained them last season in Atlanta, to 4.4 yards per carry and 272 yards overall in a 21-16 Terps loss. The attention turns to former freshman linebacker-and-now-quarterback Shawn Petty, who will engineer what should be a more run-geared Maryland offense. The problem, of course, is the Terps’ best playmaker is at receiver (Stefon Diggs) and on the season, Maryland has a 115th-ranked rushing offense. The Terrapins have rushed for two of their three best running totals in the last two games (206 and 97 respectively), but they could be on track for another heartbreaking loss.

The Picks: Rink – GT 17-13; Wong – GT 10-3; Greenstein – GT 21-13; Vandiford – MD 21-17; Watson – GT 24-3;

  • Virginia (2-6, 0-4) @ NC State (5-3, 2-2) [-9.5] / 12:30 p.m. ET / ACC Network

The Lead: Off the bye, Virginia looks to push the reset button on the season with four to go, while NC State is shaking off the cobwebs and nightmares of Gio Bernard running untouched down the sidelines.

Watch 4: State to shake off UNC loss

The question here is, with NC State a very good team at home over the last three seasons (14-2 and 3-0 this season) and overall better this season than the ‘Hoos, if the Wolfpack can put the UNC loss in the past and focus on a rested Virginia team. Mike London’s crew hasn’t shown the ability to win period, much less on the road, of late, but did really, at one point, hold on to a win over a decent Penn State (5-3) before losing six-straight. Still, holding on to the hope NC State is reeling from the last loss isn’t enough to pick the Cavaliers.

The Picks: Rink – NCSU 31-17; Wong – NCSU 27-14; Greenstein – NCSU 20-13; Vandiford – NCSU 42-10; Watson – NCSU 27-10;

  • Boston College (2-6, 1-4) @ Wake Forest (4-4, 2-4) [-3.5] / 3:30 p.m. ET / RSN

The Lead: On a one-game winning streak, the Eagles hit the road to face the reeling Deacs, losers of three of their last four games.

Watch 4: Near 100 percent Deacs offense to do enough

Michael Campanaro, up against the juggernaut Clemson offense last week, had a pretty nice comeback from a broken hand – hauling in six catches for 52 yards and rushing for 12 more. The Deacs didn’t exactly display it against the Tigers, but they have found ways to win at home this season (3-0 in the rest), while BC is 0-4 on the road giving up nearly 600 yards per game.

The Picks: Rink – WF 24-20; Wong – WF 21-10; Greenstein – WF 24-14; Vandiford – WF 24-17; Watson – BC 17-10;

  • No. 10 Clemson (7-1, 4-1) [-13.5] @ Duke (6-3, 3-2) / 7:00 p.m. ET / ESPN2

The Lead: The Coastal-leading Blue Devils, still, host a hot Clemson team, riding a four-game winning streak with a 20-point average margin of victory.

Watch 4: Two great offenses on display, and Clemson to cruise

Duke quarterback Sean Renfree’s status is up in the air, after taking a nasty hit in the 48-7 loss at FSU last week. But it’s likely he’ll be back to engineer one of the top passing offenses in the ACC (271.5 YPG), against the top passing attack in the ACC (Clemson, 317.6 YPG). With Sammy Watkins back in rhythm (16 catches for 286 yards and a score in the last two games), the Tigers are even tougher to slow down, and Duke, fresh off surrendering 560 yards to FSU, isn’t going to stop them either.

The Picks: Rink – Clemson 45-21; Wong – Clemson 30-20; Greenstein – Clemson 41-31; Vandiford – Duke 34-31; Watson – Clemson 52-10;

Season Pick Records: Rink – 56-14 (31-23-2 ATS, FBS v. FBS games); Wong – 54-16; Greenstein – 49-21; Vandiford – 46-22; Watson 13-9.

ACC Blogger Power Poll – Week 9

Posted by Brandon Rink on October 29, 2012 under ACC Football | Comments are off for this article

Sammy Watkins quieted the crowd in Winston-Salem with a school-record 202 receiving yards and a touchdown (Pic per OrangeandWhite.com).

ACCBlogger.com ranks the ACC through nine weeks…

1) Florida State Seminoles (LW: 1) – 8-1 (5-1 ACC)

Final: No. 11 FSU 48 Duke 7 (Tallahassee)
Turning Point:
As FSU piled up the points, Duke had no answers for the stifling ‘Noles defense, punting on their first six drives while falling behind 24-0.
Game-ball: RB Devonta Freeman – 104 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
Read Option:
Business-like. FSU extended their home dominance to outscoring opponents by a 54-9 average final. They take the week off before heading to Virginia Tech in what could be their last real ACC test.

2) Clemson Tigers (LW: 2) – 7-1 (4-1 ACC)

Final: No. 14 Clemson 42 Wake Forest 13
Turning Point:
After stumbling out of the blocks, Clemson scored on five-consecutive drives to seize a 35-0 lead just before the half.
Game-ball: QB Tajh Boyd and WR Sammy Watkins – Boyd with a school-record 428 passing yards (with 5 touchdowns) and Watkins with a school-record 202 receiving yards (and 1 touchdown).
Read Option:
Add one to the dragons slayed by Clemson this season, breaking a run of failure on Thursday nights – lighting up the Deacs’ D all night in Winston-Salem. They head to Duke this week, which could be the only team between them and a 7-1 ACC record with their final two games at home (NC State/Maryland).

3) North Carolina Tar Heels (LW: 5) – 6-3 (3-2 ACC)

Final: UNC 43 Duke 35 (Chapel Hill)
Turning Point: Wil Baumann’s punt booms into UNC territory, but sets up perfectly for now ACC Player of the Year favorite Giovani Bernard – Bernard gliding 73 yards for the score to break-up State’s five-year run in the series.
Game-ball: RB Gio Bernard – 304 all-purpose yards and 3 TDs (Led in rushing and receiving).
Read Option: First of all, Gio Bernard. Wow. Second, Gio Bernard. Thirdly, yeah, that guy. This is a big win for Larry Fedora, trying to build a program in what’s very much a lost year due to the NCAA punishments, but it’s a statement going forward recruiting-wise.

4) Miami Hurricanes (LW: 6) – 4-4 (3-2 ACC)

Bye Week
Next Up: Virginia Tech (4-4, 2-2), Nov. 1 (Thursday).

5) Duke Blue Devils (LW: 3) – 6-3 (3-2 ACC)

Final: No. 11 FSU 48 Duke 7 (Tallahassee)
Glaring stat: 3-12 – Like Wake’s Michael Campanaro earlier this season, FSU took away Duke’s top receiver, Conner Vernon, who had just three catches for 12 yards.
Read Option: Back to reality I guess, but the key was coming out of it healthy and they were battered – quarterback Sean Renfree leaving with a head injury and running back Juwan Thompson had X-rays on his chest after a brutal collision. Also, when accurate, E.J. Manuel lit up the Blue Devils’ secondary for 17.6 yards per pass, which isn’t a good sign with Clemson’s Boyd coming off a single-game school record 428 passing yards against the Deacs.

6) NC State Wolfpack (LW: 4) – 5-3 (2-2 ACC)

Final: UNC 43 NC State 35 (Chapel Hill)
Glaring stat: 20 – The amount of yards State put up in their final four drives, while UNC rallied in a 18-0 run.
Read Option:
It’s a game the Wolfpack had to have if they were really going to contend in the Atlantic, but after coming back from down 25-7, they couldn’t defend a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter. It’s also probably a game State was due for in this series.

7) Virginia Tech Hokies (LW: 7) – 4-4 (2-2 ACC)

Bye Week
Next Up: at Miami (4-4, 3-2), Nov. 1 (Thursday).

8) Maryland Terrapins (LW: 8) – 4-4 (2-2 ACC)

Final: Boston College 20 Maryland 17 (Chestnut Hill)
Turning Point: Leading 17-13 and time ticking in fourth quarter, Maryland couldn’t put the nail in the coffin – punting from the BC 42, where the Eagles went 13 plays and 85 yards for the game-winning touchdown (14-yard pass from Chase Rettig to Johnathan Coleman).
Glaring stat: 3 – In a game that could’ve gone either way, true freshman quarterback Caleb Rowe’s three picks made a difference.
Read Option: What’d we say about football being a cruel game? Make it four losses by a combined 18 points (4-of-5 by three points or less) for the Terps, and they’re rewarded with a date with the Georgia Tech spread option attack and facing the ACC’s top-three teams to close the season (at Clemson, FSU, at UNC).

9) Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (LW: 9) – 3-5 (2-3 ACC)

Final: BYU 41 Georgia Tech 17 (Atlanta)
Turning Point: Down 10 in the third quarter, Georgia Tech quarterback Tevin Washington was picked off on a bad, bad pass, which BYU cashed in on to a 31-14 lead. Sophomore quarterback Vad Lee took over from the rest of the game, but the Cougars contained Georgia Tech all game (157 total yards).
Glaring stat: 0 – As in, no offensive touchdowns, scoring on a kickoff return and pick-six on the day
Read Option: Washington’s third-quarter INT might be the start of the Vad Lee era in Atlanta, as it’s going to be hard to make a bowl from here and he is the heir-apparent for next season. Paul Johnson doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy that would make a decision for that particular reason, but Lee could very well be his best chance to salvage some wins down the stretch.

10) Wake Forest Demon Deacons (LW: 10) – 4-4 (2-4 ACC)

Final: No. 14 Clemson 42 Wake Forest 13 (Winston-Salem)
Glaring stat: 319 & 35 – The Deacs held Clemson to punts on the first two drives, but gave up 319 yards and 35 points on the next five.
Read Option: Nothing good comes out of a loss like that – just have to turn the page with a winnable game coming up this week hosting BC.

11) Boston College Eagles (LW: 12) – 2-6 (1-4 ACC)

Final: Boston College 20 Maryland 17 (Chestnut Hill)
Game-ball: QB Chase Rettig– 287 passing yards and two touchdowns.
Read Option: Sporting America all over their jerseys, the Eagles still played inspired to grab win No. 1 over an FBS program this season. They took advantage of Maryland’s frosh quarterback and held down the Terps running game to  three yards per carry (97 total).

12) Virginia Cavaliers (LW: 11)  – 2-6 (0-4 ACC)

Bye Week
Next Up: At NC State (5-3, 2-2), Nov. 3.

Voters: W. Gustin Vandiford, Brandon Rink, J.J. Greenstein and Billy Watson.

Nationally irrelevant, locally potent

Posted by J.J. Greenstein on October 25, 2012 under ACC Football | Comments are off for this article

This is all you need to know about the State-Carolina rivalry (Credit: Adam Rodgers).

The week of the “big game” is upon us. Wow, even as a State alum I can’t call it that with a straight face. Maybe, as the picture above might suggest, this game should just be called the “Toilet Bowl,” because it involves tons of sh*t talking and is just plain nasty.

For those of you outside the great state of North Carolina, I get it: you could care less about a match-up between two middle-of-the-road ACC programs where one team is trying to get to another Belk Bowl and the other can’t even play in a bowl game this season- or the conference championship game for that matter (which one must find humorous because for once they are actually in a position to win the Coastal Division) because they got caught breaking so many NCAA violations that even Bobby Collins was taken aback by the scandal.

But for those of you hailing from the Old North State (I wouldn’t dare call this the Tar Heel State, as NC State’s newest marketing plan has so blatantly pointed out, “This is ‘Our’ State,”) know, this game is a big deal.

What people from other regions around the country, such as the northeast for instance, cannot comprehend is how important collegiate sports are around this area. We have just three major professional sports teams (and we wasted one on the Bobcats, another on the locked-out NHL, and the now GM-less Panthers), compared to the five Division 1-A (sh*t, I mean FBS- my bad) football programs stretching across the state. I’d also be remiss if I left out our several FCS programs, including one of the most successful football programs in recent history in Appalachian State University of the Southern Conference.

Just wait ’til basketball season. Just kidding.

Tobacco Road is the epicenter of college basketball. It always will be. But that doesn’t mean that football is abandoned around here (except in Chapel Hill when the visiting fans can’t pick up the slack for an apathetic home crowd). Wallace Wade Stadium was sold out and rocking Saturday night for the Duke-Carolina football game for the first time since Durham hosted the only Rose Bowl outside the state of California (1942). The smallest BCS school in the country, Wake Forest has a tiny, but hard-core football following that borders a cult-like atmosphere and it’s usually hard to find an empty seat in either State’s Carter-Finley or the recently vandalized Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in Greenville for a Pirates home game.

Football is huge here; no matter how irrelevant all five programs are on the national stage. That doesn’t mean anything when the time for co-workers, neighbors, and families to choose sides for a State/Carolina match-up comes.

Uglier than Rosie O’Donnell?

This match-up gets ugly- like bow-tie ugly. Carolina fans claim State fans threw beer cans at an old lady in powder blue a few years back (wasn’t there, maybe it happened, maybe it didn’t), and Tar Heel students have made it a tradition to paint NC State’s free-expression tunnel blue each year. Recently, State fans have brought more trouble at UNC to light than CNN ever could, the best being posting Julius Peppers’ transcripts to the front page of the UNC website for all to see his poor grades.

Even better, last night the NC State pep band marched through the Chapel Hill campus playing NC State’s fight song loud and proud- much to the displeasure of the Carolina students who were busy ironing their game-day button-ups and deciding which Starbucks Cafe they would take their talents to upon graduation.

The rivalry has caused divorces and abortions, cost people their jobs, and led people to do some ridiculously stupid things to the other’s campus and facilities. Though, none were better than when Duke students broke into Carolina’s Dean Dome, stole Michael Jordan’s jersey and then defecated on the blue center-court logo before leaving the premise.

Wanted to make sure this got in the piece- I will be a proud father when my son’s first four-letter world slips out in the sentence, “Go to hell Carolina.”

What’s at stake?

This Saturday, Carolina, playing- literally- only for pride, will be looking to break the Pack’s recent five-game winning streak in the series. Much to the surprise of everyone- even ACC Commissioner and former Tar Heel John Swofford, the Vegas odds makers started the line for the match-up at Carolina -8.5.

Don’t bet on it

Holy sh*t. Seriously? Why am I not putting every last penny of my Bar Mitzvah earnings on State and the points? Oh, that’s right, I never bet on State- mostly because they lose to teams like Boston College last year (who finished 4-8) and then come back the next week and destroy a top-10 team in Clemson 37-13. Not to mention losing to Miami, who has nearly the worst defense in the country, then turn around and beat No. 3 Florida State the next week.

That being said, no way Carolina wins this game by nine points- they lost to Duke last week for Pete’s sake (no disrespect to Duke, who might win the Coastal Division this year)!

Virginia QB’s do battle

Ironically, the battle for supremacy in the state of North Carolina (again, sorry Duke- we’re not used to this, yet) could come down to two quarterbacks from Virginia. The Tar Heels’ Bryn Renner has played well in first-year coach Larry Fedora’s new spread offense, completing over 62% of his passes for 2028 yards with 17 touchdowns to just five interceptions. His numbers are better than that of Wolfpack’s Mike Glennon. Glennon has completed about 58% of his passes for 1988 yards with 14 touchdowns to seven interceptions.

Hog-Mollies make the difference

The difference between these two offenses starts up front. Carolina has one of the best offensive lines in the country. On the other side, State’s veteran offensive line has battled injuries and struggled to protect Glennon when healthy- this also has affected the two running games mightily.

While Carolina’s Giovani Bernard is easily the best back in this game- if not the conference, he has truly benefited from the success of the Tar Heel line. He is the most important player in this game. If Bernard can’t get it going on the ground, the Heels are in trouble. He will dictate whether or not the Heels break the streak. If the Pack shut down Bernard, this game could look a lot like last year’s 13-0 victory for the Pack.

Defenses impossible to predict

Both defenses have been inconsistent and unpredictable; no one really knows you’ll get out of them. State entered the season with the most experienced and arguably the most talented secondary in the conference- that secondary has been horrible for half of State’s games- especially the two losses to Tennessee and Miami. Carolina’s defense has been injury- and now suspension riddled thanks to a one game ban levied on linebacker Shakeel Rashad for his cheap shot on Duke’s Conner Vernon. Now, Tar Heel defensive lineman Tom Jackson will miss the game due to injury after he was cut low from behind (possibly an act of retaliation for the Vernon hit from Duke).

Numbers?

I guess this is the time where we throw out some numbers that are essentially meaningless because this game always comes down to something unprecedented (Russell Wilson’s two-yard Hail Mary in 2010 anyone? How about T.A. McClendon being ruled down as time expired in 2004? He was in, by the way- just no replay at the time to prove it) that no one could have predicted.

*Numbers are per game, rank is nationally.

Team

Points

Points Against

Passing Yards

Rushing Yards

NC State (5-2, 2-1 ACC)

26.9 (72nd)

20.1 (28th)

284 (29th)

130.3 (92nd)

Carolina (5-3, 2-2 ACC)

39 (21st)

19.3 (25th)

271.1 (37th)

206.4 (29th)

Wait, did we mention that this game will come down to something unpredictable and that you can throw the numbers out?

For up to the minute news on NC State sports, be sure to follow J.J. Greenstein on Twitter @TheJJGreenstein.