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Tag:Game Previews
Posted on: November 15, 2011 3:20 pm
 

Keys to the Game: North Carolina at Virginia Tech

Posted by Chip Patterson

VIRGINIA TECH WILL WIN IF: They create turnovers and dictate the pace of the game. One thing Virginia Tech has done as well as anyone in the conference is hold on to a lead. It is not always pretty, as shown in the Hokies' 14-10 victory over Duke, but for the most part the ability to control the ball and shut down offensive drives has helped keep Virginia Tech at the top of the division. As the clock winds down in the second half, the Hokies will force their opposition to start taking chances in order to get back into the game. That's when Bud Foster's defense thrives, forcing turnovers and coming up with a stop in a crucial situation. The Tar Heels have lost three of their last four, and looked shaky outside for their win against Wake Forest. If Virginia Tech can get a first half lead and rattle Bryn Renner early, they could set themselves up for second half turnovers to ice the game.

NORTH CAROLINA WILL WIN IF: Logan Thomas and David Wilson are neutralized. This may be done with on-field performance or it may happen by sickness/injury. But if Thomas and Wilson are given the freedom to get going offensively North Carolina will not have much of a chance on the road in Blacksburg. Ball control has been an essential part of several Hokie victories, so running back Gio Bernard will need to get the ground game going to keep drives alive. The Tar Heels need to revert back to their performance against Wake Forest, when the offense put up 562 yards of offense and 49 points on the Demon Deacons. Bryn Renner was calculating and accurate with the ball, completing 21 of 28 passes for 338 yards and three touchdowns. North Carolina's offense needs to get that type of production in order to knock off the Hokies at home.

X-FACTOR: North Carolina's secondary. Logan Thomas has been streaky with his ability to consistently get the ball to his receivers for four quarters. However, the North Carolina secondary has been equally inconsistent and burned for a big play more times than Everett Withers would care to count. If North Carolina's secondary steps up to the challenge and makes the Hokies one-dimensional, and North Carolina's rush defense is one of the best in the ACC. If Logan Thomas gets hot playing pitch and catch, he could end up burning the Tar Heels deep with a big play. Something North Carolina cannot afford to give up against an opponent like Virginia Tech.

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Posted on: November 8, 2011 5:01 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Florida at South Carolina

Posted by Chip Patterson


SOUTH CAROLINA WILL WIN IF
: The offensive line can protect Conner Shaw and open up lanes for the rushing game. Just a week after running back Brandon Wilds exploded through Tennessee's defense for 137 yards, the freshman was a non-factor against Arkansas picking up just 21 yards on ten carries. Shaw was sacked five times by the Razorback defense and struggled to find his receivers in space. Florida's defense will be looking to pressure Shaw into making mistakes, and the offensive line needs to deliver one their best performances of the season to keep the Gamecocks in the hunt for back-to-back SEC East titles.

FLORIDA WILL WIN IF: They continue to limit the penalties and mental mistakes. The Gators have been one of the most penalized teams in the country this season, but they were only flagged three times in the 26-21 win over Vanderbilt. Penalties were a common thread in Florida's four-game losing streak, and the return of John Brantley combined with mistake-free (or closer to it) football finally helped Will Muschamp's squad snap the slide. The division battle with South Carolina promises to be fast and physical, and the Gators must get disciplined play on all sides of the ball to knock off No. 13 South Carolina and reach bowl eligibility.

X-FACTOR: Chris Rainey's health. Rainey's absence did play a part in Jeff Demps running for a career-high 158 yards against Vanderbilt, but the Gators are a better team with both weapons suited up and ready to play. Rainey is expected to return against South Carolina, but his effectiveness could end up being one of the deciding factors in the division battle.

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Posted on: November 8, 2011 2:17 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Alabama at Mississippi State

Posted by Chip Patterson

ALABAMA WILL WIN IF: They play anyone but their scout team? I imagine that Nick Saban has this Crimson Tide team ready to play at the highest level of execution following their overtime loss to LSU. Remember what Alabama did to Michigan State after Saban was upset with his team's focus during the regular season? I expect a similar result when they face Mississippi State on Saturday. Richardson will run like a man on fire and the defense will strive to shut out a reeling Bulldogs squad.

MISSISSIPPI STATE WILL WIN IF: Alabama has been shaken due to the loss. The Bulldogs will try to use the home field advantage at night as much as possible, but the ground attack of Chris Relf and Vick Ballard just doesn't look productive enough to take on a defense like the Tide. Their best chance to stun Alabama early is to try and force McCarron into making poor decisions and hope for an early turnover. Otherwise, it could be a long and painful night for the Bulldogs.

X-FACTOR: AJ McCarron. After struggling against LSU, I'm interested to see how the first-year starter bounces back against the Bulldogs. If the sophomore quarterback wants to keep his hold on the first-string job in the future, he will need to prove it in these last weeks of the season. Richardson and Lacy are probably enough for Alabama to win on Saturday, but a good performance from McCarron could lead to the domination Tide fans are hoping for.

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Posted on: November 8, 2011 2:14 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Wake Forest at Clemson

Posted by Chip Patterson

CLEMSON WILL WIN IF: The defense can play disciplined on the perimeter. Clemson's offense should be back on track with Andre Ellington back in the lineup, but Wake Forest has every ability to hang with the Tigers in the event of a shootout. Clemson's defense will be looking to rebound after the Georgia Tech loss, and the Demon Deacons present a similar threat with their spread misdirection attack. Wake uses several different screens and bubble plays to give playmakers like Chris Givens the space to break the big one. If the Tigers play disciplined and keep Wake Forest from hitting the home run the offense should be able to take care of the rest.

WAKE FOREST WILL WIN IF: The offense can sustain long scoring drives. Wake Forest's defense is undersized and outmatched against Chad Morris' high-powered attack, but Tanner Price can help neutralize that advantage by orchestrating long, time-consuming drives that end in touchdowns. Brandon Pendergrass and Josh Harris will need to find seams in defense on the ground to create offensive balance, but there are enough short yardage plays for the Demon Deacons to do some damage with proper execution.

X-FACTOR: Trick plays. Wake Forest has burned several opponents this year with halfback passes, wide receiver passes, reverses and flea flickers. Clemson has superior talent and athletes, but that does no good to defend a play you aren't prepared to face. The Tigers' defense must keep their head on a swivel at all times, and never let Givens or Campanaro get behind the safeties.

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Posted on: November 8, 2011 2:10 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech

Posted by Chip Patterson

VIRGINIA TECH WILL WIN IF: Logan Thomas can find a rhythm early against the Yellow Jackets. You figure that David Wilson will be able to get his usual 100+ yards on the ground, but games where Thomas has gotten hot have led to the most impressive Virginia Tech performances. Thomas' streakiness works in the opposite direction as well, and I expect Georgia Tech's defense to try and confuse the redshirt sophomore with different looks from the linebackers. The Hokies defense is banged up, but Bud Foster has had an extra week to prepare them for Paul Johnson's bruising flexbone option. If Virginia Tech's offense can counter the Jackets with their own ball-control ground game, they take away one of Georgia Tech's best weapons in the matchup.

GEORGIA TECH WILL WIN IF: They can jump out to an early lead on the Hokies. Virginia Tech has not been forced to mount a big comeback once this season, and if the Yellow Jackets can score early they will put Logan Thomas in an unfamiliar position. Rattling the first-year starter will be the responsibility of Al Groh's talented crop of linebackers, as they must contain him from getting streaky hot through the air while eliminating his options to run. The Hokies' defense is thin due to injury, so the more time of possession for Georgia Tech the better.

X-FACTOR: The Georgia Tech passing game. Tevin Washington made a difference in the Clemson victory with great reads and big plays on the ground. But the sophomore quarterback has still not regained his earlier season form through the air. If Washington's accuracy is off, Virginia Tech has the secondary that can make him pay. Led by Thorpe semifinalist Jayron Hosley, the defensive backs will be hawking every pass Washington attempts hoping to come up with a game-changing turnover.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com