Tag:Wake Forest
Posted on: November 15, 2011 3:51 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Clemson at NC State

Posted by Chip Patterson

CLEMSON WILL WIN IF: They can take care of the ball. The Tigers' offensive potency is well-documented, but their recklessness almost cost them a chance at their first ACC Championship since 1991. In the last two games - 31-17 loss to Georgia Tech and 31-28 win over Wake Forest - the Tigers have turned the ball over seven times. The Tigers can score in a hurry, but games like the 18-point comeback at Maryland will be much tougher with a banged up Sammy Watkins (shoulder) and shifting along the offensive line. Clemson has an advantage over the Wolfpack on paper, but must keep their focus and take care of the ball to reverse the downward trends of the recent weeks.

NC STATE WILL WIN IF: The Wolfpack back seven play their best game of the year. Led by the nation's interception leader David Amerson, the NC State back seven have the opportunity to step up and keep bowl hopes alive with an upset. The unit played especially well in wins over Virginia and North Carolina, demonstrating great gap discipline and forcing tough throws that resulted in interceptions. The defense played well enough to win on the road against Boston College last week, but got no help from the other side of the ball. With Clemson's offensive firepower, the first concern will be frustrating and shutting down Tajh Boyd. If you let Boyd get comfortable, like Wake Forest did late in the game last Saturday, he will eventually figure out ways to beat you.

X-FACTOR: Clemson's focus. With the ACC Atlantic Division locked up, the Tigers could potentially lose this game and still accomplish many of the same achievable goals on the season. A loss on Saturday would still give them the opportunity to win the ACC Championship and potentially the Orange Bowl. Still several spots away in the BCS standings, it is unlikely that Clemson's best-case scenario is anything other than the Orange Bowl. But Dabo Swinney knows his young Tigers team needs to take every game as an opportunity to get better, especially if they want to win a potential rematch with Virginia Tech in the title game come December.

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Posted on: November 15, 2011 1:23 pm
Edited on: November 15, 2011 2:20 pm
 

Conference Title Race Reset, Week 12

Posted by Chip Patterson

With the regular season winding down, we'll check in on the conference title races in all 11 FBS conferences. The contenders, key games, and some early predictions on who will claim the league's automatic bowl berth.

SEC
Champion Destination: BCS Bowl Game
2010 Champion: Auburn

EAST CONTENDERS
1. Georgia (8-2, 6-1 conference)
2. South Carolina (8-2, 6-2)

WEST CONTENDERS
1. LSU (10-0, 6-0)
2. Alabama (9-1, 6-1)
3. Arkansas (9-1, 5-1)

Week 12 Key Games: Kentucky at Georgia; Mississippi State at Arkansas; LSU at Ole Miss

Pick: LSU. The SEC West contenders all have games that should be easy wins this weekend before setting up the dramatic finale to the division race. Alabama needs to travel to Auburn for the Iron Bowl and Arkansas visits LSU in Baton Rouge for an eventful Thanksgiving weekend in the SEC. However, the East will be wrapped up by Saturday afternoon. If Georgia beats Kentucky at home, the Bulldogs win the East outright and punch their ticket to Atlanta for the SEC title game. If the Wildcats pull the upset, South Carolina wins the title game bid thanks to the 45-42 victory in Athens earlier this season.

BIG 12
Champion Destination: BCS Bowl Game
2010 Champion: Oklahoma

CONTENDERS
1. Oklahoma State (10-0, 7-0 conference)
2. Oklahoma (8-1, 5-1)

Week 12 Key Games: Oklahoma State at Iowa State (Friday); Oklahoma at Baylor

Pick: Oklahoma State. With Oklahoma State's dismantling of Texas Tech, Kansas State mathematically falls out of the running for the Big 12 title. Now everything is set up for Bedlam, with the Cowboys having a slight advantage with the extra preparation time. After Iowa State on Friday, Mike Gundy will have 15 days to get ready for Oklahoma's visit to Stillwater. In that time, the Sooners face Baylor on the road and Iowa State at home.

PAC-12
Champion Destination: BCS Bowl Game (Rose Bowl or National Championship)
2010 Champion: Oregon

NORTH CONTENDERS
1. Oregon (9-1, 7-0 conference)
2. Stanford (9-1, 7-1)

SOUTH CONTENDERS
1. Arizona State (6-4, 4-3)
1. UCLA (5-5, 4-3)
3. Utah (6-4, 3-4)

Key Week 12 Games: Utah at Washington State; Colorado at UCLA; USC at Oregon; California at Stanford

Pick: Oregon. With their impressive road win against Stanford, the Ducks jumped into the driver's seat of the Pac-12 North and also made themselves players in the national title discussion. Their argument as the nation's best one loss team is strong, but they will be tested again with a visit from a hot USC team. An upset at the hands of the Trojans would make the North interesting, but the way Oregon has been leaving opponents in the dust I think they take care of business down the stretch. The South is just a mess, with Arizona State and UCLA losing winnable games in Week 11 and suddenly making Utah a player in the race. The Bruins have the head-to-head on the Sun Devils, but Arizona State has more favorable matchups left on the schedule and a victory against Utah. Then again, no one in that division (at least no one eligible for the postseason) has been predictable.

BIG TEN
Champion Destination: BCS Bowl Game (Rose Bowl or National Championship)
2010 Champion: Wisconsin (Rose Bowl berth)/Michigan State/Ohio State

LEGENDS CONTENDERS
1. Michigan State (8-2, 5-1 conference)
2. Michigan (8-2, 4-2)
2. Nebraska (8-2, 4-2)
4. Iowa (6-4, 3-3)

LEADERS CONTENDERS
1. Penn State (8-2, 5-1)
2. Wisconsin (8-2, 4-2)
3. Ohio State (6-4, 3-3)
3. Purdue (5-5, 3-3)

Key Week 12 Games: Indiana at Michigan State; Nebraska at Michigan; Wisconsin at Illinois; Iowa at Purdue; Penn State at Ohio State

Pick: Wisconsin. Even without taking off-field situations into consideration, Penn State desperately needed to win against Nebraska on Saturday for the Big Ten title race. The loss brought the rest of the division one game closer in the standings, and now interim head coach Tom Bradley must lead them on the road against Ohio State and Wisconsin to wrap up a tumultuous November for the program. Ohio State did themselves no favors in the overtime loss to Purdue, which negated the one game they picked up on Wisconsin with 33-29 win in Week 9. If the Badgers can avoid an upset against the Fighting Zooks this week, it will set up a division title game with Penn State in Camp Randall. Everything considered, I like the Badgers' chances in that matchup. The Spartans control their own destiny in the Leaders Division, with a one game lead and just Indiana and Northwestern left on the schedule. The loser of Nebraska - Michigan this weekend falls out of the title hunt, while the winner hopes for a Spartan slip-up. The Cornhuskers are in the best position to overtake Michigan State, but the schedule is not favorable with Michigan and Iowa left.

ACC
Champion Destination: BCS Bowl Game - Orange Bowl 
2010 Champion: Virginia Tech

ATLANTIC CONTENDERS
1. Clemson (9-1, 6-1 conference) - CLINCHED DIVISION

COASTAL CONTENDERS
1. Virginia Tech (9-1, 5-1)
2. Virginia (7-3, 4-2)

Key Week 11 Games: North Carolina at Virginia Tech (Thursday); Virginia at Florida State

Pick: Clemson. The Tigers nearly avoided letting the Atlantic Division slip away with the 31-28 come-from-behind victory over Wake Forest at home on Saturday. The Coastal Division race narrowed last weekend as well, with Virginia Tech knocking Georgia Tech from competition in the Thursday night contest in Atlanta. The Hokies return to action on Thursday against a reeling North Carolina team. Virginia needs a win over Florida State or a Virginia Tech loss to set up a season finale meeting with the Hokies for the Coastal Division title. A Cavaliers' loss to the Seminoles paired with a Virginia Tech win on Thursday will clinch Frank Beamer's fifth division title in seven years.

BIG EAST
Champion Destination: BCS Bowl Game
2010 Champion: Connecticut (Fiesta Bowl berth)/West Virginia/Pittsburgh

CONTENDERS
1. Cincinnati (7-2, 3-1 conference) 
2. Rutgers (7-3, 3-2)
2. West Virginia (7-3, 3-2)
2. Louisville (5-5, 3-2)
2. Pittsburgh (5-5, 3-2)
6. Connecticut (4-5, 2-2)

Key Week 12 Games: Louisville at Connecticut; Cincinnati at Rutgers

Pick: West Virginia. Cincinnati and Louisville needed wins in Week 11 to create some distance in the always-muddled Big East title race. Instead both teams lost and now we are left with this six-team dash towards the finish line. The Bearcats' loss was not just in the standings on Saturday, but starting quarterback Zach Collaros has been ruled out for the season with a broken ankle. Victories over Cincinnati and Rutgers put West Virginia in the best position heading down the stretch, but the Mountaineers cannot afford another loss with the Backyard Brawl in two weeks and at USF in the season finale. The conference is rooting for Rutgers to knock off the banged up Bearcats and even the playing field with two-loss teams. The Scarlet Knights just have Connecticut left on the schedule, but will need some help to overtake West Virginia. Louisville has a favorable schedule with Connecticut and USF, but both games are on the road and they need Cincinnati to lose twice. Pittsburgh and Connecticut are still technically in the race, though there is little evidence in their resume that they are prepared to close out against the competition.

CONFERENCE USA
Champion Destination: Liberty Bowl
2010 Champion: UCF

EAST CONTENDERS
1. Southern Miss (9-1, 5-1 conference) 
2. Marshall (4-5, 3-2) 

WEST CONTENDERS
1. Houston (10-0, 6-0) 
1. Tulsa (7-3, 6-0) 

Key Week 12 Games: Southern Miss at UAB (Thursday); SMU at Houston; Marshall at Memphis; Tulsa at UTEP

Pick: Houston. East Carolina fell from contention with a loss in Week 11, and Southern Miss avoided dropping a costly game to UCF with a gritty 30-29 victory. The Golden Eagles have a favorable slate left, with UAB and Memphis as the obstacles left in the way of a Conference USA title game bid. The West Division continues to set up for a potentially scoreboard friendly regular season finale between Houston and Tulsa. I don't expect the Cougars to lose focus at this point, particularly now that a BCS bowl game bid has become a possibility for Case Keenum and Co..

MOUNTAIN WEST CONFERENCE
Champion Destination: Maaco Bowl
2010 Champion: TCU

CONTENDERS
1. TCU (8-2, 5-0 conference) 
2. Boise State (8-1, 3-1) 
2. Wyoming (6-3, 3-1) 

Key Week 12 Games: New Mexico at Wyoming; Colorado State at TCU; Boise State at San Diego State

Pick: TCU. For the second year in a row, Boise State is knocked from their perch in the national rankings and conference standings with a missed field goal in the final moments of a close loss. The only way TCU loses the Mountain West conference at this point is falling to Colorado State (3-6) and UNLV (2-7). If sophomore quarterback Casey Pachall is 50% as productive as he was against the Broncos, the Horned Frogs should have the conference locked up in the coming weeks. Still, Wyoming and Boise State can win out to keep alive. But I wouldn't bet on TCU slipping down the stretch.

WAC
Champion Destination: Poinsettia/Hawaii/Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
2010 Champion: Nevada/Boise State/Hawaii

CONTENDERS
1. Nevada (6-3, 4-0 conference) 
2. Louisiana Tech (6-4, 4-1) 
3. Utah State (4-5, 2-2)

Key Week 12 Games: Louisiana Tech at Nevada; Utah State at Idaho

Pick: Nevada. HUGE game in the WAC this weekend as Louisiana Tech squares off against conference-leading Nevada. The winner takes the driver's seat in the conference title race, with the Wolf Pack nearly locking up the championship if they can get the win at home. Utah State still technically has a shot to finish on top, but the extent of help they would need to jump both teams seems unrealistic. Louisiana Tech is on a five game winning streak after starting 1-4, but cannot afford to drop another game if they hope to steal the WAC from Nevada.

MAC
Champion Destination: GoDaddy.com Bowl
2010 Champion: Miami (OH)

EAST CONTENDERS
1. Ohio (7-3, 4-2 conference)
2. Temple (6-4, 4-3)
3. Kent State (4-6, 3-3)
3. Miami (OH) (4-6, 3-3)

WEST CONTENDERS
1. Northern Illinois (7-3, 5-1)
1. Toledo (6-4, 5-1)
3 Ball State (6-4, 4-2)

Key Week 12 Games: Ball State at Northern Illinois (Tuesday); Ohio at Bowling Green (Wednesday); Western Michigan at Miami (OH) (Wednesday); Toledo at Central Michigan (Friday); Eastern Michigan at Kent State

Pick: Northern Illinois. The Huskies continue to own the inside track in the West Division thanks to their 63-60 victory over Toledo earlier this month, but Ball State can shake things up with a win Tuesday night. Toledo needs to win out in-conference and get help from Ball State or Eastern Michigan to jump into first place, while the Cardinals will get an opportunity to knock off both frontrunners in their next contests. The East is even more confusing, with three three-loss teams hoping Ohio slips up down the stretch against Bowling Green and/or Miami (OH). Next week will be the deciding weekend for the MAC East, with Ohio facing Miami and Kent State taking on Temple. Regardless of who finishes on top, taking down Northern Illinois or Toledo in the MAC title game will be no easy task.

SUN BELT
Champion Destination: New Orleans Bowl
2010 Champion: FIU/Troy

CONTENDERS
1. Arkansas State (8-2, 6-0 conference) 
2. Western Kentucky (5-5, 5-1) 

Key Week 12 Games: Arkansas State at Middle Tennessee; Western Kentucky at North Texas

Pick: Arkansas State. Arkansas State continued their surprising tear through the Sun Belt with a much-needed victory over Louisiana-Lafayette in Week 11. The loss eliminated the Ragin' Cajuns from title contention, and now Arkansas State needs just one more conference win to clinch the title. Western Kentucky remains in contention, but need the Red Wolves to lose their final two games to overtake them in the standings.

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Posted on: November 14, 2011 10:22 am
 

ACC poll reactions, Week 11

Posted by Chip Patterson

This week's polls have been released. Here's how the ACC fared, from the top of the polls to the bottom, and what it means.

(AP/Coaches)

7/8. Clemson

Losses to undefeated Boise State and Stanford gave the Tigers a window of opportunity to move up in the polls. However, Clemson nearly took that opportunity away from themselves with a 31-28 scare from Wake Forest in Death Valley on Saturday. The Tigers were forced to rally back from a two-score second half deficit after giving up 21 points in a five minute span during the third quarter. Wake Forest's undersized defense found ways to frustrate quarterback Tajh Boyd early, but the talented sophomore made adjustments and led two impressive fourth quarter drives - the last one resulting in Chandler Catanzaro's game-winning field goal as time expired.

9/7. Virginia Tech

Like clockwork, Frank Beamer has the Hokies competing for an ACC Coastal Division title in mid-November. With their only loss of the season coming at the hands of Clemson, Virginia Tech positions themselves for their fifth ACC Championship Game berth in seven years with a road win over Georgia Tech. The victory leaves just North Carolina and Virginia left on the schedule, with only the Cavaliers in a position to overtake the Hokies in the standings. As long as Logan Thomas and David Wilson keep moving the ball on the ground, they should find themselves with an opportunity to face the Tigers again. This time the stakes will be higher, with a bid to a BCS bowl game on the line.

23/22. Florida State

The Seminoles find themselves back in the polls after putting away in-state rival Miami for their fifth straight win. The return of quarterback EJ Manuel to the starting lineup has made everyone on the offense better, and the defense is giving up only 11.6 points per game in the winning streak. Florida State's goals of returning to the ACC Championship Game have already become unattainable, but there is plenty left for second-year head coach Jimbo Fisher to build on with the rest of this season.

OTV/23. Georgia Tech

The Yellow Jackets' hopes of making an ACC Championship Game were dashed in the loss to Virginia Tech at home on Thursday night. The Ramblin' Wreck tried to pull out the same home-cooking that stunned the Hokies two weeks earlier, but the defense had no answer for the powerful combination of Logan Thomas and David Wilson in the fourth quarter. A personal foul on Jeremiah Attaochu for a punch thrown at Thomas will end up being the play that sticks out as the game's turning point, but the Yellow Jackets need to put that game behind them and avoid slipping back into a funk. Georgia Tech has lost three of their last four, but will have opportunities to finish strong at Duke and at home against in-state rival Georgia to close the season.

Others receiving votes:Georgia Tech sits right on the outside of the AP poll, but no other ACC teams received votes from the media. Mike London's Virginia squad fell just a handful of spots outside of the Coaches' Poll, and will have a chance to gain some ground if they can win out and steal the Coastal Division.

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Posted on: November 13, 2011 8:59 pm
 

BCS Standings Top 10 Reactions, Week 11



Posted by Eye On College Football


On Sunday night the new BCS standings were released. Well, well, well. Look at Oregon, right back in the thick of things after Saturday's mammoth win in Palo Alto. LSU is still king of the mountain, though, and with the losses by Boise State and Stanford, all of a sudden there's a clear No. 2 in Oklahoma State. So now the real question becomes what happens if one of the two unbeaten major conference teams suffers an upset, and who deserves to be next in line at the end of the day.

You can check out a rundown of the Top 10 below, with some thoughts from our College Football Bloggers. For a full breakdown of the Top 25 teams in the BCS formula, you can check out the comprehensive standings.

1. LSU: It's somewhat en vogue to just assume that LSU is going to be playing somebody for a title this January, and given that the Tigers are #1 in every poll, that's understandable. Still, assumptions have a tendency to make us look stupid in this sport, and LSU still has to play Arkansas and probably a Georgia team that's playing its best football of the season if it gets by the Razorbacks. It's foolish to assume that LSU is going to coast through those games. - Tom Fornelli

2. Oklahoma State: The situation hasn't really changed for Oklahoma State this week. Yes, it gets a bit of a boost by having both Stanford and Boise State suffer a loss -- as far as less competition for the title goes -- but the formula remains the same for the Cowboys: win out and Oklahoma State is going to the BCS title game. If Brandon Weeden and company lose, we're probably looking at the Cotton Bowl instead. - TF

3. Alabama: With the two high-profile losses this week, all of a sudden there are really only two teams with a legitimate case to make for being ahead of Alabama, and it's those two undefeated squads up top. Among the one-loss teams, though, it has to be the Tide at the top of the list; 'Bama was deservedly favored against LSU (leading to the rare "No. 1 upsets No. 2" situation last week), and that juggernaut of a defense isn't going anywhere. No, a rematch of LSU-Alabama isn't ideal, but the BCS is supposed to be here to put the best two teams on the field for the championship (right?), and we're one OSU loss away from that meaning LSU-Alabama again. - Adam Jacobi 

4. Oregon: No doubt about it, the Ducks were the weekend's big winners on and off the field. A drubbing of Stanford on national television put the flashy offense and surprisingly good defense back in everyone's minds and helped the team jump from seventh to fourth in the BCS standings. With some outside help, they're ready to state their case why it should be them and LSU in a rematch for the national title. - Bryan Fischer

5. Oklahoma: Everything that Oklahoma has needed to start happening is happening. Stanford has fallen, Boise State has fallen, and now the only unbeatens in Oklahoma's way are LSU and Oklahoma State. If Oklahoma beats Oklahoma State at the end of the season, will it be a big enough boost to vault the Sooners into the top 2? It's still too early to tell, but after Oregon's victory on Saturday it's already jumped ahead of the Sooners. The question now becomes will a win over Oklahoma State be enough to jump over Oregon and Alabama? We'll have to wait and see. - TF

6. Arkansas: At No. 6, Arkansas is not out of the mix for the national title game just yet. The key for the Razorbacks will be winning the SEC West and getting a shot in the SEC Championship Game. The only way I see Arkansas getting enough help from the pollsters will be that extra week to add to their resume with some hardware in Atlanta. Of course, getting there requires victories on Saturday against Mississippi State and in the regular season finale at LSU. The Razorbacks could also use some help from Auburn in the Iron Bowl to jump Alabama if the division standings finish with multiple one-loss teams. - Chip Patterson

7. Clemson: After the Clemson Tigers fell from their position at No. 5 in the BCS Standings in the loss to Georgia Tech, head coach Dabo Swinney explained the new focus of the 2011 Tigers: A) Win the ACC Atlantic B) Win the state championship C) Win an ACC Championship.  Clemson rallied back from a 28-14 second half deficit to clinch the ACC Atlantic Division in a 31-28 win over Wake Forest on Saturday.  With the first goal scratched off the list, the Tigers eye their annual matchup with South Carolina on Nov. 26 for the next one. - CP

8. Virginia Tech: The Hokies move up after arguably their biggest win of the season on the road against division rival Georgia Tech.  The loss knocked the Yellow Jackets from contention for the Coastal Division title, and now Virginia Tech just needs to close out against North Carolina and Virginia to book their fifth trip to the ACC Championship Game in the last seven years.  David Wilson was a monster on the ground, picking up 175 yards on 23 carries.  His performances down the stretch are making a strong case for ACC Player of the Year.  Frank Beamer's squad is too far out to consider them even a longshot for the title game, so the focus for the Hokies is the automatic bid given to the ACC Champion in December. - CP

9. Stanford: The biggest game in Palo Alto in ages failed to live up to Cardinal fans' hopes as the speed vs. size match up fell decidedly in favor of the speedy Ducks. Though they're out of contention for a Pac-12 and national title (and Andrew Luck's Heisman campaign took a major blow), there's still a decent chance they find themselves in a BCS bowl as an at-large candidate at the end of the year. It's a little interesting to see them behind Virginia Tech, however. - BF

10. Boise State: Another missed field goal crushes the BCS busting dreams of the Broncos.  Saturday's first-ever (and possibly only) conference matchup against TCU was the last respectable hurdle for Boise State.  It was the last opportunity to really make a statement against an opponent with some national credibility. Casey Pachall shredded the Broncos' secondary and even Kellen Moore couldn't avoid the Horned Frog pass rush down the stretch.  Winning out will keep the Broncos in contention for a BCS bowl, but now Houston (at No. 11 in the BCS) threatens to steal one of those at-large bids from Boise's grasp. - CP
Posted on: November 13, 2011 2:01 am
Edited on: November 13, 2011 2:28 am
 

ACC Winners and Losers: Week 11



Posted by Chip Patterson


A handy recap of who really won and who really lost that you won't find in the box score.

WINNER: Virginia Tech's offensive backfield

The Hokies moved into control of the ACC Coastal Division thanks to another set of outstanding offensive performances from sophomore quarterback Logan Thomas and running back David Wilson. Wilson's gaudy numbers have become standard-issue for Virginia Tech, but Thursday night's 175 yard outing cemented his status as a contender for ACC Player of the Year. Thomas added 70 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, a nice compliment to his three touchdown passes. Between Wilson's elusiveness and Thomas' strength running the ball, they form a dangerous duo that any defense struggles to stop. Virginia Tech hasn't clinched their fifth division title in seven years yet, they still have North Carolina and in-state rival Virginia left on the schedule. But with the way Thomas and Wilson have been performing recently, I like their chances to be in Charlotte for a rematch with Clemson on Dec. 3.

LOSER: Georgia Tech LB Jeremiah Attaochu

With a 26-21 lead late in the third quarter, Attaochu appeared to have Logan Thomas stopped in his tracks on third down. The Hokies were deep in their own territory, and the punt would have given the Yellow Jackets the ball with great field position as the final period approached. But as the talented linebacker struggled to bring the 6-foot-6 250+ pound quarterback to the ground, Attaochu made a serious mistake throwing a punch.

"I just had an overdose of adrenalin," Attaochu explained after the game. "When I made contact with him, I was mad he wouldn't go down."

The personal foul penalty kept the Virginia Tech drive alive, and it ended with a 12-yard Logan Thomas touchdown run to give the Hokies a 27-26 lead heading into the fourth quarter. The penalty was undoubtedly the turning point of the second half, after the Yellow Jackets had put together two dominating touchdown drives. The loss knocked Georgia Tech out of contention for the ACC Championship Game, one of the primary goals for this team after last season's disappointing 6-7 finish.

WINNER: Chandler Catanzaro

Clemson's defense followed Tajh Boyd's game tying touchdown pass to Jaron Brown by forcing Wake Forest into a three and out. The field position was ideal, but Boyd was only able to drive the Tigers down to the 13 before Dabo Swinney tapped kicker Chandler Catanzaro to kick the potential game-winning field goal with less than 90 seconds remaining. Catanzaro has been streaky over the last two seasons, but from 30 yards the kick was expected to be a routine make for the sophomore from Greenville, S.C.. Catanzaro missed the kick, sending shock through Death Valley as Clemson fans saw their status as ACC Atlantic frontrunners shaken for the moment. But the Tigers' defense once again answered, giving Catanzaro another shot to win the game and lock up the Atlantic Division title. This time from 43-yards out, Catanzaro was iced twice by Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe before splitting the upright as time expired, booking Clemson's ticket to the ACC Championship Game on Dec. 3 in Charlotte.

LOSER: Jimmy Newman

Wake Forest had Death Valley silenced for a moment in the third quarter on Saturday, after the Demon Deacons scored 21 points in a five minute period to take a 28-14 lead on the ninth-ranked Tigers. But while Chandler Catanzaro got his shot at redemption and hit the game-winning field goal, Wake Forest kicker Jimmy Newman has to walk away from a three point loss after missing two field goals, including one from 32 yards in the fourth quarter. There were plenty of other breakdowns - like the defense allowing Tajh Boyd to pick apart the secondary with receivers NOT named Sammy Watkins, or the offenses sudden inability to control the Clemson pass rush - but games this close come down to execution in routine areas like special teams. While still not bowl eligible, Wake Forest was a field goal away from taking the inside track towards their second ACC Championship Game appearance. After failing to pull the upset on Saturday, the Demon Deacons head home needing a win against either Maryland or Vanderbilt to make the postseason.

WINNER: Luke Kuechly

The man they call "Superman" in Chestnut Hill was just that on Saturday in Boston College's 14-10 victory over NC State. While the Eagles were getting no help from their offense in the second half (-2 yards of total offense), the defense stepped up against a relentless Wolfpack squad led by the gunslinging Mike Glennon. All-American linebacker Luke Kuechly recorded 18 tackles int he victory, his 32nd straight game with double digits in tackles.

Not only was Kuechly all over the field making plays, but he was stepping up when his team needed stops the most. Nine of his 18 tackles were recorded in the final 13 minutes of play, as Boston College fought off NC State in a scoreless fourth quarter. Kuechly entered the game as the nation's leading tackler, and his current total of 168 already has him closing in on last season's nation-leading total of 183. Boston College has suffered setbacks in nearly every aspect of the roster, but Kuechly has been the one consistent piece of Frank Spaziani's 2011 unit. How much longer either will last in Chestnut Hill is still unclear, but coaches and fans alike will enjoy every down Kuechly has left this season.

LOSER: Tom O'Brien

After listing the NC State head coach as a winner in Week 10, TOB walks away from Week 11 as one of the losers. O'Brien had all the momentum after winning the on-field and off-field war with in-state rival North Carolina. But Saturday's loss to his former team, Boston College, gives O'Brien naysayers plenty of ammo for the "hot seat" discussion. Not only is O'Brien winless on the road against his former employer, but the Wolfpack have not won an Atlantic Division road game since his arrival in Raleigh.

O'Brien's squads have often been right on the verge of bowl eligibility, but only reaching the postseason twice. For NC State to be bowl eligible this season, they now need to defeat both Clemson and Maryland at home in the next two weeks. If the Wolfpack had been able to win in Chestnut Hill on Saturday, next week's matchup with No. 9 Clemson would not be a must-win. O'Brien's record at NC State is exactly .500 after the loss, and his record against conference opponents is l6-22. The Wolfpack fans love that TOB is undefeated against rival North Carolina, but those wanting to cause a job security stir will have a stronger argument if the Wolfpack miss the postseason for the third time in O'Brien's five years.


WINNERS: Streaky Florida State

The 23-19 win over in-state rival Miami signaled both the end and continuation of streaks for the Seminoles. For the first time since 2005 the home team in the Miami-Florida State rivalry won, with the Seminoles claiming the last home victory six years ago in Tallahassee. But while that streak came to a halt, Florida State extended their current win streak to five games.

Ever since EJ Manuel returned to the starting lineup after suffering a shoulder injury against Oklahoma, the Seminoles have been a completely different team offensively. In the five-game stretch, the 'Noles are averaging 35.4 points per game, and the rotating running back position seems to have settled on freshman Devonta Freeman as the primary back for the future. Unfortunately, the Clemson loss earlier in the season has the Seminoles out of the ACC Atlantic Division race. The work put in now helps improve their bowl bid possibilities and builds for another shot at the ACC with many of these same players in 2012.

LOSER: Maryland's locker room

Things have gone from bad to worse for Maryland, who picked up their sixth straight loss - their eighth in nine games - in the 45-21 loss to Notre Dame at FedEx Field. After a uninspiring effort in their home finale at Byrd Stadium, Maryland donned their "Maryland Pride" uniforms for Saturday's neutral field contest with the Fighting Irish in the home of the Washington Redskins. On Friday, reports of dissension within the Terrapins locker room was confirmed by players - including kicker Nick Ferrara.

"At this point, it's not like two sides of the cafeteria - this side is buying in, this side is not," Ferrara told The Washington Post. "People are keeping it to themselves. No one knows who is going to go [transfer], who is going to stay, who is feeling which way."

The Terrapins suffered yet another setback in the loss to the Irish, with sophomore quarterback Danny O'Brien breaking a bone in "his upper arm" during the third quarter. The 2010 ACC Rookie of the Year has already been ruled out for the final two games of the season. O'Brien's absence leaves sophomore C.J. Brown as the only available scholarship quarterback. The Terps travel to Winston-Salem next week to face Wake Forest before wrapping up the season at NC State at the end of the month.

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Posted on: November 12, 2011 3:44 pm
Edited on: November 12, 2011 3:46 pm
 

QUICK HITS: No. 9 Clemson 31, Wake Forest 28

Posted by Chip Patterson

CLEMSON WON. With the ACC Atlantic Division on the line, the Tigers overcame a 14 point third quarter deficit to knock Wake Forest off in the final seconds and win 31-28. After missing a 30-yard field goal earlier in the quarter, Clemson kicker Chandler Catanzaro lined up a 43-yard try and nailed it as time expired. The win clinched the ACC Atlantic Division title for Clemson, who will face the winner of the Coastal (either Virginia Tech or Virginia) in the ACC Championship Game on Dec. 3.

HOW CLEMSON WON: Wake Forest stunned the Tigers in the second half with three touchdowns in a five minute span, jumping out to a 28-14 lead. But Tajh Boyd and Andre Ellington overcame early turnovers to help lead the Tigers down the field and back into the game late. The Tigers were able to get the offense going despite losing Sammy Watkins to an "upper extremity injury" in the third quarter. Boyd finished the game with 343 yards passing, looking to receivers like Jaron Brown and Brandon Ford to step up in Watkins' absence. The depth of skill position players helped keep the Tigers' offense humming, and the defensive line picked the right time to get pressure on Wake Forest quarterback Tanner Price.

WHEN CLEMSON WON: After trailing by two touchdowns, the Tigers didn't get to enjoy success until the clock hit zero as Catanzaro's kick sailed through the uprights. The comeback wasn't pretty, but credit Tajh Boyd and a gang of unheralded receivers for putting them in the position to win the game late.

WHAT CLEMSON WON: A trip to Charlotte to compete for the ACC Championship. The Tigers had their national championship hopes dashed by Georgia Tech two weeks ago, but they can still find their way to a BCS bowl with a conference title. Clemson's division title is their second in three years, as they strive to capture their first league championship since 1991.

WHAT WAKE FOREST LOST: The chance to steal the ACC Atlantic Division from Clemson. The Demon Deacons needed wins over Clemson and Maryland to claim the division, and with a 28-14 lead in the third quarter it looked likely. Wake Forest already stunned Florida State, and knocking off the Tigers would have added to a memorable season for a team picked to finish last in the ACC. The next goal for Jim Grobe's squad is bowl eligibility, as the Demon Deacons need one more win to make the postseason.

THAT WAS CRAZY: Freshman phenom Sammy Watkins has had a memorable first season with the Tigers, and Saturday he broke the 1,000-yard mark on the season. Watkins currently has 1,035 receiving yards, but his future may be in jeopardy after leaving the game with an "upper extremity injury." Watkins appeared to injure his shoulder/ribs, and did not return to the game. The true freshman has been electrifying this season, and a big part of the Tigers' success. If he's out, it is a huge blow to Clemson's offense.

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Posted on: November 12, 2011 3:44 pm
Edited on: November 12, 2011 3:46 pm
 

QUICK HITS: No. 9 Clemson 31, Wake Forest 28

Posted by Chip Patterson

CLEMSON WON. With the ACC Atlantic Division on the line, the Tigers overcame a 14 point third quarter deficit to knock Wake Forest off in the final seconds and win 31-28. After missing a 30-yard field goal earlier in the quarter, Clemson kicker Chandler Catanzaro lined up a 43-yard try and nailed it as time expired. The win clinched the ACC Atlantic Division title for Clemson, who will face the winner of the Coastal (either Virginia Tech or Virginia) in the ACC Championship Game on Dec. 3.

HOW CLEMSON WON: Wake Forest stunned the Tigers in the second half with three touchdowns in a five minute span, jumping out to a 28-14 lead. But Tajh Boyd and Andre Ellington overcame early turnovers to help lead the Tigers down the field and back into the game late. The Tigers were able to get the offense going despite losing Sammy Watkins to an "upper extremity injury" in the third quarter. Boyd finished the game with 343 yards passing, looking to receivers like Jaron Brown and Brandon Ford to step up in Watkins' absence. The depth of skill position players helped keep the Tigers' offense humming, and the defensive line picked the right time to get pressure on Wake Forest quarterback Tanner Price.

WHEN CLEMSON WON: After trailing by two touchdowns, the Tigers didn't get to enjoy success until the clock hit zero as Catanzaro's kick sailed through the uprights. The comeback wasn't pretty, but credit Tajh Boyd and a gang of unheralded receivers for putting them in the position to win the game late.

WHAT CLEMSON WON: A trip to Charlotte to compete for the ACC Championship. The Tigers had their national championship hopes dashed by Georgia Tech two weeks ago, but they can still find their way to a BCS bowl with a conference title. Clemson's division title is their second in three years, as they strive to capture their first league championship since 1991.

WHAT WAKE FOREST LOST: The chance to steal the ACC Atlantic Division from Clemson. The Demon Deacons needed wins over Clemson and Maryland to claim the division, and with a 28-14 lead in the third quarter it looked likely. Wake Forest already stunned Florida State, and knocking off the Tigers would have added to a memorable season for a team picked to finish last in the ACC. The next goal for Jim Grobe's squad is bowl eligibility, as the Demon Deacons need one more win to make the postseason.

THAT WAS CRAZY: Freshman phenom Sammy Watkins has had a memorable first season with the Tigers, and Saturday he broke the 1,000-yard mark on the season. Watkins currently has 1,035 receiving yards, but his future may be in jeopardy after leaving the game with an "upper extremity injury." Watkins appeared to injure his shoulder/ribs, and did not return to the game. The true freshman has been electrifying this season, and a big part of the Tigers' success. If he's out, it is a huge blow to Clemson's offense.

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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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