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Tag:Virginia Tech
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 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 2:15 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2011 2:16 pm
 

SEC Poll Reactions, Week 11

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

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

(AP/Coaches)

1/1. LSU

Thanks, TCU: thanks to the Horned Frogs ruining another Boise State dream season, the Tigers picked up the final first-place vote to become the AP's first unanimous No. 1 since Texas in October of 2008. LSU wasn't at their sharpest in beating Western Kentucky 42-9, but thanks to what still stands as the nation's best body of work by a mile, one mild off-week was never going to have any effect where the polls are concerned. Now the Tigers just have to make sure their Thanksgiving week showdown with Arkansas doesn't become what that 2008 Texas team's showdown vs. Texas Tech became.

3/3. ALABAMA

Thanks to Stanford's loss at Oregon, the Tide are now just one Oklahoma State slip-up from ascending to the No. 2 spot in both polls ... assuming the voters aren't so impressed with Oklahoma if that slip-up comes against the Sooners that OU leapfrogs the Tide. But with the Ducks still wedged between the two teams and a healthy margin between Alabama and both Oregon and Oklahoma, that seems doubtful. The vagaries of anti-rematch antipathy voting and the BCS computers means we certainly can't rule out an LSU-Oklahoma title game -- as projected by our own Jerry Palm -- but the Tide should still expect to be No. 2 in the polls if the Sooners win out.

6/6. ARKANSAS

Boise goes down, Stanford goes down, and the Hogs move two places up the conveyor belt. We're not sure they belong ahead of Clemson, since the Tigers have a pair of ranked wins over Virginia Tech and Florida State to the Razorbacks' one, but we're also not sure they belong behind Oklahoma, whose loss to Texas Tech now looks completely inexplicable. So sixth is probably just about right.



13/14. GEORGIA

Penn State's
tumble opens up room for the Bulldogs to move up a spot in both polls after their best win of the season, over Auburn. Of course, that the Dawgs' best win of the season came at home over Auburn illustrates why we're not sold on them as the No. 13 or 14 team in the country over the likes of Wisconsin, Kansas State or USC, all of whom have wins over teams still currently ranked. Or, AP voters, that South Carolina team whose biggest victory came on the road at ... Georgia.

14/13. SOUTH CAROLINA

As with last week, we're not sure Carolina belongs ahead of the rest of the poll's two-loss teams even after extending Florida's misery. But we are sure they belong ahead of Georgia, so kudos to the Coaches for getting that much right. Now if they'd just finally notice Clemson pounded Virginia Tech in Blacksburg a few weeks back, they'll be set.

And with Auburn now reduced to a handful of stray AP votes, that's it for the SEC in the poll. Five teams in the top 15 looks pretty spiffy--but that those are the only five teams anywhere near the top 25 should tell you just how top heavy the league is this season. A vintage year, this is not.

Posted on: November 14, 2011 12:56 pm
 

The Poll Attacks: Week 11

Posted by Bryan Fischer

The latest college football polls are out and now it's time to rip them to shreds. Senior college basketball writer Gary Parrish has been calling out voters in the major hoops polls for thinking a little bit too far outside of the box when it comes to their AP ballots every week.

With the football season starting, I thought I'd steal take the baton on the idea from my colleague and keep all of the writers across the country who vote honest. I've come to know a good number of these people through time and twitter but relationships do not matter, bad votes do.

AP Poll           Coaches Poll           Harris Poll           BCS

(Details of AP ballots courtesy of PollSpeak.com)

Poll reactions: ACC, Big East, Big 12, Pac-12

Rodney Dangerfield "No respect" team(s) of the week: USC, Wisconsin

  Two teams find themselves in this spot this week, which is very hard to do considering the majority of teams outside of the top 10 could be considered overrated. The Trojans have a legitimate gripe about being 18th, the lowest they've been in the polls at 8-2 in the school's illustrious history. Throttling a previously ranked Washington team did nothing to impress anybody it seems, holding the Huskies powerful offense to 17 points and running back Chris Polk to just 36 yards on the ground. The offense with Matt Barkley and Robert Woods is humming and the defense is finally looking solid. Though the Big Ten as a whole is a mess this year, Wisconsin is getting no love as the 15th ranked team. They're two hail mary's from being undefeated and destroyed a ranked Nebraska team earlier in the season. The offense is among the most balanced in the country and the defense has been superb outside of the last play of the game.

Overrated: Florida State

  The bottom of the top 25 has so many teams to put in this spot it's hard to pick just one. But we'll settle on the Seminoles who are ranked thanks to a win over a mediocre Miami team on Saturday. Two of their seven wins are against non-BCS teams, four are against ACC teams in the bottom half of the conference in total defense and the other one is against a just plain terrible N.C. State team. It's not an impressive resume and like, say Notre Dame, they should wait to be ranked.

California Craziness

A trio of voters from California (CSN Bay Area/CBSSports.com's Ray Ratto, San Jose Mercury News' Jon Wilner, LA Daily News' Scott Wolf) are an interesting voting block. Some would call them progressive, others would call them extreme and just about everybody else will call them crazy given their fluctuations in their ballots each week. All three are consistently in Pollspeak's group of "extreme voters" so we'll highlight the most baffling decision(s) out of each.

  Had a chance to talk to both Ratto and Wilner this weekend at Stanford and had a pleasant conversation with them both (no hard feelings from anybody but don't think we didn't notice you put FCS team Georgia Southern 25th Ray). Either way, Wolf takes the honor in this spot this week after being the only person to put Boise State number one last week. He moved the Broncos down to 9th after their loss which is ok but having Cincinnati 18th, Georgia Tech 20th, Auburn ranked at all, TCU unranked and Houston 16th are not ok.

What were you thinking? Tom Murphy, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

  The Coaches put Virginia Tech ahead of Clemson, even though the Tigers own the head-to-head win, for the third week in a row so there's that. But Mr. Murphy fins himself in this spot heading into week 12. Arkansas is the highest ranked one-loss team which is fine but what isn't is Georgia 8th and Stanford 11th. The Cardinal was ranked in the top four last week and yet fall behind a two-loss Bulldogs team that hasn't played anybody good as they've built their win streak up? Undefeated Houston is down at 18th, Florida State is 20th (see above), he has Virginia ranked higher than anyone and Penn State isn't even ranked while Notre Dame and Georgia Tech occupy the bottom two spots of Murphy's ballot. Also, Craig James voted Boise State 25th so there's that.

Posted on: November 14, 2011 12:26 am
 

Pac-12 poll reactions, Week 11

Posted by Bryan Fischer

This week's polls have been released. Here's how the Pac-12 fared, from the top of the polls to the bottom, and what it means.

(AP/Coaches)

4/4. Oregon

The Ducks secured what is likely their third straight conference title with a win on Saturday in their 19th straight Pac-12 win. As a result of throttling previously unbeaten Stanford in front of a national audience, Chip Kelly's team also moved up two spots and became the second highest one-loss team in the country. There's still a lot to play out in the regular season but Oregon has at least inserted themselves back in the BCS championship race.

8/9. Stanford

The Cardinal finally met their match and lost for the second consecutive year to Oregon, this time by a remarkably similar score as last season. Andrew Luck wasn't great, his team was even worse and big plays for the Ducks were the theme of the night. The loss cost them in the polls, dropping from third to eighth in the AP Poll and from second to ninth in the Coaches (behind Virginia Tech and Clemson from a weak ACC). There's still a chance they end up in a BCS bowl and remain in the top 10 but national title is out of the picture once again.

18/ N/A. USC

Yet another Trojans blowout, yet another miniscule bump in the polls for Lane Kiffin's squad. Historically, USC has never been this disrespected and whether that's because they're on the final year of a bowl ban and on probation or not is up for discussion. The defense has improved dramatically and Matt Barkley is starting to be someone you're hearing more and more about in the Heisman race. They have a chance to really make an impression this week against the Ducks up in Eugene but no player on the team has ever even won in the state of Oregon.

Others receiving votes: Arizona State received 7 points in the AP and 2 from the Coaches, Washington 6 in the AP, Utah 2 in the Coaches.

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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 10, 2011 11:18 pm
Edited on: November 10, 2011 11:22 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Virginia Tech 37, Georgia Tech 26

Posted by Chip Patterson

VIRGINIA TECH WON. Thursday night's primetime showdown between Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech had the feel of an elimination game. For the last six years, the winner of the annual ACC Coastal showdown has gone on to represent the division in the ACC Championship Game. The road has now been cleared for the Hokies, after pulling away with a 37-26 victory in Atlanta on Thursday.

HOW VIRGINIA TECH WON: In a game between opponents that know each other as well as the Hokies and Yellow Jackets do, sometimes it just comes down to execution. The Hokies converted on more than half of their third downs, and both of their huge fourth down attempts to keep scoring drives alive when the Yellow Jackets had them stopped.

Virginia Tech was led by quarterback Logan Thomas, who threw for 209 yards through the air and added 76 yards on the ground for a combined five touchdown performance. David Wilson added yet another impressive outing to his growing ACC Player of the Year resume, with 23 carries for 169 yards. Georgia Tech committed only two penalties, but none were more deciding than the 15 yard personal foul on Jeremiah Attaochu for throwing a punch after sacking Logan Thomas. If the sack stands, Georgia Tech likely heads into the fourth quarter with the lead. Instead the Hokies marched down the field and took a 27-26 lead before the end of the third on a Thomas touchdown run.

WHEN VIRGINIA TECH WON: After the aforementioned Logan Thomas go-ahead touchdown, the Yellow Jackets were stuffed on 4th and 1 from their own 31. Paul Johnson has a tendency to pull the trigger on fourth down, but Tevin Washington's failed sneak resulted in the rare "four and out." The Hokies used almost four minutes of fourth quarter clock getting those 31 yards, finally scoring a touchdown on a pass from Thomas to defensive end-turned-tight end Chris Drager to extend Virginia Tech's lead to 34-26.

WHAT VIRGINIA TECH WON: A clear road to the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte. With the Georgia Tech win, Virginia is the only team that can stand between the Hokies and their fifth trip to the conference title game in the last seven years. The Hokies still need to face North Carolina next week before their annual meeting with the in-state Cavaliers, but remain a game up heading into the weekend.

WHAT GEORGIA TECH LOST: After the thrilling upset of undefeated Clemson and a week off to get healthy, the Yellow Jackets are already eliminated from the ACC Coastal race. Much of the blame can be placed on the loss to Virginia earlier in the season, but Thursday night's home loss to the Hokies sealed their fate.

THAT WAS CRAZY: Both teams boast strong running games, but the quarterbacks did all the work around the goal line on Thursday night. Logan Thomas and Tevin Washington combined all five of the game's rushing touchdowns, including quarterback sneaks from 1, 2, even 11 (yes, it was a sneak that went 11 yards) yards out. It was crazy.

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