Thursday, October 11, 2007

Week 7 Preview, Part I: Delightful Morsels of Conference Frivolity

FLORIDA STATE (4-1) at WAKE FOREST (3-2)
Thursday, 10/11/07, 7:30pm ET - BB&T Field, Winston-Salem, NC
Series Record:
Florida State leads 21-3-1; the Demon Deacons won last year's meeting 30-0
Stat Watch: 23.3...average points per game Wake has tallied against the Noles under Jim Grobe
Brief Overview: With Boston College still cruising through their schedule, this game appears to be an elimination battle in the Atlantic Division, as the loser will fall two games behind the Eagles, while the winner becomes the top challenger to Matt Ryan and Co. Much has been written about last year's landscape-altering rout in Tallahassee, a game which propelled Wake up in the rankings and to the ACC title, and a game which ushered in much-needed change on the coaching staff at FSU. So what's the difference this year? Not a whole lot...both teams are still anemic on offense (although the insertion of Xavier Lee at QB for the Noles has clearly kicked things up a notch), and both are about where they were on defense last year. However, there is one big difference in 2007: turnover margin. The Demon Deacons were king in this category last year at +13, while the Noles were a lowly -8. Now? Florida State is at +5 while Wake is at 0 (14 takeaways, 14 giveaways).
Prediction: This has all the makings of a Wake ambush, but FSU has had that 30-0 score running through their heads for the last 11 months. They get their revenge, but it won't be easy. Florida State 24, Wake Forest 20

GEORGIA TECH (3-3) at MIAMI (4-2)
Saturday, 10/13/07, 12pm ET - Orange Bowl, Miami, FL
Series Record:
Georgia Tech leads 8-4; the Yellow Jackets won last year's meeting 30-23
Stat Watch: 8-14...Georgia Tech's record under Chan Gailey in games decided by 7 points or less
Brief Overview: The Yellow Jackets have been effectively reduced to a spoiler role in the ACC, with three league losses in the first four conference contests. Miami, despite the stunning loss at UNC last week, is still in control of their own destiny - although I wouldn't be making travel plans to Jacksonville if I were a Cane fan. Both defenses, although still ranked respectably nationally, have been pushed around far too much over the first six weeks of the season, while the offenses have piled up some gaudy stats at times (i.e. Miami tallying 400+ yards in their last four games), neither attack is particularly fearsome. Both QBs are the epitome of shaky, while the rushing games are powerful, but apt to disappear when the going gets tough. There's not much more to say in what is a truly, completely, middle-of-the-road matchup in every conceivable way.
Prediction: When in doubt, go with the home team, and go against Chan. Miami 23, Georgia Tech 17

VIRGINIA TECH (5-1) at DUKE (1-5)
Saturday, 10/13/07, 12pm ET - Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham, NC
Series Record:
tied 7-7; Virginia Tech won last year's meeting 36-0
Stat Watch: 122-17...combined score of the Hokies' three meetings with Duke since joining the ACC
Brief Overview: Something's gotta give...the Hokie offense ranks last in the ACC, while the Blue Devil defense ranks last in the league. If Virginia Tech - despite their ramshackle OL - can't get things clicking on offense in this one, they're in deep trouble. Relying on special teams heroics (as in last week's rout of Clemson) is not a long-term recipe for success, and having a skimpy offense entering late October and beyond would spell disaster. Duke finally got over the hump last month against Northwestern, but they've been stymied in close contests since and you have to think that confidence is starting to taper off again.
Prediction: Tyrod Taylor has a break out performance, but the overall Hokie running game remains stuck in neutral. Virginia Tech 34, Duke 13

The other 3 ACC-oriented previews will posted tomorrow...

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