Monday, September 29, 2008

About Last Saturday...

No game summaries and recaps here...just a few themes that emerged from the kooky weekend that was.

HOME FIELD DISADVANTAGE

Of the eight games involving ACC clubs last Saturday, five were won by the visiting team. This is not a new development, as the road squad has been victorious in three of the four biggest conference games prior to last weekend (Wake at FSU, Georgia Tech at BC, Virginia Tech at UNC), while the visitors have won their fair share of non-conference games as well (USC at Virginia, Wake at Baylor, Northwestern at Duke, UNC at Rutgers, Miami at Texas A&M). What does this all mean? Beats me, other than lousy teams are lousy teams no matter where they play. For home-field to be an equalizer, you've gotta have the Jimmies and Joes as well as the Xs and Os to be competitive. As for the more evenly matched games that went to the visitors - maybe it's just me, but in my professional and personal life I find there are more distractions for me at home than when I'm on the road. I'm more focused and alert to what I should be doing if I'm stuck in a strange town for one single purpose.

WELCOME BACK
The folks at Hot Seat Central are pleased to see Al Groh and Tommy Bowden in attendance once again, and earlier than expected this time around.

Look, if you give Groh and Bowden five more years apiece, things might actually come together - I've seen stranger things happen. But in a realistic sense, a program cannot stabilize, much less gather any sort of momentum, if the head coach's job status is a near-annual topic of discussion. It's certainly fair to say that "it" would've happened by now if either Groh or Bowden were capable of "it". Clemson and Virginia need to end the charade once and for all, and soon.

SWEET (AND QUICK) REDEMPTION
Few would disagree that Virginia Tech and Maryland looked like diaper contents after the first two weeks of the season. But quarterback changes (one forced, one not) and a back-to-basics approach have reaped major rewards for both programs, as they've combined for five suberb victories over the last three Saturdays. Both the Terps and Hokies are in the driver's seat for division crowns now and credit must be given to Frank Beamer and Ralph Friedgen. In a season in which nine different teams can conceivably win the league, the clubs with the best coaches are the safest bets.

THIS IS HOW IT'S DONE
It is seemingly beyond debate that ACC rookies David Cutcliffe and Paul Johnson are the clear front-runners for ACC Coach of the Year (sidebar: not that the honor means a whole lot...Al Groh and Tommy Bowden have both won it twice). The early nod goes to Johnson, who inherited a stickier situation - a solid but drifting program with high expectations yet saddled with tricky recruiting obstacles, on top of installing a completely foreign offense. Cutcliffe had nowhere to go but up, inherited 20 returning starters and has a fraction of the demands and expectations...although the culture of losing and apathy in Durham over last decade isn't the easiest obstacle to hurdle. The Yellow Jacket-Blue Devil tilt next week may just decide the race early.

SHOCKING DEVELOPMENT: TURNOVERS ARE BAD
It was quite mystifying to see Wake Forest of all teams learn absolutely nothing from Turnover Fest 2008 in Tallahassee last week. Six flubs later against Navy and Jim Grobe's squad suddenly looked like the pre-2006 Demon Deacons.

In fact, in seven of the eight games involving ACC clubs last Saturday, the team that won the turnover battle won on the scoreboard as well (only FSU bucked the trend, equalling Colorado at two turnovers apiece). When you add up all the fumbles and picks from last weekend's ACC-involved games, the winners enjoyed a collective +23 advantage in turnover margin. More than anything, that is how you account for wild and wacky upsets not just in the conference but around the nation as a whole. As if that's news.

76-7 OVER THE LAST TWO WEEKS AND NOBODY'S HAPPY
Despite 34-7 and 42-0 shellackings of UCF and Rhode Island respectively the last two Saturdays, Boston College is one of the shakier teams to emerge out of the first month of play. Part of that has to do with the dreadful competition the Eagles have faced in three of their four games, and that their only major exposure was a plodding loss at home to Georgia Tech. Most of the grumbling has to do with quarterback play, the major bone of contention at virtually every ACC program at some point in the last two years. In BC's rout of the Rams, Eagle QBs threw the ball exactly nine times, completing three throws for 27 yards. Another problem is that the Rams held the ball for almost 40 minutes of the game; props to BC for keeping the Rams off the scoreboard, but something's amiss on defense when a bad 1-AA/FCS team can keep the ball for over two-and-a-half quarters.

ACC 4 - BIG XII 0
With Virginia Tech's 35-30 triumph at Nebraska and Florida State's 39-21 win over Colorado in Jacksonville, the ACC improved to 4-0 against the Big XII this season. And three of the games were at Big XII venues. Does this mean a great deal in the whole scheme o' things? Nope. But why am I the only one touting this little factoid? The ACC has been pronounced dead in the national media at least three or four times this year following bad non-conference losses; the resuscitation should be equally covered.

ORANGE BOWL VOODOO (OR LACK THEREOF) MAKING A DIFFERENCE
You and I both know that this is a Hurricane touchdown in the old Orange Bowl (please ignore lame-o graphics and soundtrack):



No way, no how does that ball fall into UNC safety Trimane Goddard's mitts if the game had been played in the recently-demolished hellhole. We'll see how much mojo Miami can muster next week against archrival Florida State in plainly sterile Dolphin Stadium.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Post-Shakeup Saturday Blog Pollin'

RankTeamChange
1 Oklahoma (4-0)
--
2 Missouri (4-0)
1
3 Alabama (5-0)
6
4 LSU (4-0)
1
5 Texas (4-0)
1
6 Penn State (5-0)
5
7 Southern Cal (2-1)
5
8 Brigham Young (4-0)
4
9 Ohio State (4-1)
1
10 South Florida (5-0)
5
11 Florida (3-1)
7
12 Texas Tech (4-0)
2
13 Virginia Tech (4-1)
7
14 Georgia (4-1)
7
15 Utah (5-0)
1
16 Wisconsin (3-1)
8
17 Vanderbilt (4-0)
1
18 Kansas (3-1)
1
19 Boise State (3-0)
2
20 Georgia Tech (3-1)
5
21 Wake Forest (3-1)
8
22 Auburn (4-1)
3
23 Oregon (4-1)
1
24 Fresno State (3-1)
1
25 Oklahoma State (4-0)
1
Dropped Out: Clemson (#22)

BRAIN DROPPINGS
--I'm probably a little too bullish on the Hokies, but show me another team with as impressive a three-game run as they've had (wins over Georgia Tech, at UNC, at Nebraska). Tech would be 5-0 right now if they had gone with Tyrod Taylor from the beginning and even without him their loss to ECU was kinda fluky.

--Thank you, thank you very much. I was one of only three bloggers who correctly anointed Oklahoma #1 last week. You know what they say about broken clocks...

--After witnessing Bama's throttling of UGA in Athens, Clemson could've enjoyed the most rehabbed image in all of college football today...except they gagged a big one to Maryland prior to the Tide's rout of the Dawgs.

--I keep punishing Auburn for ugly wins and I will keep doing so until I can justifiably drop them from the poll altogether. They are just gross to watch.

--I bet most bloggers will drop Wake from their ballot. Most bloggers will be wrong.

--USF may go undefeated and I'll still have a tough time ranking them much higher than 10. Kansas is/was the only ranked opponent they'll play all year unless UConn really goes on a tear, and sloppy wins over FIU and UCF earlier have not endeared me to the Bulls' cause

Comments, critiques, praise and questions are most welcome...

Friday, September 26, 2008

Gameday Recipe - Week 5 Edition

Below is a rib recipe for use on a gas grill. It's quick, it's easy, and it's not all that messy. Ribs on a gas grill may be blasphemy to some, but for those without smokers and/or all day to prepare, this is a dandy of a dish...

Ingredients
4-5 lbs. of pork spare ribs
3tsp table salt
3tsp black pepper
3tsp paprika
3tsp garlic powder
3tsp brown sugar
2tsp celery seed
1tsp oregano
2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 cups water

Preparation
--Preheat gas grill to LOW heat
--Remove membrane from each slab
--Mix the apple cider vinegar and water in a bowl; this is your mop sauce
--Mix the spices together; this is your dry rub
--Throw a few pinches of the dry rub into the mop sauce

Directions
1) Place each slab bone-side down over the grill. Grill for 30 to 40 minutes - on LOW - basting the slabs w/mop sauce every 10-15 minutes.

2) Flip the slabs over and grill meat-side down for 30 minutes. Continue basting with the mop sauce every 10-15 minutes.

3) Flip the slabs again, grill for 15 minutes. Add your dry rub to suit your tastes. Continue to baste with the mop sauce every 10-15 minutes.

4) Flip one more time, grill for a final 15 minutes, add more dry-rub, continue to baste every 10-15 minutes.

5) You should be done.

MISC:
If you have wood chips, use them. Soak them for 30mins or so, wrap them in foil and poke holes in the foil and place them on the grill where there's room. Either way, you still won't get that real true smoky flavor, but the ribs will be good just the same.


You are welcome

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Week 5 Preview: Gut Feelings

I'm not going to bother discussing matchups, streaks, strengths/weaknesses when previewing this Saturday's games. This week, I'm just going with my gut as to who should win, with a one sentence explanation as to how or why. My ramblings and analysis in the previous weeks have usually been a bit off, so let's see if my gut is any smarter than my noggin...

NORTH CAROLINA (2-1) at MIAMI (2-1)
Saturday, 9/27/08, noon ET - Dolphin Stadium, Miami, FL
Series Record: North Carolina leads 6-5; the Tar Heels won last year's meeting 33-27
Gut Feeling: The Tar Heel defense keeps it close, but UNC sorely misses TJ Yates. Miami 20, North Carolina 14

MARYLAND (3-1) at CLEMSON (3-1)
Saturday, 9/27/08, noon ET - Memorial Stadium, Clemson, SC
Series Record: Clemson leads 30-24-2; the Tigers won last year's meeting 30-17
Gut Feeling: Even with the porous and injury-plagued Clemson offensive line, the Terps' defense won't be able to stop the Tiger attack. Clemson 33, Maryland 24

VIRGINIA (1-2) at DUKE (2-1)
Saturday, 9/27/08, noon ET - Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham, NC
Series Record: Virginia leads 32-27; the Cavaliers won last year's meeting 24-13
Gut Feeling: The bye week helped out both teams, but the better ballclub pulls this one out. Duke 24, Virginia 17

RHODE ISLAND (1-3) at BOSTON COLLEGE (2-1)
Saturday, 9/27/08, 1pm ET - Alumni Stadium, Chestnut Hill, MA
Series Record: Boston College leads 4-2; the Eagles won the last meeting 48-0 in 1917
Gut Feeling: Last chance for Chris Crane to keep his job - and he barely does. Boston College 38, Rhode Island 3

COLORADO (3-0) vs. FLORIDA STATE (2-1)
Saturday, 9/27/08, 3:30pm ET - Alltell Stadium, Jacksonville, FL
Series Record: Florida State leads 2-0; the Seminoles won last year's meeting 16-6
Gut Feeling: The Seminole offense is shell-shocked by their performance last week - but they'll do just enough to let the defense pull this one out (and the D scores a touchdown as well). Florida State 20, Colorado 14


NAVY (2-2) at WAKE FOREST (3-0)
Saturday, 9/27/08, 3:45pm ET - BB&T Field, Winston-Salem, NC
Series Record: Wake Forest leads 6-2; the Demon Deacons won last year's meeting 44-24
Gut Feeling: Knowing that they are good enough to drop a turd on offense and still beat FSU in Tallahassee, an invigorated Deacon squad unloads on the Middies. Wake Forest 45, Navy 20


USF (4-0) at N.C. STATE (2-2)
Saturday, 9/27/08, 7:30pm ET - Carter Finley Stadium, Raleigh, NC
Series Record: N.C. State leads 1-0; the Wolfpack won the previous meeting 14-0 in the 2005 Meineke Bowl
Gut Feeling: Back to injury-cursed-reality for the Wolfpack - but they make a game of it for 2 1/2 quarters. USF 30, N.C. State 14


VIRGINIA TECH (3-1) at NEBRASKA (3-0)
Saturday, 9/27/08, 8pm ET - Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, NE
Series Record: Nebraska leads 1-0; the Cornhuskers won the previous meeting 41-21 in the 1997 Orange Bowl
Gut Feeling: Two straight weeks of down-to-the-wire finishes has taken it's toll on the young Hokies - they get beat up by a rested and veteran Husker squad looking to make a statement. Nebraska 35, Virginia Tech 17


-Fin-

ACC on TV

Here's your handy guide on where to find Saturday's games on the tube or online:

*all times Eastern*

North Carolina at Miami, noon (ESPN2, ESPN360)
Maryland at Clemson, noon (Raycom, ESPN Gameplan, ESPN360)
Virginia at Duke, noon (ESPNU)
Rhode Island at Boston College, 1pm (ESPN360 - web only)
Colorado vs. Florida State (in Jacksonville), 3:30pm (ABC, ESPN, ESPN360, ESPN Gameplan)
Navy at Wake Forest, 3:45pm (ESPNU)
USF at N.C. State, 7:30pm (ESPNU)
Virginia Tech at Nebraska, 8pm (ABC, ESPN360, ESPN Gameplan)

Have a good one!

No "Out of Conference Report" this week

Sorry for the promise on Monday, but I neglected to note that this upcoming weekend was the last big hurrah of non-conference activity in most of the BCS leagues, which would render any analysis this week obsolete rather quickly. The first Out of Conference Report for 2008 will be posted next week, I swear.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

About Last Saturday - Cliff's Notes Version

Damn work and other stuff will not allow me ample time for a proper recap, so please accept the following observations:

THE GOOD
--N.C. State. The perfect reminder that college football lets you look like the most incompetent pile of dung one day and then lets you topple a Goliath the next. And ECU wasn't really a Goliath but they may as well have been considering how State looked in their first three games. Regardless, well done Wolfpack.
--Georgia Tech. Laying waste to an SEC school always earns my love and devotion, especially when said SEC team completely stifled another SEC "power" the week prior. And go figure - a young offense, with a new quarterback, learning a completely new system, has it together by game four (attention Seminoles).
--Virginia Tech in clutch conference games. Yes, they poop the field too often in non-league action and in bowl games, but they get it done when they need to in ACC play.
--Miami. Attention FSU...that's how you're supposed to look in a semi-bigtime nationally televised game with a very young team.
--Clemson. It appears that the Alabama-fog has finally cleared.
--Maryland. 51 points? Where was that against Delaware and MTSU?
--Boston College in a tricky game. A lot of the pundits pegged UCF to upset the Eagles in this one...yet BC won by four TDs and didn't really look all that great in the process. Nice problem to have.
--Florida State's defense. They kept what should've been a 42-3 Demon Deacon rout to a one-possession game until 2 minutes to go.
--Wake Forest's defense. They seemingly knew what the Noles were going to do on every play.

THE BAD
--North Carolina without TJ Yates. He ain't the greatest QB in the world, but he's a leader and the Heels immediately went kaput after he went down to an ankle fracture in the third quarter of their loss to the Hokies.
--Wake Forest's offense. When your opponent commits 12 penalties for 139 yards and turns the ball over seven times, scoring only 12 points in return is like winning the lottery a month ago and immediately investing 95% of the winnings in AIG stock...a once-in-a-lifetime windfall was almost completely pissed away.

THE UGLY
--Florida State's offense. In their first big test with their supposedly revamped attack, Jimbo Fisher, Christian Ponder, the offensive line, the receivers, the running backs and to a lesser extent D'Vontrey Richardson all soiled themselves from the first play from scrimmage. A total disgrace.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Football gods continue to dump on the ACC

-North Carolina QB T.J. Yates is out at least six weeks with a broken right ankle. His injury in the third quarter of the Heels' loss to Virginia Tech came with UNC in the lead, and they didn't score again after Yates left the game.

-N.C. State, who has clearly neglected to perform the required offerings and sacrifices to the gridiron deities, has now lost just-coming-into-his own QB Russell Wilson and top LB Nate Irving to unspecified injuries. They will miss next Saturday's game against USF, at least.

I know I promised a weekend recap today, but personal issues have prevented that. It'll be up tomorrow.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

It's a Blog Pollin' Sunday afternoon

RankTeamChange
1 Oklahoma --
2 Southern Cal --
3 Missouri --
4 Florida --
5 LSU --
6 Texas --
7 Georgia --
8 Wisconsin --
9 Alabama 2
10 Ohio State --
11 Penn State 2
12 Brigham Young 3
13 Wake Forest 1
14 Texas Tech 5
15 South Florida 3
16 Utah 1
17 Kansas 3
18 Vanderbilt 8
19 Auburn 3
20 Virginia Tech 3
21 Boise State 5
22 Clemson 3
23 Fresno State 2
24 Oregon 15
25 Georgia Tech 1
Dropped Out: East Carolina (#14), West Virginia (#22), Illinois (#24)
Will never be considered again as long as a certain head coach is still there: Florida State
I am quite sure I'll be the only one with 4 ACC teams on his ballot, but so the hell what.

A weekend recap will be posted sometime tomorrow and the first "Out of Conference Report" of the 2008 season shall be forthcoming this week as well. And other stuff too.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Week 4 Preview, Part II: Sexy Time

Three highly intriguing matchups highlight the Saturday afternoon/evening slate in ACC land. Granted, we have to slog through one more turkey of a game to get there, but it's a small price to pay.

SOUTH CAROLINA STATE (2-1) at CLEMSON (2-1)

Saturday, 9/20/08, 1pm ET - Memorial Stadium, Clemson, SC
Series Record: first meeting
Storyline: It's high time for some CJ Spiller and James Davis double-duty destruction.
Brief Overview: If the so-far-less-than-dynamic duo can't get things going on Saturday, then all sorts of problems lie ahead for the Tigers. In SC State's one encounter with a 1-A opponent this season, they were blanked 17-0 at UCF and allowed 228 yards on the ground. Clunky OL or not, 300 yards plus rushing is the target the Tigers need to hit. This would be a fine time for Clemson to showcase some younger talent on defense and give the starters a breather after halftime.
Prediction: 100+ yards on the ground for both Spiller and Davis, a short and serviceable day for Cullen Harper, some big plays from backup QB Willy Korn, and a happy home crowd. Clemson 52, South Carolina State 10

MIAMI (1-1) at TEXAS A&M (1-1)
Saturday, 9/20/08, 3:30pm ET - Kyle Field, College Station, TX
Series Record: tied 1-1; the Hurricanes won last year's meeting 34-17
Storyline: Was that Hurricane defense we saw in Gainesville for real?
Brief Overview: Yes, I believe that Miami D was for real, including the inevitable collapse in the fourth quarter against the Gators - and there's no shame in that, considering the youth in Coral Gables and the ferocity of the UF attack. If the Canes really have learned from that loss as they claim they have, they should have a field day in College Station - the Aggie offense is a mess, regardless of who the QB is. A&M couldn't stop Arkansas State or New Mexico on the ground - how can they hope to contain Graig Cooper? The only way The U drops this one is if QB Robert Marve channels Kirby Freeman.
Prediction: Cooper rushes 30+ times for 180 yards, Marve is decent but unspectacular, and the Hurricane defense is stifling. Miami 21, Texas A&M 10

VIRGINIA TECH (2-1) at NORTH CAROLINA (2-0)
Saturday, 9/20/08, 3:30pm ET - Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, NC
Series Record: Virginia Tech leads 16-9-6; the Hokies won last year's meeting 17-10
Storyline: UNC, your time is now.
Brief Overview: In the biggest game in Chapel Hill since the Carolina-FSU meeting in 1997, the Tar Heels face off against the Hokies for the driver's seat in the Coastal Division. This one comes down to the coaching staffs - surprisingly or not, the Heels have a clear edge in talent. What they don't have an edge in is big-game exposure, something in which the Hokies have plenty of experience. On paper, UNC should be able to run up and down the field against the young Tech defense, but count on Bud Foster to throw some wrinkles that will confuse Carolina QB TJ Yates a time or two. It's up to Butch Davis and crew to keep their players focused and even-keeled leading up to, and throughout, the game. You can bet that Frank Beamer will have the Hokies in the right frame of mind.
Prediction: Talent wins out, but it'll be close. North Carolina 26, Virginia Tech 21

WAKE FOREST (2-0) at FLORIDA STATE (2-0)
Saturday, 9/20/08, 7pm ET - Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, FL
Series Record: Florida State leads 21-4-1; the Demon Deacons won last year's meeting 24-21
Storyline: For the Seminoles, redemption for the last two seasons. For the Deacons, affirmation of the last two years.
Brief Overview: In a scenario almost unimaginable three years ago, the Seminoles look to take a huge step back into the national spotlight by knocking off Wake Forest. And it will be a dogfight, a showdown between well-schooled and brilliantly led workmanlike veterans vs. a revamped mix of overflowing but young and unproven talent. The key matchups: the Seminole secondary vs. QB Riley Skinner's precision accuracy and the Demon Deacon defense vs. the wave of playmakers led by Antone Smith, Corey Surrency and the fresh-off-suspension Preston Parker. And let's not forget that FSU QBs Christian Ponder and D'Vo Richardson have been flawless in the first two appearances, albeit against lame opposition. What hasn't been flawless in the first two weeks in Tallahassee has been the kicking game - three missed field goals and two missed extra points (by backup kickers) are a major cause of concern; rumor has it that Graham Gano (last year's punter and heir apparent kicker prior to an August injury) may suit up this Saturday. Wake has no such worries in the kicking department, as Sam Swank is a cold-blooded assassin. Just ask Ole Miss.
Prediction: The ACC Game of the Year. But it boils down to this: Wake is today's ACC power, FSU is yesterday's champion...and maybe tomorrow's. Wake Forest 28, Florida State 27

And thus endeth the week 4 preview.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Co-pilot tossed from Hindenburg

Virginia QB Peter Lalich was booted from the team today, but will remain a student at the Charlottesville campus.

Marc Verica, folk heroes are born from these situations. Beat Duke in nine days, and you're a god (albeit a very minor deity). Weird, but true.

Week 4 Preview, Part I: You Can Put Lipstick On A...

Yeah right, I'm not going near that one.

These four early matchups involving ACC clubs provide a superb opportunity for you to mow your lawn, paint your house, clip your nose hairs or perform any other general household or bodily maintenance. The sex appeal of these contests rivals that of a hungover and splotchy Sarah Jessica Parker, so only Terp, Jacket, Pack and Eagle fans are expected to even pay attention to these games let alone read the below previews...

MISSISSIPPI STATE (1-2) at GEORGIA TECH (2-1)
Saturday, 9/20/08, noon ET - Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, GA
Series Record: Georgia Tech leads 2-0; the Yellow Jackets won the last meeting 27-13 in 1929
Storyline: Can the Yellow Jackets' bats overcome the Bulldogs stellar pitching?
Brief Overview: MSU's 3-2 defeat to Auburn last week removed any possible sizzle that this formerly interesting matchup might have held. Now, the Dogs are merely an annoying test the Jackets must pass so that they can put the Virginia Tech loss in the rearview mirror. And oh yeah, Tech has to win this one or all remaining shreds of ACC '08 credibility flutter away. Normally I would say that the Jackets' fumblitis exhibited in the last two games would be cause for concern, but Auburn lost 3 fumbles to State last week and didn't suffer in the least for it (116 yards - and 1.8yds per play - was all the Bulldogs could muster). The Tigers were still able to churn out 156 yards on the ground and to say that the Jackets are light-years ahead of AU in that department is an understatement. For the Ramblin' Wreck to lose, they'd need to be -5 in TO ratio, the defense would have to completely collapse and MSU QB Wesley Carroll would have to be body snatched and replaced with Chase Daniel.
Prediction: Not as impressive as it probably should be, but Tech gets a solid win nonetheless. Georgia Tech 23, Mississippi State 7

EAST CAROLINA (3-0) at N.C. STATE (1-2)
Saturday, 9/20/08, noon ET - Carter Finley Stadium, Raleigh, NC
Series Record: N.C. State leads 15-10; the Wolfpack won last year's meeting 34-20
Storyline: The Pirates take their next step toward their honorary 2008 ACC title.
Brief Overview: The Wolfpack's win over ECU last year sparked a mini-resurgence that saw them rise from a 1-5 record to a 5-5 mark before running out of gas - and healthy bodies - at the end of the season. Don't look for a repeat this season; the Pirates have gone 7-1 since that defeat to State eleven months ago and are eyeing a possible BCS bid if they can run the table. A pseudo-rivalry game such as this can always throw a monkey wrench into any cold analysis, but I find it difficult to see how the Pack can score enough points to pull this one off - Patrick Pinkney and Co. are too good to be stifled for an entire game, and the State offense has been so inept that they've been outscored by their own defense this season against 1-A competition (one field goal for the offense against Clemson & S. Carolina combined, while the defense had a pick six against the Tigers).
Prediction: No surprises here - the Pirates win big and State looks fairly awful in the process. East Carolina 27, N.C. State 6

UCF (1-1) at BOSTON COLLEGE (1-1)
Saturday, 9/20/08, 1pm ET - Alumni Stadium, Chestnut Hill, MA
Series Record: first meeting
Storyline: The Eagles try to avoid their first 1-2 start since 1996.
Brief Overview: Meh. I'm feeling no vibe about this game. Both teams are coming off bye-weeks. Both teams lost heartbreakers two weeks ago (the Eagles to Georgia Tech, the Knights to rival USF in OT). Both teams have QB concerns. The only difference I see is that the Eagles have played fairly consistently all the way through their first two games, while the Knights really only showed a pulse in the fourth quarter against the Bulls.
Prediction: It certainly won't be a classic, but it'll be a win - for BC. And that's all that matters at this point. Boston College 23, UCF 14

EASTERN MICHIGAN (1-2) at MARYLAND (2-1)
Saturday, 9/20/08, 1pm ET - Byrd Stadium, College Park, MD
Series Record: Maryland leads 3-0; the Terrapins won the last meeting 37-13 in 2003
Storyline: The Maryland Magical Mystery Tour enters week four.
Brief Overview: Raise your hand if you wouldn't be surprised in the least if the Terps are on the wrong end of a 14-3 halftime score. OK, now put your hands down. All of them. Please. Of course Maryland would get drilled by Middle Tennessee and then come back and own Cal. It's nonsensical, it's mystifying, but it's the essence of Terp football since 2004. They will lose to NC State this year but will wind up knocking off Clemson. Just watch. Anyway, I have no idea whether the Cal-Chris Turner or the MTSU-Chris Turner shows up, just as I have no idea if the 1st-through-3rd quarter Terp defense against Cal shows or whether the 4th-quarter collapsing unit shows on Saturday. But since it's Eastern Michigan on the other sideline, a win should still be assured. Just don't expect the Turtles to have learned a thing from the Cal victory.
Prediction: Maryland wins. That's all I'm certain of, but I suspect a letdown from last week is coming. Maryland 28, Eastern Michigan 10

Part II of the preview should appear tomorrow.

ACC on TV

Here's your handy guide on where to find Saturday's games on the tube or online:

*all times Eastern*

Mississippi State at Georgia Tech, noon (Raycom, ESPN Gameplan, ESPN360)
East Carolina at N.C. State, noon (ESPN, ESPN360)
UCF at Boston College, 1pm (ESPNU)
Eastern Michigan at Maryland, 1pm (ESPN360 - web only)
South Carolina State at Clemson, 1pm (ESPN360 - web only)
Miami at Texas A&M, 3:30pm (ABC, ESPN360, ESPN Gameplan)
Virginia Tech at North Carolina, 3:30pm (ABC, ESPN, ESPN360, ESPN Gameplan)
Wake Forest at Florida State, 7pm (ESPN2, ESPN360)

Have a good one!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I Do Not Like Green Eggs & Ham

The Cal Bears would be wise to immediately remove the aforementioned Dr. Seuss staple from their pre-game breakfast menu. Why, pray tell? Because their very own Jahvid Best regurgitated said meal on national television after getting tattooed by Maryland defensive back Kevin Barnes in the 2nd quarter of the Terps' 35-27 upset last Saturday.

If you get all "Stand By Me" upon viewing upchuck footage (particularly of the greenish-hue variety), do not watch the below video clip - or at least stop it prior to the 0:51 mark.



The good news is that Best returned to the game and played most of the second half, so no permanent damage was done. I hope.

The Collected Works of Brandon Tate

And this tribute doesn't even include the goodness from the McNeese State and Rutgers showcases. If he blows up against Virginia Tech this Saturday, the national media will have no choice but to remove their SEC/Big XII/USC blinders and pay attention.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

About Last Saturday (and Thursday)...

Leave it up to Al Groh to spoil what could've been a sublime week of redemption for the ACC. But let's not dwell on the negative; instead, let's recap one of the better weekends in the ACC in many, many months. Forgive the choppy, rambling style today...I'm a bit under the weather so blame Day-Quil if I'm a bit nonsensical.

NORTH CAROLINA 44 - RUTGERS 12

Freakin' sweet. National television, on the road, up and coming ACC club beats the bejesus out of flash-in-the-pan Big East pretender. And the Tar Heel defense, the one I have been rather rude about the last two weeks...4 picks and a score. All is now forgiven for the McNeese mess. Poor Brandon Tate...if only he played in the SEC or Big XII, clips of his greatness would be hurtling through cyberspace via ESPN.com and you'd be seeing his name on all those meaningless but still widely read "Heisman Watch" lists. Alas, he'll have to settle for ACC Player of the Year honors and perhaps a trip to Tampa if he keeps up half this pace.

MARYLAND 35 - CALIFORNIA 27
Perhaps the most surprising thing about this pleasant upset is that it didn't involve monster days from either Chris Turner (156 yards passing but a superb 79% completion rate), Da'Rel Scott (87 rushing yards) or Darrius Heyward-Bey (2 receptions). The Terps didn't really do anything extraordinary except play mistake free, efficient football and got a huge effort out of their defense through the first three quarters. After taking a 28-6 lead into the 4th stanza the Terps maddeningly switched to a prevent-D and susbsequently let Cal make the score respectable, but the damage had been done. The Fridge always pulls one of these out of the blue upsets every year and I probably should've seen this one coming. And based on the near miracle at Kentucky last Saturday, the Middle Tennessee loss looks slightly less horrid now.

CLEMSON 27 - N.C. STATE 9
I told you the Tigers were still in their Tide-induced fog. This is one of the games were the boxscore says one thing (Clemson domination), but a very different impression was left when actually viewing the game. State had a couple of chances to make this one very interesting but blew it in the red zone. It was another lackluster day on the ground for CJ Spiller and James Davis (24 rushes, 95 yards combined). Cullen Harper had the most workman-like 262 passing yards I've seen in a while. The Tigers are simply off-kilter and they've been that way since early in the Bama debacle. The Wolfpack are a mess in all facets of the game, save for RB Andre Brown and some flashes of potential from QB Russell Wilson.

DUKE 41 - NAVY 31

Could the Blue Devils actually qualify for a bowl bid this season? Hear me out...they're 2-1 now and get their replacement-in-the-basement Virginia in two weeks. That's 3-1. Then they'll need 3 more wins from the rest of their ACC slate (which is sans FSU, BC and Maryland) and their remaining non-conference tilt with Vandy. It's possible, especially with a fantastic air attack led by QB Thaddeus Lewis. David Cutcliffe may now be in danger of raising expectations too quickly in Durham - he's doing a great job thus far, but he's doing it with a ton of seasoned upperclassmen.

VIRGINIA TECH 20 - GEORGIA TECH 17
The Hokies are one idiotic personnel decision from being 3-0 and in the Top 15 right now. Everyone outside of Frank Beamer, Bryan Stinespring and Sean Glennon knew that Tyrod Taylor was the better QB and the better fit for the Hokies heading into this season, but stubbornness reigned and a Glennon-aided loss to ECU in the opener was the result. The V-Tech victory over G-Tech this Saturday is proof positive of Taylor's value, as he turned busted plays into gains and generally kept the Jacket defense guessing. Taylor's stats weren't impressive, but it's what he could do that made a difference, as well as what he didn't do (turn the ball over). Tough, tough loss for the Ramblin' Wreck but just think how much damage they'll do when they figure out how to hold onto the football.

FLORIDA STATE 46 - CHATTANOOGA 7
The Seminoles have had many problems over the last three years, but one largely unmentioned factor in their recent struggles has been the way they've opened each of those seasons - on Monday night, against Miami ('05 and '06) and Clemson ('07). In each of those years, the Noles then suited up again on the following Saturday and played like excrement against opponents they otherwise should've clobbered. Being cursed with Jeff Bowden (and the fallout he left behind) and sub-par offensive line play is bad enough, but being thrown to the wolves in game one each year and then having to take the field 4 1/2 days later stalled the FSU offense right out of the gate in each of those seasons. Not so in 2008, as the suspension-depleted Seminoles smartly scheduled two tune-ups (holy alliteration overload) prior to the showdown with Wake, and boy does it appear to have worked. Quarterback Christian Ponder has been laser sharp and error-free, along with backup D'Vontrey Richardson; the receivers are the best in a decade, although they suffered the dropsies against the Mocs on Saturday; and the line has played well, but still coughed up a few sacks. As for the defense, FSU stifled Chattanooga all day aside from one busted play - the Mocs' lone TD on a busted-coverage 62-yard strike. The Seminole defense surrendered just 73 yards otherwise.

CONNECTICUT 45 - VIRGINIA 10

Let's be honest here - both USC and UConn let up on the Cavs in what could've been 66-7 and 59-10 punishments if Pete Carroll and Randy Edsall graduated from the Urban Meyer School of Stat Padding and General Jerk-Offishness. And that's all that really needs to be said about the current state of Virginia football under Al Groh and Son. Well that, and a third ass-kicking is going to be administered in nine days...by Duke.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Blog Poll Ballot - What D'ya Think?

For those unaware, the Blog Poll is explained right here.
RankTeamChange
1 Oklahoma --
2 Southern Cal --
3 Missouri 2
4 Florida --
5 LSU 3
6 Texas 1
7 Georgia 1
8 Wisconsin 1
9 Oregon 2
10 Ohio State 7
11 Alabama 1
12 Wake Forest 1
13 Penn State 2
14 East Carolina --
15 Brigham Young 11
16 Auburn 6
17 Utah 1
18 South Florida --
19 Texas Tech --
20 Kansas --
21 Fresno State 4
22 West Virginia 1
23 Virginia Tech 3
24 Illinois --
25 Clemson 3
Dropped Out: California (#17), Arizona State (#21)

Gimme some feedback...