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October 18, 2007

Florida State, Miami lacking old appeal

MORE WEEK 8 BREAKDOWNS: Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC

MEGARGEE'S ACC PICKS
Saturday's games
Georgia Tech 34, Army 7
Clemson 34, Central Michigan 20
Wake Forest 17, Navy 13
Florida State 21, Miami 17
East Carolina 21, North Carolina State 20
Maryland 21, Virginia 17
Overview: Virginia and Maryland get a chance to prove they're for real when they face each other this week. Virginia shares the Coastal Division lead with Virginia Tech, but a nonconference loss to Wyoming and a squeaker over Middle Tennessee make it easy to doubt the Cavaliers. Maryland has won two in a row and has lost just one conference game. This game between two non-traditional powers actually has far more ACC title implications than Florida State-Miami. Each of those two Sunshine State powers already has two conference losses. Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, North Carolina State and Clemson are playing nonconference games this weekend. Boston College, Duke, North Carolina and Virginia Tech have this week off.

Best matchup: Central Michigan QB Dan LeFevour vs. Clemson pass defense: LeFevour has rebounded from a slow start and enters this game as arguably the nation's hottest quarterback. In his past two games, victories over Ball State and Army, LeFevour has gone 60 of 67 for 611 yards, with seven touchdown passes and two interceptions. He also has rushed for 246 yards and five touchdowns on 30 carries in those two games. Then again, Ball State is ranked 88th and Army 60th in total defense. LeFevour faces much more of a test against Clemson, which is ranked 12th in total defense and seventh in pass-efficiency defense.

The pressure is on: Miami QB Kyle Wright: Wright, a senior, never has beaten Florida State as a starting quarterback. Wright has gone 25 of 50 for 358 yards with four interceptions and three touchdowns during the Hurricanes' two-game losing streak. Even though Miami would need a minor miracle to win the Coastal Division title, a victory over Florida State could help Hurricanes fans forget about those losses to North Carolina and Georgia Tech.

Who's hot: Boston College TB Andre Callender has six touchdown runs and three touchdown catches in his past four games. He has scored three touchdowns in each of his past two games. Florida State WR Greg Carr has had three consecutive 100-yard games. DE Everette Brown has five sacks in his past four games. Linebacker Geno Hayes has 11 tackles for losses in his past four games. Georgia Tech TB Tashard Choice has averaged 161.3 rushing yards in the past three games. Georgia Tech P Durant Brooks has helped the Yellow Jackets lead the nation in net punting. Virginia P Ryan Weigand is ranked third in the nation with a punting average of 46.5. Virginia Tech DE Chris Ellis has recorded a sack in three consecutive games. Wake Forest CB Alphonso Smith has an interception in three consecutive games.

Who's not: Clemson TB C.J. Spiller has rushed for 5 yards on 15 carries in his past two games. Florida State TB Antone Smith has gained 102 yards on 43 carries in his past three games. After rushing for 90 yards in a season-opening loss to Clemson, Smith hasn't exceeded the 66-yard mark in any of his five games since. Georgia Tech QB Taylor Bennett has completed more than half his passes in just one of his past four games. North Carolina State QBs Harrison Beck and Daniel Evans have combined to throw 14 interceptions and six touchdown passes this season. Virginia Tech TB Branden Ore has 40 carries for 72 yards in his past two games. Ore is averaging less than 3 yards per carry this season.

Keep your eye on: Miami sophomore DT Joe Joseph could make his first career start Saturday because of injuries to Dwayne Hendricks, Antonio Dixon and Josh Holmes. Miami's uncertainty on the defensive line could create more running room for Florida State, which ranks 103rd of 120 Division I-A teams in rushing offense.

Numbers game: Here's the latest example of the misleading nature of the passing efficiency statistic. Even though he's completed only half his passes the past two weeks and has nine touchdown passes with eight interceptions, Miami QB Kyle Wright leads the ACC and ranks 20th in the nation in passing efficiency. Boston College's Matt Ryan is third in the conference and 37th in the nation despite having a 17-6 touchdown-interception ratio.

Freshmen to watch: Wake Forest TB Josh Adams has averaged 18 carries per game in his past three contests and rushed for a career-high 140 yards in last week's 24-21 victory over Florida State. He could have a big game against a Navy defense that has allowed 4.6 yards per carry. Maryland P Travis Baltz had the unenviable task of replacing Adam Podlesh, the first punter chosen in the 2007 NFL Draft. Baltz apparently is warming up to the job; he averaged 49.6 yards per attempt against Georgia Tech last week.

ACC STANDINGS
ATLANTIC DIVISION
TeamConf.All
Boston College3-07-0
Wake Forest3-14-2
Clemson2-24-2
Maryland1-14-2
Florida State1-24-2
N.C. State0-31-5
COASTAL DIVISION
TeamConf.All
Virginia3-06-1
Virginia Tech3-06-1
Georgia Tech2-34-3
Miami1-24-3
North Carolina1-22-5
Duke0-41-6
Injury update: Boston College G Ryan Poles tore his Achilles' tendon last week and will miss the rest of the season. Florida State LB Marcus Ball (high ankle sprain) and G Rodney Hudson (knee sprain) won't play against Miami. Seminoles OT David Overmyer has returned to practice and should play this week after missing two games with a knee injury. Maryland QB Jordan Steffy hasn't been cleared to play because of a concussion. Terps LB Erin Henderson is hoping to return this week after missing the Georgia Tech game with a knee injury, though his status is still uncertain. Miami DT Dwayne Hendricks is out for the season with a leg injury, and DT Antonio Dixon has a knee injury and also will probably miss the rest of the season. UM WR Lance Leggett (leg) probably will sit out the Florida State game, but LB Colin McCarthy (concussion) should play this weekend. North Carolina State QB Harrison Beck is questionable for the East Carolina game with a separated left shoulder. Virginia TB Cedric Peerman has a foot injury that probably will prevent him from playing against Maryland. Wake Forest C Steve Justice is questionable for the Navy game, but Demon Deacons coach Jim Grobe is optimistic Justice will play.

They said it:
"I'm one of those eternal optimists, so I definitely feel we have a chance until we are mathematically eliminated. Georgia Tech has a chance. That's our approach going into film every day and going into practice every day trying to get better."
Georgia Tech DT Darryl Richard to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on the Yellow Jackets' chances of repeating as Coastal Division champions

"I felt we pass blocked pretty good, but we can't run block nobody."
Florida State offensive line coach Rick Trickett to Warchant.com on the Seminoles' performance against Wake Forest last week

"Joe Frazier, Marvin Hagler (and) those types of guys, they were middle-of-the-ring (fighters who would) go toe-to-toe with you, take a punch and give a punch. That is kind of the makeup of our team, as opposed to Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard (and) those kinds of guys who were fan favorites and a little spicier in their style. That's not our team. We've become comfortable with the awareness of who we are as a team, and that's how we have to play the games."
Virginia coach Al Groh

"Anything with 'Carolina' in it is obviously a rival game here. I think that's good. If they're excited, then we ought to be excited."
North Carolina State coach Tom O'Brien on the Wolfpack's game at East Carolina

Etc.: Georgia Tech TB Tashard Choice repaid his offensive line after his 204-yard game against Miami by delivering 24 home-cooked chicken pot pies to his offensive linemen and the offensive coaching staff, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. The pot pies were cooked by Choice's mother, Rosa Hamm. Florida State QB Xavier Lee is expected to start Saturday against Miami despite struggling in the second half of a 24-21 loss to Wake Forest last week. Lee was briefly removed in the second half in favor of Drew Weatherford, who failed to move the offense in his one series. Boston College is ranked second in the Associated Press poll, third in the USA Today coaches' poll and third in the BCS standings. The Eagles haven't been ranked this high since they soared to the No. 1 spot on Nov. 23, 1942. Boston College followed up that No. 1 ranking by ending the 1942 season with back-to-back losses to Holy Cross and Alabama (in the Orange Bowl). This marks the first time since 1977 the second season of the Bobby Bowden era that Florida State and Miami have been unranked for their annual matchup.

MORE WEEK 8 BREAKDOWNS: Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC

Steve Megargee is a college football writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at smegargee@rivals.com.



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