Saturday, October 30, 2010

ACC Storylines For Saturday: Can Clemson Keep It Going?

NC State already shuffled things up on Thursday by beating FSU throwing the Atlantic Division race wide open. I would have had the score nearly spot on if Christian Ponder had not fumbled on a simple play action play with the TE wide open in the end zone, but such is life in the ACC.

Here are five story lines for the ACC Saturday:

1. Can Clemson keep the momentum going against a reeling Boston College team?
The Eagles used to be a huge road block for the Tigers winning the first three matchups in ACC play, but Dabo Swinney's club has won the past two. Clemson should be jacked up now that the Atlantic is wide open, but that has been said before about Clemson teams who sometime lose inexplicably.

2. Will Miami play well on the road at Virginia?
The Hurricanes have been a mixed bag this year away from Coral Gables. Their last road trip resulted in a lackluster performance against Duke. But Virginia may be the worst team in the ACC this season. Hurricanes should roll in this one.

3. Maryland is still in ACC Championship race
The Terrapins have just as good of chance as anyone in the Atlantic mathematically with just one conference loss. Maryland cannot afford a slip up against Wake Forest though with games still remaining against FSU and NC State in the Atlantic.

4. ACC Breather
Both Duke and UNC take a break from conference play this week. The Blue Devils travel to Annapolis to face a Navy team coming off a thrashing of Notre Dame last week. Could Duke catch the Midshipmen napping?

Here are some national story lines I will be following Saturday:

1. Can Michigan State keep the luck going at Iowa?
The Spartans have been one of the luckiest teams in the country this year converting a fake field goal in OT to beat a lousy Notre Dame and coming from behind last week against Northwestern with a trick punt. This Iowa game is the last time Michigan State will be underdogs this season since they do not face Ohio State.

2. Missouri travels to Nebraska a week after taking down number one
The Big 12 North title will likely be decided in Lincoln Saturday as undefeated Missouri takes on Nebraska. The Cornhuskers have already faced what was thought to be their big test against Texas and they failed so expect Nebraska to be ready. Can Mizzou bottle their emotions after last week's huge win against Oklahoma?

3. Oregon's blocking is the reason
Many see this USC game as Oregon's most likely chance to lose the rest of the way. Even though USC is playing better I don't see it happening. Everyone sees the speed of the Ducks on the perimeter but very few notice the blocking in the trenches and on the edge. USC's very average defensive line cannot hang with Oregon's o-line and the Ducks will have all day to execute their offense.

4. Rich Rodriguez's job on the line
Michigan has lost their last two games after starting 5-0. Wolverine fans are seeing 2009 all over again with a fast start limping to a 1-7 finish. Penn State will be without starting QB Robert Bolden, but Michigan's defense is really bad to begin with. If Rich Rod can't pull it out in Happy Valley, I think he as good as gone.

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