Thanksgiving is two weeks away, dear readers.
Let me repeat that.
Thanksgiving. Is. Two. Weeks. Away.
As we all prepare for traffic-free holiday travel, family members that never annoy us and all other sorts of things that — well, don’t exist — we’re going to celebrate Thanksgiving a little early here on Clear Your Schedule. What that means for next week’s edition of this piece, we shall see. That sounds like a problem for Future Us. Until then, here’s the Three Big Things we learned from last week:
- Bye, Felicia: Not to pile on Virginia, but…the heck with it, the Cavaliers somewhat earned it. The ‘Hoos ran for a paltry 37 yards against a middling rush defense. Before anyone in Seminole Nation gets angry about that statement, let me back it up with fact; the ‘Noles are seventh in the ACC in rush defense, surrendering 135.67 yards per game. FSU had allowed 156, 157 and 158 yards (respectively) on the ground in the last three games. The Cavs were actually relatively even in some of the key categories, only being outpossessed by a minute and a half and converting 7-of-16 third downs, but the lack of a run game really doomed Mike London’s squad. Virginia now needs to win out to become bowl-eligible, and that seems unlikely.
- Standing out in the Crowder: Duke’s Jamison Crowder has already enjoyed a stellar career as a Blue Devil, and he almost singlehandedly willed his team to a moderately lackluster 27-10 victory over Syracuse. Crowder led all Blue Devil receivers with 9 grabs for 58 yards, and added a game-changing 52-yard punt return for a score. The return gave Duke a 17-10 lead with 12:45 to play, and Syracuse was unable to answer. Duke is now an eight-win club and — for now, anyway — in control of the ACC Coastal. Speaking of controlling ACC divisions…
- Start booking your travel: Florida State needs to win just one of their final two ACC games to earn yet another trip to the Queen City. Obviously, the goal is to win both, but just one victory lets the Seminoles play for three conference titles in three years.
We will be that much closer to — if not completely assured of — the outcome in the ACC after this week. There are, again, just five games on the conference slate, but it’s time to hit the road to Georgia, North Carolina and Florida…right after our trivia question!
ACC Trivia, Week 12 (answer at the end of the column): This weekend’s schedule features two coaches (Wake Forest’s Dave Clawson and NC State’s Dave Doeren) who are former head coaches at MAC schools. Which two additional ACC coaches were head coaches at a MAC institution, and at which school(s) did they coach?
Thanksgiving Dinner (all times Eastern and rankings AP)
#18 Clemson (7-2, 6-1 ACC) at #24 Georgia Tech (8-2, 5-2 ACC)
Noon | ESPN
- Cranberry sauce: It’s been eleven years since the Tigers claimed a victory at Bobby Dodd Stadium. That victory was one of just 13 Clemson has recorded in Atlanta over the hundred-plus years of the series. The Tigers are also the school against whom the Jackets can claim the highest number of victories (50) in school history.
- Turkey: Georgia Tech loves to run — as evidenced by their 479-yard performance against NC State last week. The Jackets rank second among FBS teams, rushing for 335.6 yards per game. Clemson, on the other hand, owns the fourth-best rush defense in the FBS, allowing just 90.9 rushing yards per contest. The Ramblin’ Wreck’s rushing average is actually higher against conference opponents, as they gain 348.3 rushing yards per game. Clemson’s ACC opponents have rushed for just 69 yards per game.
- Pumpkin pie: These two schools own the two longest active streaks of finishing above .500 in ACC play. The two have combined to finish above .500 for 36 consecutive years (Georgia Tech 20, Clemson 16).
Carve that, serve that, whatever: A Clemson victory keeps alive their slim divisional title hopes, and would all but eliminate Georgia Tech. This should be a classic.
Virginia Tech (4-5, 1-4 ACC) at #19 Duke (8-1, 4-1 ACC)
Noon | ESPNU
- Cranberry sauce: A lot of schools’ fans seemed to think their universities did the right thing in passing on David Cutcliffe for their job openings. However, consider this — Duke has not played a game in Wallace Wade Stadium while ranked in the Top 20 in 54 years. Duke has won 90 of the 131 all-time games in which they have participated as a member of the AP national poll. However…
- Turkey: Duke’s success at home against the –well, they’re turkey variants — has not been as pronounced. It’s been 33 years since the Blue Devils last found themselves on the right side of the scoreboard against the Hokies in Durham. Duke has won just one of their last thirteen games against the Hokies, with Tech’s winning streak in Durham having reached five.
- Pumpkin pie: For all of the talk about “Beamerball” through the years, the Hokies have found a lesser degree of success in blocking kicks. Virginia Tech has blocked just two kicks in nine games this season. National leader Eastern Michigan has blocked six. Duke kicker Ross Martin is 13-for-13 in field goal attempts this season. Blue Devil punter Will Monday is 15th in punting average, going for 44.6 yards per boot.
Carve that, serve that, whatever: Virginia Tech has played in 21 consecutive bowl games. A loss in Wallace Wade would deal a crippling blow to their quest for 22.
Pitt (4-5, 2-3 ACC) at North Carolina (4-5, 2-3 ACC)
12:30pm | ACC Network
- Cranberry sauce: North Carolina ranks 100th or worse among FBS clubs in five major statistical categories. The worst of these is scoring defense, as the Tar Heels are third-from-last among FBS teams in the ranking. Every Tar Heel opponent has scored 27 points or greater, and Carolina allows 41.9 points per game. Only Georgia State and SMU allow a greater average point total. Conference opponents score 40.2 points per game against Larry Fedora’s club.
- Turkey: Carolina’s main area of offensive strength (passing) does not match up well against the Panther defense. UNC passes for just shy of 292 yards per game (21st-best in the FBS); however, Pitt is seventh-best in passing defense. Opposing teams throw for just 177 yards per game against the Panthers. Speaking of bad matchups…
- Pumpkin pie: UNC is 110th against the run, allowing 219.7 rushing yards per game. Miami star running back Duke Johnson carried for 177 yards and two scores against the Heels in their last outing. Pitt running back James Conner has 1,342 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns this season, and has carried for 120 yards or greater in six of nine games this season.
Carve that, serve that, whatever: Carolina just faced the conference’s second-leading rusher and lost by 27. They face the conference’s leader this week. Not good.
Wake Forest (2-7, 0-5 ACC) at NC State (5-5, 1-5 ACC)
3:00pm | RSN
- Cranberry sauce: Though Wake Forest is showing incremental offensive improvement — they scored 20 points last week against Clemson — they still rank nearly last in every offensive category. The Deacs have scored just 11.4 points against conference competition, and have averaged just 157.4 yards of total offense in their seven losses. Wake has rushed for 100 yards in a game just once this year, and has not run for 100 total yards in their last three games combined.
- Turkey: Despite NCSU’s recent tailspin and 1-5 conference record, they are just one victory away from going to their fourth bowl in five seasons. This would, obviously, be coach Dave Doeren’s first bowl game at the controls of the ‘Pack. A victory would make NC State the ninth bowl-eligible ACC squad, counting Notre Dame.
- Pumpkin pie: This is the second meeting between Dave Doeren and Dave Clawson. We established earlier that both coaches helmed MAC programs, and Doeren’s club came out on the positive side of their lone encounter. Northern Illinois defeated Bowling Green 45-14 on the road on November 8, 2011. Future Colts quarterback Chandler Harnish completed 16-of-26 passes for 294 yards and two scores in the game, adding 17 carries for 151 yards and a rushing score.
Carve that, serve that, whatever: NC State has got to become bowl-eligible here, don’t they? Wake will be good in due time, but not now.
#2 Florida State (9-0, 6-0 ACC) at Miami (6-3, 3-2 ACC)
8:00pm | ABC
- Cranberry sauce: Florida State has won just 18 of the 34 games played between the two in Miami. However, the ‘Noles have won the last three played there, all in Sun Life Stadium. FSU’s last loss to Miami anywhere was a 38-34 decision on September 7, 2009. However…
- Turkey: Miami is 5-0 this season at Sun Life Stadium. The Hurricanes have beaten Florida A&M, Arkansas State, Duke, Cincinnati and North Carolina in south Florida. Miami has outscored opponents on their home field this season by a margin of 105 points.
- Pumpkin pie: Though Todd Gurley’s suspension has been a source of ill feelings for our fearless leader here at FBSchedules, it is allowing Duke Johnson to close in on Gurley’s career rushing yards per game average lead among active backs. Gurley averages 108.5 yards per game for his career, while Johnson has moved into second at 106.2 yards per game. Johnson has considerably bettered that average over his last three games, and has rushed for 100 yards or greater in each of his last five games.
Carve that, serve that, whatever: Rivalry games — especially this one — are nearly impossible to predict. FSU should escape Miami, but not without some scars.
Trivia answer: I asked earlier: This weekend’s schedule features two coaches (Wake Forest’s Dave Clawson and NC State’s Dave Doeren) who are former head coaches at MAC schools. Which two additional ACC coaches were head coaches at a MAC institution, and at which school(s) did they coach?
Miami’s Al Golden and Boston College’s Steve Addazio are both former MAC head coaches. Both were the head coach at Temple during different times in their MAC tenure.
Comments? Questions? Follow Brian on Twitter @sportsmatters.