Clear Your Schedule – ACC, Week 6

By Brian Wilmer -

Week 6 of the 2012 college football season features a number of interesting match-ups involving current – and future – ACC teams, including two nationally-televised night games. Let’s take a look around the conference and tell you what to watch for this week.

Top of the Ratings

Miami, FL (4-1) at #9 Notre Dame (4-0), 7:30pm ET, NBC

The ACC Coastal Division leaders travel to South Bend to take on their longtime rivals and future conference mates in the match-up of the week. It’s no Catholics vs. Convicts, but this game takes on a whole new level of interest with both schools off to a blazing start.

Last week’s episode:  Miami 44, NC State 37; Notre Dame 13, Michigan 6 (9/22)

Program guide: The Irish are no offensive juggernaut, ranking #97 in total offense among FBS schools. Most of Notre Dame’s offensive output occurred in their season opener against Navy in Ireland, posting 490 yards of total offense against the Midshipmen in a 50-10 victory. Sophomore quarterback Everett Golson has been an effective leader of the offense, completing 56% of his passes on the season. The Irish truly make their name on defense, as their #15-ranked unit has held nationally-ranked Michigan State and Michigan to nine total points over the last two games, keeping both squads under 300 yards of total offense in each contest.

The Hurricanes, meanwhile, are off to a somewhat surprising 4-1 start, with their only loss a 52-13 throttling to Kansas State in Manhattan in week 2. As previously mentioned, Miami leads the ACC Coastal division after getting off to a 3-0 start. Hidden behind that 3-0 start, however, is a somewhat concerning number. The ‘Canes have allowed over 30 points to each of their first three conference foes, beating Boston College 41-32, Georgia Tech 42-36 and NC State 44-37. Duke Johnson drives the bus for Miami, rushing for just under seven yards per carry on the season. The Hurricanes will need more Duke Johnson and less 30-point defensive performances in the shadow of Touchdown Jesus.

Set Your DVR

Virginia Tech (3-2, 1-0) at North Carolina (3-2, 0-1), 12:30pm ET, ACC Network

Program guide: The 3-2 Hokies are currently in last place in the Big East, with losses to Pittsburgh and Cinci — oh yeah, they are an ACC school. Virginia Tech has allowed 675 passing yards in two road contests in 2012, with road opponents averaging 516 yards of total offense per game. Carolina has hammered three lesser opponents at home under first-year coach Larry Fedora, with their lone ACC game a road loss at Wake Forest.

Virginia (2-3, 0-1) at Duke (4-1, 1-0), 3:00pm ET, FSN (regional)

Program guide: Virginia coach Mike London appears to have finally tired of quarterback Mike Rocco after his eight interceptions, turning to Alabama transfer Phillip Sims in an attempt to lead the Cavaliers out of their three-game slide. Sims played admirably in last week’s 44-38 loss to Louisiana Tech in Charlottesville, completing 10-of-17 passes for 166 yards and two scores. Duke is off to their hottest start in almost 20 years, and there is momentum in Durham with announced expansion on the way to Wallace Wade Stadium. It seems almost insane to label a game a must-win for a team in week six, but if you look at Duke’s remaining slate, this is truly the case if the Blue Devils wish to go bowling in 2012.

Georgia Tech (2-3, 1-2) at #15 Clemson (4-1, 1-1), 3:30pm ET, ESPN/ABC

Program guide: Georgia Tech faces the already unenviable task of going to Death Valley coming off a throttling at the hands of Middle Tennessee of the Sun Belt. Blue Raider running back Benny Cunningham gashed the Yellow Jackets for 217 yards and five touchdowns in Atlanta, and the Ramblin’ Wreck now gets to try to contain Andre Ellington, who averages over 100 yards per game for the Tigers. Containing the Tiger ground game will be key if Tech wants to keep from backing themselves further into a corner.

#3 Florida State (5-0, 2-0) at NC State (3-2, 0-1), 8:00pm ET, ESPN2

Program guide: Sure, this game may not appear to be much on its face, but this may be a bit of a trap for the Seminoles. This is not to say they are not the large favorite, of course, but Miami awaits in two weeks. NC State plays their first game at home against BCS competition, and this is a big one for the Pack. Two road games at Maryland and North Carolina are next before a return to Raleigh to host Virginia, and a 3-3 record before heading to College Park may help to torpedo NC State’s bowl chances. Mike Glennon threw for 440 yards in a losing effort against Miami last week, and this level of effort — or better — will be an absolute must if an upset of Jimbo Fisher’s troops is in the cards.

Fast Forward

Boston College (1-3) at Army (0-4), noon ET, CBS Sports Network

Program guide: The Eagles took repeated punches from Clemson in Chestnut Hill last week, staying on their feet and landing some counter-punches of their own before finally hitting the canvas in a 45-31 defeat. Boston College holds a 34-3 victory over FCS opponent Maine; however, the numbers are not pretty outside of that game. Opponents have amassed almost 1600 yards of total offense in the other three games, losses to Miami, at Northwestern and the aforementioned Clemson. Army figures to offer little in terms of a threat to BC’s second win, but a trip to West Point is never easy.

Wake Forest (3-2, 1-2) at Maryland (2-2, 0-0), 3:30pm ET, ESPNU

Program guide: Wake Forest was the talk of the ACC after a 2-0 start and a victory in the rain in Winston-Salem against North Carolina. Florida State quickly brought the Demon Deacons back to earth with a 52-0 victory in Tallahassee, however, and Jim Grobe’s squad has sputtered a bit since that game. The Deacs beat Army 49-37, but lost to Duke 34-27 last week, putting themselves in a bit of a tight spot. Randy Edsall’s Terps have suffered back-to-back losses to Edsall’s old UConn squad and West Virginia in the Backyard Brawl, and they will try to regain some momentum in their first ACC contest of the 2012 season. Danny O’Brien has moved on to Wisconsin, but the high-powered receiving duo of Marcus Leak and true freshman Stefon Diggs (12 catches, 259 yards, 3 TD) will look to guide the Terrapins into the win column at Byrd Stadium.

Brian Wilmer is a contributor to Follow him @sportsmatters.