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September 13, 2007

Possible title game preview set for Atlanta

» MORE WEEK 3 BREAKDOWNS: Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC

Megargee's ACC Picks
Thursday's Game:
West Virginia 35, Maryland 24
Saturday's Games:

North Carolina 17, Virginia 14
Clemson 49, Furman 13
Virginia Tech 27, Ohio 3
Miami 34, Florida International 7
Wake Forest 24, Army 7
N.C. State 31, Wofford 10
Georgia Tech 24, Boston College 21
Northwestern 20, Duke 7
Florida State 27, Colorado 20

Overview: Only two games on this week's schedule pit conference rivals against each other, but one of those matchups is a doozy. Boston College's game at Georgia Tech could foreshadow this season's ACC title game. Virginia visits North Carolina in the other conference game. The ACC is 7-20 in nonconference games against BCS-league teams, but the league could go a long way toward redeeming itself by winning a couple of big intersectional games: West Virginia-Maryland on Thursday night and Florida State-Colorado on Saturday night.

Best matchup: Georgia Tech RB Tashard Choice vs. Boston College run defense. We just as easily could have used this space to talk about the intriguing matchup between first-team All-ACC QB Matt Ryan of Boston College and Georgia Tech's outstanding pass rush, but we feel this game will come down to how effectively the Yellow Jackets run the ball. Choice has nine consecutive 100-yard games and is the nation's ninth-leading rusher. BC is fourth in the nation in run defense and is allowing only 1.2 yards per carry.

The pressure is on: N.C. State QB Harrison Beck. In his first game since winning the Wolfpack's starting job, Beck – a transfer from Nebraska – threw five interceptions and lost a fumble in a 37-17 loss at Boston College. Beck retained his starting job, but a poor performance against I-AA Wofford could tempt coach Tom O'Brien to give opening-game starter Daniel Evans a second chance.

Who's hot: Choice has averaged 158.3 rushing yards per game over his last three contests in a stretch that started with last season's Gator Bowl. … Clemson QB Cullen Harper has thrown seven touchdown passes with no interceptions in his first two starts. … Maryland RB Keon Lattimore has rushed for at least 100 yards in each of the past two weeks. … N.C. State WR/KR Darrell Blackman ranks ninth in the nation with 207 all-purpose yards per game. … North Carolina LB Durell Mapp ranks ninth in the nation with 13.5 tackles per game. … Virginia DE Chris Long has recorded two sacks in each of the Cavaliers' two games. … North Carolina WR/KR Brandon Tate has scored six touchdowns – three on receptions and three on returns – in his past three games. …Wake Forest WR Kenneth Moore had 126 receiving yards in the season-opener and 116 rushing yards last week. … Maryland QB Jordan Steffy has completed 75.5 percent of his passes.

Who's not: Miami QB Kirby Freeman completed only 40 percent of his passes in two games before losing his starting job to Kyle Wright. … Virginia Tech QB Sean Glennon lost his job to true freshmen Tyrod Taylor after being benched in the first half of a 48-7 loss to LSU. … Duke kicker Joe Surgan is 1-for-4 on field-goal attempts. … Duke QB Thaddeus Lewis and Virginia QB Jameel Sewell have thrown twice as many interceptions as touchdown passes. … Wake Forest RB Micah Andrews and Virginia Tech RB Branden Ore have averaged just 2.7 yards per carry.

Keep your eye on: Clemson guard Thomas Austin has spent some practice time as the Tigers' first-team center this week, though Clemson coaches haven't indicated whether they plan to move Austin to that spot. Barry Humphries started the first two games at center. … Florida International offensive lineman Xavier Shannon should look familiar to Miami fans. He's the son of Hurricanes coach Randy Shannon.

Numbers game: Virginia Tech's next victory will be the 200th of Hokies coach Frank Beamer's career. … Boston College's defense leads the nation with nine interceptions. … Georgia Tech ranks among the nation's top 10 teams in 10 statistical categories. The Yellow Jackets are second in tackles for loss, fourth in rushing offense, fourth in sacks, fifth in net punting, fifth in fewest sacks allowed, fifth in kickoff-return average, seventh in rushing offense, seventh in turnover margin, eighth in total defense and ninth in scoring offense. … Tyrod Taylor's second-half touchdown run in a 48-7 loss to LSU kept alive Virginia Tech's string of 150 consecutive games without getting shut out. That represents the ACC's longest active scoring streak.

Freshman to watch: The obvious choice here is Virginia Tech QB Tyrod Taylor, who makes his first career start Saturday against Ohio. Taylor replaced an ineffective Sean Glennon last week and rushed for the Hokies' only touchdown in a 48-7 loss to LSU. Taylor's mobility gives Virginia Tech an added dimension, though his inexperience could cause problems.

Boston College2-02-0
Florida State0-11-1
Wake Forest0-10-2
N.C. State0-10-2
Georgia Tech0-02-0
North Carolina0-01-1
Virginia Tech0-01-1
They said it: "Basically we were embarrassed last year in the first half. When we stepped up, we were still down by a lot of points, but we showed them we had a lot of heart and we're not going to let anyone roll over us. This year I think we're trying to come out right from the first play and try and hit them in the mouth and set the tone. They think they're going to have a pretty easy game with us, but we're not going to let that happen."
--Maryland DT Carlos Feliciano to TerrapinTimes.com about Thursday's game with West Virginia, which beat the Terps 45-24 last season after scoring the game's first 28 points.

"FIU is doing a good job. They are in there fighting. … What I meant by fighting was that FIU is in there battling. I want to make sure I clarify that."
--Miami coach Randy Shannon to The St. Petersburg Times about Saturday's opponent. Shannon wanted to clarify his word choice because of the brawl that marred last season's Miami-FIU game.

"It's kind of scary how much Tyrod reminds us of Marcus (Vick) back there, the way he throws the ball. He brings a certain type of swagger to the offense. You know that you can win behind this guy."
--Virginia Tech WR Eddie Royal to The Associated Press on Taylor, who was named the starter this week.

Injury update: Boston College DE Nick Larkin will miss the Georgia Tech game with an injured left knee. RB/KR Jeff Smith has missed the Eagles' first two games with a concussion. … Florida State TB Antone Smith sustained a concussion last week, but he still expects to play against Colorado. … N.C. State DT DeMario Pressley had arthroscopic knee surgery Sunday and is expected to miss at least two weeks. … Virginia LB Jermaine Dias has practiced this week, but he remains questionable for the North Carolina game with an ankle injury.

Etc.: Florida State defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews missed the Seminoles' 34-24 victory over UAB after coming down with pneumonia last week. His status for the Colorado game remains uncertain. … Maryland QB Josh Portis has been suspended for the season, but he still has found a way to make a contribution. Portis is playing the role of West Virginia QB Pat White on the scout team this week. … Florida International coach Mario Cristobal was Miami's offensive line coach last year. Cristobal and Miami coach Randy Shannon played together on Miami's 1988 team. … Duke's 22-game losing streak is the longest in major-college football. … This is the 112th meeting of North Carolina and Virginia; it's the fifth-oldest rivalry in I-A.

» MORE WEEK 3 BREAKDOWNS: Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC

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