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Entries in ACC (8)


ACC Preview: Miami Regains Elite Status

Picture Of Randy Shannon

One Great Season

This might be the year the Atlantic Coast Conference finally makes its case as the second-best league in college football.

Remember, it was only two seasons ago that the ACC sent 10 teams to bowl games, but it's still a league that those fair-minded SEC fans like to ridicule.

Its stacked Coastal Division will be just as impressive and difficult as the SEC West this year, and almost as wide open as the PAC 10.

Florida State should have its way in the Atlantic Division, as Clemson has a huge hole to fill after the departure of C.J. Spiller. Boston College, with the return of Mark Herzlich — whenever that might be — will have a fine season, but the Seminoles, with Christian Ponder and without Bobby Bowden, are the pick here.

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Tournament Takeaways: What Day 2 Taught Us

Evan Turner

One Great Season

For fans of Cinderella, underdogs and buzzer-beaters, the second day of the NCAA Tournament didn't deliver the dramatics that day one did, but we still saw some quality basketball on Friday.

Saturday brings us the first day of the second round, and there are some good matchups on deck this weekend. But let's review the highs and lows from the second-best day in American sports:

+ Ohio State's Evan Turner is the best player in the country, but he's far from perfect. His poor night from the field isn't what should concern OSU fans, but his sometimes lazy and sloppy ballhandling should. I've actually thought this for a few weeks, particularly in the Big Ten Tournament semifinal against Illinois. Turner is dangerous on the bounce during transition or when he has a path to the basket, but sometimes when he tries to attack the lane in the half-court, he forgets to protect the basketball. Being 6-foot-7 and not a natural point guard, I'm sure he's used to being vertical, but as the Buckeyes advance, he'll need to protect the rock against smaller guards who've lately been able to knock the ball from him with regularity.

+ Nice to see the Big East bounce back with three wins in four tries Friday, after Thursday's disastrous 1-3 effort. West Virginia, Pittsburgh and Syracuse coasted to fairly easy wins. But Louisville got embarrassed by Cal, giving what was supposed to be a weak PAC 10 two wins in two games against the alleged top league in the country.

+ I'd read a bunch about Cornell the last three months but never once saw the Big Red on television until Friday. If the way they played is how they always play, then that was no upset. An excellent team beat Temple, and handily. It was pretty impressive when, after a few trips, CBS would show tight shots of Cornell players getting back on defense after a make. Sorry for the cliche, but you really could see a good, positive, laser-focus in the eyes of those players. They'll give Wisconsin a tough game Sunday. Or will Wisconsin give Cornell a tough game?

+ Glad to see Purdue get a gritty win over a game Siena team. The Saints might be a Gonzaga East in the making, as they've pulled off upsets the last two years and were subsequently a fashionable first-round upset pick for many. But even without Robbie Hummel, the Boilermakers showed they can win some games when their star is down. Chris Kramer was hardly the hero of the game for the winners, but if you're teaching your son how to play good, solid, fundamental basketball with a high motor, Kramer is Exhibit A.

+ And speaking of the Big Ten, a 4-1 start isn't too shabby. In addition to OSU and Purdue, Wisconsin and Michigan State hung tough to avoid upsets. Minnesota couldn't complete the skunking, however, as the Gophers fell to a very well-prepared Xavier team. XU coaches turn over every few years, but whomever is at the helm, the Muskies never disappoint come tournament time.

+ No. 10-seed Georgia Tech and No. 7 Oklahoma State squared off to settle an ACC-Big 12 dispute. Wake Forest beat Texas on Thursday, and early Friday, Missouri bounced Clemson. The Yellow Jackets won the rubber match, advancing to a very winnable game against Ohio State in Milwaukee on Sunday.

+ Friday's best Tweet came from KySportsRadio, who said after Louisville's horrendous start against California, "If this keeps up, Rick Pitino is only going to be able to get women in an Olive Garden."

+ And kudos to CBS' Seth Davis for breaking down the end of the New Mexico State-Michigan State game. Davis said on Twitter he'd spoken to the NCAA coordinator of officials by telephone and that both of them dissected the replay of what was thought by many to be a questionable lane-violation call. But Davis showed viewers at about 12:45 a.m. ET that it was the right call. However, Davis also showed the officials did screw up moments later when a ball was batted out of bounds with 0.7 seconds left in the game. By the time the operator stopped the clock, it read 0.3, but the officials didn't add the extra time, which could have been significant to New Mexico State.

+ For those who love Gus Johnson, here's an excellent soundboard of some of his great calls.


Who Will Win Today's Big Games?

Cincinnati Bearcats

One Great Season

PITTSBURGH -- I haven't had many noon starts on the OGS tour, but I'm not complaining.

After I shoot the Cincinnati-Pittsburgh game, I'll hustle back to the hotel for the Florida-Alabama tilt and then of course Texas-Nebraska. Those poor kids from Georgia Tech and Clemson; not many people will be watching that ACC Championship game when it kicks off at 8 p.m. ET.

Here are my picks for today's huge matchups:

Cincinnati at Pittsburgh -- The Bearcats surprised many in the season's first half with a defense that hardly resembled one that was starting 10 new players. But the last few games, UC is giving up big plays and many points, so Dion Lewis and the Panthers will definitely make it interesting. But Cincinnati's offense hasn't missed a beat despite the musical quarterbacks, and I don't even think the noise surrounding Brian Kelly's future will be a problem. Cincinnati wins a shootout, 45-37.

Urban Meyer

Florida vs. Alabama -- Two great teams with great defenses tangle for the right to call themselves SEC champions and play for the national title. I see this one looking a lot like the Florida-LSU game in October. Points and big plays will be at a premium. And in such a game that will probably be close after halftime, would you put your crunch-time money on Tim Tebow or the other guy? Florida ends Alabama's dream season ... again, 16-12.

Texas vs. Nebraska -- Many think Nebraska has a chance here, and while I don't totally disagree, the chance is not a good one. Texas hasn't faced a defense like the one it will face today, but the Huskers have little to be excited about on the other side of the ball. They'll certainly slow the Longhorns down, but not enough to beat them. Colt McCoy and Texas have too much firepower. A slowed-down UT offense is better than most at full power. The Longhorns are focused on one of those shiny BCS invitations, and they'll get it with an impressive win, 31-10.

Georgia Tech vs. Clemson -- Each team suffered a disappointing rivalry loss to an almighty SEC team last week, so tonight's game will tell us who can respond better to adversity. Clemson has C.J. Spiller, who can rejoin the list of Heisman candidates with another stellar performance. But Georgia Tech has its impossible-to-stop rushing attack that gives everyone trouble. I have to think preparing for a difficult team will be slightly easier the second time around for the Tigers, who only lost by a field goal at Georgia Tech in Week Two. Clemson wins, 27-23, in an exciting finish that many will turn to after Texas puts the Big 12 title game out of reach in the second half.


Caught On Video: VaTech Victim Gets Verbal

Mt. Vernon Way

One Great Season

CINCINNATI -- Reviewing some of the material I gathered on gameday in Atlanta Saturday, I couldn't help but laugh at this one video clip.

I was two rows ahead of these two Virginia Tech fans who didn't seem too unruly in the first three quarters. In fact, I didn't hear them at all. Not surprising, considering Georgia Tech seemed in control for much of the game.

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But midway through the fourth quarter, I just happened to be looking behind me when a Georgia Tech fan did bark in their direction, "Have a fun drive back to Blacksburg," and that really pushed on of these VaTech guy's buttons.

Did the Georgia Tech fan need to say that? Not at all, but this is sports and fans like to jab each other. VaTech guy, however, would not shut up for about 10 minutes. He yelled over a woman holding her bundled-up baby in order to get his shouts heard by the GaTech instigator, then directed some of his vitriol toward a nice guy sitting behind me who was only recommending the VaTech guy relax a little bit. It was late in the game and the home team was wrapping things up, but that didn't stop VaTech guy from declaring that the home fans "don't even know how to watch a football game."

Enjoy the video of the verbal confrontation below, as well as another clip at the very bottom that shows thousands of Georgia Tech fans storming the field after the home team surprised the No. 4 Hokies in Saturday's big ACC tilt. They might not know how to watch a football game, but I give those fans credit for knowing how to celebrate after one.


Is Sean Bedford The New Tim Tebow?

One Great Season

ATLANTA -- You may remember I had a great conversation this week with Georgia Tech center Sean Bedford. Here are some more great soundbites from the fourth-year junior who, when he's not practicing or spending time with charitable groups, studies for his aerospace engineering and pre-law courses:


GaTech O-Lineman Offers Recipe For Success vs. VaTech

One Great Season

ATLANTA -- Remember Sean Bedford, the Coolest Guy In College Football I spoke to Monday?

Well, one of his boys on the offensive line, Brad Sellers, also is an undersized nice guy who seems to depend heavily on brains and technique. Sure these dudes are gritty, but when you're in the 6-1 or 6-2 range and you weigh between 260 and 270, words like "heart" and "determination" are often used to describe your game. Many BCS squads boast linemen in the neighborhood of 6-5, 310 pounds, but at Georgia Tech, size definitely does not matter.

Want proof? Well, that small-ish line is leading the way for Jonathan Dwyer and a Yellow Jackets rushing attack that averages 277 yards per game, fourth-best in the country. That's right, Tech's average yards-per-game output nearly equals the average weight (281 pounds) of its five starting offensive linemen.

Sellers says it's not a difficult formula to follow: just use good technique and work hard.


The Coolest Guy In College Football Lives Here

One Great Season

ATLANTA -- I'm pretty sure I met the coolest guy in college football Monday, and his name isn't Kirk Herbstreit or Pete Carroll. He's Georgia Tech center Sean Bedford.

He's just your typical fourth-year junior who wasn't heavily recruited, thought about walking on at Notre Dame, then walked on at Tech as a defensive lineman, then was moved to offensive line as a backup, now finds himself starting and still finds time to study for his aerospace engineering and pre-law courses.

He's also active with various charitable groups around town and turns out to be a heck of a nice kid and a great interview to boot.

In the clip below, Bedford talks about intangible qualities like heart and perseverance and how they helped him go from scout-team scrapper to a recent ACC Lineman of the Week honor.


ACC Preview

By John P. Wise
One Great Season

NEW YORK -- When using the term "continued success" about an ACC football powerhouse, there was a time not long ago when you would have used those words to describe Florida State.

But it's Virginia Tech that will enjoy continued membership among the national elite while the Seminoles could very well return to such status after a couple of off years and an overall downslide as it relates to the sport's landscape.

FSU and Virginia Tech should steamroll through the Atlantic and Coastal divisions, respectively, and square off in the ACC Championship game on Dec. 5 in Tampa.

With the graduation of Sean Glennon, Tyrod Taylor doesn't have to worry about splitting time at quarterback. The 2009 squad is finally his team. With a 13-2 career mark as a starter, this could be the year the speedy junior starts to remind Tech fans of the dual-threat capabilities of Michael Vick.

While Taylor will lead the offense, coach Frank Beamer's bread will again be buttered on defense and special teams this year, thanks in large part to Jason Worilds. Worilds changed his name from Jason Adjepong two years ago, and will change plenty of games this year with his rare combination of speed and strength. This guy is a huge playmaker; expect to hear his name in connection with sacks, turnovers and even a blocked kick or two this season.

Early season tilts at Alabama and against Nebraska will help the Hokies get ready for the ACC grind, if you want to call it a grind. This league certainly isn't the SEC or the Big XII, but home dates with Miami and Boston College and a visit to Georgia Tech will offer enough credible tests to put the defending Orange Bowl champs in the BCS mix once again.

Speaking of tests, that FSU student-athletes cheated on one several years ago could cost legendary coach Bobby Bowden as many as 14 wins. The school has appealed the NCAA's ruling to strip Bowden of the victories, a move that would reduce the coach's win total from 382 to 368. Penn State's Joe Paterno stands at No. 1 with 383 victories.

Regardless of what shakes out, the Seminoles could field their best team in years this season. Long gone from Tallahassee are 11-1 seasons; FSU is just 23-16 in the last three years, but an explosive offense could help return the Seminoles to the national spotlight.

Quarterback Christian Ponder is back, as is the entire offensive line in front of him. In all, seven starters return from last year's unit that averaged 33 points and 372 yards per game. Only five starters return on defense, so Ponder will need to continue to lead the growth of the offense.

FSU also will have to overcome a difficult schedule, especially on the road. The Seminoles visit BYU, Boston College, Clemson and Florida, and also play Miami and Georgia Tech this season. It's one of the most difficult schedules in Division I this year.

Elsewhere around the league, Georgia Tech is getting some attention thanks to running back Jonathan Dwyer, who's on many preseason Heisman watch lists. Boston College and Clemson surely have high hopes as they do every summer, but they're certain to finish a disappointing 8-4 at best, as they seem to do every fall. North Carolina is getting some precious preseason pub, but I'm not ready to jump on its bandwagong yet. The ACC continues to make gradual improvement this year, but definitely won't send 10 teams to bowl games like it did in 2008, an NCAA record for one league.


Florida State
Boston College
Wake Forest
North Carolina State

Virginia Tech
Georgia Tech
North Carolina

BEST GAME ON THE SCHEDULE: Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech, Oct. 17