ACC Notebook

Three conference teams to play national powers

Hokies, Hurricanes, Deacons can show strength of ACC

September 06, 2007|By Heather A. Dinich | Heather A. Dinich,Sun reporter

The Atlantic Coast Conference has a chance to make a statement on the national level Saturday, as three league teams will face storied nonconference opponents ranked in the Associated Press Top 25.

No. 9 Virginia Tech will travel to No. 2-ranked LSU, Miami will visit No. 5 Oklahoma and Wake Forest will be home to play No. 16 Nebraska. Since 2001, the ACC is 2-27 against nonconference opponents ranked among the AP's top 10.

Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said LSU might be "the most talented team we've ever played."

"Anytime you go against another conference highly ranked and you can win it, that's great," he said. "Year in and year out, you look at it and I firmly believe with what I know about the ACC that this is a great league, a quality league. We'll get our share of wins. Any particular year you could make an argument for any particular conference, but you take it over the long haul and that's what you judge it by."

Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey did his part last weekend by leading his team to a 33-3 nationally televised road win at unranked Notre Dame.

"Anytime you play outside the conference it gives you an idea of how you stack up nationally," Gailey said. "Everybody wants to know how you stack up nationally. Anytime you have an opportunity to do that, it gives us an opportunity to show who we are and what we are."

Skinner likely out

Wake Forest quarterback Riley Skinner, who has a mild separation of his throwing shoulder, will likely miss Saturday's game against Nebraska, coach Jim Grobe said yesterday. Skinner probably won't even take any snaps at practice this week, but Grobe said the injury is "not as bad as we thought it was."

"He feels pretty good," Grobe said. "I think he's going to be OK. I don't think it's going to be a real long recovery."

Sophomore backup Brett Hodges, who took over for Skinner in the fourth quarter of last weekend's 38-28 loss to Boston College, is expected to start Saturday. He completed 17 of 23 passes for 130 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Skinner and Hodges were competing for the No. 2 spot last season before Hodges separated his shoulder about two weeks before the season opener.

"He's never given up on the idea that he could one day be the guy," Grobe said. "He's never been a kid that settled into that backup role. He practiced every day like he's the starter. ... That's why he was prepared" when he took over last Saturday.

A renaming ceremony will take place Saturday before kickoff, as the university announced a 10-year agreement yesterday with BB&T Corp. to rename the field "BB&T Field at Wake Forest University," beginning in 2008.

Back to Boston

North Carolina State coach Tom O'Brien knew when he left Boston College to take over the Wolfpack in February that this game was on the schedule, and that this week he would face a barrage of questions about his return to Chestnut Hill, Mass., on Saturday. One of the most common is how he will be received there.

"I tried my best to answer all the questions the same way, and then when I got bored I tried to change the wording a little bit," he said dryly. "Once again, I can't control those things. It will be what it is. One way or another, that won't have any outcome on the football game, so we can't worry about those things."

Still, O'Brien conceded there will be some emotion involved this weekend, as he spent the past 10 seasons at Boston College and recruited a majority of the players there.

"It's tough, but I try to put it aside," he said. "I think I can compartmentalize things pretty well. ... The best thing I can do is get this football team ready to play a great game."

heather.dinich@baltsun.com

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