Preview Week

Acc

August 29, 2008|By Jeff Barker

WHO'S HOT

Clemson's offense: Not a bad trifecta when you can claim the ACC's best quarterback (Heisman Trophy hopeful Cullen Harper), running backs (James Davis and C.J. Spiller) and perhaps wide receiver (Aaron Kelly). Clemson is one of six schools nationally with a returning 1,000-yard rusher and receiver.

Wake Forest's defense: Talk about opportunistic. The Demon Deacons had 19 interceptions last year, and Alphonso Smith returned three for touchdowns. It sure helps in close games to have a reliable kicker like Sam Swank, who has made nine of 12 field-goal attempts from 50 yards and beyond.

North Carolina: The Tar Heels haven't finished above .500 since going 8-5 in 2001, but their fortunes are changing just in time for the impending expansion of Kenan Stadium.

WHO'S NOT

Boston College: The world looks different when you lose a star quarterback like Matt Ryan. Defenses look scarier.

KEY GAMES

Tomorrow: Alabama vs. Clemson at the Georgia Dome. Yes, Clemson looks loaded. But the Tigers have to prove their mettle immediately away from home.

Tomorrow: Southern California at Virginia. It's great exposure - not to mention money - for Virginia to open with such a formidable opponent. But give the Cavaliers credit for guts because a huge loss can set a discordant tone for the season.

Sept. 20: Virginia Tech at North Carolina: OK, Tar Heels. You're the trendy pick to improve into an ACC contender. Here's your chance to prove it's not all a sweet summer dream.

Sept. 27: Maryland at Clemson. The Terrapins' first ACC game is also their toughest.

Oct. 9: Clemson at Wake Forest: Anybody remember Nebraska's Immovable Object (the defense) vs. Oklahoma's Irresistible Force (the offense) in 1971? Can't help but think of that whenever a loaded offense like Clemson's challenges a top defense like Wake's.

BIG SHOES TO FILL

Chris Crane, Boston College: The only problem with the Eagles having the ACC's best player at quarterback was that no one else got to play. The departure of Matt Ryan has left the job to the inexperienced Crane.

Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech: The former Navy coach gets downright defiant when told that the option-based spread offense he ran in Annapolis might not translate at Georgia Tech. "I get a kick out of, 'Will this work on this level?' " the new Yellow Jackets coach said.

Da'Rel Scott, Maryland: Nobody can make up for the loss of Keon Lattimore and Lance Ball - unless he rushes for 1,500 yards and 25 touchdowns.

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