Friday, December 03, 2004

ACC Showdown

by Brian "Where's the Ice?"


Virginia Tech took the field on Saturday against UVA and played THEIR
game, one with a pace set by the defense. A scoreless first half made
for a strong indication that the better defense would determine the
outcome. The Hokie defense did exactly what they needed: containment,
containment, and containment. They didn't make risky attempts for
interceptions, controlled the UVA secondary, and kept Virginia
quarterback Marques Hagans' feet moving.

The only Virginia touchdown came from a thirty-two yard pass to Alvin
Pearman who most certainly deserved it making a catch with a leap
that would make Michael Jordan himself gape.

Lastly on defense, Hokie special teams delivered too. Blocking
Virginia's first field goal attempt kept the Wahoos from striking
early and the game scoreless through the first half.

On the offensive side of things, Bryan Randall consistently made well
placed passes. Although the developing receivers, such as Eddie Royal
and Josh Hyman, have improved in their number of dropped passes
throughout the season, that number still needs to decrease even

Tight ends Jeff King and Jared Mazzetta didn't get as many catches as
in the previous contest against Maryland, but they played a crucial
role not so apparent in the stats: Virginia knew they had to guard
them closely. That opened up more opportunities for the Hokie running
game and passing to the wide receivers.

Lastly, Virginia Tech didn't have to solely rely on Michael Imoh for
their running game. Cedric Humes ran the football the best I have
watched him run all season. His thirty-seven yard touchdown run in
the fourth quarter demonstrated Virginia Tech's ability to run with
more than one ball carrier.


So who'd have thought the season would come to this? The two ex-Big
East teams of the ACC will compete for first place in the ACC
Saturday. Mad Jay hasn't gotten mad (well, at least not like usual)
for two weeks in a row! And even after a third redesign in six
seasons, Miami still has the tackiest uniforms in College Football.
It must have something to do with the heat.

If Miami (8-2, 5-2) wins over Virginia Tech (9-2, 6-1), they will
take first place in the ACC by default with the higher BCS ranking
between themselves and Virginia Tech. If Virginia Tech wins this
contest, they alone will hold the ACC title.

Hurricane and Hokie fans have become well acquainted with this
rivalry. As the two newcomers to the ACC compete for first place, it
only grows to a level more intense. Miami, originally thought endowed
with an ACC title after defeating FSU, slipped unexpectedly two weeks
in a row, first against UNC and then against Clemson. Virginia Tech,
with many fresh faces on their roster, didn't have many expectations
from College Football fans nor pundits, just to make a respectable
showing in their first season in the ACC, but they have become the
dark horse leader of the ACC.

Defeating the Cavaliers gives the Hokies all the momentum they need
to beat the Hurricanes, even on the road. But momentum alone can't
accomplish this. Miami slipped against teams they shouldn't have, and
one can reasonably speculate that came from a mentally ill prepared
Hurricane squad. Miami won't fall to Virginia Tech for that reason.

So to beat the Hurricanes, what must the Hokies accomplish? On the
defensive side of things, they should use a similar containment
strategy to the one that they did against the 'Hoos. Miami won't turn
the ball over as much as other ACC teams either. They won't make the
type of mistakes that Georgia Tech and Maryland did. This means the
cornerbacks and safeties must not take the risks that sometimes lead
to interceptions. Brock Berlin will burn the Hokie defense if they
get caught doing that.

The Hokie defensive line will probably face a tougher challenge in
trying to get to Brock Berlin than they did with Marques Hagans.
Berlin has better receivers to whom he can throw and a better head
for the position of quarterback.

Although a seasoned quarterback, Berlin could also come as a weakness
in Miami, one of which Virginia Tech could take great advantage.
Hurricane fans expected him to lead Miami to by now already having
the ACC championship in hand and looking onward to a BCS bowl.
However, he and Miami have not achieved that, and old ghosts from his
last year's performance could very well come back to affect him
mentally. If the Hokies can make a few key things go wrong early,
that could trigger errors made by Berlin.

On offense, the Hokies need to keep their efforts balanced. They
should mix up the running game with Michael Imo getting roughly sixty
percent of the carries, and they should have Cedric Humes and Justin
Hamilton sharing the rest. Randall should also try to make a balanced
use of his tight ends King and Mazzetta. And he should of course
continue to look for receivers Hyman, Royal, and Clowney. Just coat
their hands with sticky tape before the game!

Hokie fans, we've come to what the rest of the season has made the
ACC title game. As the newest addition to the ACC, the rest of the
College Football world will watch this game closely.


Last Week's Predictions

Cincinnati vs. 8 Louisville
Prediction: Louisville over Cincinnati by 13
Outcome: *Louisville 70, Cincinnati 7

10 Boise State vs. Nevada
Prediction: Boise State over Nevada by 27
Outcome: *Boise State 58, Nevada 21

Georgia Tech vs. 7 Georgia
Prediction: Georgia over Georgia Tech by 20
Outcome: *Georgia 19, Georgia Tech 13

22 Texas A&M 5 Texas
Prediction: Texas over Texas A&M by 16
Outcome: *Texas 26, Texas A&M 13

Notre Dave vs. 1 USC
Prediction: USC over Notre Dame by 17
Outcome: *USC 41, Notre Dame 10

This Week's Predictions

1 USC vs. UCLA
Prediction: USC over UCLA by 33

2 Oklahoma vs. Colorado
Colorado definitely has a shot here, but the odds stack far against
their favor. Coming off a three game winning streak, Oklahoma would
make a mistake by taking them too lightly. But I don't think Olkahoma
Prediction: Oklahoma over Colorado by 19

3 Auburn vs. 15 Tennessee
Tennesee has the tools to beat Auburn, and the SEC championship
hanging in the balance could give them the extra push they need to
win. This one could really go either way. Tennessee didn't play too
well against Kentucky; they shouldn't have had to come from behind in
the final minutes of the game. For that reason, I choose Auburn.
Prediction: Auburn over Tennesee by 9

4 California vs. Southern Miss
Prediction: California over Southern Miss by 27

10 Louisville vs. Tulane
Prediction: Louisville over Tulane by 27

Top 10 Rankings
Rank "Where's the Ice" ESPN/Coaches AP BCS
1 Auburn USC USC USC
2 Oklahoma Oklahoma Oklahoma Oklahoma
3 USC Auburn Auburn Auburn
4 Texas California California California
5 California Texas Utah Texas
6 Utah Utah Texas Utah
7 Georgia Georgia Louisville Georgia
8 Louisville Louisville Georgia Boise State
9 Tennessee Miami Miami Louisville
10 Miami Boise State Virginia Tech Miami

No comments: