Overview: The most intriguing conference matchup of the week comes Thursday night when Florida State tries to avenge last year's humiliating 30-0 loss to 2006 conference champion Wake Forest. Miami will try to keep its Coastal Division title hopes alive against Georgia Tech, which qualifies as the league's biggest disappointment thus far. North Carolina squares off with South Carolina for the first time since 1991. Two games this week reflect the crazy nature of this season. At the start of the season, who expected Virginia and Connecticut to have one loss between them when they faced each other in mid-October? And who would have anticipated Boston College to be such an overwhelming favorite over Notre Dame?
Best matchup: Miami offensive coordinator Patrick Nix vs. Georgia Tech defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta. Nix spent five seasons at Georgia Tech ? the last three as offensive coordinator ? before being hired at Miami this year. Although Nix has downplayed his matchup against his former team, it will be interesting to see which team benefits the most from Nix's background. Will Nix know how to attack Georgia Tech's defense, or will the Yellow Jackets know exactly what to expect?
The pressure is on: All of Miami's players. Miami coach Randy Shannon ripped his players this week for not believing in the coaching staff enough. This criticism came in the wake of a surprising 33-27 loss to North Carolina. Shannon never hesitated to shake up his depth chart during his tenure as Miami's defensive coordinator. If the Hurricanes fall again this week, don't be surprised if Shannon makes major changes to the lineup.
Who's hot: Boston College QB Matt Ryan has thrown five touchdown passes with no interceptions in his past two games. ? Boston College FS Jamie Silva has 34 tackles and three interceptions in his past four games. ? Duke WR Eron Riley has 15 catches for 409 yards and seven touchdowns over his past three games. ? Duke LB Vincent Rey has made at least 11 tackles in four consecutive games. ? Florida State WR Greg Carr has nine catches for 247 yards the past two weeks. ? Florida State LB Geno Hayes has five tackles for losses and two sacks the past two weeks. ? Georgia Tech TB Tashard Choice has rushed for a total of 280 yards over his past two games. ? North Carolina FS Deunta Williams has picked off a pass in two consecutive games. ? North Carolina K Connor Barth has made a school-record 19 consecutive field-goal attempts. ? Wake Forest DE Jeremy Thompson has four sacks in his past three games.
Who's not: Clemson TB James Davis gained just 9 yards on six carries last week in a 41-23 loss to Virginia Tech. Clemson TB C.J. Spiller had six carries for 3 yards against Virginia Tech and has averaged just 3.3 yards per rush all season. Spiller gained 7.3 yards per carry last season. ? Miami QB Kyle Wright has thrown six interceptions in his past two games. ? North Carolina State QBs Daniel Evans and Harrison Beck both have thrown more interceptions than touchdown passes.
Keep your eye on: Virginia Tech LB Brett Warren has the unenviable task of filling in for Vince Hall, who appeared on his way to a third consecutive 100-tackle season before breaking his left wrist last week. Warren will make his first career start Saturday in place of Hall. Warren is the son of former Washington Redskins TE Don Warren, who now works as a scout for the Redskins. North Carolina State RB Jamelle Eugene rushed for a career-high 101 yards and had five catches for 30 yards last week in a 27-10 loss to Florida State. Eugene should continue to have a featured role now that a broken foot has knocked out teammate Andre Brown for the remainder of the season. North Carolina's chances of pulling off a second consecutive upset depend on how QB T.J. Yates fares against a South Carolina team that leads the nation in pass defense. After delivering three touchdown passes in each of the Tar Heels' first three games, Yates hasn't thrown one in the three games since.
Numbers game: Wake Forest CB Alphonso Smith has returned three interceptions for touchdowns this season, which ties the ACC single-season record set by Marcus McGruder of Wake Forest in 2004. Smith also has four career interception returns for touchdowns to tie the ACC mark set by Virginia's Randy Neal from 1991-94. ? Georgia Tech ranks second in the nation in sacks (4.3 per game) and fewest sacks allowed (0.67 per game). ? Miami has outscored teams 64-0 in the first half of its four home games. The Hurricanes have been outscored 48-10 in the first half of their two road games.
Freshmen to watch: Miami DT Josh Holmes moves into the starting lineup this week because Antonio Dixon has a knee injury that should sideline him for the next four weeks. The Hurricanes are counting on Holmes, a redshirt freshman, to help bottle up a Georgia Tech ground game that features ACC rushing leader Tashard Choice. Georgia Tech WR D.J. Donley should earn more playing time this week because of a knee injury that will sideline starter James Johnson for the Miami game.
Injury update: Clemson G Chris McDuffie (back spasms), OT Christian Capote (hamstring), G Brandon Pilgrim (ankle) and C Thomas Austin (ankle) have nagging injuries, though they should benefit from having a bye this weekend. ? Duke DE Patrick Bailey is probably out for the season after injuring his knee against Wake Forest last week. ? Florida State DT Budd Thacker will return to action this week after missing two games with a dislocated toe. DE Neefy Moffett (hip) and DT Andre Fluellen (elbow) should play Thursday, but OT David Overmyer will miss the Wake Forest game because of a sprained knee. ? Georgia Tech WR James Johnson (knee) and G Nate McManus (shoulder) will miss the Miami game. ? Maryland G Andrew Crummey will be out until at least the regular-season finale with a broken fibula. ? Miami DT Antonio Dixon will miss at least four weeks because of a knee injury, and LB Colin McCarthy (concussion) is questionable for the Georgia Tech game. ? North Carolina LB Chase Rice (ankle) and CB Kendric Williams (knee) are out for the season. UNC C Scott Lenahan has missed the past two games with a calf injury. ? North Carolina State TB Andre Brown will miss the rest of the season with a broken foot. ? Virginia TB Cedric Peerman (foot) and CB Chris Cook (leg) are questionable for the Connecticut game. ? Virginia Tech LB Vince Hall will miss at least one game after breaking his wrist against Clemson. OT Ed Wang returns to the lineup this week after missing the Hokies' first six games with a broken ankle. ? Wake Forest DE Matt Robinson played about a dozen snaps last week in his first game since injuring an ankle in the season-opener. Robinson should get some playing time against Florida State.
They said it: "It's still Notre Dame. I don't care what's going on, it's still Notre Dame. Some of the best talent in America, that's where we're at. ? They have guys that can play football. Whatever their record is, it doesn't matter. That's all (put) aside in terms of this football game. They're a good football team and we're a good football team, and we're going to have to play on Saturday."
? Boston College LB JoLonn Dunbar to EagleAction.com on Saturday's game with Notre Dame.
"I've had a much tougher situation than this. When we played Auburn (while at Georgia Tech), it was a lot harder than this. It was harder playing my alma mater, a place I love dearly to this day. It's actually going to be fun. I'm looking forward to watching them play. I sat in the living rooms of a lot of those guys. (I) know their moms. I hope to get to see them after the game, the moms and dads, good people I consider friends. That coaching staff, I consider them friends. We haven't talked this week, but they were some of the first ones to call me and text me congratulating me on the (Texas A&M) game, on (having a baby). Our families, wives, kids are still close. They have a job. I have a job. That's the way it is."
? Miami offensive coordinator Patrick Nix to Canesport.com about facing Georgia Tech, where he worked as an assistant for five seasons.
"Bobby Bowden, around Tallahassee, is God. He's the President. He's the mayor, senator, public official." ? Wake Forest RB Micah Andrews on the opposing team's coach in Thursday's Florida State-Wake Forest game.
"They came into our house and demoralized us. We had fans leaving in the third quarter. I had never seen that happen at Florida State, and for that to happen was just an embarrassment. It is very important that we get our minds right and go up there with intensity and play them hard. They always play us hard. We owe them this time around." ? Florida State G Jacky Claude, speaking to Warchant.com about FSU's 30-0 loss to Wake Forest at Doak Campbell Stadium last season
Etc.: Florida State QB Xavier Lee missed practice Tuesday because of an appointment with a professor, but it won't affect his status for the Wake Forest game. ? Boston College is ranked fourth in the nation, which represents its highest position in The Associated Press poll since Oct. 15, 1984, when Doug Flutie was the quarterback. ? Boston College is seeking its fifth consecutive victory over Notre Dame. ? Virginia Tech's emphasis on defense and special teams is evident from a look at the career statistics of its current players. LB Xavier Adibi, LB Vince Hall, CB Brandon Flowers, CB Victor "Macho" Harris and WR Eddie Royal have each scored at least two touchdowns on defense or special teams. ? Wake Forest's 30-0 victory at Florida State last season represented the first time the Seminoles had been shut out at home during the Bobby Bowden era, which began in 1976.