Archives for posts with tag: MAC

PORTIONS PREVIOUSLY APPEARING ON WTOP.COM-

There’s another weekend before the bowls?  Really?  Conference championships are decided Friday and Saturday with the area schools mostly idle-unlike last December when Virginia Tech was bettered by eventual national champ Clemson and Navy lost to Temple (ugh) at home (double ugh).  At least we have James Madison (unbeaten and top ranked defending champ James Madison, that is) in FCS Playoff Action.  So even though one’s school might not be in action this weekend, you can still insert yourself into the conversation.

 

Friday’s Game:

Pac-12 Championship- #10 USC (10-2) plays #12 Stanford (9-3), 8 p.m. (ESPN).

At stake: neither has a great shot at making the College Football Playoff, and with the Rose Bowl serving as one of the semifinal games the winner won’t even get a trip to Pasadena.  Plus, this game is at 5 p.m. local time…on a Friday?  Even the MAC gets a Saturday kickoff.

Rematch?:  USC won 42-24 September 10th.

Who to Watch: Trojans quarterback Sam Darnold began the year as the Heisman favorite, and Cardinal runningback Bryce Love is a strong contender for the honor.  Both have nightmares of being drafted by Cleveland.

Notable Fact: unlike the other leagues, the Pac-12 name actually reflects its membership number.

Presto’s Pick:  Trojans triumph, 31-17.

 

Saturday’s Games-

AAC Championship- #14 UCF (12-0) vs #20 Memphis (10-1), noon (ABC).  

At stake: the right to be the really angry “group of five/Mid-Major” school left out of the playoff despite a conference title and a great record.  Plus the winning coach takes a leap in the “hot coaching commodity contest”.

Rematch?: UCF won 40-13 September 30th.

Who to Watch: UCF’s McKenzie Milton sounds like a shirt from Vineyard Vines…but the dual threat quarterback is averaging 326 yards passing per game this month and has run for a TD in five straight games.  Tigers QB Riley Ferguson is just as impressive.

Notable Fact:  both teams beat Navy and the Knights routed Maryland in College Park.

Presto’s Pick: Knights tame the Tigers, 37-28.

 

Big 12 Championship- #3 Oklahoma (11-1) vs #11 TCU (10-2), 12:30 p.m. (FOX)

At Stake:  Sooners need a win or they’d likely slip behind Alabama and out of the playoffs. Horned Frogs need a win plus a measles epidemic to make the Final Four.

Rematch?:  Oklahoma won 38-20 November 11th.

Who to Watch: OU quarterback Baker Mayfield is on his way to the Heisman Trophy, while TCU defensive linemen Ben Banogu and Ross Blacklock will try to keep him off-balance.

Notable Fact:  the Big 12 is the only conference to have a championship game despite not having divisions, which is why the conference championship game was created in the first place.

Presto’s Pick:  Sooners stumble, 44-38.

 

FCS Second Round-#1 James Madison (11-0) vs #10 Stony Brook (10-2), 2 p.m. (ESPN3)

At Stake: a berth in the quarterfinals and bragging rights between conference foes that haven’t met since 2015.

Players to Watch: Bryan Schor led the Dukes to the National Championship last year and picked up where he left off this fall.  Seawolves running back Donald Liotine led the CAA in scoring.

Notable Fact: home teams went 5-3 last weekend in the first round of the tournament after going 17-5 in 2016.

Presto’s Pick:  Dukes dominate, 34-16.

 

SEC Championship- #2 Auburn (10-2) vs #6 Georgia (11-1), 4 p.m. (CBS).

What’s at Stake:  automatic berth for the winner…with the knowledge that Alabama will be sweating until Tuesday evening.  Loser knows they had a chance and blew it.

Rematch?:  Auburn won 40-17 November 11th.

Who to Watch:  Kerryon Johnson ran for 167 yards against Georgia three weeks ago, while Bulldogs tailback Nick Chubb was held to 27 yards on 11 tries.

Notable Fact:  CBS announcer Brad Nessler used to call Atlanta Falcons games at their old stadium–not the Georgia Dome but Fulton County Stadium in the 1980’s.

Presto’s Pick:  Tigers by a nose, 23-20.

 

ACC Championship- #1 Clemson (11-1) vs #7 Miami (10-1), 8 p.m. (ABC).

At Stake:  the winner makes the Playoff while the loser should be cursing their loss to a sub-500 Syracuse or Pitt.

Rematch?:  No.  Although in 2015 the Tigers torched the Hurricanes 58-0 in Al Golden’s final game as coach. Enter Mark Richt.

Who to Watch: can Miami QB Malik Rosier bounce back from his subpar effort against Pitt?  Clemson DE Clelin Ferrell had 8 sacks to finish second in the ACC…and will have a say in Rosier’s play.

Notable Fact: this is Miami’s first-ever trip the ACC Championship Game–while Virginia Tech has been to the most (3-3 in six appearances).

Presto’s Pick: Tigers triumph, 30-22.

 

Big Ten Championship- #4 Wisconsin (12-0) vs #8 Ohio State (10-2), 8 p.m. (FOX).

At Stake:  a Badgers win would lock up a playoff berth as welll as quiet naysayers about their soft schedule.  A Buckeyes victory would likely send Alabama to the Playoff-making OSU fans whine about not being included despite winning their league (a criteria ignored last year when they made the playoff and Penn State was excluded).

Rematch?: they didn’t meet this year-but the Buckeyes butchered the Badgers 59-0 in 2014.

Who to Watch:  OSU QB JT Barrett led the Buckeyes to the national title as a freshman–he’ll play Saturday despite having “minor” knee surgery this week.  Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor is the league’s leading rusher, averaging 7 yards per carry and 150 yards per game.

Notable Fact:  Maryland has as many conference championship game appearances as Michigan.

Presto’s Pick:  Buckeyes blow up the bracket, 24-20.

 

Playoff Party—

#1 Clemson vs #4 Oklahoma

#2 Auburn vs #3 Alabama

 

Last Week: 2-1.

Overall: 74-25.

 

PORTIONS PREVIOUSLY APPEARING ON WTOP.COM–

The final pre-Thanksgiving weekend had a September feel.  Not in the temperatures but in a schedule that smacked of a cupcake buffet.  Alabama-Mercer?  Clemson-The Citadel?  At a time when every game’s importance is magnified, we had just one matchup of top 20 teams (Michigan-Wisconsin).  To make things worse, the two most interesting rivalry games were on at the same time-despite both involving Pac-12 showdowns.  Hey, left-coasters, I love the whole Pac-12 After Dark deal and the like–but couldn’t you have moved USC-UCLA to the 3:30 window so I could watch Stanford-Cal without having to flip over?  The major bummer is one looks up at the calendar and realizes there’s just one weekend left in the regular season to complain about shifting start-times, FOX announcers having Wade Less punting and Lorenzo Hudson carrying the ball, and the long walk from Regent’s Garage to Maryland Stadium.  Where did the autumn go?

Fantasy Field– with no upsets in the top eight the three-round bracket stays fixed (Bama-USC winner vs Miami-Georgia victor, Oklahoma-Auburn and Clemson-Wisconsin reside in the other bracket)…so this week we’ll blow out the true FBS field of 16.  FCS does it with 24 schools on far smaller budgets.  That means the ten conference winners get automatic berths and we add six wildcards.  Hey, the MAC serves as cannon fodder for the Big Ten every autumn.  Let them send their best when it matters.  Automatic berths are in CAPS:

#1 ALABAMA (SEC) vs #16 TROY (SUN BELT)—#8 Ohio State vs #9 Notre Dame

#4 Clemson vs #13 BOISE STATE (MWC)–#5 WISCONSIN (BIG 10) vs UCF (AAC)

#3 OKLAHOMA (BIG 12) vs #14 TOLEDO (MAC)–#6 Auburn vs #11 USC (PAC 12)

#2 MIAMI (ACC) vs #15 FAU (C-USA)–#7 Georgia vs #10 TCU

Four rounds is a little excessive, so I’d settle for an eight-team field.  Although it is a novel concept to give schools that win their respective conferences a chance at winning a National Title.

 

Alma Mater Update- after three straight close games (yes, the 64-43 loss to Wake was much closer than the score indicated) the Orange get blown out in Louisville 56-10.  The thud to 4-7 is a bummer for sure, but one has to have faith that year two of the rebuild will be more like the larvae-cocoon stage.  At least that’s what you have to hope for if you’re a private school in the northeast with a stadium that seats under 50,000 fans.

 

Maryland (4-7, 2-6 Big Ten) saw its slim bowl hopes fade amidst the snow in a 17-7 loss to Michigan State that didn’t feel like a ten-point game.  Now the program has one eye on 2018 and another on sending its seniors out against (gulp) Penn State.  Terrapin Triumphs: they held Spartans quarterback Brian Lewerke to 2-of-14 passing and limited MSU to 72 total yards in the second half.  Jermaine Carter led the way with 12 tackles and forced a fumble.  DJ Moore caught 8 passes, putting him within striking distance (64 grabs after 11 games) of the single-season record (Geroy Simon caught 77 passes in 1994).  Terrapin Troubles:  four of their first seven drives were three and outs, and on the other three possessions they punted after moving the chains once.  The defense also coughed up over 100 yards to Spartans tailback LJ Scott in the first half.  Next:  Saturday at 3:30 p.m. against 9-2 Penn State.

 

Virginia (6-5, 3-4 ACC) saw its upset bid of Miami come up short in a 44-28 loss to the Hurricanes.  Somehow 14-point leads are made to be coughed up–more than once.  Cavalier Congrats:  Kurt Benkert threw for 384 yards and four touchdowns with minimal help from his ground game.  Micah Kiser led the team with nine tackles wihle Quin Blanding notched eight stops and an interception.  Cavalier Concerns:  three turnovers on the road against a top ten team is not how you get things done–and Miami turned those miscues into 14 points.  The offense also gained just 52 yards on its final 22 plays from scrimmage.  Next:  Friday at 8 p.m. against 8-3 Virginia Tech.  If you haven’t heard, they haven’t beaten the Hokies since VT joined the ACC.

 

Virginia Tech (8-3, 4-3 ACC) fought through a sluggish start and held off a late Pitt drive to prevail over the Panthers 20-14.  Heading into the season finale against Virginia, one doesn’t especially feel confident-could this be the year they finally slip to the Cavaliers? Hokie Highlights:  they held Darrin Hall (486 yards rushing the last 3 weeks) to 4 yards on 15 carries and handcuffed the Panthers on the ground all day.  Cam Phillips continues to be the Blacksburg version of DJ Moore, catching 8 passes for 117 yards and the game-winning touchdown.  Brian Johnson kicked a pair of field goals, on the same weekend ACDC rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young passed away.  HIGH VOLTAGE, indeed. Hokie Humblings:  against the most porous pass defense in the ACC, Josh Jackson completed under 50% of his passes and tossed an interception.  the VT pass defense coughed up 311 yards and almost lost the game in the final minute when the Panthers completed a 74-yard pass to the Hokie 1-yard line.  Next:  Friday at 8 p.m. against 6-5 Virginia.  They can’t lose this one, can they?

 

Navy (6-4) had #8 Notre Dame on the ropes and a seven-point second half lead, before their last three drives ended with a missed field goal, an interception, and on downs in a 24-17 loss to the Fighting Irish.  Midshipmen Medals:  Zach Abey ran for 87 yards and a touchdown while passing for the Mids’ other score.  They also dominated time of possession, holding the ball for 42+ minutes.   Micah Farrar forced a fumble that set up their first touchdown of the day.  Midshipmen Miscues:  the defense allowed 5.3 yards per carry…and wound up surrendering three straight touchdown drives to the Irish.  The absence of a passing game (3 for 8 with an interception) once again limited the possibilities of the option offense.  Next: Friday at noon at 6-4 Houston.

RIP WAC. Enjoy being all about basketball, Big East.

It’s always a bummer when a family leaves the neighborhood…even when their dog uses your front lawn as his lavaratory. Even when all of their kids come over selling Girl Scout Cookies while they never buy popcorn for the Science Club in return. Or the family that brings chicken soup over when you’re sick–only the soup makes you even sicker. Over the years you build a history and familiarity. They’re part of a bigger picture…and even though you might not really miss them they do leave a void.

If there’s one aspect about college football that’s been devalued over the last decade, it’s been the sanctity or at least the stability of conferences. I won’t necessarily go into the litany of who first poached which league or which conference grew beyond regional or numerical reason… or maybe I will one more time: West Virginia is NOT in Big 12 country–while Ten does NOT equal 12 (the opposite is also the case). The latest reshuffle bids goodbye to the red-haired stepchild of leagues, the Western Athletic Conference. Much like the Missouri Valley Conference in hoops, plenty of programs have joined and moved on over the WAC’s existence…beginning with Arizona and Arizona State for the then-Pacific 8 (thank you for changing the number to reflect your membership) in the 1970’s to everybody joining a Mountain West that had lost the bulk of its membership. The WAC was ahead of its time: the league had a bowl tie-in before the ACC and SEC (although the league traditionally sent its champion to the Sugar Bowl, it wasn’t formalized until the mid-70’s), Lavell Edwards brought a pass-first style that propelled BYU to elite status (and a hotly debated 1984 National Title), and the league was the first to over-expand (the 16-school monolith collapsing under its own weight in the late 90’s–giving birth to the splinter-Mountain West). So if you’re looking for the culprit in the existence of the NCAA Mens Basketball Tournament’s Play-in/Opening Round/First Four, blame the WAC and MWC creating an extra automatic qualifier. But that’s hoops and it’s August.

Meanwhile, the Big East transforms itself into the American Athletic Conference (of America)…and it almost feels like it’s happening a few years later than it should have been. The Big East name is where it belongs– in basketball– and the experiment of a northeast-only football conference that was probably doomed when Penn State joined the Big Ten/Eleven vanishes. Which is a shame– because for a while in the 70’s and 80’s there were good programs in the northeast– generating National Champions in Pitt and Penn State as well as Heisman Trophy winners in Tony Dorsett and Doug Flutie.

Another development in the last decade as been the dominance of the Southeastern Conference. Seven straight national champs… a far cry from the previous ten years when the SEC landed 2 titles (giving LSU’s BCS ripoff to USC IN 2003), the Big Ten tallied 2, the Big 12 had 2, the Pac-10 had 2 and the Big East and ACC combined for the other 2 championships. Before the current run no league posted more than three straight titles…although you can say the “Independents” (Penn St-Miami-Notre Dame-Miami) run from 1986-89 somewhat qualifies as those schools played one another regularly (oh, the days of “Catholics vs. Convicts”). It’s an SEC world, and the rest of the leagues are trying to catch up while losing breath.

What made college football so intriguing when I started following it was the mass volume: 100 major schools duking it out every week with great teams in every region. If Ohio State wasn’t rolling through the Big Ten, Michigan was going 10-1. If USC wasn’t threatening to win it all, Washington or UCLA was in the title conversation. If Nebraska wasn’t blasting the rest of the Big 8, Oklahoma was–but could they beat the SWC’s best in Texas at the State Fair in October? These provided added texture to the Alabama/Auburn and Tennessee/Georgia duels that took our breath away…

As with every era, there are pros and cons. I like how the championship is settled on the field but hate how New Years’ Day has become marginalized. I like how teams that have great years in all leagues have avenues to postseason play (can you believe an unbeaten Rutgers or a 10-1 New Mexico went Bowl-less in the 1970’s and 80’s?) but hate how 6-6 teams that underachieve in the ACC and Big Ten get trips to tackily named games (maybe that’s their just reward for going 3-5 in the league- a lame Bowl name). As with each of the ten major conferences, there are pros and cons.

SEC–
Pro: They are the gold standard…literally and figuratively. They’ve achieved like none other over the last decade…and have been sending more talent to the NFL in that span. The schools play to win…and that means top dollar for coaches (goodbye, Wisconsin) and facilities. It matters there. And Verne Lundquist is awesome on CBS– the SEC package is the best propaganda since NFL Films. Or Pravda.
Con: There’s a badly kept secret in the league, and it’s an underbelly that includes both Mississippi schools, Kentucky and until -until recently-Vanderbilt. South Carolina was abysmal until Steve Spurrier salvaged the Gamecock program, and Missouri is out of its league in its new league. Which reminds me– how are the Tigers (the third most western school in the league) in the East Division? I know it’s not as bad as having divisions titled “Leaders” and “Legends”–but I expected more from you, SEC.

BIG TEN–
Pro: Tradition (cue Teyva the milkman). Football was born for autumn afternoons in the midwest…dotting the I in Columbus…maize and blue uniforms with the coolest helmet ever (sorry, Delaware). The winner goes to the Rose Bowl. Archie Griffin posing problems for defenses while winning two Heismans…and Desmond Howard posing for the Heisman before winning it.
Con: Tradition can be an albatross. The league was late in getting late games on the schedule (no lights in Ann Arbor in 2010?) and the other conferences filled the void. Midwest regional decay in the last 30 years has sapped quite a bit of talent out of its recruiting range. The underbelly is larger than the SEC…and its much slower. Although they’re going east-west next year, “Leaders” and “Legends”? Worse than “Murph and the Magic Tones”. And by the way, expansion gives you FOURTEEN schools next fall.

BIG XII–
Pro: Texas and Oklahoma. One is a high school hotbed of talent and another is a football factory that’s won titles in the 1950’s, 70’s 80’s and 2000. The Red River Shootout brings Burnt Orange against Crimson and Cream…and sometimes the game’s actually pretty decent. And the league isn’t just about the big boys: Robert Griffin III won a Heisman at Baylor…the Big XII’s Northwestern/Vanderbilt. By the way, expect plenty of offense in this shoot-em-out league.
Con: Unstoppable offense or accommodating defense? Sometimes its tough to tell, but when West Virginia coughs up 50+ points as much as Bob Huggins’ basketball team…that can’t be ideal. Texas A&M departing robs the league of its in with the Houston market…and the Aggies followed Nebraska, Missouri and Colorado out the door. If you’re so awesome, why is 33% of your league leaving the party? And you’re still two schools shy of TWELVE, buddy.

PAC 12-
Pro: California Dreamin’. The entire coast…with a footprint that reaches Denver. Clear superiority to the other league in the area (sorry, Mountain West) and they host their bowl tie-in (a tiny advantage, as the Pac 8 and 10 won 16 of 18 Rose Bowls between 1970 and 87). Speed and athleticism…with solid quarterbacking to boot. And there’s a little shoe company that gives throwaway stuff to the University of Oregon you may have heard of. NIKE.
Con: Sometimes California Dreamin’ takes away from actually working. Lets just say the league has a semi-soft image. A fan base that is bummed when they lose but then is off to the beach (or the pool in Arizona). Legalized marijuana in Washington and Colorado might take a little more of an edge off things. And those damn NIKE uniforms–all 476 combinations.

ACC-
Pro: East coast ownership. Boston, New York (sorry Rutgers, NYC is a Syracuse city) and Washington (UVa and Va Tech faithful reach into the district) at their fingertips. The tidewater talent. Florida State’s fumblerooskie. The sleeping giant that is the University of North Carolina…and the once and future king Miami. Beamer Ball!
Con: It’s not basketball season yet. The ACC’s elite lose games they no business losing: Florida State to an NC State team that fired its coach, Virginia Tech to James Madison a few years ago, Miami to just about everybody recently. And then there’s probation pending for the Hurricanes. Maryland’s departure dealing a blow in the DC area. Notre Dame continuing to use the league like a cheap fling for its non-football sports while keeping its marriage to Independent football intact. And although “Atlantic” and “Coastal” aren’t as blatantly stupid as “Leaders” and “Legends”, the divisions should be more geographically aligned. When does basketball begin again?

American Athletic Conference (of America)-
Pro:
Allows me to think of the movie “Dodgeball” every time I see the standings. Teddy Bridgewater should help put the league on the map before Louisville joins the ACC. There are major metropolitan areas to draw from (Dallas, Philadelphia, Tampa, Orlando) and fans of old Conference USA basketball in the late 90s will get a chance to reminisce.
Con: Hot dogs have been put together in better fashion than this patchwork of a set of leftovers. Louisville and Rutgers are on their way out, lending even more instability. UConn has barely recovered from being left out of the ACC. SMU still has barely recovered from the death penalty 25 years ago. Temple has barely recovered from being Temple.

Conference USA–
Pro:
They got their name before the AAC…and used to have Red, White and Blue divisions for basketball. Even getting the leftovers from the SEC talent-wise isn’t a bad thing. Southern Miss is a hidden gem. East Carolina is crazy on Halloween. Tulane is in New Orleans, where it’s Halloween every day.
Con: If the AAC is a hot dog, C-USA is the Smokey Big Bite at 7-11. FIU and FAU may be in Florida, but they’re NOT Florida. And the league is on standby for losing schools to the next expansion by a conference higher up the food chain.

Mountain West–
Pro:
Outliers extraordinaire. Boise State and Hawaii have crashed the BCS over the years…and Air Force used to always beat Notre Dame with Fisher DeBerry’s flexbone offense that was beyond lethal. My Uncle Chris owns and operates a fantastic gourmet chocolate shop in Boise (Chocolat Bar)…if that means anything.
Con: BYU turning all Notre Dame on them and going independent robs them of a tent-pole program…especially with Utah leaving for the Pac-12. Plus that damn blue field in Boise. We get it, it was cute once. Move on.

Mid-American–
Pro:
Win Welfare. Home and home series? Only if both games are in your stadium…just cut us a check. We might upset you every so often, but if you lose to schools called Kent State, it’s a you problem. One year I swear Penn State actually led the Mid-American Conference thanks to triumphs over Eastern, Western AND Central Michigan. But despite the stigma as a second class-league, the MAC does develop produce quality teams (Marshall with Chad Pennington and Randy Moss) and pro talent (Ben Roethlisberger, Jack Lambert, Charlie Batch) And not just Steelers– Bowling Green’s Dave Preston led the MAC in rushing before going on to play six years for the Denver Broncos.
Con: Small stadiums in the shadow of the Big Ten Monuments. Being a Big Ten punching-bag. Tuesday Night Football as their ESPN Showcase…that night was made for Happy Days and Three’s Company, not trick plays and three and outs.

Sun Belt–
Pro: They offer scholarships and if you beat them it counts more than a victory over an FCS school (aka I-AA). They travel just as well and can almost guarantee you homecoming heroism. When the MAC looks for guarantee games, they call the Sun Belt. They boast State and hyphenated schools.
Con: If the MAC is Happy Days, the Sun Belt is Too Close for Comfort. Oh… you finished your homework in between Three’s Company and Hart to Hart? Nothing to see here…

Beware the Mid-American Conference.  Usually cannon fodder for the Big Ten in September, this plucky league has earned a reputation as upset-inducing in October– knocking off Big East unbeatens Cincinnati (Toledo triumphing at the Glass Bowl-do you think Huggins would allow his Bearcats to go on the road non-con this late in the season?) and Rutgers (Kent winning in Piscataway thanks for participating in big boy football, Scarlet Knights).  Perhaps revenge for the Big East taking Temple back in the offseason?  But just to show the MAC doesn’t care who’s unbeaten, the league ate one of its own this past weekend– as Miami handed Ohio its first loss of the year.

Additional Carnage– two other unbeatens fell as Oregon State slipped to Washington and Florida fell to Georgia.  This leaves five unbeatens from four conferences plus Notre Dame (as the Irish will never leave their Independent wife but remain content to shack up with a convenient mistress for non-football sports).  Closing month could bring more calamity with Alabama-LSU on the plate this Saturday.

Alma Mater Update– SU played a tale of two halves against South Florida… eventually storming back for a 37-36 victory.  The key– two quick scores to start the second half against a sluggish Bulls bunch.  I’m still concerned with their ability to tackle and while Ryan Nassib looked okay at times, he zipped more than a few darts downfield in key situations.  Two recommendations for Tampa tourists:  Bahama Breeze for lunch, Chart House for dinner.

Maryland lost another heartbreaking ACC game to a team behind it in the standings– this time a 20-17 defeat at Boston College.  For the second straight Saturday the Terps lost their starting quarterback for the season to a torn ACL.  This means the team has to move to Plan E– which even with a fully stocked team would be a challenge, but this fall that means true freshman Shawn Petty (who had been a linebacker until last week) with true freshman Brian McMahon (a tight end until last Tuesday) next in line.  Terrapin Triumphs– Stefon Diggs (11 catches, 152 yards and a TD) continues to enjoy an incredible freshman year…while Caleb Rowe after a rough first half (6 punts and 2 interceptions in 9 possessions) to complete 10 of 15 second half passes with 2 TD’s and 1 INT…the defense held BC to 8 yards rushing and 3 of 13 on third down… as the duo of Joe Vellano (1.5 sacks) and AJ Francis (2 sacks) set up the back 8 well.  Terrapin Troubles– a missed 35-yard field goal by Brad Craddock preceded a changing of the placekicker;  hopefully Brendan Magistro will fare better (he made his lone attempt– a 28 yarder– plus 2 extra points)… the defense that dominated the second half (78 yards on 5 possessions, 3 three and outs plus 1 fumble recover) coughed up 85 yards for a game-winning score when they needed a stop the most… and is there anything that can be done for ACL injury prevention?  More broccoli?  Bubble-wrap?  We’re taking calls. Next Up:  Saturday vs Georgia Tech.

Virginia and Virginia Tech both enjoyed necessary weekends off… the Cavaliers are in full free-fall (2-6 and 0-4 in the ACC) while the Hokies aren’t much better having dropped 3 of 4.  But Frank Beamer’s bunch could actually still win the Coastal Division with a 3-1 October (Miami is 4-4, BC and VA are both 2-6).  Thursday VT begins it’s Closing Month with a trip to Miami, Saturday Virginia starts a rough November (none of the four opponents have losing records) by battling NC State.

Last week I asked you to submit “ACC tailgating tandems” to complete the group that already has “Matt and Stacia” at Maryland, “Kippy and Buffy” at UVa, “Meredith and Peyton” at UNC and “Tommy and Cricket” at Duke (although Tommy’s on thin ice after asking hitting on Buffy during the UVa-Duke game).  After too many suggestions to count… here’s the consensus couples with food and beverage recommendations…:

Virginia Tech– Ray and LuAnn.  Milwaukee’s Best with Smoked Turkey Legs.

Wake Forest– Albert and Victoria.  Night Train wine with overcooked burgers.

NC State– Elmer and Louise.  Mickey’s Big Mouth with liverwurst (not on crackers- straight from tube).

Clemson– Cooper and Clarissa.  The “N” in Clemson stands for Natty Light, Nachos and Knowledge.

Ga Tech–  Joe and Deanna. Grey Goose and tonic or Basil Haydens on the rocks with buffalo wings and chili.

Florida State– Dewey and Irlene.  Bud Light and bottomless shrimp cocktail with shrimp casserole.

Miami– Gregory and Autumn.  Sazeracs and sushi.

Boston College– Sully and Smitty’s sister (the one with the hat).  Sam Adams and Clam Chowder.