Duke beat UNC last season in Durham. (Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports)
(Author’s note: This article contains games in which the ACC team is the home team. For any SEC-ACC matchups in SEC stadiums, please visit the SEC edition of Clear Your Schedule.)
Brace yourselves, friends. We are 60 minutes from the Duke Blue Devils earning a trip to Charlotte to play for the ACC Championship. Let that wash over you for a bit. The Blue Devils need only to beat North Carolina to make that happen. That game joins five other games on our conference slate this week, as we close out ACC play. The conference boasts ten bowl-eligible clubs, and many of those clubs have a chance to better their standing this weekend.
The ACC describes the championship scenarios as follows:
A Duke loss, coupled with a win by Miami at Pitt Friday night and loss by Virginia Tech on Saturday at Virginia would send the Hurricanes to Charlotte…A Duke loss, a Miami win and a Virginia Tech victory would create a ﬁ ve-way tie, which would send Virginia Tech to the title game for the 6th time…A Duke loss, a Miami loss and a Virginia Tech win sends the Hokies to Charlotte as well…Finally, a Blue Devil loss, a Miami loss and a Virginia Tech defeat sends Georgia Tech to its second straight ACC Championship Game appearance.
We’ll take a look at our six games in our Keyword Search format, but before we do, here’s our trivia question!
ACC Trivia, Week 14 (answer at the end of the article): Georgia and Georgia Tech did not play between 1917 and 1924. Why was this the case?
Miami (8-3, 4-3 ACC) at Pitt (6-5, 3-4 ACC), 3:30pm ET Friday, ABC
Series domination: Miami has enjoyed a tremendous amount of success against their former Big East counterparts. The Hurricanes have won each of the last seven games and 15 of the last 16, while losing to the Panthers just three times since 1970. The last Panther victory occurred in 1997 (21-17).
A 50/50 proposition: In a tremendously unusual statistic, both teams’ coaches have a career winning percentage of .500. Pittsburgh’s Paul Chryst has a career record of 12-12, while Al Golden is 48-48 for his career.
Trying for 300: Miami quarterback Stephen Morris is looking to join former Hurricanes Bernie Kosar and Ken Dorsey in second place among career 300-yard passing games (9). Gino Torretta holds the school record (10). The Panthers have allowed four 300-yard passing games this season (Florida State, Duke, Old Dominion, Notre Dame).
#24 Duke (9-2, 5-2 ACC) at North Carolina (6-5, 4-3 ACC), noon ET, ESPN2
The way to 1K: Duke wide receiver Jamison Crowder is one of two Blue Devil receivers in program history to have more than one season with greater than 1,000 receiving yards. Clarkston Hines was the other receiver to reach this mark, notching three seasons above 1,000 yards (1987-89).
Don’t make me turn this series around: North Carolina has owned Duke in recent years, winning 21 of the 23 games played since 1990, though the 2008 and 2009 results were vacated. Duke defeated the Tar Heels in 2003 and again last season. The 33-30 Blue Devil victory in 2012 saw Duke put 510 yards of total offense on the board against North Carolina to claim the Victory Bell.
We’re going streaking: North Carolina is averaging 44 points per game on their current five-game win streak. The Tar Heels scored a school-record 80 points in last week’s victory over Old Dominion. The five-game streak is their longest streak since 2001, and should the Tar Heels win this game, it would match their longest streak since 1997.
Maryland (6-5, 2-5 ACC) at NC State (3-8; 0-7 ACC), 12:30pm ET, ACC Network
This is it: Maryland plays their final regular-season ACC game in Raleigh on Saturday. The Terps joined the ACC in 1953, having come over from the Southern Conference. Maryland has nine ACC championships in their history, the most recent coming in 2001.
Ending on an even note: NC State maintains a 33-32-4 series lead against the Terrapins. The teams have split the last ten meetings, with NC State winning the last two and three of the last four. The series is not currently scheduled to continue once Maryland departs for the Big Ten.
Offensive defenses: This game features a matchup of two of the four teams that have surrendered the most points in conference play this season. NC State has allowed 230 points in conference play, while Maryland has given up 236 points. Miami (231) sits between the two, with only Virginia (260) having opponents score a greater point total.
Georgia (7-4, 5-3 SEC) at Georgia Tech (7-4, 5-3 ACC), 3:30pm ET, ABC
Eat, drink and no Murray: Georgia lost quarterback Aaron Murray to a torn ACL last week, ending his season. Backup quarterback Hutson Mason will start in his stead. Mason has completed 24-of-35 passes for 349 yards this season, throwing for two scores and an interception. Mason spoke of the switch, saying, “Aaron is the better athlete. He’ll tuck and run more…God wasn’t thinking of an athlete when he made Hutson Mason.”
An historic series: Despite the series interruption referenced in the trivia question, Georgia and Georgia Tech have taken the field for Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate 107 times. The Bulldogs lead the series 63-39-5, and have won 11 of 13 games played since 2000. Georgia has an active four-game series winning streak.
We can run, but you can’t: There are just three FBS schools that find themselves in the top ten in rushing offense and rushing defense. The Jackets rank fifth in rushing offense (316.09 yards per game) and tenth in rushing defense (104.18 yards per game). Only Ohio State and Wisconsin share this distinction with the Jackets.
Virginia Tech (7-4, 4-3 ACC) at Virginia (2-9, 0-7 ACC), 3:30pm ET, ESPNU
Trying for ten: Virginia Tech owns nine consecutive Commonwealth Cup victories over the ‘Hoos. This is the longest streak in the series, which began in 1895. Virginia won the first eight games of the series from 1895 to 1904.
Not defending the home turf: Roanoke-Lynchburg (VA) ABC sports reporter Justin Feldkamp mentions that Virginia Tech has won the games played in Blacksburg during the active nine-game streak by an average score of 21-9. When the teams play at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville, which is UVa’s home facility, the Hokies’ average margin of victory skyrockets to 41-12.
Fighting futility: Daily Press columnist Mike Teel points out that Virginia has not had a winless ACC season since 1981, and has not suffered through a ten-loss season since 1975. The coaches of both of those teams were fired (Sonny Randle in ’75 and Dick Bestwick — who replaced Randle — in ’81).
Boston College (7-4, 4-3 ACC) at Syracuse (5-6, 3-4 ACC), 3:30pm ET, RSN (regional)
Running for records: Boston College running back Andre Williams is plastering his name on every page of the ACC record book. Williams has rushed for 2,073 yards this season. No other back in ACC history has rushed for greater than 2,000 in a season. North Carolina’s Don McCauley carried for 1,863 yards in 1970. Williams also holds a conference record for rushing yards over a three-game span, as he finished just three yards shy of 900 in his three most recent outings.
How to stop Andre: The Syracuse rush defense ranks 28th in the nation, allowing an average of 135 yards per game. Conference opponents have carried for 149.71 yards per game. Andre Williams has eclipsed that season average eight times in 2013, only falling short against USC (38 yards), Clemson (70) and Villanova (114).
Lack of recent history: Syracuse has not won a game in the series since 2004, but that statistic is a bit deceiving. The Orange owns a 6-4 record over the last ten games in the series, though nine of those ten games took place between 1996 and 2004. The teams most recently played in 2010, which resulted in a 16-7 BC victory. Andre Williams carried 42 times for 185 yards and a score in that game.
Trivia answer: I asked earlier: Georgia and Georgia Tech did not play between 1917 and 1924. Why was this the case?
Georgia did not field a team in 1917 and 1918, due to participation in World War I. Georgia’s students held a parade in 1919 to tease Georgia Tech for their lack of program cancellation during the war. This inflamed already strained relations between the two schools, and they did not again play until a “truce” — such as it was — was called in 1925.
Though Thanksgiving has passed, I wanted to take a moment to thank you all for your support of this column and FBSchedules through the year. It is a true privilege to be able to talk ACC football with you each week, and we’ll be back in this space for the conference championship game, bowl season and the 2014 conference slate! My best to you and yours this holiday season, and let’s hope for a great postseason!