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Sports Today for Nov. 27, 2013

SoVaNow.com / November 26, 2013
Rivalry week has arrived, with the ACC seeking to protect its position with a national title contender (Florida State) and a second BCS team (Clemson) looking to lock down very successful regular seasons.

FSU, now dealing with the well-documented Jameis Winston controversy, is a prohibitive favorite against a Florida operation in turmoil. The second-ranked Noles (11-0) get a 4-7 Gator team that’s struggled mightily on the offensive side. Florida is 110th nationally in scoring offense, 105th in passing offense, 111th in total offense and 82nd in rushing offense. It’s likey to be a very challenging afternoon for the Gators trying to keep pace with the nation’s second-ranked (55.2 ppg) scoring offense.

Winston, who has not been rattled by the ongoing controversy, is the national leader in pass efficiency this week (194.5 ypg).

Overall, FSU is in ranked among the nation’s Top 5 in nine major national statistical categories this week.

Clemson, now ranked no. 6 in the land, squares off against tenth-ranked South Carolina Saturday night. The Tigers need to get to 11-1 to preserve their hopes of landing a second BCS berth for the ACC.

Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd and his mates seek to snap a four-game USC series winning streak, but the Gamecocks will be at home.

COASTAL LOOK: ‘Round these parts, Duke-UNC is extremely important.

UNC (6-5, 4-3 ACC) added an interesting angle to this rivalry game when it was announced on Monday that this will be Eric Ebron’s last home game as a Tar Heel. The UNC standout has announced his decision to enter the 2014 NFL draft.

Ebron is one of three finalists for the 2013 Mackey award, for the best tight end in college football. The finalists are Ebron, FSU’s Nick O’Leary and Austin Seferian-Jenkins of Washington.

UNC is riding high following its demolition of ODU, but the pick from this columnist is Duke. The no. 24 Blue Devils (9-2, 5-2 ACC) win the Coastal outright if they get past UNC, putting them next up to try and stop the raging FSU operation.

The belief is that Duke has matured faster on defense (overall). (The numbers back this up - the Blue Devils are ahead of UNC in scoring defense (36th DU, T-47th for the Heels) and total defense (53rd, Duke; 66th UNC).

Trying to pick the all-ACC quarterback race isn’t difficult, with Winston no. 1 and Boyd no. 2, at the top. The writers have to pick three teams, and one press room wag suggested the third pick could be Boone-Con - the combination of Duke quarterback tandem Anthony Boone and Brandon Connette.

A loss by the Blue Devils opens the door for either Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech or Miami to represent the Coastal division against FSU. Here are the official scenarios: A Duke loss, coupled with a win by Miami at Pitt Friday night and a loss by Virginia Tech at Virginia sends the ‘Canes to the Charlotte.

A Duke loss, a Miami win and a Virginia Tech victory creates a five-way tie, which send the Hokies to the title game for the sixth time.

A Duke loss, a Miami loss and a Virginia Tech win sends the Hokies to Charlotte.

Finally, a Blue Devil loss, a Miami loss and a Virginia Tech defeat sends Georgia Tech to its second straight ACC title game appearance.

Of course, the Hokies can take care of biz with a win and a Duke loss. So, when was the last time the Hokies actively rooted for UNC?

The ACC has several other chances at burnishing its credentials. Georgia and Georgia Tech, both 7-4, meet in Atlanta, with the Yellow Jackets still (technically) in contention for the ACC title game. Wake Forest (4-7) has a chance to put a positive ending to a disappointing campaign at Vanderbilt, now 7-4. In other ACC showdowns, Miami (8-3) travels to Pitt (6-5) Friday, Maryland (6-5) visits woeful NC State (3-8), and Boston College (7-4) visits 5-6 Syracuse.

COACH EM UP: Four ACC head coaches are among the 16 semifinalists for the Maxwell Awards National Coach of the Year award. Named from the ACC were Boston College’s Stee Addazio, Clemson’s Swinney, Duke’s David Cutcliffe and FSU’s Jimbo Fisher.

RAMMING SPEED: As some of the leading Heisman contenders fall off the pace, Boston College’s sensational tailback Andre Williams has entered the conversation. Williams has five 200-yard rushing games this fall, an ACC single season record. Williams also has records for rushing yardage in the single game (339), yards in two consecutive games (634), yards in three straight contests (897) and yards for a season (2,073). Williams leads the nation in rushing yards and rushing yards per game (188.5).

THE ENVELOPE, PLEASE: Ten represents the number of Walker Camp National player of the week awards garnered by ACC players this year. Pitt’s Aaron Donald was honored as the national defensive player of the week by Camp.

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