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ACC Preview: #10 Florida State vs. Maryland, #11 Clemson vs. North Carolina State

The ACC already kicked off Week 12 with Thursday’s Virginia (4-7, 2-5) vs. North Carolina (7-4, 4-3) game. The Tarheels won 37-13 and knocked Virginia out of the running for the bowl season; North Carolina is ineligible.

#10 Florida State (9-1, 6-1) has a huge carrot dangling in front of them vs. the quarterback-challenged Maryland (4-6, 2-4): a win will enable them to punch their ticket to the ACC Championship Game.

The second conference team at 9-1, 6-1, #11 Clemson, will face a tougher challenge on Saturday, North Carolina State (6-4, 3-3). They will try to avenge last year’s 37-13 rout by the Wolfpack.

Florida State vs. Maryland

Florida State QB E.J. Manuel

The Seminoles will look for win No. 10 on Saturday and a tie for a season-high fifth straight win while the Terrapins will try to snap a four-game losing streak.

Things look more challenging for Maryland on a number of fronts.

Florida State stands as the only FBS team with top 11 rankings in total offense (No. 11 at 503.2 yards per game) and defense (No. 1 with its 242.9 yards per game and No. 4 for scoring defense at 13.0 points per game).

Quarterback E.J. Manuel has 2,641 yards, 19 touchdowns and five picks.

One area for the Seminoles to improve? Its running game. They rank No. 26 nationally with its 209.6 ground yards.

As for the Terrapins, they’re probably ready for this season to end. The theme has been injuries and quarterback carousel as they’re playing with field general No. 4. Shawn Petty, a linebacker for the team, has returned to his high school roots and is pinch hitting as quarterback. He’s not doing too well in his two starts: 156 yards, three touchdowns and interception.

The odds are not good for an upset on Saturday for Maryland: the bettors give -30 to Florida State with a 45.5 over/under.

Clemson vs. North Carolina State

Clemon QB Tajh Boyd

After starting 8-0 last season, Clemson imploded at the end, losing three of their last four games.

The sting of last year’s loss against NC State really hasn’t gone away but this year’s Tigers are a different team with its maturity and drive.

Quarterback Tajh Boyd is the conference leader in passing yards and total offense. To-date, he has 2,941 yards, 28 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

Boyd can also run: he has 363 yards and five touchdowns. This week the junior got rumors swirling when he said he’d test the NFL draft waters but his coach Dabo Swinney shot this down immediately.

In the immediate term, Boyd will need to put last year’s game behind him with his two picks and one fumble. He has talented targets:  wide receivers DeAndre Hopkins who is ranked No. 2 nationally with 14 touchdown catches and Sammy Watkins.

Tailback Andre Ellington sits as No. 3 in the league rushing.

The Wolfpack has quarterback Mike Glennon. Last year against Clemson, he had 253 passing yards and three touchdowns. This season he is nipping on Boyd’s heels as he’s three yards behind him in the conference for passing yards.

His weapons include running back Shadrach Thornton (436 yards and two touchdowns) and wide receiver Quintin Payton (669 yards and one touchdown).

The Tigers will need the stars to align on Saturday for a spot in the Championship Game: a Florida State loss and a NC State win. The odds look good for the win: -17 for the Tigers at 65 over/under.

A Few Other Saturday Games…

#3 Notre Dame (10-0) vs. Wake Forest (5-5, 3-5) – The Fighting Irish will look to keep their perfect season and march toward the National Championship game. Last year Wake Forest led at halftime but Notre Dame fought back. Besides bragging rights with a win, the team could go bowling but the odds don’t look good: -24 ND with a 42.5 over/under.

Duke (6-4, 3-3) vs. Georgia Tech (5-5, 4-3) - There’s conference title implications on the line for both teams in ACC Coastal division.  They will both need the win and a Miami loss. Georgia gets the winning nod at -13.5 with a 66 over/under.

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