Georgia Tech win at Clemson Thursday would eliminate Duke

Nov. 13, 2013 @ 06:41 PM

Georgia Tech and Durham’s own Vad Lee have a chance to nail down a share of first place in the ACC’s Coastal Division, and eliminate Duke from title consideration with a win tonight at No. 8 Clemson.

Clemson (8-1, 6-1 ACC) hosts its first Thursday night game in 11 years when the Tigers take on Tech (6-3, 5-2) tonight (7:30 p.m., ESPN).

Georgia Tech is playing its final ACC game of the year and is one of four Coastal Division teams with two losses, joining Virginia Tech (6-3, 4-2), Duke (7-2, 3-2) and Miami (7-2, 3-2). With a win tonight, The Yellow Jackets would have a final ACC mark of 6-2 and eliminate Duke from title contention since they hold a tiebreaker edge over the Blue Devils.

If Duke beats Miami at Wallace Wade Stadium on Saturday (3:30 p.m., ESPNU) and closes out with road wins at Wake Forest and UNC, the Devils would also be 6-2 in league play, but a 6-2 Tech team would get the nod for the ACC title game berth because of its win at Duke led by hometown quarterback Lee, a redshirt sophomore and Hillside High School alumnus.

If Tech loses tonight, Duke would control its own destiny. If the Blue Devils were to then win their final three games, they would advance to the Dec. 7 ACC Championship game in Charlotte, since they would have beaten both Virginia Tech and Miami.

Virginia Tech could tie Duke in that scenario, but Duke owns the tiebreaker against the Hokies.

If Miami and/or Virginia Tech match Georgia Tech’s 6-2 mark, they would each hold the tiebreaker over the Yellow Jackets based on wins against Georgia Tech. Virginia Tech owns the tiebreaker over Miami in the event those teams tie for the division title.

Looking down the road, here’s a glance at the Coastal teams’ remaining schedules against ACC teams.

— Virginia Tech (7-3, 4-2) will be heavy favorites at home against Maryland (5-4, 1-4) Saturday and on the road Nov. 30 at Virginia (2-8, 0-6).

— Miami is at Duke Saturday, hosts Virginia Nov. 23 and travels to Pittsburgh (5-4, 2-3) on Friday, Nov. 29.

— Duke hosts Miami Saturday, travels to Wake (4-6, 2-5) Nov. 23 and to North Carolina (4-5, 3-3) Nov. 30.

It was a month ago when college football last centered on Death Valley and the ACC’s first top-five showdown in eight years, with Florida State in town.

Instead of a shootout, it was a Florida State beatdown with the No. 2 Seminoles scoring the most points ever by an opponent at Clemson in the 51-14 loss that cost Clemson a shot at the ACC title and perhaps a national title.

No. 8 Clemson trails No. 2 FSU (9-0, 7-0 ACC) by a game in the ACC’s Atlantic Division. Tigers coach Dabo Swinney likes how his team has bounced back since the Florida State debacle with road wins over Maryland (40-27) and Virginia (59-10).

Georgia Tech has never made it easy for Clemson and doesn’t figure to in this one, either. The Yellow Jackets lead the league at more than 311 yards rushing a game this season.

Tech coach Paul Johnson has won four of the six meetings with Clemson since coming on board with the Yellow Jackets after the 2007 season, several of those when a Tigers’ victory would’ve been historic. The Jackets spoiled Swinney’s head coaching debut in 2008 and beat Clemson for the ACC championship a season later.

Two years ago, it was Georgia Tech’s 31-17 victory that ended Clemson’s 8-0 start and possible run to a national championship. The Yellow Jackets come in off three straight victories.

NOTES — Lee has had a solid if not spectacular year as Tech’s full-time starting quarterback. In nine games, all of them starts, he has completed 52 of 114 pass attempts for 1,005 yards, eight touchdowns and six interceptions with a quarterback rating of 111.7. He has also rushed 138 times for a net of 394 yards and six touchdowns in Tech’s triple-option attack. ... Lee accounted for five of his 14 touchdowns against Duke, going 8 of 16 passing for 125 yards and four scores and running 22 times for 76 and a touchdown at Wallace Wade.

— Peter Iacobelli of the Associated Press contributed to this report.