After Resting, the Race Begins for Maryland, Virginia Tech

Ralph Friedgen and Maryland need to beat Fla. State.
Ralph Friedgen and Maryland need to beat Fla. State. (By Joel Richardson For The Washington Post)
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Sunday, November 2, 2008

Ralph Friedgen and Frank Beamer had the weekend off, but their Maryland and Virginia Tech teams, which meet Thursday night in Blacksburg, Va., saw their stock rise in the ever-changing Atlantic Coast Conference race.

How Yesterday Helped the Terps

So long as they beat Florida State on Nov. 22 in College Park, the Terrapins can afford to lose one of their other three remaining games and still win the Atlantic Division and play for the ACC title Dec. 6 in Tampa. Losing to Maryland would give the Seminoles three conference losses, and the only other Atlantic Division team that can finish 6-2 in the division is Wake Forest. Maryland owns a tiebreaker advantage over the Demon Deacons based on its 26-0 head-to-head victory on Oct. 18. Florida State still can win the division by winning out, but were the Seminoles to lose either of its next two games -- both at home, against Clemson and Boston College -- Maryland would reach the conference championship game with three victories in any of its four remaining games, even if its loss were to the Seminoles. Wake Forest, which holds the head-to-head tiebreaker with Florida State, needs Maryland to lose twice to have a chance.

How Yesterday Helped the Hokies

The Coastal Division race is even more muddled, with five of the six teams having two conference losses. Virginia Tech is one of them, and while the Hokies can't necessarily afford another conference loss, they have certain advantages based on their performance within the division. The Hokies have beaten Georgia Tech and North Carolina and have yet to play Miami or Virginia. Victories in those games would give Virginia Tech tiebreaker advantages against every significant contender in the division, and with Duke also still ahead, the Hokies can boost its division mark, as well. The biggest challenge might come from Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets lost to both Virginia Tech and Virginia, but they have just two conference games remaining: Saturday at North Carolina and Nov. 20 against Miami. Should they get through those unscathed, the margin for error disappears for the Virginia schools, despite the tiebreaker advantages.

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