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In ACC's Atlantic Division, It's Anyone's Guess

Fans join members of the first-place -- yes, first place -- Terrapins in celebrating after the win against Clemson.
Fans join members of the first-place -- yes, first place -- Terrapins in celebrating after the win against Clemson. (By Toni L. Sandys -- The Washington Post)
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"It is just that we continue to self-destruct," N.C. State Coach Tom O'Brien said after the Wake Forest loss. "Some guys have to grow up, too. Some of it is youth. That is no excuse, but they better grow up fast or we'll have a long season."

Clemson has two of the fastest players in college football -- running back C.J. Spiller and wide receiver Jacoby Ford -- but also has a freshman quarterback, Kyle Parker, who has had his share of uneven performances. The Tigers (2-3) rank 102nd nationally in total offense and are plagued by the same inexplicable mistakes and late-game swoons that defined some of the Tommy Bowden era.

"It is not on Coach [Dabo] Swinney," Spiller said. "Coach Swinney is not even out there playing, it is on us, plain and simple."

Wake Forest (3-2) entered the season with lukewarm expectations because of a young defense. But veteran quarterback Riley Skinner, who ranks 24th nationally in total offense, threw for 361 yards in Saturday's victory over N.C. State.

Almost every game is a struggle for the Demon Deacons. Four of Wake Forest's five games have been decided by seven points or less. Saturday's home game against Maryland is critical because the Demon Deacons' two remaining home games are against Miami and Florida State.

Then again, the Seminoles (2-3) have been consistently inconsistent all season. Their 54-28 victory at then-No. 7 Brigham Young on Sept. 19 was impressive, but it came one week after they needed to rally in the final minutes to beat Jacksonville State at home.

And in recent days the chair of Florida State's Board of Trustees, Jim Smith, told the Tallahassee Democrat that this should be the last season for Coach Bobby Bowden, who has not posted a 10-win season since 2003. Bowden said Sunday he has no plans to step down.

Florida State hosts Georgia Tech on Saturday, when the Seminoles will have the chance to jump back into the wide open division race or fall further behind. The most important thing this season, according to players, is to stay among the pack in the division because at some point a team is bound to distinguish itself.

"We just need to stay focused," Wake Forest wide receiver Chris Givens told reporters after Saturday's victory. "Like you said, we are all close, so we just need to continue to stay close in the division."

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