Florida State haswon or shared the ACC title in 12 of the past 14 seasons. Virginia Tech has wonone championship and played for another since joining the league in 2004. Thisyear's ACC title game, however, could involve other teams. Last weekend No. 18Georgia Tech moved into the driver's seat in the Coastal Division by stunningthe Hokies 38--27 in Blacksburg. The Jackets' aggressive defense held VirginiaTech to 42 rushing yards and figures to smother offensively challenged Miami."We're coming at you all the time," says Georgia Tech linebackerKaMichael Hall. Clemson, meanwhile, has emerged as the favorite in the AtlanticDivision. Behind sophomore tailback James Davis (above), the Tigers are seventhnationally in rushing offense (240.6 yards per game), up from 100th two yearsago. "It started with me looking in the mirror," says coach TommyBowden, who gave control of the offense to Toledo's Rob Spence in 2005. "Weimplemented [Spence's one-back] system, and now we're seeing results."
After Tennesseerushed for minus-11 yards in a 21--20 loss to Florida on Sept. 16, coachPhillip Fulmer knew his ground game needed a spark. He found it in redshirtfreshman LaMarcus Coker. In a 33--7 Volunteers win over Marshall the followingweek, Coker (left) gained 146 yards on eight carries, including an 89-yardtouchdown. He took over the starting job last week and rushed for 125 yards on26 carries in a 41--7 win over Memphis. "He brings us a speeddimension," says Fulmer. "He has a knack for making the first guy miss,and he runs strong." In a twist that stunned longtime Tennessee followers,the traditionally conservative Vols spent much of last week's game in aone-back shotgun set. "We definitely gave Georgia something to thinkabout," Coker said, looking toward this Saturday's showdown in Athens.
October 8, 2006
THREE AND OUT
1 Following astunning home loss to Illinois, embattled Michigan State coach John L. Smithmay need to upset Michigan or Ohio State in the next two weeks to save his job.Spartans fans would love to see the school hire former 49ers and Lions coachSteve Mariucci, whose best friend is MSU basketball coach Tom Izzo.
2 Kentucky, whichwent 9--25 during Rich Brooks's first three seasons, has a good shot at goingto its first bowl game since 1999. The Wildcats (3--2) need three more wins,and among their remaining opponents are Mississippi State (1--4), Vanderbilt(2--3) and Louisiana-Monroe (1--3).
3 The nation'sbest defensive player you've never heard of: San Jose State cornerback DwightLowery. A transfer from Cabrillo College in Aptos, Calif., Lowery leads thenation with seven interceptions, and he had two picks and a fumble recovery inthe Spartans' win over San Diego State last week.
Read more from Stewart Mandel at SI.com/collegefootball.