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Inside the ACC 08.30.14

Florida St Media Day Football
Phil Sears - ASSOCIATED PRESS
Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston (5) tries to stay cool waiting for a team photo during their NCAA college football media day on Aug. 10, 2014.

Three to watch

No. 7 UCLA at Virginia, noon (ESPN)

The Bruins and quarterback Brett Hundley finished 2013 as the hot team out west. Virginia coach Mike London begins the season in the hot seat after closing 2013 with nine straight losses.

No. 16 Clemson at No. 12 Georgia, 5:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Against SEC teams not named South Carolina, the Tigers have won four straight, including a 38-35 win over a completely healthy version of the Bulldogs last year.

Oklahoma State vs. No. 1 Florida State, 8 p.m. (WTVD)

The Seminoles begin their season where they hope to end it – AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, the site of the inaugural College Football Playoff title game. The Pokes won 10 games a year ago.

Number to know

9.27 Georgia Southern attempted 102 passes in 11 games last season, an average of 9.27 per game. By comparison, the Eagles ran the ball 626 times.

Observations

• FSU coach Jimbo Fisher makes no bones about stealing the program-building blueprint from Alabama coach Nick Saban, his former boss at LSU. No one, in any sport and on any level, keeps a team focused and motivated on a weekly basis like Saban has at Alabama.

The Seminoles need to avoid letdowns and distractions, starting with Saturday night’s neutral-site opener against Oklahoma State. As Fisher put it this week, you can’t “eat the cheese.” (It’s a mousetrap metaphor, you see). This is real simple for the ’Noles: They have the talent to win another national title, but will they have the focus and hunger?

• Good move by Virginia Tech opening with the Division I-AA opponent, instead of playing William & Mary in Week 2 after a major national game. In 2010, the Hokies lost a tough game to No. 3 Boise State (33-30) on a Monday and then weren’t ready for James Madison (21-16 loss) on Saturday.

This time the Hokies get William & Mary first before a trip to No. 5 Ohio State next week.

• Duke is another program that has learned the hard way how to schedule Division I-AA teams. Since 2006, the Blue Devils are 1-3 against lower division teams from the state of Virginia and 4-0 against ones from North Carolina.

Under the category of “We’re not stupid,” the Devils open with Elon Saturday night.

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