? Georgia Tech (1-0) at Florida State (1-0)
Like most conferences, the ACC can be flexible in setting dates for its league games. If ABC wants North Carolina and Virginia to play on Sept. 4 (as it did this year) instead of their customary November date, so be it. But the reason that 1998 ACC co-champs Georgia Tech and Florida State will play each other this Saturday instead of in mid-October, when they have met for the last seven years, is that the conference doesn't want the loser to fall out of contention for a Bowl Championship Series berth.
As Florida State proved last season after losing 24-7 at North Carolina State in September, an early stumble can be overcome in the polls. And as North Carolina proved in 1997, a late loss can be fatal. The Tar Heels fell 20-3 to the Seminoles that November, finished the season 10-1 with a No. 5 ranking and settled for the Gator Bowl.
Georgia Tech has lost the last seven times it has faced Florida State. Senior quarterback Joe Hamilton is a Heisman Trophy candidate, but he has led the Yellow Jackets to just one touchdown in three starts against the Seminoles. His cumulative totals: 21 of 43 for 169 yards, with three interceptions, and 22 carries for 18 yards rushing. Even if Hamilton plays well this Saturday, it won't be enough to propel No. 10 Georgia Tech to victory over No. I Florida State, a team that features a high-octane offense led by wideout Peter Warrick. All of which means that Hamilton's Heisman candidacy should be added to the list of reasons to play this game early. As Ricky Williams proved last season (25 carries, 43 yards in a Week 3 Texas loss to Kansas State), September is the best time to stumble in the Heisman race, too.
?Central Florida (0-1) at Florida (1-0)
In 1976 the two-time defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers, with Mike Kruczek starting in place of injured quarterback Terry Bradshaw, beat the winless expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers 42-0. The Steel Curtain defense sacked Bucs quarterback Steve Spurrier once for each pass he completed: four.
This week, Kruczek takes his Golden Knights into Spurrier's Swamp. It's time for payback.