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Wake Forest, Georgia Tech meet in surprising ACC title game

Nov 28, 2006 - 9:03 PM No. 16 Wake Forest (10-2) at No. 23 Georgia Tech (9-3), 1 pm EST

JACKSONVILLE, Florida (Ticker) - To the disappointment of their higher-profile league rivals and to the surprise of nearly everybody, No. 16 Wake Forest will face No. 23 Georgia Tech in Saturday's Atlantic Coast Conference championship game at Alltel Stadium.

While the Yellow Jackets were expected to contend for the ACC Coastal Division title, the Demon Deacons were not predicted to do much in the ACC Atlantic. But Wake Forest won 10 of 12 games, claiming the Atlantic crown with a 6-2 mark in league play.

The ACC has been dominated by Florida State since its entry in 1992. Recent league additions Miami and Virginia Tech were thought to make the ACC a football powerhouse.

But Florida State and Miami have sputtered to .500 seasons. Virginia Tech is 10-2, but one of those losses is a home setback to Georgia Tech that cost the Hokies a chance at the Coastal Division title.

"I think people need to get used to the teams going to Jacksonville having one or two, or even three losses in some cases, because this is such a balanced conference," Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey said. "Almost anybody can beat anybody on a given day. You're not going to end up with an undefeated team going into the conference championship very often."

The Demon Deacons clinched a bid in the second ACC title game with a 38-24 win at Maryland last Saturday. Kenneth Moore rushed for 165 yards and a touchdown and Kevin Harris ran for a pair of scores for Wake Forest, which has not won an ACC title since 1970.

Georgia Tech (9-3, 7-1 Coastal), which has not won the conference crown outright since 1990, won its division with a game to spare but is coming off a 15-12 loss at rival Georgia.

Quarterback Reggie Ball again struggled, completing just 6-of-22 passes for 42 yards and a pair of interceptions. Gailey expects his senior signal-caller to rebound.

"You look for guys who have that competitive spirit and can come back," the coach said. "We've seen it from the beginning of a game to the end of a game. He's led us back in the fourth quarter two or three times this year. There's something there."

Georgia Tech is 20-7 all-time against Wake Forest. The Yellow Jackets have won eight of the last 10 games, including a 30-17 home win last year.

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