Rising and falling, that’s the theme in the ACC this weekend. Some teams continue to improve and get better. I’m talking to you Clemson, Virginia Tech, and Florida State, while some others specifically Georgia Tech and North Carolina are sinking so fast you barely remember 2 weeks ago they were 6-0 and 5-1. Awards time!
Scary Good: The Clemson Tigers are starting to enter that Alabama LSU territory where they can simply run teams out the stadium in a matter of minutes. In an astonishing 3rd quarter Clemson scored 35 3rd quarter points against a talented North Carolina team in 59-38 blowout. This is scary part of the Clemson offense… Take your 2012 Heisman Candidate QB (Tajh Boyd). He can throw to an All-America WR (Sammy Watkins), an All-ACC WR (DeAndre Hopkins), or an NFL ready TE (Dwayne Allen). Don’t pass? handoff to your All-ACC RB (Andre Ellington) or your 4 star Backup RB (Mike Bellamy). Yikes!
Second Half teams: Miami, Florida State, and Virginia Tech all look to be some teams that will win a lot of games in the second half of the season. Virginia Tech struggled a bit early with Boston College, but went on to a 30-14 win. The win moves them to 7-1 and with Georgia Tech’s loss, the Hokies are in driver’s seat in the ACC Coastal Division.
Miami won’t win the Coastal, but quietly Coach Al Golden has them playing some of the best football in the ACC. They weren’t spectacular against Georgia Tech, but they didn’t need to be. The Jackets time and time again self destructed. The Canes played solid defense limiting their own mistakes and capitalizing on Georgia Tech’s
Florida State went to 3-3 after a 41-16 win over Maryland. The Seminoles are starting to get healthy, and while an Atlantic Division title is probably not going to happen, FSU can still get to an upper echelon ACC Bowl. The running game had 218 yards which is good sign for Jimbo Fisher’s team.
Close Counts: Wake Forest got an all important 24-23 win over Duke. The 5-2 (3-1) Deacs stay one game behind Clemson in the loss column. It’s a long shot but the Deacs are still in the conversation which is more than several other ACC teams can say. Chris Givens and his 147 yards receiving is the best player you’ve never heard of.
Don’t count me out yet: The NC State Wolfpack were an ACC afterthought a couple of weeks ago. They came up with an inspired 24-14 win at Virginia to get to 4-3 (1-2). Mike Glennon had 3 TD scores, and if you’re looking for an under the radar team, that might make a little noise the last 6 weeks of the ACC season, NC State might be a good choice.
Life Support: 2 weeks ago Georgia Tech was ranked #12 in the country. Today Georgia Tech may be favored in only 1 remaining game on their schedule, and that’s not a given. It’s a road game at Duke. The Jackets followed up a listless performance at Virginia with a trainwreck at Miami. The Special Teams were a disaster and the triple option offense is the worst its ever looked under Paul Johnson. Tevin Washington is a shadow of the QB that started the season. With Clemson up next, this team is trouble… big trouble.
That didn’t last long: Virginia though they had turned the corner last week after a 24-21 win over previously unbeaten Georgia Tech. Today the Cavaliers got those good feelings wiped out in an ugly 24-14 home loss to NC State. What happened to the running game that looked so effective against Georgia Tech but only had 124 yards against NC State? The Cavs just made getting to bowl a lot tougher.
Failed the Test: Maryland entered a season defining stretch with Georgia Tech, Clemson, and Maryland wanting to turn their season around. They lost all three including Saturday’s 41-16 loss to Florida State. That game, left the Terps 2-5 and in real danger of missing a bowl game. 59 yards rushing just isn’t going to cut it.
Duke is Duke: The Duke is Duke award goes to who else Duke. After a 24-23 loss to Wake Forest, the Blue Devils bowl hopes barring a miracle came to an end. What else can you say? At least Duke basketball starts soon.
The NFL can wait: A North Carolina defense loaded with NFL prospects was torched for 373 passing yards and 45 of the 59 points Clemson scored. The Tar Heels effectively took away Clemson’s running game and controlled Sammy Watkins most of the game, and still couldn’t slow the Tiger scoring onslaught. We’ve been hearing all year about North Carolina’s talent level, but it’s just not showing up on the field.
Spaziani Watch: Boston College actually led 7-6 at halftime at Virginia Tech, and then it was back to reality. Virginia Tech outscored BC 24-7 in the second half to drop the Boston College to 1-6. I hope Frank Spaziani is renting this year.