The ACC Coastal continues to be an absolute roller coaster. Who stepped forward this week, and what the heck is going on at Virginia Tech? Let’s get right into that and several other takes on the ACC after week 9.
1) Beamer’s last stand?
After Virginia Tech’s disastrous 30-6 home loss to Miami Thursday night, you have to wonder where the Hokies program is headed. I wrote after the game, that the decline of the Hokies program under Frank Beamer tenure is eerily following the same path as Bobby Bowden’s final days at Florida State. The Hokies are basically eliminated from the Coastal Division race at this point with 3 division losses already. If they want to salvage their season, it had better start against a pretty good Boston College team next week. It might be Beamer’s last stand. If the Hokies don’t beat BC, I don’t think they will make a bowl game. The frustration from the Hokie fanbase is growing.
2) We’ve seen this before from UNC
It’s the 2nd of the half of the season after a terrible start to the year. It must be time for the Tar Heels to start their move. Beating Georgia Tech last week at home, got people to pay attention to UNC. This week winning at Virginia 28-27, and the Tar Heels really look like a team that can make another second half surge like last year. Now they head to Miami to play an equally hot Hurricane team. The loser falls out of Coastal contention, but the winner will stay alive.
3) Clemson is as good on defense as it is bad on offense
The Tiger’s defense is the real deal. They are as fast and physical on defense as any team in the ACC. The offense under Cole Stoudt struggles to make the simplest plays. The offensive line is probably the worst I’ve seen under Dabo Swinney. It is what it is at Clemson. The defense was dominant in a 16-6 win over Syracuse, but the offense was just painful to watch. I wonder if Stoudt was physically all there today or if his shoulder is still bothering him. Most of his throws over 15 yards were off-target and without much zip. Clemson is just counting down the days until Deshaun Watson’s return and relying on their defense. The Tigers get a much needed BYE week before facing Wake Forest on a Thursday November 6th.
4) Jekyll and Hyde Pittsburgh
One day Pitt looks like a Coastal contender, the next they look like well today. 5 turnovers in the first quarter and it was lights out against Georgia Tech in a 56-28 loss. The top 5 ranked defense was embarrassed by the Yellow Jackets to the tune of 612 yards. Your guess is as good as mine what they’ll do against Duke next week, but with only 2 Coastal Division losses, they are still very much in the division picture with a win. Duke cannot underestimate Pitt.
5) Is Miami for real?
Miami went into Blacksburg and just crushed Virginia Tech. Duke Johnson ran wild and the defense played very well. Is Miami for real? Some signs are there that Miami is starting to figure things out. They have won 3 of their last 4 games. Their only loss was a near perfect effort by Georgia Tech in Atlanta. They are also the only team that has beat Duke. They have a very intriguing game with a rapidly improving UNC team next week. I’m not quite sold on Miami just yet. Let’s see if they can take care of the Tar Heels and their potent offense.
6) Georgia Tech not ready to fade away.
Georgia Tech had lost 2 close games in a row, and people were starting to wonder if the Jackets were about to fade away. It doesn’t look like it. The Yellow Jackets just destroyed Pittsburgh Saturday. The Yellow Jackets have issues defensively, but DC Ted Roof’s decision to blitz more created some pressure. I expect you’ll see Georgia Tech continue to blitz a good bit the rest of the year. The offense is playing at high level, and has been most of the year. Georgia Tech is now bowl eligible for the 18th straight year. That’s a very underrated streak. Next week is showdown with Virginia’s stout defense.
7) Boston College has been a nice surprise
It looked like this year would be a rebuilding one for Boston College. Coach Steve Addiazo would be having none of that. BC moved to 5-3 on the year after a 23-17 win at Wake Forest, and are now just 1 win from becoming bowl eligible. With a game at reeling at Virginia Tech, and Syracuse sandwiching games with Lousiville and FSU, I see BC bowling. There is at least 1 more win in that group of 4 games.
8) Virginia’s season on the brink
We’ve all been praising the Hoos for their improvement this year. Suddenly after a surprising home loss to UNC, Virginia’s season is at a crossroads. All the good work they did to start the year could be wasted now. These are Virginia’s next 4 games, at Georgia Tech, at FSU, Miami, and at Virginia Tech. Uh oh… do you see a 2-2 finish there to get Virginia bowl eligible? Georgia Tech next week is a must
9) So wins the Coastal?
I still like Duke to finish things off here, but if they lose at Pittsburgh next week let the chaos ensue. 5 teams have 2 losses… The finish here is going to be crazy. I’m staying with my prediction that the winner will go 6-2 in conference. The division is Duke’s to lose right now.
10) Time for some Florida State at Louisville on Thursday night.
You think Louisville will be hyped for this game? Florida State has been winning, but they are vulnerable. This could be their biggest remaining obstacle before the playoffs. Louisville is more than capable of winning this game, and the Noles need to be on top of their game in this one. Can Jameis Winston and Florida State rise to the occasion again? This one is going to be a war in my opinion.