It was a bit of an uneventful weekend in the ACC. 4 teams had byes, and the 4 games that were played were for the most part not in doubt by the 4th quarter. This upcoming week should be different as every team is playing a conference game, and there will be a lot on the line in terms of bowl berths and conference standings. After the jump check out my observations from this past weekend and my thoughts on each team moving forward.
1. Florida State (W 51-7 vs. Boston College) (6-1, 3-1) LW 1
Next Week: at Miami
Florida State rebounded nicely from their loss to the North Carolina State Wolfpack last week. The Seminoles absolutely annihilated Boston College with a score of 51-7. Florida State had a whopping 649 yards of offense and limited the Eagles to just 225 yards. Next week the Seminoles travel to Miami to take on a Hurricanes team that is coming off a 18-14 loss to the North Carolina Tar Heels. I expect Florida State to take care of business in prime time next Saturday night.
2. Clemson (BYE) (5-1, 2-1) LW 2
Next Week: vs. Virginia Tech
Clemson had a bye last week, but this coming week they take on a Virginia Tech team coming off its most impressive performance of the season. A loss to the Hokies would almost guarantee that Florida State wins the Atlantic, so the Tigers cannot afford to lose a game at home. I expect Clemson's offensive firepower to just be too much for the Virginia Tech defense. Duke score 20 first half points against Virginia Tech this past week, and it easily could have been more. Clemson will not miss those opportunities, and they will make Virginia Tech pay for those mistakes.
3. North Carolina (W 18-14 at Miami) (5-2, 2-1) LW 4
Next Week: at Duke
North Carolina continues to have nothing to play for, but they continue to have impressive performances every week. They earned a hard fought win over a Hurricanes team that was undefeated in conference play coming into the game. If North Carolina was bowl eligible, I would project them to win the Coastal division. I really wouldn't be surprised at all if the Tar Heels won their remaining five games. I certainly don't feel sorry for Carolina, because they brought the suspensions upon themselves, but in a year where they have to play neither Florida State nor Clemson it would have been a perfect opportunity to win the Coastal.
4. North Carolina State (BYE) (4-2, 1-1) LW 3
Next Week: at Maryland
It was a bye week for the Wolfpack, so their fans got to bask in the glory of their upset victory over the previously #r ranked Florida State Seminoles for another week. North Carolina State will now travel to Maryland, who is undefeated in conference, and is now playing with a new found confidence. I believe the matchup to watch in this game will be cornerback David Amerson against wide receiver Stefon Diggs. If Amerson can limit Diggs, then Maryland will struggle to score points. First team to 20 probably wins this one.
5. Virginia Tech (W 41-20 vs. Duke) (4-3, 2-1) LW 8
Next Week: at Clemson
Early on this looked like it could potentially be one of the most embarrassing home losses for Virginia Tech in quite some time. They were down 20-0 and Lane Stadium was silent. The Hokies then proceeded to score the final 41 points of the game to win 41-20. This was the Virginia Tech team that people had been waiting to see and was the team that was ranked in the top 25 coming into the season. Their next three games are absolutely huge. They travel to Death Valley to face Clemson, then to Miami, and then they have Florida State at home on a Thursday night. It will be difficult for them to repeat as Coastal division champions, but if North Carolina and Miami are both ineligible, then they may win it by default.
6. Miami (L 18-14 vs. North Carolina) (4-3, 3-1) LW 5
Next Week: vs. Florida State
This was the stretch of the schedule where we would learn a lot about Miami. They are in the second game of a four game stretch against Notre Dame, North Carolina, Florida State, and Virginia Tech. So far the Hurricanes are 0-2 in that stretch, and it looks more and more like they will lose to Florida State this upcoming weekend to make it 0-3 so far during that stretch. I still think that Miami makes a bowl game, but it's not inconceivable that don't earn a bowl berth. Of course, with potential NCAA rulings coming out in November, they may not be eligible to play in a bowl.
7. Maryland (W 27-20 at Virginia) (4-2, 2-0) LW 7
Next Week: vs. North Carolina State
Just as we all predicted at the beginning of the year, Maryland is sitting on top of the Atlantic on October 15th. Maryland certainly doesn't play the prettiest brand of football, but they are still finding ways to win games. Stefon Diggs is getting better with every game, and this past weekend he went untouched as he took the opening kickoff back for a touchdown. Unfortunately for the Terps and their fans, they have benefited immensely for a soft schedule, and their opponents are about to get much more challenging. If they want to earn a bowl berth then they're going to have to win two of their next three games against North Carolina State, Boston College, and Georgia Tech respectively. After that, they finish with games against Clemson, Florida State, and North Carolina. Randy Edsall may have temporarily earned some credibility with the Maryland faithful, but if these next three games go poorly, then expect the boos to return.
8. Duke (L 41-20 at Virginia Tech) (5-2, 2-1) LW 6
Next Week: vs. North Carolina
This game couldn't have started off any better for the Duke Blue Devils. They were up 20-0 at Lane Stadium, but near the end of the first half with a 20-10 lead, disaster happened. Conner Vernon drops a pass and in the process it gets picked off by Detrick Bonner. 2 plays later Logan Thomas found Marcus Davis wide open for a 42 yard touchdown pass. Duke never recovered from this, and got romped in the second half. Duke now takes on their rivals in the North Carolina Tar Heels, who also happen to be one of the hottest teams in the ACC. After that game they travel to Florida State and then take on Clemson at home. It's very conceivable that they will need to win one of their final two games of the season against either Georgia Tech or Miami in order to secure a bowl berth.
9. Georgia Tech (BYE) (2-4, 1-3) LW 9
Next Week: vs. Boston College
Georgia Tech hasn't won a game since September 15th. I can't think of a better way to cure those woes than to take on Boston College at home. It's still going to be difficult for them to make a bowl game, but if they have any chance, then they absolutely must beat Boston College this weekend. I expect the Yellow Jackets to be a bit too much for Boston College to handle this weekend.
10. Wake Forest (BYE) (3-3, 1-3) LW 10
Next Week: at Virginia
Wake had a bye this weekend, but we still had a loss in that we suspended Duran Lowe and Devin Bolling indefinitely due to a violation of team rules. The Deacs must put that to the side and focus on their opponent this week: Virginia. This is an absolute must win for the Deacs if they want to make a bowl game. The Virginia-Maryland game gave me hope that Wake can beat Virginia and I think they will. Wake is currently a 4.5 point underdog, but I like the Deacs to bring home a victory.
11. Virginia (L 27-20 vs. Maryland) (2-5, 0-3) LW 12
Next Week: vs. Wake Forest
Virginia is a Penn State missed field goal away from not having any wins over an FBS opponent. Virginia now must win four of their remaining five games if they want to earn second consecutive bowl berth. Clearly that now seems highly improbable. Virginia had made a switch to Phillip Sims at quarterback, but this past weekend Michael Rocco was brought back into the game. It will be interesting to see who the Cavaliers send out against Wake Forest. Furthermore, I'll be curious to see what mindset Virginia has. Will they fold or will they fight?
12. Boston College (L 51-7 at Florida State) (1-5, 0-3) LW 11
Next Week: at Georgia Tech
Boston College hasn't beaten an FBS team this season. Their lone win has come over lowly Maine. The good news for them is that they still have games remaining against Georgia Tech, Maryland, and Wake Forest. Unfortunately for Boston College, those three teams are still better than they are. This season really can't end fast enough for BC fans. They must watch Matt Ryan play every Sunday and wonder where those days went.