After a month of watching ACC football, a few logical conclusions could have been drawn about the conference. Saturday blew up most of them.
Here are a few reasonable assumptions about the ACC that could have been made before this weekend — and how Saturday changed them:
Virginia Tech is the team to beat. This one still holds after the Hokies 34-26 win over Duke, although a wider margin of victory would have been more comforting to see.
Miami isn’t ready for the national spotlight. It sure looked that way after the Hurricanes got blown out by Virginia Tech last weekend. Instead, Miami scored the biggest win of the season for an ACC team, beating Oklahoma 21-20 and improving to 3-1 — all against ranked teams. I’m still not ready to declare “The U” is back, but the ‘Canes should be a factor nationally deep into the season.
(Insert team here) is the favorite in the Atlantic Division. N.C. State was just the latest team to claim the mantle of being the favorite in the Atlantic only to suffer a loss. Each week, the division looks more and more like the collection of 5-3 and 4-4 teams it was last season. All you really need to know at this point is Maryland, which was fortunate to open the season 1-3, is the division leader.
Boston College has no shot at winning a third straight Atlantic title. The media picked the Eagles to finish dead last in the Atlantic after an offseason no program should be forced to endure. BC improved to 4-1 Saturday with a win over Florida State. Given all the chaos in the Atlantic, another trip to the ACC championship game isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
North Carolina is a contender in the Coastal Division. Losing to Georgia Tech last week didn’t help the Tar Heels. Losing at home to winless Virginia — with the Yellow Jackets, Hokies and Hurricanes in front of them — means they’ll have to wait until next year.
Maryland and Virginia are the dregs of the conference. The Terrapins and Cavaliers couldn’t have looked much worse in nonconference play, and yet here the two of them are at 1-0 in the ACC. That raises this question: Are the Terps and Cavs better than everyone thought, or is the rest of the conference really that mediocre?
Game of the Week
Miami 21, Oklahoma 20. The Hurricanes looked destined for a rerun of last week’s 31-7 loss to Virginia Tech after QB Jacory Harris threw two early interceptions. But Harris eventually settled down, completing 19 of 28 passes for 202 yards and three touchdowns and leading a clock-killing drive in the final 4:18 to preserve the huge win. RB Javarris James added a career-high 150 yards against the nation’s top rushing defense.
Player of the Week
Montel Harris, Boston College. Talk about useful yardage. Harris rushed for 99 yards in the final seven minutes, including a 42-yard touchdown run with 4:07 left that proved to be the difference. He finished with a career-high 179 yards and two touchdowns.
Team on the Rise
Boston College. The Eagles seem to be feeding off the emotion of Mark Herzlich and his fight against cancer. If BC wins another division title this year, Frank Spaziani should be Coach of the Year.
Team on the Decline
North Carolina. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the
Tar Heels lost in Chapel Hill to a team that opened the season with a 26-14 loss to William & Mary. Carolina managed just 174 yards of total offense against Virginia’s defense, which hadn’t given up fewer than 300 in each of its first three games.
- Congratulations to Clemson’s C.J. Spiller for setting the ACC record for career all-purpose yardage. Too bad he couldn’t celebrate with a win.
- Maybe a bit overlooked after the Oklahoma-Miami game, Georgia Tech got a nice nonconference win over Mississippi State. These Bulldogs won’t be confused with Tech’s rivals from Georgia, but a road win over an SEC team is nothing to take lightly.
- ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit made the point on College Football GameDay that Bobby Bowden has been talking about his team’s youth ever since Florida State lost to Oklahoma in the 2001 Orange Bowl. The Seminoles need to grow up fast because people in Tallahassee have lost patience.
- Russell Wilson’s interception-free streak was bound to end some time, but that second pick with the Wolfpack driving to take the lead late in the fourth quarter couldn’t have been more costly.
- If Tyrod Taylor keeps throwing like he did against Duke (17 for 22, 327 yards, 2 TDs), Virginia Tech’s offense is going to be hard to stop for anyone left on its schedule.