Each Monday morning, we compile our top five takeaways from the weekend’s action. Here’s what we got out of Week 4 of ACC football action:
1. Florida State is back: The Seminoles, facing their first real competition all season, responded about as well as any team could have — by winning big. For any doubters left out there, it became very apparent over the course of the second half of their win over Clemson that Florida State is back and ready to compete on the national stage. Billed as a defense-first team, it was FSU’s offense that truly won the day, too. Which reminds us…
2. FSU QB EJ Manuel is a true Heisman trophy contender: Manuel came into Saturday night with some good numbers against subpar competition. What he left with was a signature Heisman game and moment, and a team that’s now a serious contender for a national championship. Putting up nearly 500 total yards in the weekend’s featured matchup will do that, so Manuel enters every early balloting conversation.
3. Maryland has the tools to compete at a high level: Looking at this roster both before and after C.J. Brown went out with a season-ending injury, it just didn’t appear as if the Terps would be able to compete all that well this season. Instead, they’ve actually proven themselves to be adept in both the offensive and defensive passing games — most notably, versus West Virginia this Saturday. Quarterback Perry Hills topped 300 yards through the air, and the defense held the high-octane Mountaineers offense in check by providing blanket coverage out deep.
4. There’s trouble brewing in Syracuse: Despite a talented offense and tons of promise, the Orange fell short again this weekend, and now stand at 1-3 on the year. The loss — the team’s eight in nine games — magnified running themes of head coach Doug Marrone’s tenure at SU, and as part of the larger picture, is starting to instill some doubt from supporters. They get a welcomed bye week, but then the rest of the Big East slate just lays out in front of them. They’ll need to come out strong to quiet the murmurs on job security.
5. Miami is a Coastal division dark horse?: It’s hard to believe, especially with such an uncertain future off the field, but MIami is setting itself up for a run at a division title – it’s first since joining the ACC. They’ll obviously need to defeat Virginia Tech along the way, but a quality win over Georgia Tech is a great stepping stone. Despite defensive issues, they’ve consistently found a way to produce on offense, despite the perceived strengths of opponents.