Each Monday morning, we compile our top five takeaways from the weekend’s action. Here’s what we got out of Week 13 of ACC football action:
1. Nothing’s changed: We thought that Clemson and Florida State — the class of the ACC — could come out of this weekend’s matchups with their SEC rivals victorious. We were so very, very wrong. FSU struggled right out the gate, and quarterback EJ Manuel was happy to hand the ball right to Florida several times during the mistake-laden, forgettable contest. Clemson’s high-flying offense — considered among the best in the nation — was held to just 17 points against South Carolina. Georgia Tech and Wake Forest were also thumped by SEC foes, making the ACC 4-0 against its southern brethren on Showdown Saturday. Instead of a perception boost, the weekend provided an even bigger hit for the already-wobbly ACC.
2. Notre Dame‘s never been further away: While the ACC would love to see Notre Dame’s continued success, both before and during their partnership, the Irish’s impending shot at a national title proves how far away they are. There was plenty of talk they could potentially be coaxed into a full-time membership with the ACC, but I doubt that’s likely anymore. In going 12-0 this season, Notre Dame proved they stand apart from the system. They don’t need a conference to compete for championships, and if they end this season with a title in hand, there’s little doubt they’ll remain independent for decades.
3. Realignment holding pattern: There are murmurs that a decision could come this week as to the ACC’s replacement for Maryland. But who will it be, and will there be more than one add? Thoughts of a 16-team superconference (adding Louisville, UConn and Cincinnati) have seemingly been shot down for the time being, but the choice has essentially come down to those three schools. Personally, I’d like to see the league make some calls to a few bigger fish first, but for all I know, they’ve already done this.
4. Coaching changes may not be over yet: NC State‘s Tom O’Brien and Boston College‘s Frank Spaziani have already been relieved of their positions, and there may still be more changes to come. Clemson OC Chad Morris has been mentioned as a potential target for State, and there’s a growing chord of dissatisfaction from Wake Forest about head coach Jim Grobe. Syracuse head man Doug Marrone was also mentioned as a potential NFL jump today — something Orange fans are petrified to hear.
5. Maryland went down swinging: It may not show in all the box scores, but the Terps certainly did themselves proud this past month. Playing behind linebacker-turned-QB Shawn Petty, the offense seemingly grew in strides, and actually played some competitive football down the stretch. Most notable was the team’s final game — a 45-38 loss to North Carolina — that saw Petty throw for 208 yards while accounting for two scores (one through the air, one on the ground). If that’s any indication, I’d say it’s a program on the right track heading into a healthy 2013 season.