ACC Football 2013 Power Rankings: Week 7

Now Ranked in the Top 25 As Well, Virginia Tech Joins the ACC's Power Three

Now Ranked in the Top 25 As Well, Virginia Tech Makes It Four Elite Teams From the ACC

There’s a huge gulf between the top of the ACC and the rest of the conference — something that has both good and bad consequences. On the one hand, the conference is deeply involved in the national title race right now. On the other, we’re seeing a lot of blowouts, too, which hurts the league’s top-to-bottom image. As always, the poll includes all 14 current ACC members, plus future member Louisville. Feel like I’m totally right or completely off-base? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

ACC Football Power Rankings 2013 (Week 7)

1. Clemson Tigers (5-0) (3-0) (Last: 1): Another week, another big Clemson win. And yet, there are still some doubts about whether or not the Tigers are national title contenders. The defense can go cold for stretches and the offense is largely one-dimensional, sure. But given the country’s best resume win thus far (vs. Georgia) and a major Heisman contender at quarterback in Tajh Boyd, this team will be impossible to ignore as long as they keep on winning.

2. Florida State Seminoles (5-0) (3-0) (Last: 2): As mentioned up top, the gap between the ACC’s top teams and the rest is very large, with Florida State’s 63-0 massacre over Maryland being exhibit A. No, the Terps were not exactly a strong top 25 team at the time, but still, they were still perceived as one of the conference’s better teams going into Saturday. FSU’s absolutely dominant performance, led by both Jameis Winston and the defense, changed all that. And changed the perception of the ‘Noles too, from an interesting team to one that could easily contend for a championship.

3. Miami (FL) Hurricanes (5-0) (1-0) (Last: 4): The Hurricanes’ offense just continues to impress, no matter how banged up Stephen Morris may seem. Down 10 early, the group fought back against Georgia Tech, and pulled off the big divisional win. But at the same time, it might’ve been the defense that was most responsible for the turnaround. Holding Tech scoreless in the third allowed the ‘Canes offense to come back and take the lead, especially the dagger touchdown to go up 45-23 with just a little over a minute remaining.

4. Louisville Cardinals (5-0) (Last: 3): Louisville didn’t do anything wrong necessarily against Temple. But as an offense, it’s tough to say their 30-point output against the Owls was overly impressive. The Cardinals are still undefeated and as predicted, this schedule’s already starting to creep up on them. All three ACC teams ranked ahead have better wins to their respective names, and will only continue to add more as the year goes on.

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ACC Football 2013 Previews & Predictions: Week 6

Miami and Georgia Tech Face Off for Coastal Supremacy; Who Gets the Inside Track?

Miami and Georgia Tech Face Off for Coastal Supremacy; Who Gets the Inside Track?

Another week of ACC action, and now we’re actually figuring out how good teams are. Tougher opponents could spell doom for several teams, though because they’re untested to this point, we really don’t know what to expect once up against fellow conference teams. Just like normal, we’re running down the list of every ACC (plus Louisville) game and predicting outcomes that will almost undoubtedly be wrong. Have some picks of your own? Predict away in the comments!

Game of the Week

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (3-1) (2-1) at Miami Hurricanes (4-0) (0-0): Georgia Tech was kept in check last week, while no one’s really contained Miami to this point. Vad Lee‘s not your typical triple-option quarterback, so I’m not sure the extra time the Wreck gets here is even worth it. Lee knows what he’s doing, of course, but he’s yet to go up against a legitimate defensive front. The defense is rock-solid for Tech, though this Miami offense has more than enough playmakers to combat that. As much as this one seems ripe for a Yellow Jackets upset, there’s just too much to like about the ‘Canes. Serviceable defense, dynamic offense — they can take care of this game, albeit barely. Prediction: Miami 33, Georgia Tech 24

The Rest of the Slate (in order of start time):

Ball State Cardinals (4-1) at Virginia Cavaliers (2-2) (0-1): Ball State’s offense has been entirely to hard to stop so far this season, putting up 40 points per game through five contests. The Virginia defense appears ready for the challenge, though. Outside of the Oregon debacle, the Hoos have not allowed 20 points to any opponent, which bodes well for their matchup with the Cardinals. If they can keep containment on Ball State’s passing game as they have other teams’, that should lead them to a comfortable victory. Prediction: Virginia 31, Ball State 21

Maryland Terrapins (4-0) (0-0) at Florida State Seminoles (4-0) (2-0): FSU’s offense has been impressive thsu far, while their defense has been less than stellar. For the first time this season though, they’re up against an actual challenge to both. With an aggressive Terps’ defense nipping at their heels, can the ‘Noles outlast and outscore their challenging, surprising opponent? And considering Maryland’s tough passing attack, can FSU keep containment on both C.J. Brown and Stefon Diggs? This won’t be a blowout at all, but I’m still tempted to take FSU, if only because that program’s well assimilated to these types of heated, competitive matchups at this point in the year. Prediction: Florida State 38, Maryland 27

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ACC Football 2013 Television Schedule & Spreads: Week 6

Miami Faces Off With Georgia Tech This Weekend, to Establish Control of Coastal

Miami Faces Off With Georgia Tech This Weekend to Get Inside Track on Coastal Division

Every week, we’ll be providing a quick rundown of which ACC football games are on television, and also list the latest spread on each game (should you choose to engage in gambling-related activities). Please plan your days accordingly.

ACC Football Week 6 TV Schedule & Spreads

Saturday, October 5

Ball State Cardinals at Virginia Cavaliers (-5.5), noon ET, ESPN 3/College Gamplan

Maryland Terrapins at Florida State Seminoles (-15.5), noon ET, ESPN

Louisville Cardinals at Temple Owls (+34), noon ET, ESPN 3/College Gamplan

North Carolina Tar Heels at Virginia Tech Hokies (-7.5), 12:30 p.m. ET, ESPN 3/College Gamplan

Army Black Knights at Boston College Eagles (-11.5), 1 p.m. ET, ESPN 3

NC State Wolfpack at Wake Forest Demon Deacons (+8), 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN 3/College Gamplan

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Miami Hurricanes (-5), 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU

Clemson Tigers at Syracuse Orange (+13.5), 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN2

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Ranking the Best ACC Football Matchups of 2013: #90-81

Florida State vs. Boston College Was Ugly in 2012, Will It Be a Repeat in 2013?

Florida State vs. Boston College Was Ugly in 2012, Will It Be a Repeat in 2013?

The 2013 ACC football schedule has officially been released, meaning we finally have some clarity as to whom the conference’s 14 teams will face-off with from week-to-week next season. So with that in mind, we thought it would be an entertaining undertaking to rank all 112 ACC football games for 2013 because, well… it’s the offseason.

Today, we take a quick glance at numbers 90 through 81; the first group in our countdown made up entirely of FBS opponents. Just one conference game in this collection, and it’s only there because of how lopsided the result’s likely to be.

#90: Central Michigan Chippewas at NC State Wolfpack (Saturday, September 28)

#89: Ball State Cardinals at Virginia Cavaliers (Saturday, October 5)

#88: Marshall Thundering Herd at Virginia Tech Hokies (Saturday, September 21

#87: Army Black Knights at Boston College Eagles (Saturday, October 5)

#86: Virginia Tech Hokies at East Carolina Pirates (Saturday, September 14)

#85: Florida International Golden Panthers at Maryland Terrapins (Saturday, August 31)

#84: Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders at North Carolina Tar Heels (Saturday, September 7)

#83: Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Army Black Knights (Saturday, September 21)

#82: Troy Trojans at Duke Blue Devils (Saturday, September 28)

#81: Florida State Seminoles at Boston College Eagles (Saturday, September 28)

Some additional notes on today’s list:

  • The 10 games appear on six different dates, with none appearing after October 5
  • Breakdown of non-conference opponent leagues: Conference USA (4), FBS Independent (2), MAC (2), Sun Belt (1)
  • Breakdown of non-conference opponent home states: New York (2), Alabama (1), Florida (1), Indiana (1), Michigan (1), North Carolina (1), Tennessee (1), West Virginia (1)
  • Public vs. private universities: Seven public, two service academies

Previously: #112-101, #100-91

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ACC Football Top 25 Players of 2012: #3, DeAndre Hopkins

Clemson's DeAndre Hopkins Was Among the ACC's Biggest Surprises During a Record-Setting 2012

Clemson’s DeAndre Hopkins Was Among the ACC’s Biggest Surprises During a Record-Setting 2012

As part of our 2012 season review, we’re counting down the top 25 players in the ACC this season, from no. 25 to no. 1. Obviously these lists are always completely subjective — and thus completely bulletproof, obviously — so feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments, too.

No. 3, DeAndre Hopkins, WR/Clemson (Preseason Rank: NR)

This season was supposed to all about a Clemson receiver differentiating himself from the rest of the nation’s wideouts. But who knew that receiver would be Hopkins, rather than his highly-touted counterpart, Sammy Watkins? From game one though, Hopkins showed himself up to the task of being the Tigers’ top option. First against Auburn, 13 catches and one touchdown, then six catches for three touchdowns versus Ball State — whether Watkins was in the lineup or not, DeAndre Hopkins was a force from game-to-game, scoring at least one touchdown in all but one contest. The junior set Clemson records for touchdown catches in a season (18, in just 13 games) and receiving yards in a season (1,405), while turning himself into one of the nation’s most talked-about offense weapons and now a potential first-round NFL Draft pick. Yes, unfortunately, ‘Nuk will forgo his senior season and a sure-fire shot at a National Championship and potential Heisman Trophy buzz, in exchange for the pros. Where he’s selected is still up in the air, but wherever it may be, they’re inheriting a smart receiver who still has plenty more growth ahead of him.

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Assessing Clemson: What Can We Take From the Tigers’ First Two Games?

Clemson Has Looked Good Through Two Games This Season, But Are Looks Deceiving? We Discuss.

The Clemson Tigers have looked pretty impressive through two games, but of course, we know there are concerns, too — some of which may not fully come to light until their big matchup with Florida State on September 22. Recognizing this, resident Clemson fan Joel Penning and I had a quick chat about some of the pressing issues thus far, addressing offensive tempo, Sammy Watkins‘s return, the run game and more. Check it out below, and enjoy the game this afternoon!

Clemson OC Chad Morris has promised to push the tempo even more. Is it possible?

Joel: When he arrived at Clemson, Chad Morris said he’d like to run 75-80 plays per game. The Tigers met that mark last year at 75.4. Morris’ offenses weren’t much quicker at Tulsa, where the Golden Hurricane ran 77.4 plays per game in 2010.  But the more plays you run, the more chances you have to score. Clemson is on track to match last year’s results, but the length of the game and the persistence of a defense that has trouble getting off the field will limit the offense’s effectiveness. The most effective hurry-up offenses are paired with competent defenses; otherwise, every quick score can easily be matched by a slower, more plodding score that eats up the clock. It’s just a question of game management. So ultimately, I have a hard time seeing Clemson top 80 plays per game.

John: I’d agree with that. Competing directly with amazing defenses like Florida State and Virginia Tech, I find it hard to believe that shootouts are the way to go. Against a shoddy defense? Sure, bombs away, and dare them to score on you. But against teams like that, you’re giving them opportunities to create turnovers, and letting you beat yourself at your own game. Running 75 plays per game has worked pretty well to this point, and I think it’ll yield better results as the defense improves.

The run defense is a travesty. Will it end up being the team’s undoing once ACC play begins?

JP: Brent Venables was hired to shore up a shaky defense, but two games into 2012, the Tigers are giving up more yards per play than last year. Kevin Steele largely failed during his three years to check option-based offenses, whether the triple-option of Georgia Tech or the zone-read of Cam Newton-led Auburn or the new Steve Spurrier attack. This year in Atlanta, Clemson did pretty well against that type of play, although maybe the departure of Gus Malzahn has accelerated Auburn’s return to a more traditional pro-style. Two games into the season, it’s hard to make a definitive judgment, but my general impression is that defenders are more willing to give up short runs in order to avoid being gassed by option plays. Georgia Tech on October 6 will determine Venables’ success in the minds of a lot of Clemson fans. But to answer the question more directly, Clemson had its most successful season in 20 years despite an awful defense. The Orange Bowl sticks in everyone’s mind, but it was offensive ineptitude that lost games to NC State, GT, and South Carolina.  With the inauspicious start for the Wolfpack, I’m still confident slotting Clemson second in the Atlantic, despite its weakness against the run.

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ACC Football 2012 Power Rankings: Week Three

Georgia Tech Bounced Back Nicely in Week Two, Running Roughshod Over Presbyterian All Day Saturday

All 14 ACC squads were in action again last week, and while many performed admirably, several manged to disappoint as well. Check out the list below, and weigh in down in the comments if you disagree.

1. Florida State Seminoles (2-0) (LW: 1): We really don’t know how to properly evaluate the Seminoles after two 1.75 games against FCS opponents, but they have won by a combined score of 124-3. So at least there’s that. The team’s first true test is coming up next week, however, as they are paid a visit by constant nemesis/thorn-in-side, Wake Forest. Also of interest: FSU has run the ball very effectively up until now. We’ll be curious to see if that continues now as they face better competition.

2. Clemson Tigers (2-0) (LW: 2): The Tigers’ second half defense against Ball State gave some fans reason for concern, as did the run D, which has been particularly poor. While it’s understandable that Auburn would be able to rack up 180 yards on the ground against them, for the Cardinals to total 252 is simply unacceptable. It’s great to have Sammy Watkins back this week, but unfortunately, he can’t play defensive line.

3. Virginia Tech Hokies (2-0) (LW: 4): The Hokies looked tired and disinterested against Austin Peay on Saturday, despite the fact that they won 42-7. We knew this offense would struggle coming into 2012, but it does appear that QB Logan Thomas will have to carry nearly the entire scoring burden. But should he continue his issues with accuracy, Tech could have a real problem on their hands as the season wears on.

4. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (1-1) (LW: 5): Unlike their Labor Day counterparts, Georgia Tech did not give off any signs of exhaustion Saturday, amassing 712 yards of offensive en route to a big 59-3 rout of Presbyterian. Mixing it up against an inferior opponent, Tech was also able to give extended playing time to Vad Lee and Zach Laskey. The two combined for 217 rushing yards and two scores on just 20 carries, including a huge 79-yard gain by Lee.

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