ACC Football 2013 Week 7 Lessons: College Gameday, Top-Five Matchup Set Between Clemson and Florida State

Florida State Visits Clemson in a Huge Top-5 Matchup on College Gameday This Saturday

College Gameday Features Florida State and Clemson in a Huge Top-5 Matchup  This Saturday

Each Monday morning, we compile our top five takeaways from the weekend’s action. Here’s what we got out of Week 7 of the ACC football season:

1. Next Saturday’s top-five showdown is on: After Clemson finally got past Boston College (way to scare the rest of us, Tigers), it officially set us up for one of the biggest weekends in ACC football history. College Gameday returns to Death Valley for the second time this season, and we get a top-five matchup on top of it. Florida State‘s fairly untested and the Tigers have been among the top five or so literally all season. Whoever wins will have both an inside track at winning the Atlantic Division and possibly playing for a National Championship come January. Saturday night will be an electric atmosphere — the type of which this conference needs more of in order to show itself off as one of the nation’s elite leagues.

2. Georgia Tech‘s in a free fall: Ever since dashing out to a 3-0 start, something’s been amiss about the Yellow Jackets. Granted, they’ve had a pretty rough slate these past few weeks (Miami, Virginia Tech and BYU will do that), but now sitting at .500, the season’s taken a bit of a negative turn. With two FCS opponents on the schedule, Tech has to go 4-2 down the stretch in order to wrap up a bowl bid. There’s a significant level of difficulty involved and no guarantees they can pull it off despite fielding a better team than last season’s by far.

3. Boston College is almost back: Yes, BC has lost to both Florida State and Clemson, but let’s focus on the positives: they were incredibly competitive against both as well. In just one year, coach Steve Addazio has this group believing they can win any game on the schedule, which is huge compared to what the last few years entailed. This is a senior-heavy class, so there’s plenty of rebuilding that needs to happen come next year. But with this sort of buy-in so early, the Eagles are well on their way to not just being respectable but competitive once again.

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ACC Football 2013 Previews & Predictions: Week 7

Logan Thomas and the Virginia Tech Hokies Aim for Win No. 6 vs. Pitt

Logan Thomas and the Virginia Tech Hokies Aim for Win No. 6 on the Season vs. Pitt

As the country wraps up non-conference schedules for the most part and dives head-long into league play, we get this final middle of the road week of ACC football. It’s not that the matchups are bad, of course. We just know that next week’s slate is chock-full of more interesting story lines and a likely ACC showcase for College Gameday. 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

Pittsburgh Panthers (3-1) (2-1) at Virginia Tech Hokies (5-1) (2-0): Both of these teams were pummeled in their respective season openers, and yet both have also managed to rebound nicely and factor into the early Coastal Division race. Of course, Tech’s five wins have been against a bit heftier competition than Pitt’s had over the last month, so it’s tough to consider them “equal” at this time. The Panthers’ wideouts have played out of their minds of late, but can they do so once again when facing the ACC’s top defensive unit? If the Hokies’ corners can keep containment along the outside, it’ll certainly be a tough task — especially since Pitt doesn’t have much of a running game. Their own defense will also pose a challenge to Virginia Tech, however, testing Logan Thomas to keep up his mistake-free ways. If he can do that, you have to believe the Hokies pull off yet another conference victory. Prediction: Virginia Tech 26, Pittsburgh 17

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

Rutgers Scarlet Knights (4-1) at Louisville Cardinals (5-0): Don’t be fooled the same way some poll voters have. SUNJ’s 4-1 record is mostly a mirage, built on the backs of college football bottom-feeders and a narrow escape against SMU last week. Formidable teams have been able to score at will on the Scarlet Knights this year (twice allowed 50 points or more), and that makes Louisville’s job rather easy. Teddy Bridgewater should have no problem spreading the field against this defense, and even if the running game fails to get going early, they’ll be plenty of time for handoffs later. Louisville’s not overlooking this one as it might be their “toughest” game all year, so don’t expect them to sleepwalk through. Prediction: Louisville 42, SUNJ 20

Navy Midshipmen (3-1) at Duke Blue Devils (3-2) (0-2): Navy’s rushing defense (85th in the country) is a problem for the Midshipmen right off the bat, so don’t be surprised to see Duke quarterback Brandon Connette running even more than normal. Lost in the shuffle of his many interceptions, Connette’s actually collected a pretty stellar set of statistics both on the ground and through the air (1,246 total yards and 17 scores), and should continue to rack up more against a so-so Navy D. Duke’s defense hasn’t been much better against the ground game, but they do have the excuse of facing Georgia Tech. The line’s close on this one (-3 for Duke), but I see the Blue Devils winning comfortably. Prediction: Duke 35, Navy 20

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ACC Football 2013 Television Schedule & Spreads: Week 7

Virginia Tech and Pitt Face Off in One of the ACC's Top Matchups of the Weekend

Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh Face Off in One of the ACC’s Top Matchups of the Weekend

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 7 TV Schedule & Spreads

Thursday, October 10

Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Louisville Cardinals (-18.5), 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Saturday, October 12

Pittsburgh Panthers at Virginia Tech Hokies (-9), Noon ET, ESPNU

Navy Midshipmen at Duke Blue Devils (-3), 12:30 p.m. ET, ESPN 3/College Gameplan

Virginia Cavaliers at Maryland Terrapins (-7), 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU

Syracuse Orange at NC State Wolfpack (-7), 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN 3/College Gameplan

Boston College Eagles at Clemson Tigers (-24.5), 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN 2

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at BYU Cougars (-7), 7 p.m. ET, ESPNU

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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 Power Rankings: Week 3

Miami Florida Gators Hurricanes Upset 2013 ACC Football SEC Stephen Morris

Miami’s Big Upset of Florida Has Them Thinking ACC Championship, and Possibly More

Two weeks into this young season and things seem awfully positive for the ACC. There’s a collective conference pride rooted not just in hilarious gestures of solidarity, but in actual on-field results. The ACC is beating the SEC on the field, and (at least from a public relations standpoint) putting to bed the rhetoric about it being a weak league. 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 3)

1. Clemson Tigers (2-0) (0-0) (Last: 1): Even without Tajh Boyd for most of the game, Clemson was able to breeze through South Carolina State on Saturday. But the biggest win may have been what happened in Georgia. The Bulldogs beat up on South Carolina in front of a national audience and staked their claim to the SEC East crown. But if Georgia’s the best team in the SEC East, then how good is Clemson? It appears the answer is “very” and now everyone seems to be buying in on the Tigers. The team moved up to no. 3 in the AP rankings this week and even received a first-place vote.

2. Florida State Seminoles (1-0) (1-0) (Last: 2): Florida State had the week off, but it doesn’t mean the hype around Jameis Winston vanished. If anything, it just continued to grow as pundits began to wonder what he might do for an encore. Against Nevada on Saturday, he should have ample opportunity to replicate his success from Labor Day, though it does feel like we’re already entering Clowney-type territory when it comes to expectations for him. At some point, he’ll remind folks he’s a freshman quarterback and the ESPN hivemind will inevitably turn on him. But until then, FSU fans will certainly enjoy the ride.

3. Louisville Cardinals (2-0) (0-0) (Last: 3): What does Louisville have to do to make their case for a national championship? Simply put: just win. And so far, they’ve done that, winning two contests by a combined score of 93-14. Teddy Bridgewater is on an absolutely torrid pace in terms of statistics, and with the American Athletic Conference looking even worse off than people thought this season, we could be seeing something truly special from him this year.

4. Miami (FL) Hurricanes (2-0) (0-0) (Last: 4): Is the U back? That depends on your point of view, though Saturday’s upset over Florida is certainly a nice start to that conversation. The Hurricanes weren’t perfect against the Gators, but maybe that’s what makes this victory resonate a bit more. Everyone has a tendency to celebrate a team for playing a flawless game en route to a big victory, when it’s the team that can win an ugly contest that’s probably better set up for long-term success. While the offense had its moments, the biggest plus from Saturday was the defense, which (Florida’s inept offense aside) did appear to have taken major leaps forward from last season’s disastrous effort.

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ACC Football 2013 Power Rankings: Post-Week 1

After a Huge Win Over Georgia, No One Can Deny Clemson the Top Spot in the ACC

After a Huge Win Over Georgia, No One Can Deny Clemson the Top Spot in the ACC

One week down, and things seem to be trending positively for the ACC. Conference teams are rising in the polls, everyone has positive things to say about the ACC and (knock on wood), things really couldn’t be much better for the league as a whole. I don’t know how long this will last, but it’s fantastic. 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 (Post-Week 1)

1. Clemson Tigers (1-0) (0-0) (Last: 1): Up to number four in the recent AP rankings, Clemson is riding high right now. And why not? You beat a top-five team in Georgia, your quarterback is now assumed to be a Heisman front-runner… There’s very little left to question about this Tigers squad, and given how unimposing the remaining schedule is for them, it’s unlikely much more doubt creeps up between now and November. This is a team capable of winning the national title, and believe it or not, they just might go ahead and do it this year.

2. Florida State Seminoles (1-0) (1-0) (Last: 2): There was hope that Jameis Winston could step right in and run this Seminoles offense. But no one could’ve known just how good the freshman would be in his debut on Monday night. Accounting for five touchdowns against Pittsburgh, Winston has quickly thrown himself into the national spotlight very early in the season. In a surprising move, his team’s also joined him, putting to rest concerns about how they’ll replace EJ Manuel and much of last year’s defense.

3. Louisville Cardinals (1-0) (0-0) (Last: 3): Louisville understands what it needs to do to keep observers’ respect this season, whether that’s fair or not. And thus far, they’ve met the challenge. Teddy Bridgewater was a star against Ohio, putting up 355 passing yards and five scores against a team that was thought to be among the best in the MAC. We’ll see if that’s true or not, but we do know is that the Cardinals will be tough to beat on both ends this year. Now, the rest may be up to the voters.

4. Miami (FL) Hurricanes (1-0) (0-0) (Last: 4): Miami didn’t meet much of a test in Florida Atlantic on Friday, but they took care of business and collected a solid victory. Duke Johnson was the game’s standout performer, picking up right where he left off in 2012 by picking up over 200 total yards and a score. Obviously, the Owls are no worldbeaters, but it’s also worth noting the defense’s improved effort in the 34-6 win, too. We’ll see if that’s a mirage or not next week versus Florida.

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ACC Football 2013 Previews & Predictions: Week 1 (Part 2)

Jerome Smith and the Syracuse Run Game Hold the Key to Beating Penn State on Saturday

Jerome Smith and the Syracuse Run Game Hold the Key to Beating Penn State on Saturday

Welcome to part two of this week’s previews and predictions! Here’s part one if you missed it.

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs at NC State Wolfpack: With coach Sonny Dykes now off to California, it’s likely the Bulldogs’ torrid offensive pace from last year leaves with him. That also means that State’s very young secondary, which is replacing three of four starters from 2012, gets a bit of a break too. This won’t necessarily be a cakewalk for this young Wolfpack team — we still don’t know what type of pistol elements are already implemented into this offense, nor do we know how the running game will look (my guess is mediocre). But they should be able to score a home win to start the year without a ton of difficulty, and build some positive momentum for this very green group. Prediction: NC State 37, Louisiana Tech 21

Penn State Nittany Lions v. Syracuse Orange (MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ): Neither team has revealed who their quarterback will be, but in Syracuse’s case, they’ve got the better options to choose from in Drew Allen (likely the pick) and Terrel Hunt. But regardless of who’s throwing the ball, this game is very likely to be decided in the trenches. Penn State’s rushing defense was very strong last year and SU figures to have one of this year’s top rushing attacks in the ACC. If either team starts getting in behind the line, that will be the difference-maker in what should be a hard-fought battle between the former rivals. Prediction: Syracuse 20, Penn State 17

BYU Cougars at Virginia Cavaliers: This game is perceived to be pretty close (current line’s at +1 for UVa), but I have a feeling we’re looking at a much different outcome. With a young quarterback in David Watford, the Hoos are likely to spend the opening portions of the contest finding their way on offense, which should also open up the BYU defense for some critical opportunities. The Cougars only allowed 14 points per game last season, and as long as Kyle Van Noy‘s in the fold, they’re likely to hold teams to a similar number this year as well. Despite the cross-country trip, BYU makes short work of Virginia. Prediction: BYU 36, Virginia 17

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