ACC Football Power Rankings: Week Nine

Florida State Defeats Miami, Referee Issues and Remains Atop the Power Rankings

Yet another crazy weekend of ACC football, and we still find ourselves no closer to figuring out who’ll be playing in Charlotte for the league championship. The one thing we may be getting a handle on, though? Who is NOT playing in that game. And if eventually that list allows us to fill out the who IS list, then so be it (pray this isn’t what actually happens). Jimbo Fisher’s team deserves to be on top of these rankings, but I’m scared he’d have me suspended if that weren’t the case…

1. Florida State Seminoles (7-1) (4-1) (LW: 1): Never a good thing to hear your best running back is out for the season (again). But when you’re Florida State, you’ve got two more great options ready to go. Referees aside, the ‘Noles looked sloppy for a good portion of their Saturday night matchup with Miami — something that should concern them since the ‘Canes have no defense to speak of. It’s fine if EJ Manuel‘s taking more risks, but he must also keep the rest of the offense focused. Those fumbles were unforgivable, and could cause some real damage against a better team.

2. Clemson Tigers (6-1) (3-1) (LW: 2): The story of the game somehow ended up being the Tigers’ defense, which forced four turnovers and scored a touchdown of its own against Virginia Tech. So was this the turning point Brent Venables seemed to promise when he took over as defensive coordinator? Perhaps, though let’s give it a few more games. The Hokies’ offense has been putrid all season, and Clemson’s had their number these past two seasons. Still, it’s something they can potentially build off of.

3. NC State Wolfpack (5-2) (2-1) (LW: 4): State got very lucky at the end of this weekend’s game, due to a missed field goal — so don’t mistake their one-spot promotion as a ringing endorsement. But nonetheless, this is a Woflpack team that seems to know how to get the job done in crunch time. After their respective rocky starts, both Mike Glennon and David Amerson may have finally turned things around. The biggest issue now is how they’ll get by over the course of the season if they can’t run the ball.

4. Duke Blue Devils (6-2) (3-1) (LW: 7): Make no mistake about it, this Duke team is a legitimate threat to win the down-and-out Coastal division after their big comeback the other night. While there are certainly some kinks still to work out, this is a group that came into its own on that final 87-yard touchdown drive, and now look prepared for anything. That theory will be put to the test immediately against FSU this coming weekend. All eyes will be on Sean Renfree and how he reacts to the constant pressure the ‘Noles bring on D.

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ACC Football 2012 Midseason Recap: Atlantic Division

NC State’s Upset of FSU Steals the Headlines, But There’s Plenty More to Talk About From the ACC’s First Half

At the midway point in the 2012 season, little is decided in the ACC. Neither division has a clear frontrunner, no team is assured a trip to the postseason and no team has clinched a bowl spot either. Nonetheless, it’s been an entertaining season within the conference — something we’ll try to highlight here. Along with evaluations for each team, we’ll be providing additional predictions for the second half as well.

Below is the Atlantic division midseason evaluation. Also be sure to check out the Coastal division recap too, which is now live.

Boston College Eagles (1-5) (0-3): Doug Martin’s ability to revive the Boston College offensive attack is all that saves this team from an utter abyss (and even that statement’s pushing it) in Frank Spaziani’s lame-duck final season at the helm. Despite the leaps and bounds by which Chase Rettig has grown, it just doesn’t matter when your defense plays this terribly as a whole. On the bright side, the Eagles hopefully get one more season of Martin coaching Rettig and breakout receiver Alex Amidon under a different head coach in 2013. It would take a miracle for this squad to win six games at this point.

Clemson Tigers (5-1) (2-1): Clemson’s offense has been a sight to behold this season, putting up 41.3 points per game (11th in the country). Unfortunately, the defense has seen little improvement with Brent Venables’ arrival, allowing over 27 points over six games. Thus far, they’ve had little problem just running opponents off the field, but November dates against NC State and South Carolina loom large as potential stumbling blocks to end the year. With a better, fitter Tajh Boyd on the field, there’s hope they’ll avoid the same late stumbles from last season. The emergence of DeAndre Hopkins also helps, as we’re still unsure how Sammy Watkins will finish out the season. Orange Bowl’s the goal, but short of that, another BCS game wouldn’t be out of the question if they win out.

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ACC Football 2012 Previews & Predictions: Week 2 (Part One)

Miami’s Duke Johnson Surprised Everyone In His Debut; Can He Sneak Up on Kansas State This Week?

After just a few days off, we’re previewing ACC football action once again as week two begins with a Thursday night matchup of Big East teams. Week one wasn’t exactly the best scenario for the conference — 9-5, including the two intra-conference games — but not the worst result either, all things considered. Still, it’s only one game, and we still have plenty more to learn about every squad. Picks for this week’s matchups are below. Agree/disagree? Share your opinions down in the comments.

Game of the Week

Miami Hurricanes (1-0) (1-0) at Kansas State Wildcats (1-0): What a difference a week makes. Things looked to be in complete disarray in Miami prior to kickoff last week. One monster debut by Duke Johnson later, we’re still unsure about the ‘Canes, but once again, they bring plenty of intrigue. Miami’s defense struggled to stop BC quarterback Chase Rettig last week, and will meet an even bigger test with K-State QB Collin Klein on Saturday. If they can keep the dual-threat passer in check, they’ve got a shot. Otherwise, things could come crashing back to earth very quickly in Coral Gables. Prediction: Kansas St. 33, Miami 26

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

Pittsburgh Panthers (0-1) at Cincinnati Bearcats (0-0): Cincinnati had the week of to start the year, and by the looks of last Saturday’s effort, so did Pittsburgh. After a startling loss, the Panthers are hoping to rebound quickly and save their season from spiraling. The Bearcats, on the other hand, want to start off their year on the right foot as they try and replace a ton of lost talent from the 2011 edition. With suspended players returning, Pitt will field a much better team than they did previously. However, that defense proved they’re not stopping the run anytime soon, letting Youngstown State rack up 204 yards on the ground. That’ll be an issue against Cincy QB Munchie Legaux, whose ability to tuck and run with the ball may just torture them all night. Prediction: Cincinnati 36, Pitt 24

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ACC Football 2012 Power Rankings: Week Two

If Clemson’s Andre Ellington Continues Running the Way He Did on Saturday, the Tigers Could Win the ACC Once Again

After months of arbitrary offseason shuffling, we finally have some actual games to base these rankings off of. All 14 ACC squads were in action 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 (LW: 1): The Seminoles did a commendable job pummeling Murray State on Saturday. And that defense — just as impressive as they’ve ever been. Unfortunately, however, the big win came with a steep price. Star defensive end Brandon Jenkins injured his foot, and is now out for the remainder of the season. We won’t know how much the loss affects FSU this week, but once the real slate starts, it’ll be all too apparent.

2. Clemson Tigers (LW: 2): Everything about Saturday’s win over Auburn was exceptional. Andre Ellington‘s ground game. Tajh Boyd‘s ability to make plays work through the air and on the ground. The offensive line’s maturity right in front of our eyes. And of course, the defense quickly showing they’d learned a thing or two from new coordinator Brent Venables.

3. North Carolina Tar Heels (LW: 6): Everyone worried about how Giovani Bernard would fit into Larry Fedora’s offense. After the 62-0 drubbing they handed Elon, I think he’ll fit in just fine. Three TDs on just 12 touches will do that sort of thing. Obviously there’s more difficult opponents out there, but the big win appears to be an appetizer for what’s in store for this offense.

4. Virginia Tech Hokies (LW: 3): Another slow start for the Hokies, though this year, they manage to win the opener. If Virginia Tech gave the game ball to anyone on Monday night, it should’ve been handed right over to their opponent’s QB. Aside from their late drive for the game-tying field goal, the offense appeared listless and the O-line issues are real.

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ACC Football Goat of the Week, Week 1: David Amerson, NC State

After Struggling against Tennessee on Friday, NC State’s David Amerson is This Week’s Goat

No one enjoys piling on when things go wrong. But nonetheless, we’ve got to call out the ACC players who were counter-productive in helping their teams grab a victory this weekend. On the bright side for them, they can always get off this list next week. And for their sake, let’s hope they do.

ACC Goat of the Week, Week 1: David Amerson, CB/NC State

We’ve already talked about all the issues NC State experienced in their opening game against Tennessee, but it’s worth rehashing just the same. David Amerson, the team’s best weapon, was effectively torched for the entirety of Friday’s matchup. So now what? Was last year an anomaly, or was the first game just a case of Amerson shaking off the rust? It’s obviously too soon to tell, but Friday set an effective blueprint for how to defeat the Wolpack, mostly centered on attacking their two best players incessantly. No, the year isn’t over just yet, but State and Amerson need to figure out a way to rebound quickly, or else a promising season could spiral quickly out of control.

Honorable Mention:

Tevin Washington, QB/Georgia Tech (10/15 passing, 96 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT)

Mike Glennon, QB/NC State (27/46 passing, 288 yards, 1 TD, 4 INT)

Perry Hills, QB/Maryland (16/25 passing, 145 yards, 0 TD, 3 INT)

Jerome Smith, RB/Syracuse (10 rushes, 34 yards, 1 fumble)

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Tennessee 35, NC State 21: Assessing the Damage to the Wolfpack Hype

NC State and CB David Amerson DId Not Start Off the 2012 Season On the Right Foot Last Night, Losing Badly to Tennessee

For anyone who either watched the game live, or watched the highlights on SportsCenter afterward, you know what happened down in Atlanta last night. The NC State Wolfpack, looking to deliver a big win for the program and the ACC, were manhandled by the SEC‘s Tennessee Volunteers in primetime. And despite a final score that may tell you otherwise, this one was never even close. And that’s a problem.

You see, for all the hype that the Wolfpack had received, it was all based on two constants: QB Mike Glennon would play at a similar (if not better) level than he had during last year’s stretch run, and star corner David Amerson would blanket any receiver that came near him. Neither of these things came true last night, and in fact, they were patently false.

After one quarter last night, you’d think that Glennon was the QB looking to finally deliver on his talents, while Tennessee passer Tyler Bray was receiving dark horse Heisman nods.  Locked in from the first snap, the Vols’ quarterback executed well and simply looked better. For all the fanfare about former UT receiver Da’Rick Rogers‘ dismissal, it didn’t much matter for Bray, who still ended up with 333 yards passing. Most shocking, however, was the way in which he victimized Amerson. For a defender who likes to take risks to go for a big pick, it would make sense for the junior to be exposed by a veteran QB like Bray. But, for a guy that usually plays pretty tight coverage and knows how to put himself in position to make a play without allowing for the deep ball, Friday night’s performance appeared embarrassing. You could see the frustration on Amerson’s face, and the shock on everyone else’s. This defense, and it’s leader, have been shown to be vulnerable here in the first game, and the Tennessee blueprint will surely be employed by many of the Pack’s opponents going forward.

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ACC Football Preview 2012: Top Heisman Contenders

NC State’s Mike Glennon Enters the 2012 Season As the ACC’s Most Likely Heisman Trophy Contender

Our final bit of conjecture before the 2012 season begins, we offer up our picks for the top five ACC Heisman Trophy contenders this year. Yes, we know that no Atlantic Coast Conference player has won the award since Chris Weinke. No, we don’t care.

ACC’s Top Five Heisman Contenders for 2012

1. Mike Glennon, QB/NC State (Last Month: 3)

The Wolfpack’s high expectations rest squarely on Glennon’s shoulders. Should this team play its way into the conference title game, he’ll have defeated at least two of the country’s top defenses to get there. If he’s playing at the same level he was late in 2011, there’s no reason to believe it’s impossible.

2. Logan Thomas, QB/Virginia Tech (Last Month: 4)

As we said in our player previews, it’s quite possible that no team is more dependent on one player than the Hokies’ offense is on Logan Thomas. After an impressive campaign last year, he must now figure out a way to balance growing hype with the pressure of operating behind a brand new offensive line. His statistics should get him into this conversation, if the Hokies enter the season’s last weekend with just one loss.

3. Tajh Boyd, QB/Clemson (Last Month: 1)

Boyd falls a bit in comparison to his previous evaluation only due to WR Sammy Watkins‘ suspension. With his top target out two games, Boyd’s statistics (and win total) may take a hit. If they do, he’s obviously taken out of this race pretty swiftly.

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