Following Their Big Win Over Virginia Tech, the Miami Hurricanes Control Their Own Destiny in the Coastal Division
Half of the ACC has seemingly fallen off a cliff, which makes it increasingly difficult to defend teams’ strength of schedule when it comes to BCS conversations. And yet, two squads in particular (you can probably guess which) continue to roll through opponents, gaining very little respect in the process. The key for the conference to grab two BCS berths once again will unfortunately lie in the strength of the middle and bottom of the conference. However, with many teams mired in slumps, or lingering around .500, who knows if more than three or four teams finish better than 6-6. Nonetheless, we try and sort through the mess below:
1. Florida State Seminoles (8-1) (5-1) (LW: 1): The ‘Noles have looked great lately, though consistency is another story entirely. Despite utterly dominating most opponents, there have been some severe lulls in creative play-calling and an overall lack of focus that lead us right to the cause of the NC State loss (now unforgivable, considering the Pack’s fall). Heading into the home stretch, FSU surely knows the stakes, though. Win the next two, and they’re playing for an ACC Championship and a likely berth in the Orange Bowl.
2. Clemson Tigers (8-1) (5-1) (LW: 2): With the offense moving at breakneck speed and the defense looking mildly improved, the Tigers are suddenly talking about their own BCS dreams. The only route for them, however, is to win out. While their remaining ACC slate (Maryland, NC State) don’t appear to be much of a threat, they also do nothing to help the team’s lagging strength of schedule numbers. Their best shot: a big win over arch-rival South Carolina, plus some other losses by their competition for the final at-large spot for good measure.
3. North Carolina Tar Heels (6-3) (3-2) (LW: 5): The Heels had the week off, which somehow made everyone forget about the season Giovani Bernard is having. And between Bernard’s missed games and UNC’s ineligibility for the postseason, this program’s already dealing with enough poor luck. And unfortunately, it comes as a disadvantage for the conference too. North Carolina is the best team in the Coastal, with one of the best players in the conference (Bernard) at running back. Instead of focusing on that during the title game, talk will be all about how poorly the Coastal performed, harping on its “subpar” champion.
4. Miami (FL) Hurricanes (5-4) (4-2) (LW: 7): The ‘Canes were handed a test on Thursday, and came out with a resounding victory and the inside track to winning the Coastal division. Seemingly under the radar to most, Miami has made some improvements on the defensive side of the ball, and it showed while they held Virginia Tech to 12 points while forcing three turnovers. The biggest advantage, though, was the strength of the running game, which was engineered by Duke Johnson. Again, both Johnson and Mike James need more touches if this offense hopes to keep up with the conference’s top teams. But with just over 200 combined carries for the two running backs all season, I’m not sure the coaching staff is aware of that yet.