ACC Football Player of the Week, Week 8: Jameis Winston, Florida State

Florida State QB Jameis Winston is the ACC's Player of the Week for Week 8

Florida State Quarterback Jameis Winston is the ACC’s Player of the Week for Week 8

Each week, we’ll be identifying the best ACC (plus Louisville) player from that weekend’s games. As always, it’s a completely arbitrary award with no specific criteria beyond the vague concept of “excellence.” No, we don’t take write-ins.

ACC Player of the Week, Week 8: Jameis Winston, QB/Florida State

There’s no denying that Florida State’s victory over Clemson was an astounding series of events, orchestrated by the entire Seminoles team. On both sides of the ball, FSU simply smothered the Tigers, disrupting their gameplan in the early seconds and then just continuing to roll thereafter. Plenty of credit goes out to the defense (and they’ll get their due below), but it’s impossible to discuss this team’s success without Winston. The redshirt freshman quarterback’s risen to every single challenge presented to him this season, with the national attention of the Clemson game being no different. Despite being held in check on the ground (or rather, just didn’t need to bother running), he led an all-out assault on the Tigers through the air: 22-for-34, 444 passing yards, three touchdowns. That’s 20 yards per completion, and over 13 per attempt. Clemson’s secondary never had a chance, especially when they started blitzing a bit too much — teams should probably stop doing that. There’s plenty of season left, but Winston’s impressive win sets them up for what should be an extremely exciting second half of the season and a real shot at playing for a National Championship.

Honorable Mention:

Lamarcus Joyner, FS/Florida State (8 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT, 2 FF)

Isaac Bennett, RB/Pittsburgh (30 carries, 240 yards, 3 TD)

Dallas Crawford, RB/Miami (33 carries, 137 yards, 2 TD)

Zach Laskey, RB/Georgia Tech (13 carries, 75 yards, 3 TD)

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ACC Football 2013 Week 8 Lessons: Florida State Asserts Itself Into National Championship Conversation

Welcome to the National Championship Conversation, Florida State... It's Been Awhile

Welcome to the National Championship Conversation, Florida State… It’s Been Awhile

Each Monday morning, we compile our top five takeaways from the weekend’s action. Here’s what we got out of Week 8 of the ACC football season:

1. Florida State joins the National Championship conversation: After spending the early part of the season lingering around the title conversation, FSU is now firmly entrenched in it, and will be so long as they stay unbeaten. The ‘Noles win over Clemson was such a thorough dismantling that you can’t help but buy into the team’s championship hopes now. And it’s not just the offense either, though Jameis Winston had about as impressive a performance as you can on that national platform. The defense showed the same fire they delivered last season as well, shutting down a dynamic Tigers passing game. Dynamic, exciting and very dangerous, Florida State has now become the most entertaining wildcard in this race toward the BCS, and the ACC’s best hope to win it all.

2. Clemson botches their chance: On the other side of the 51-14 coin from Saturday night is Clemson and that team’s absolutely botched opportunity with the national spotlight shining down on them. Of course there were concerns about the Tigers going in, but nobody could’ve predicted how thoroughly they were trounced (well, except Spencer Hall). National title hopes dead, Clemson must be content with simply playing through the slate and avoiding more losses. They can still do plenty this year — including compete in and win a BCS bowl game — but you can’t help but think of what might have been now.

3. The ACC looks better than ever: Despite Clemson’s loss, the conference has arguably never looked better in the BCS era. Four teams in the top 14. Three in the top 10 (the only conference that can say that). Florida State is the first ACC team in the top two since 2000. Digest that for a second. For all the talk we do around here to defend the North Carolina-based conference, that fact still stood above it all; those on-field results. As of right now, though, that’s all in the rearview. In this new “Power 5″ era of college football, the ACC is angling itself to be number three — which is not too bad at all and should/could secure the league for decades to come.

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Atlantic Coast Convos 2013 College Football Top 25 Rankings: Week 9

After Beating Clemson on National TV, Florida State Lays Claim to the Nation's No. 1 Ranking

After Beating Clemson on National TV, Florida State Lays Claim to the Nation’s No. 1 Ranking

Upset Saturday impacted nearly every conference in the country and completed rattled the rankings as we knew them. And now with the National Championship chase in full swing, each and every contest going forward will be under the microscope as we try and figure out the top two teams (for the last time).

Completely disagree with the way in which these teams are ordered? Believe that you’re better at ranking teams that have yet to play a game? Share your thoughts/gripes/manifestos in the comments.

Atlantic Coast Convos 2013 Top 25 (Week 9)

1. Florida State Seminoles (6-0) (Last: 5)

2. Alabama Crimson Tide (7-0) (Last: 1)

3. Oregon Ducks (7-0) (Last: 2)

4. Ohio State Buckeyes (7-0) (Last: 4)

5. Missouri Tigers (7-0) (Last: 14)

6. Stanford Cardinal (6-1) (Last: 12)

7. Miami Hurricanes (6-0) (Last: 9)

8. Baylor Bears (6-0) (Last: 13)

9. Texas Tech Red Raiders (7-0) (Last: 16)

10. Clemson Tigers (6-1) (Last: 3)

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Florida State vs. Clemson Preview: Why the Seminoles Will Win

Part 2 of Our Florida State-Clemson Preview Explains Why the 'Noles Will Win on Saturday

Part 2 of Our Florida State-Clemson Preview Explains Why the ‘Noles Will Win on Saturday

Saturday’s matchup between Florida State and Clemson is obviously a big deal. And since this is an ACC blog, it only makes sense that we discuss the game as much as possible. We’ve done so all week, but now it’s almost game day, and that means in-depth previews. I gave my short thoughts yesterday, but we want to dive in further. To help, I enlisted the assistance of none other than fellow ACC afficionado Hokie Mark — whom you know from his contributions here as well as his own site, ACCFootballRx. In this battle of ACC powers, he’ll be arguing in favor of Clemson, while I’ll present the reasons why Florida State should emerge victorious. Enjoy!

***

Yes, Clemson’s got the big game experience, the battle-tested quarterback and the home-field advantage. Those things are undeniable. But Florida State brings plenty with them as well. For one, “Famous” Jameis Winston seems to be just a small step behind Clemson’s Tajh Boyd as just a true freshman, and he even makes up for that gap in talent with what can only be described as “swagger.” Two Heisman moments already, a ridiculous stat line and almost irrational confidence in his abilities are all important characteristics in situations like this. With pressure looming down, the weight of Heisman potential, ACC titles and BCS National Championships within sight — sometimes irrational confidence is the only thing that can buy you a win.

Even if confidence isn’t enough though, he’s also got an impressive cast of characters to help him out as well. The running game is a multi-headed monster, with a variety of different backs who can also do some serious damage to an aggressively-blitzing Clemson front. Devonta Freeman, Karlos Williams and James Wilder are a lethal combination, and resemble Syracuse’s attack enough (with a bit more talent too) to give the Tigers fits all day. The Orange ran for 323 yards vs. Clemson a couple weeks ago, and have supplied a blueprint for the ‘Noles to do the same. In the passing attack, Winston has the weapons to test Clemson’s secondary too, with Kenny Shaw and Rashad Greene prepped to burn them on the outside. All of this made possible by Winston and what’s arguably the conference’s top offensive line.

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Florida State vs. Clemson Preview: Why the Tigers Will Win

In Part I of Our Extended FSU-Clemson Preview, We Explain Why Clemson Will Win

In Part I of Our Extended FSU-Clemson Preview, We Explain Why Clemson Will Win

(Ed Note:) Saturday’s matchup between Florida State and Clemson is obviously a big deal. And since this is an ACC blog, it only makes sense that we discuss the game as much as possible. We’ve done so all week, but now it’s almost game day, and that means in-depth previews. I gave my short thoughts yesterday, but we want to dive in further. To help, I enlisted the assistance of none other than fellow ACC afficionado Hokie Mark — whom you know from his contributions here as well as his own site, ACCFootballRx. In this battle of ACC powers, he’ll be arguing in favor of Clemson, while I’ll present the reasons why Florida State should emerge victorious. Enjoy!

***

This is the week: the Game of the Century (at least for the ACC). Florida State vs. Clemson. The winner likely takes the Atlantic Division, probably the ACC, maybe even a shot at the BCS title. To say this game is huge is an understatement!

Yes, I know that Florida State is the Las Vegas favorite, and yes, I’m aware that some of the computer models like CFBTN and others are also picking the ‘Noles. I’m still going to pick the Tigers, and I’ll tell you why…

First, Clemson is at home. In the recent history of this series, the home teams are 6-0. In fact, FSU has not won in Clemson since 2001 — 12 years ago. Quite honestly, the Seminoles are a different team on the road. At home the ‘Noles win by an average score of 41-11, but on the road, the margin drops to 32-22. Meanwhile, the Tigers have only lost one home game in two-and-a-half seasons (South Carolina). Advantage: Clemson.

Another factor is big game experience at quarterback. Tiger QB Tajh Boyd has been in some real battles over the years: Auburn (2011, 2012), Virginia Tech (2011, twice), LSU (2012), Georgia (2013) — not to mention this is Boyd’s third FSU game as starting QB. By contrast, Jameis Winston‘s toughest road game of his career was probably the game at Boston College; the most hostile environment Winston has played in so far? Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. Advantage: Clemson.

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ACC Football 2013 Previews & Predictions: Week 8

Tajh Boyd Understands the Pressure He and His Clemson Tigers Will Be Up Against This Saturday

Tajh Boyd Understands the Pressure He and His Clemson Tigers Will Be Up Against This Saturday

We’re here! It’s the biggest week in ACC football history! The most important game, possibly, this conference has ever seen and it could end up being the college football regular season’s most important game as well. All eyes are on Clemson and Florida State, and as regular spectators, we’re happy to even be a small part of the festivities and attention sent the ACC’s way. 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

Florida State Seminoles (5-0) (3-0) at Clemson Tigers (6-0) (4-0): The winner of this game gets a clear shot at a conference title, Heisman trophy, National Championship and so much more. So know that both teams will be fully prepared for what comes on Saturday night. Tajh Boyd‘s been here many times before, while Jameis Winston takes his first trip into the spotlight against a major opponent. The two quarterbacks may cancel each other out, which brings this game down to the defenses. Clemson’s pass-rush is one of the best in the country, and FSU’s has been iffy at times this year. Neither side’s a push-over, though something tells me the Tigers’ experience plays a major part in delivering the win. This veteran Clemson team remembers last year’s close loss to the ‘Noles and will be prepared for the rematch. It’s not to take away from Florida State. I just see the Tigers as the (slightly) better team — especially at home. Prediction: Clemson 41, Florida State 38

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

Miami Hurricanes (5-0) (1-0) at North Carolina Tar Heels (1-4) (0-2): Miami’s rocketed into the top 10, while the Tar Heels could not be in worse shape. This of course is the recipe for a major upset in most cases, though I just don’t buy it here. The Hurricanes’ offense has scored 42 points or more for three straight games, and despite a lingering ankle injury to Stephen Morris, they’ve still maintained one of the top 30-40 passing attacks in the country. The defense is also improved and given the recent state of things for the Heels, a lot would have to go their way in order to beat Miami on Thursday. Prediction: Miami 33, UNC 21

UCF Knights (4-1) at Louisville Cardinals (6-0): UCF’s without its top pass-rusher on Friday, which certainly poses an issue to their strategy of getting to Teddy Bridgewater. Still, the Knights should be well equipped to giving the Cardinals all they can handle in Louisville’s last game against real competition. If the Cards defense plays as they have lately, they’ll do just fine. But make no mistake, UCF will be able to test this team as likely no team has all year — nor will, until the postseason, that is. Prediction: Louisville 27, UCF 20

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Hypothetical College Football Playoffs 2013: Week 8

Following a Convincing Victory over Washington, it Gets Even Tougher to Pick Against the Ducks

Following a Convincing Victory over Washington, it Gets Even Tougher to Pick Against the Ducks

The dream of a playoff has turned into a reality (immediately following the 2014 season), so this realistic-but-still-hypothetical-for-another-year feature actually has some outside guidelines to follow: four teams, two semifinal spots and then a championship game. We currently have no clue how teams will be determined, how polls will be released, or a large majority of the individuals who will ultimately decide who’s in and who’s out.

So with that in mind, we’re going with the BCS rankings (projected by BCSGuru), for lack of an on-hand committee to spit out a detailed list. We’ll also fill in the major bowl games also slated to be part of the playoff structure. Additionally, for our own enjoyment, you’ll find a 16-team hypothetical tournament below, too. Just because it’s too much fun not to think about.

If the Four-Team Playoff Started This Year…

Rose Bowl (semifinal): #2 Oregon vs. #3 Clemson

Sugar Bowl (semifinal): #1 Alabama vs. #4 Florida State

National Championship: #2 Oregon over #1 Alabama

Orange Bowl: Miami vs. Ohio State

Cotton Bowl: Baylor vs. Stanford

Fiesta BowlTexas A&M vs. UCLA

Chick-fil-a Bowl: Louisville vs. LSU

Last week’s upset-riddled Saturday shakes up a lot of what this playoff has looked like up to this point, with two (!!) ACC teams occupying the top four spots, yet both exiting in the semi-finals. In the top money bowls, Miami becomes ACC team no. 3 to enter the conversation, while Baylor also moves into one of the major slots to face a fading Stanford team. No, I’m still not sold on Alabama, which is why they’re losing to Oregon here.

If There Was a 16 Team Playoff…

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