How Many More Trophies Will Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas Be Hoisting This Season?
In these conference rankings, I list the ACC teams, one through 14, as if Pitt and Syracuse were already in the league. Yes, adding the additional teams may seem pointless now, but wait until they officially join. Then it’ll seem like old news and we can get past that initial awkwardness. No, I won’t reconsider. On to this week’s rankings!
1. Virginia Tech Hokies (11-1) (7-1) (LW: 1): The Hokies played as complete a game as they have all season this past Saturday. Against upstart Virginia, the team completely controlled the line of scrimmage, looked impressive in both the passing and rushing games on offense and absolutely dominated on defense to the tune of four forced turnovers. Tech’s defense has carried them through much of this season, but with more consistent play from quarterback Logan Thomas and more superb efforts from RB David Wilson, finishing as a top-five team isn’t out of the question.
2. Florida State Seminoles (8-4) (5-3) (LW: 5): The Seminoles end the regular season as the league’s second-best squad due mostly to a lack of quality conference teams. Still, it’s hard to deny FSU credit where credit is due, turning in dominant defensive performances throughout the season’s second half to drag them out of a 2-3 hole and onto what could be a nine-win campaign. No opponent has scored over 20 against Florida State since Wake Forest put up 35 on October 8.
3. Clemson Tigers (9-3) (6-2) (LW: 3): Once a commanding offense capable of scoring on teams at will, the Tigers haven’t just stalled — they’ve crashed during the year’s final third. At just 1-3 in their previous four games, the once-undefeated “best squad in the ACC” is showing flaws all over; from the one-dimensional passing game to its tackling and coverage struggles. It’s probably best to forget about their dominant win over Virginia Tech earlier in the year, because that team will not be the one that shows up in Charlotte.
4. Virginia Cavaliers(8-4) (5-3) (LW: 2): If you’d told Cavaliers fans in the preseason they’d miss the ACC title game by just one win, they’d probably have been thrilled to hear it. Now, however, most see Saturday’s 38-0 drubbing as an incredibly anticlimactic ending to an otherwise fun and surprising season. As predicted, Virginia’s offensive ineptitude caught up with them against a great defense (unlike their lucky finish versus FSU), and the results were disastrous.
5. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (8-4) (5-3) (LW: 4): The ‘Wreck have relied heavily on the effectiveness of quarterback Tevin Washington all season, so when he has an off-game, the team’s results are rarely pretty. In total, Washington racked up just 75 total yards on Saturday and had two picks before getting benched near the close of the game. For the offense (and this team) to grow, it’ll need to expect production of out multiple skill players.
6. NC State Wolfpack (7-5) (4-4) (LW: 7): Down 20 points at the end of the third quarter to the ACC’s worst team, it looked like NC State’s bowl dreams were about to die in a long, drawn-out crash. Then Mike Glennon accounted for three touchdowns, the defense came up with a shutout fourth quarter and the Pack put up 35 points in the final 15 minutes. What could have been a horrible day turned into one for the ages as State beat Maryland 56-41, with Glennon getting involved in six scores total. With seven wins, they’re now going bowling.
7. North Carolina Tar Heels (7-5) (3-5) (LW: 8): As inconsistent as it gets, Carolina recorded one of its best offensive outputs of the season on Saturday, defeating Duke 37-21. Limping to scoring totals of 21 or less as a habit of late, UNC surprisingly saw very little trouble from a sneaky Blue Devils squad on either side of the ball. The Heels are expected to go bowling, though chances are the rival Wolfpack will surpass them in the priorities order.
8. Miami (FL) Hurricanes (6-6) (3-5) (LW: 8): The way Miami’s been playing lately, it’s for the best they’ll be foregoing a trip to the postseason. Since October 22, they’ve alternated wins and losses, and scored over 24 points just once. For a team that possesses two of the league’s most explosive individual performers in Jacory Harris and Lamar Miller, it’s a puzzling sight.
9. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (6-6) (5-3) (LW: 9): For those who were confused as they watched the Demon Deacons get shelled by Vanderbilt this weekend, the Commodores are not representing the SEC East in their conference title game. Although playing well on D this year, Vandy is still just 6-6, so there’s little excuse for Wake’s embarrassing show. Even with Wake going to a bowl game (however mediocre it may be), there must be a ton of re-evaluation on both sides of the ball before this team takes the next step.
10. Pittsburgh Panthers (5-6) (0-0) (LW: 10): Pitt fought hard in what may be the last “Backyard Brawl” for some time, but in the end, came up short 21-20 to a vastly superior team. The moral of the story: Galvanized by Ray Graham‘s injury, this team’s mental-makeup can overcome any talent deficiencies they may encounter. This weekend’s must-win versus Syracuse does loom large, however.
11. Boston College Eagles (4-8) (3-5) (LW: 13): Seemingly left for dead months ago, BC won three of its final five games to save face with a 3-5 conference record. In spite of some real scoring issues (just 18.2 points per game), the Eagles did sport quite the defensive effort from start to finish, and it showed in their pure dominance of Miami on Friday afternoon. If this group can keep it together, it may be a very quick turnaround for Boston College to get back to contention.
12. Syracuse Orange (5-6) (1-0) (LW: 11): Syracuse scored 49 points against West Virginia back in October, sporting an aggressive defense and an offense clicking on all cylinders. A little over a month later, the Orange have scored just 60 total points since, and are losers of four straight games. If you’ve watched any portion of an SU of late, you’ll also notice they aren’t very good at tackling in the open field (or on any field, for that matter). This will be problematic when trying to secure a bowl berth next week.
13. Duke Blue Devils (3-9) (1-7) (LW: 12): Even worse than Syracuse, Duke started out their season 3-2, and then proceeded to lose all seven subsequent games. So was this year’s 3-9 team better than last year’s edition with an identical record? The Blue Devils lost four games by a score or less in 2011, versus the same amount in 2010. The highlight of this season will end up being their four-point loss to Virginia Tech, while last year saw big wins against Virginia and Navy.Verdict: 2010, by a nose.
14. Maryland Terrapins (2-10) (1-7) (LW: 14): In a season full of horrendous performances, Saturday’s 20-point collapse against NC State seemed to set a new standard for this squad. Do the Terps have an answer at QB going forward? What about this atrocious D, which gave up 34.3 points per game (103rd in the FBS) and saw 30 points or more hung on them in six of their last seven games? We’ve said it before: Randy Edsall, your seat’s getting warm already.