ACC Football 2013 Power Rankings: Week 9

After Saturday's Stunning Win Over Clemson, There's No Question FSU's On Top in the ACC

After Saturday’s Stunning Win Over Clemson, There’s No Question FSU’s On Top in the ACC

Plenty left to digest in the ACC after a weekend of national poll carnage. FSU’s obviously the king of the hill after massacring Clemson, but every other spot appears up for grabs. With the season more than halfway over, the conference appears to be angling for two BCS bids (hopefully), adding some extra intrigue to the top four or so spots as well. 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 9)

1. Florida State Seminoles (6-0) (4-0) (Last: 2): So much terror. The Seminoles undressed Clemson in a way I’m unsure any of us ACC fans saw coming, and as a result, they sit atop this subjective pile of teams for the foreseeable future. Jameis Winston has asserted himself as the ACC’s best quarterback, leader and player, and is now the nationally-relevant personality the conference has needed for some time. So is FSU “back” for all intents and purposes? We’ve been here before, but it feels very different this time. I’d take this FSU squad over just about any other team in the country right now.

2. Clemson Tigers (6-1) (4-1) (Last: 1): Bear with me here. Yes, the Tigers were demolished. Yes, they proved their doubters correct, derailed their national title hopes and murdered Tajh Boyd‘s chances at winning a Heisman, too. But one surprising blowout can’t just eliminate all the good that’s come from this season, can it? Clemson’s defense is much-improved (especially in the pass-rush) and the offense is still top-notch. When comparing them to Miami, I’d take the Tigers despite last week, and that on its own elevates them over the ‘Canes for the time being.

3. Miami (FL) Hurricanes (6-0) (2-0) (Last: 3): That Thursday night game was horrendous, and yet Miami still managed to pull it out. Stephen Morris was about as flawed as you’ll find him (threw four INTs) and Duke Johnson was injured early. And yet, this team was able to pull out a very late win on the shoulders of their defense and backup running back Dallas Crawford. Again, not pretty, but the fact that the ‘Canes showed some resiliency against a UNC team looking to save their season is a big step in the right direction.

4. Virginia Tech Hokies (6-1) (3-0) (Last: 5): The bye week gave the Hokies some much-needed rest and the additional reward of moving up further in the national polls. Inside the top 15, Tech is now a legitimate threat to be in the BCS picture, and with just one challenging game remaining (Miami), The key, of course, will be the offense’s consistency. If they can limit turnovers and score around 24 points per game, that should be enough to win with this D.

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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!

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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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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 Previews & Predictions: Week 6

Miami and Georgia Tech Face Off for Coastal Supremacy; Who Gets the Inside Track?

Miami and Georgia Tech Face Off for Coastal Supremacy; Who Gets the Inside Track?

Another week of ACC action, and now we’re actually figuring out how good teams are. Tougher opponents could spell doom for several teams, though because they’re untested to this point, we really don’t know what to expect once up against fellow conference teams. 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

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (3-1) (2-1) at Miami Hurricanes (4-0) (0-0): Georgia Tech was kept in check last week, while no one’s really contained Miami to this point. Vad Lee‘s not your typical triple-option quarterback, so I’m not sure the extra time the Wreck gets here is even worth it. Lee knows what he’s doing, of course, but he’s yet to go up against a legitimate defensive front. The defense is rock-solid for Tech, though this Miami offense has more than enough playmakers to combat that. As much as this one seems ripe for a Yellow Jackets upset, there’s just too much to like about the ‘Canes. Serviceable defense, dynamic offense — they can take care of this game, albeit barely. Prediction: Miami 33, Georgia Tech 24

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

Ball State Cardinals (4-1) at Virginia Cavaliers (2-2) (0-1): Ball State’s offense has been entirely to hard to stop so far this season, putting up 40 points per game through five contests. The Virginia defense appears ready for the challenge, though. Outside of the Oregon debacle, the Hoos have not allowed 20 points to any opponent, which bodes well for their matchup with the Cardinals. If they can keep containment on Ball State’s passing game as they have other teams’, that should lead them to a comfortable victory. Prediction: Virginia 31, Ball State 21

Maryland Terrapins (4-0) (0-0) at Florida State Seminoles (4-0) (2-0): FSU’s offense has been impressive thsu far, while their defense has been less than stellar. For the first time this season though, they’re up against an actual challenge to both. With an aggressive Terps’ defense nipping at their heels, can the ‘Noles outlast and outscore their challenging, surprising opponent? And considering Maryland’s tough passing attack, can FSU keep containment on both C.J. Brown and Stefon Diggs? This won’t be a blowout at all, but I’m still tempted to take FSU, if only because that program’s well assimilated to these types of heated, competitive matchups at this point in the year. Prediction: Florida State 38, Maryland 27

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ACC Football 2013 Previews & Predictions: Week 4 (Part 2)

Stefon Diggs and the Maryland Terrapins Aim to Get to 4-0 This Weekend

Wide Receiver Stefon Diggs and the Maryland Terrapins Aim to Get to 4-0 This Weekend

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

Pittsburgh Panthers (1-1) (0-1) at Duke Blue Devils (2-1) (0-1): Duke’s loss to Georgia Tech last week certainly changed their outlook a bit for this year, especially with Brandon Connette playing quarterback for the foreseeable future. This will be an odd look for a David Cutcliffe-coached team now: relying on the defense to win them games and give the offense a chance. Pittsburgh has similar issues on offense, as questions still linger about Tom Savage‘s abilities. But the defense should be able to outdo Duke’s own improved group in a slugfest. Aaron Donald is just too tough to stop and should be able to generate a ton of pressure on Connette and force him into some ill-advised throws or unnecessary contact. Prediction: Pitt 30, Duke 21

Tulane Green Wave (2-1) at Syracuse Orange (1-2) (0-0): The Orange have a whole new starting quarterback in Terrel Hunt, and with that, a whole new hope for this season — or so it seems. If the redshirt sophomore can keep up his strong play from last week, SU’s looking at a whole new offensive attack that appears to run with a quickened pace and increased fluidity. The key for Syracuse will be to score early and to keep the heat on Tulane’s defense. Wear them down and force Green Wave QB Nick Montana to try and do too much. SU’s defense has shown a solid ability to rush the passer and force turnovers, and should be able to show that off here. Prediction: Syracuse 38, Tulane 20

West Virginia Mountaineers (2-1) at Maryland Terrapins (3-0) (0-0): Maryland hung with the ‘Neers last season, and that was a much better WVU team than this one (and a much worse Terps team too). The Terrapins have come out the gates on fire in 2013, piling up points and yardage behind C.J. Brown and Stefon Diggs. West Virginia, on the other hand, is running a stalled out offense that can’t complete drives, while leaning heavily on the defense. This will be a closer game, and will likely be decided by who wins the turnover battle. Maryland lost a big piece of that puzzle when CB Dexter McDougle went down for the year last week, but if the secondary continues to play smart and Brown doesn’t force passes, the Terps should take it. Prediction: Maryland 30, WVU 24

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ACC Football 2013 Heisman Watch: Week 4

Looks Like a Terrapin Could Be Climbing Into Heisman Contention (and Not the One You'd Think)

Looks Like a Terrapin (Not the One You Think) Could Be Climbing Into Heisman Contention

No losses among the ACC‘s top teams yet, which means all of these players stay in the actual Heisman hunt for the time being. We’re still just a few games in, though. Plenty of season left to play, and plenty of players that might even be flying under the radar right now. Have other nominees? Submit your ballots below.

1. Tajh Boyd, QB/Clemson (491 total yards, six total TD, 0 INT, 60.4% completion) (Last: 1)

Boyd’s still leading, and is likely to be as long as Clemson’s undefeated. With his first test in a few weeks coming this Thursday against NC State though, we’ll see what happens next. His last trip down to Raleigh did not go well at all, so all eyes will be on how he responds this time around. Put up the type of stats he did in the opener, and we’re right back on track in the national Heisman race.

2. Teddy Bridgewater, QB/Louisville (1,037 total yards, 10 TD, 1 INT, 70.5% completion) (Last: 2)

So Teddy Bridgewater is mortal? After throwing just one touchdown pass versus Kentucky, it does seem that way. If he’d kept up his pace from the first two games, he’d probably be atop this list. So is this the end of his scorched-earth sprint over the Cardinals’ schedule? Hardly. Kentucky, despite their overall weakness, is still one of the best opponents on the Cards’ schedule. Take a look. Bridgewater’s numbers are going to be just fine this year.

3. Jameis Winston, QB/Florida State (603 total yards, seven total TD, 1 INT, 88.9% completion) (Last: 3)

Even in a limited amount of playing time, Winston still knows how to continue growing his sort-of legend. Despite completing just 15 passes, he still managed 215 yards and two scores. He ended up tossing an interception, but beyond that, there’s still very little negative to say about the redshirt freshman’s game. Tougher tests await, though for right now, Winston can just continue to rack up yardage and touchdowns against FSU’s tune-up opponents. The fact that the numbers still stand out next to the Seminoles’ 377 rushing yards against Nevada says an awful lot of good about his game.

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ACC Football 2013 Heisman Watch: Week 3

Despite Only Playing a Portion of Last Saturday's Game, Tajh Boyd Still Leads ACC's Heisman Hopefuls

Despite Only Playing in Part of Saturday’s Game, Tajh Boyd Still Leads ACC’s Heisman Hopefuls

No losses among the ACC‘s top teams yet, which means all of these players stay in the actual Heisman hunt for the time being. We’re still just a couple games in, though. Plenty of season left to play, and plenty of players that might even be flying under the radar right now. Have other nominees? Submit your ballots below.

1. Tajh Boyd, QB/Clemson (491 total yards, six total TD, 0 INT, 60.4% completion) (Last: 1)

Despite leaving Saturday’s contest very early, Boyd remains atop the list thanks to his team’s big win and their continued move up the polls. One would assume, so long as he remains healthy for the reason of the season and the Tigers don’t lose more than one game, he’ll be in contention for the long haul. Should the Tigers start running away with games and sitting Boyd by early in the third quarter though, it may end up hurting his chances in the long run. I stress may. Which brings us to…

2. Teddy Bridgewater, QB/Louisville (752 passing yards, nine TD, 1 INT, 76.7% completion) (Last: 2)

Louisville’s schedule (as discussed previously) kills Bridgewater’s hopes when put up against Boyd, so he’s making up ground with statistics. Despite demolishing their first two opponents, the Cardinals have been leaving their quarterback in for as long as acceptable (and sometimes long past that) in order to give him a greater chance of putting up monstrous numbers. It’s worked thus far, as those eye-popping stats have kept him at the top of the conversation for the time being. No, Louisville’s not in the ACC just yet, but should Bridgewater win the award, you can bet the ACC claims it for themselves (and rightfully so).

3. Jameis Winston, QB/Florida State (381 total yards, five total TD, 0 INT, 92.6% completion) (Last: 3)

Winston didn’t play at all last week, since FSU had a bye. But the magnitude of his debut remains as everyone’s trying to project what he’ll do for an encore performance. Against a Nevada team whose defense isn’t exactly stellar (allowed 58 points to UCLA), one would expect the redshirt freshman to put up some astronomical numbers. If he’s going to continue living up to and surpassing the expectations set for him, that may be the only acceptable way he can do it before long.

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