ACC Football 2013 Week 7 Lessons: College Gameday, Top-Five Matchup Set Between Clemson and Florida State

Florida State Visits Clemson in a Huge Top-5 Matchup on College Gameday This Saturday

College Gameday Features Florida State and Clemson in a Huge Top-5 Matchup  This Saturday

Each Monday morning, we compile our top five takeaways from the weekend’s action. Here’s what we got out of Week 7 of the ACC football season:

1. Next Saturday’s top-five showdown is on: After Clemson finally got past Boston College (way to scare the rest of us, Tigers), it officially set us up for one of the biggest weekends in ACC football history. College Gameday returns to Death Valley for the second time this season, and we get a top-five matchup on top of it. Florida State‘s fairly untested and the Tigers have been among the top five or so literally all season. Whoever wins will have both an inside track at winning the Atlantic Division and possibly playing for a National Championship come January. Saturday night will be an electric atmosphere — the type of which this conference needs more of in order to show itself off as one of the nation’s elite leagues.

2. Georgia Tech‘s in a free fall: Ever since dashing out to a 3-0 start, something’s been amiss about the Yellow Jackets. Granted, they’ve had a pretty rough slate these past few weeks (Miami, Virginia Tech and BYU will do that), but now sitting at .500, the season’s taken a bit of a negative turn. With two FCS opponents on the schedule, Tech has to go 4-2 down the stretch in order to wrap up a bowl bid. There’s a significant level of difficulty involved and no guarantees they can pull it off despite fielding a better team than last season’s by far.

3. Boston College is almost back: Yes, BC has lost to both Florida State and Clemson, but let’s focus on the positives: they were incredibly competitive against both as well. In just one year, coach Steve Addazio has this group believing they can win any game on the schedule, which is huge compared to what the last few years entailed. This is a senior-heavy class, so there’s plenty of rebuilding that needs to happen come next year. But with this sort of buy-in so early, the Eagles are well on their way to not just being respectable but competitive once again.

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ACC Football 2013 Week 5 Lessons: ACC Will Be Factor in National Championship Race This Season

Clemson's National Title Case Helped By Win Over Wake, Plus UGA's Win Over LSU Too

Clemson’s National Title Case Helped By Win Over Wake, Plus UGA’s Win Over LSU, Too

Each Monday morning (or sometimes Tuesday), we compile our top five takeaways from the weekend’s action. Here’s what we got out of Week 5 of the ACC football season:

1. ACC set to be a factor in BCS National Championship race: For the first time in the conference’s 60-year history, it has four 4-0 teams to start a football season, with three of them ranked among the top 15 in the nation. Most of all, Clemson seemed to grab two victories this Saturday as well — one against Wake Forest, and another in the Georgia-LSU game. By way of the Bulldogs beating LSU, Clemson’s victory over UGA to start the season means even more than it did in week one, and improves their (and the ACC’s) chances of being a real factor in the national title race as this year wears on.

2. Virginia Tech‘s a Coastal Division contender: Following Thursday’s win over Georgia Tech, the Hokies suddenly appear to be one of two teams (the other being Miami) in the driver’s seat in the Coastal Division. Obviously the offense is still struggling, but given the way the defense has been playing thus far, it might just be enough to deliver this team yet another division title. Winning ugly (as they have been) or winning pretty, it’s still a victory on the board, which is all that matters.

3. North Carolina is in deep trouble: The 0-1 start was not shocking, but now at 1-3, the Heels are a team in absolute crisis mode. Their offense is stagnant, the defense has little ability to stop anyone and this squad’s gone from Coastal contender to fringe bowl team in a matter of a month. Larry Fedora’s panicking, and rightfully so. Considering the SEC jobs he was potentially in line for just eight months ago, tough to sit and watch your current team get shipwrecked. There’s zero room for error at this point if they hope to rescue this season.

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ACC Football Player of the Week, Week 2: Andre Williams, Boston College

Boston College Running Back Andre Williams is the ACC Player of the Week for Week 2

Boston College Running Back Andre Williams is the ACC Player of the Week for Week 2

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 2: Andre Williams, RB/Boston College

Chief among Boston College’s struggles over the past couple of years has been the running game. After finishing 119th in rushing yards per game in 2012, it was a core focus of new head coach Steve Addazio to fix the issue, even without former starter Deuce Finch in the fold after leaving the program in April. Luckily, Andre Williams has already more than filled the role of starting running back, capped off by his 204-yard effort on Friday night against Wake Forest. Without much going on in the passing game, the Eagles were forced to rely on the ground game to move the ball. In response, Williams delivered the best effort of his career, with averaging 5.8 yards on 35 carries, plus a score. Boston College took home its first ACC win and second overall win of the season (both tying last year’s marks already), and now with a legitimate running game, they can aim for even more.

Honorable Mention:

Teddy Bridgewater, QB/Louisville (397 passing yards, 4 TD)

C.J. Brown, QB/Maryland (305 total yards, 4 TD)

Stefon Diggs, WR/Maryland (179 receiving yards, 1 TD)

Detrick Bonner, S/Virginia Tech (2 INT, 1 TD)

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ACC Football 2013 Preseason Power Rankings

Behind Sammy Watkins and Tajh Boyd, Clemson Appears Ready to Fly Past the Rest of the ACC

Behind Sammy Watkins and Tajh Boyd, Clemson Appears Ready to Fly Past the Rest of the ACC

We’re just a couple days away! I know, this has been an incredibly drawn out offseason, but at long last, kickoff is finally (just about) here. To celebrate that, we’re unveiling the final offseason power rankings, before basing these on actual games starting next Tuesday. 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 (August 27)

1. Clemson Tigers (Last: 1): Clemson will be tested very early in a rivalry redux versus Georgia, and should they get past the Bulldogs, they’ll be favored in the next 10 games. If this team has truly buried the term “Clemsoning” (and for what it’s worth, I firmly believe they have), they should be able to run through to the final weekend at a perfect 11-0. There, South Carolina awaits them, but it’s a long season and in order to be undefeated, you’ve got to go week-by-week.

2. Florida State Seminoles (Last: 3): The more preseason prep you do, the more you end up buying into this year’s Seminoles team being just as talented as last year’s edition. Though the pass-rush might be a bit weaker, the very strong back seven give this team the type of edge they’ll need to notch another season of double-digit wins. But again, the key is Jameis Winston at QB, and whether or not he’s up to the task of jumping in and producing right away.

3. Louisville Cardinals (Last: 2): Playing out a season in purgatory is a daunting task, believe it or not, and we’re about to find out if Louisville’s up to the challenge. With a very big target on their backs and favorable odds in all 12 games on the slate, this Cardinals team will be challenged to get up for each and every game. Charlie Strong can provide the motivation, but it’ll be interesting to watch nonetheless as the year keeps going and the pressure around the squad builds.

4. Miami (FL) Hurricanes (Last: 5): Miami likely has the most complete set of offensive tools in the entire conference, with certifiable playmakers at all three major skill positions. This year’s slate is also much easier than 2012′s, with no Notre Dame or Kansas State, though we’ll get a quick sense of what they’re made of in a week two matchup against Florida. Win that one, and who knows how far this team might end up going.

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ACC Football 2013 Season Preview: Boston College Eagles

Boston College is Looking to Rebound From What's Been a Disastrous Program Downturn

Boston College is Looking to Rebound From What’s Been a Disastrous Program Downturn

Team: Boston College Eagles

2012 W-L: 2-10 (1-7)

Head Coach: Steve Addazio (0-0; first season)

Returning Starters: 16 (8 Offense, 8 Defense)

The Eagles hit rock bottom in 2012. The absolute lowest point you could hit — made even worse by where they’d been for much of the previous two decades. When your team and fan base become accustomed to bowl bids and contending for conference titles (as had regularly been the case since BC joined the ACC), a 2-10 train wreck is a tough pill to swallow. Yet that’s where Boston College sits now in the first year of head coach Steve Addazio’s reign. There’s talent on this roster; don’t think there isn’t. But in order to rebound and harness that talent, it’ll take the right coach. Is Addazio the right coach? We’ll soon find out…

Boston College’s offense will be completely revamped for 2013, as new OC Ryan Day tries to bring the team back to a more balanced attack than last year’s pass-at-all-costs disaster. They didn’t have the personnel to run that scheme (while they still finished 45th in passing yards per game), but I’m unsure whether they have the personnel to be run-first either. Addazio’s looking for a grind it out game, which means a lot of the onus falls on running back Andre Williams to far surpass the paltry 584 yards he amassed last season. He’ll have little help or experience there to assist him, though, which makes for a very tough hill to climb at running back. With more carries (he only had 130 last year), I’d bet we see a lot more production out of Williams, but perhaps not on the level you’ll get from the league’s elite ball-carriers.

Passing-wise, things are more settled, and we may actually see a rebound season from QB Chase Rettig. Forced to pass more often than necessary last fall, Rettig took a lot of sacks and suffered from turnovers. But with a balanced approach, maybe we see something like 17 scores, nine picks and around 2,800 yards on 55-percent passing, coupled with less sacks. Star receiver Alex Amidon should be able to help him out with all of that, however the jury’s still out on the offensive line. Replacing starters at both tackle spots is no small order, and it could make for some rough early outings as everyone gets settled.

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ACC Preseason Top 50 Players of 2013: #29, Kevin Pierre-Louis

Boston College’s Kevin Pierre-Louis is #29 on Our Countdown of the ACC’s Top 50 Players for 2013

Boston College’s Kevin Pierre-Louis is #29 on Our Countdown of the ACC’s Top 50 Players for 2013

Less than three weeks until college football kicks off! In the past, we’ve limited these lists to just the top 25 players, but this season, we’re upping our game to 50. So just about every day until the season starts, there will be a new player profile up here as we count down to the top ACC player for 2013.

Obviously these lists are always completely subjective — and thus completely bulletproof — so feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments, too.

No. 29, Kevin Pierre-Louis, LB/Boston College (Last Season: NR)

Boston College has had at least one elite linebacker on the roster for what feels like forever at this point, and this season, Kevin Pierre-Louis is no exception. A solid all-around player, Pierre-Louis has benefited from sharing a field with the likes of both Nick Clancy and Luke Kuechly over the past two years. But now it’s largely his show to run at linebacker. The question is can he rise to the occasion and become that game-changing defender he’s shown glimpses of in this past? Or will he cede the spotlight to a talented teammate (perhaps fellow senior LB Steele Divitto) once again? For what it’s worth, I think KPL’s finally ready to star for this defense.

To be clear, neither of the last two seasons have been disappointments for Pierre-Louis. He’s just been surrounded by more gaudy statistics from his fellow linebackers. Back in 2011, he notched 74 stops (six TFLs), along with a fumble return for a score, despite missing three games. Last year, he had 85 tackles (four TFLs), though he missed another three games then too. In his three-year career, he’s had 10 games with 10 or more tackles, showing the ability to take over games for stretches, though never at a Kuechly-like level. Over the last two seasons, part of that might be due to health (six missed games over that stretch), but again, a lot of it appears to be a result of his teammates’ greater abilities to make those plays.

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ACC Football Positional Rankings 2013: Offensive Line

Seantrel Henderson is One of Several Standout O-Linemen for Miami's Top-Ranked Unit

Seantrel Henderson is One of Several Standout O-Linemen for Miami’s Top-Ranked Unit

Less than two months from the start of the 2013 college football season! And it does indeed seem to be that time of year — when college football blogs like this one and so many others start churning out season preview materials. We’ll be holding off until August for the team-by-team season previews, but in the meantime, there’s nothing wrong with taking a look at each position on the field and evaluating ACC squads’ respective strengths and weaknesses.

This week, we’re on to the offensive lines (check out previous rankings of ACC quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers/tight ends). The conference has been churning out pro prospects across the offensive line for years, and this season also possesses at least a few (if not more) players who will be suiting up on Sundays within the next few years.

Keep in mind that these are full unit rankings — not just one player — so just because one individual center/tackle/guard is better than another, it doesn’t necessarily mean the team’s entire crop of offensive linemen is (though it certainly does help). Also note: Louisville (as has been the case since November) is included here, despite playing in the American this season. Additionally, since these are completely subjective rankings, the difference between one number to the following one is almost entirely negligible. Still, disagree with any of these picks? Share your own selections below.

ACC Positional Rankings 2013: Offensive Line

1. Miami Hurricanes: This is the group responsible for Duke Johnson‘s breakout 2012 campaign, and will ultimately decide just how far the ‘Canes go this fall as well. You could dub guard Brandon Linder the “leader” of this line, but then you’d also be selling the other four returning starters short. In Linder and fellow senior Seantrel Henderson, Miami has as experienced and solid a right side of the line as you’ll find anywhere in the country. If you’re looking for prospective NFL players, this is the spot, with Linder and Henderson as the clear highlights.

2. Florida State Seminoles: In center Bryan Stork and guard Tre’ Jackson, Florida State returns two of the conference’s best offensive linemen — and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Four out of five starters from 2012′s group are back in total and the only addition is right tackle Bobby Hart, who saw significant playing time last season as well. They’ll be challenged this year, protecting an inexperienced passer, while also receiving the luxury of two veteran running backs to help improve upon last year’s 24th-ranked rushing offense.

3. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: When you have the run-heavy triple-option attack that Georgia Tech does, you need as many big bodies on the line as possible. Lucky for this year’s squad, they’ve got plenty of those, and experienced ones at that. All five starters have at least a season’s-worth of time in their current roles, with guard Will Jackson starting since his freshman season (at both guard and tackle). Should the team pass the ball more this year (seems likely), it may be a slight mindset adjustment. But considering Tech only allowed 14 sacks all of last season — even on fewer dropbacks — it may end up being a simple transition.

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