ACC Football 2012 Heisman Watch: Week Four

Clemson Quarterback EJ Manuel Put in Yet Another Big Performance, Vaulting Him Back Into the Heisman Watch’s Top Spot

What appears below is a quasi-realistic (read: crapshoot) view of which ACC players could potentially win the sport’s highest honor, the Heisman trophy. We’re looking at these players with the typical lens — winning team, team’s best player, signature moment (TBD) and statistical excellence. And if every player in the ACC completely drops out of the running, then this turns into the Weinke award (after the conference’s most recent Heisman winner, Chris Weinke)…

1. Tajh Boyd, QB/Clemson (822 total yards, 6 passing TD, 1 INT, 73.3 percent completion) (LW: 3)

Boyd once again leads one of the country’s best offensive attacks, and this year, he’s doing it with improved accuracy and decision-making. The junior quarterback’s numbers may not reach the gaudy heights they did early in 2011, but he’s not taking unnecessary risks either. That may change a bit as his top target gets back into to full speed, though. He’ll also be tested thoroughly once ACC play is in full swing, and it’s likely he’ll be involved in much closer contests as well, meaning he won’t be pulled early (as he has been).

2. EJ Manuel, QB/Florida State (611 total yards, 7 total TD, 1 INT, 71.2 percent completion) (LW: NR)

Competition and lack of extended playing time have hurt Manuel up to now (he’s only thrown 59 passes over three games), but that all changes starting this week against Clemson. Previously, the ‘Noles have opened with a strong dose of Manuel, and with the advantage of a very effective rushing attack, have benched the starters by halftime. Win or lose, the high-powered Tigers offense is unlikely to extend them the same luxury this Saturday, meaning Manuel should see more snaps. If he comes up big, we may just see another shift at the top of this list as well.

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ACC Football 2012 Power Rankings: Week Four

Florida State Won Big on Saturday, and Hopes to Continue That Trend Against Clemson this Week

All 14 ACC squads participated in the weekend’s events to varying degrees, and unfortunately, the league’s down to just two undefeated teams and a very crowded middle. Check out the list below, and weigh in down in the comments if you disagree.

1. Florida State Seminoles (3-0) (LW: 1): All of that “Florida State is back” talk? Dead on. The Seminoles absolutely ran through Wake Forest on Saturday, finally exorcising one of the oddest dog-bites-man stories in recent college football memory. Through three contests, FSU has proven itself to be ruthless with pressure on defense, a sound running team (11th in FBS with 279 yards per game) and a team that waits to make smart passes. If this machine is what Jimbo Fisher’s been building these last few years, it’s probably worth the wait.

2. Clemson Tigers (3-0) (LW: 2): Their College Gameday warmup went just as well as planned, but that said, the Tigers will enter their big game against Florida State with a ton of questions. Who is their top receiver? What about the offensive line? And most importantly, can defensive coordinator Brent Venables draw up a scheme to cure Clemson of its putrid run D? We’ll find out soon enough.

3. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (2-1) (LW: 4): Georgia Tech’s offense found its rhythm against Virginia, amassing rushing yards at will and owning the line of scrimmage to open up those running lanes — especially to the outside. It’s games like this that tell you the triple-option works and Tevin Washington‘s the man for the job. Then you have a game like the opener that meets that statement with an emphatic laugh.

4. Virginia Tech Hokies (2-1) (LW: 3): Not a single team deserves to occupy the fourth slot in these rankings, but the Hokies will be slotted here by necessity. On Saturday, VPI finally dealt with the questions we’ve been asking for weeks: what if the offensive line is too inexperienced? And what if Logan Thomas has to carry the offense? Both of these scenarios played out in full this weekend, and Virginia Tech failed miserably. Thomas’s accuracy is certainly not up to snuff, and most surprisingly of all, the run D may not be as good as initially given credit for.

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ACC Football 2012 Previews & Predictions: Week 3 (Part Two)

Andre Ellington and Clemson Will Be Using This Weekend’s Matchup Against Furman As a Warm-up for Florida State

This is Part Two of this week’s Previews & Predictions feature. Also check out Part One.

Furman Paladins (0-2) at Clemson Tigers (2-0): Clemson should be happy that their pass defense is improved, because the Paladins know how to throw the ball. Last year, a mild scare against fellow FCS school, Wofford, seemed to wake the Tigers up a bit. This season, they’ve got to use it as a tune-up for a presumed College Gameday matchup with Florida State a week later. Along with fitting Sammy Watkins back into the gameplan on Saturday, Clemson will likely be handing plenty of carries to Andre Ellington as well. One big concern they won’t get to work on, unfortunately, is run defense, since it’s likely Furman is throwing the ball for most of the game. Prediction: Clemson 63, Furman 18

Boston College Eagles (1-1) (0-1) at Northwestern Wildcats (2-0): Even if the Wildcats’ win over Syracuse a couple weeks back was luck, it’s hard to discount their effort in a win against a tough Vanderbilt team many thought was on a steep upswing. Boston College gets some help from NU’s less-than-stellar pass defense, which could surrender another huge day to Chase Rettig. The key for the Eagles will be running the ball effectively, however. SU was unable to do so, and it was their undoing against the Wildcats. Prediction: Northwestern 35, Boston College 27

North Carolina Tar Heels (1-1) (0-1) at Louisville Cardinals (2-0):UNC quarterback Bryn Renner took a beating versus Wake Forest last week, so it’ll be interesting to see how he’s spared the same fate against an aggressive Louisville blitz. One obvious solution is running the ball more, though that depends entirely on Giovani Bernard‘s availability. If they can remain balanced on offense, and actually play some semblance of pass defense, the Heels could score an upset. Prediction: Louisville 30, UNC 26

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ACC Football 2012 TV Schedule & Spread: Week Three

Wake Forest and Florida State Are Among the Earlier Kickoffs For the ACC This Saturday, Starting at Noon ET on ESPN

Every week, we’ll be providing a quick rundown of which ACC football games are on television, and also list the latest spread on each game (should you choose to engage in gambling-related activities). Please plan your days accordingly.

ACC Football Week 3 Television Schedule & Spreads

Saturday, September 15

Bethune-Cookman Wildcats at Miami Hurricanes (no odds), noon ET, ESPN3

Virginia Tech Hokies at Pittsburgh Panthers (+11), noon ET, ESPNU

Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Florida State Seminoles (-24), noon ET, ESPN

Connecticut Huskies at Maryland Terrapins (+1.5), 12:30 p.m. ET, ESPN3

Furman Paladins at Clemson Tigers (no odds), 3 p.m. ET, ESPN Gameplan

Virginia Cavaliers at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (-10.5), 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU

Boston College Eagles at Northwestern Wildcats (-3.5), 3:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network

North Carolina Tar Heels at Louisville Cardinals (-3.5), 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC

Stony Brook Sea Wolves at Syracuse Orange (no odds), 4 p.m. ET, SNY

South Alabama Jaguars at NC State Wolfpack (-31.5), 6 p.m. ET, ESPN3

N.C. Central Eagles at Duke Blue Devils (no odds), 7 p.m. ET, ESPN3

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ACC 2012 Schedule Outlook: Syracuse Orange

Syracuse's Schedule Looks Ready, But Is Coach Doug Marrone's Squad Ready to Handle the Tough Road Ahead?

With all of the realignment and rescheduling nonsense going on around the country, we wanted to give a breakdown of each of the ACC‘s schedules — how the teams stack up, and some thoughts on overall difficulty. If these change at all, we’ll also be sure to update them on a rolling basis. All information is up-to-date as of publishing, based on the latest from FBSchedules.com.

Today’s breakdown: Syracuse Orange

Syracuse managed to fill the gaping hole in their 2012 schedule late last Thursday, securing a road date with the Missouri Tigers. So long as Temple‘s on board for the Big East next year, their last opening will be taken up by a trip to Philadelphia. As for the rest of their non-conference slate, however, it’s no picnic. On top of the difficult trip to Missouri, SU also travels to Minnesota (‘Cuse fans may recall the Greg Paulus game a few years back) and faces off with USC on neutral ground in New Jersey. At home, the Orange get a tough test with Northwestern, along with the customary FCS tune-up game with Stony Brook. Putting it mildly, this is a challenging group of games for any team — but especially so for a team hoping to rebound a bit from a disappointing 2011. If this team expected to take it easy en route to bowl eligibility in 2012, no such luck. Continue reading