ACC Football 2013 Heisman Watch: Week 9

Jameis Winston Flies to the Top of the Heisman Watch List After Beating Clemson

FSU’s Jameis Winston Flies to the Top of the Heisman Watch List After Beating Clemson

You’ve heard this before: Florida State’s big win on Saturday shakes up everything we thought we knew about the ACC. And that includes the Heisman race. As long as FSU keeps winning, Jameis Winston is a serious contender and should remain atop this list. Have other nominees? Submit your ballots below.

1. Jameis Winston, QB/Florida State (2,022 total yards, 23 total TD, 3 INT, 71.3% completion) (Last: 2)

No matter the size of the stage, Jameis Winston has risen to the occasion, with his performance against Clemson obviously being the year’s standout game for any player. He’s got at least two or three “Heisman moments” already, the season’s landmark win and he’s piloting a National Championship contender. What more could you ask for out of a quarterback? He’s a Heisman frontrunner now — arguably even more so than the next man on this list ever was.

2. Tajh Boyd, QB/Clemson (2,134 total yards, 21 total TD, 4 INT, 63.1% completion) (Last: 1)

Any Heisman contender can survive one “bad” game, however this was Boyd’s second. Plus, he lost to fellow contender in Winston. Yes, the senior passer has been in the conversation since the year began, but at this point, his time might have run out. Winston’s energy and charisma are infectious and his performance against Boyd’s Tigers was other-worldly. Boyd is still a stellar senior. It’s just unlikely he’s stellar enough to take home this award.

3. Teddy Bridgewater, QB/Louisville (2,257 total yards, 22 TD, 2 INT, 72% completion) (Last: 3)

Like Boyd, Bridgewater’s time as a Heisman contender may have run out, but it shouldn’t take away from the excellent season he’s had for the Cardinals. While his team lost last Friday, it’s to little fault of their quarterback, who still threw for over 300 yards and two scores. At this point, all he can do is continue to help this team win, and hopefully they can work their way back into the BCS conversation. They’ll need some help, but it’s possible.

… and that’s it. No point extending this list past the top three anymore, since that’s really all there is. Obviously discussions can be reopened if/when all these contenders are eliminated and we revert to the Weinke Awards Watch (named for the last ACC Heisman winner, Chris Weinke) instead.

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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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ACC Football Goat of the Week, Week 8: Terrel Hunt, Syracuse

Syracuse Orange QB Terrel Hunt is the ACC Goat of the Week for Week 8

Syracuse Orange Quarterback Terrel Hunt is the ACC Goat of the Week for Week 8

No one enjoys piling on when things go wrong. But nonetheless, we’ve got to call out the ACC (plus Louisville) players who were counter-productive in helping their teams grab a victory this weekend. On the bright side for them, they can always get off this list next week. And for their sake, let’s hope they do.

ACC Goat of the Week, Week 8: Terrel Hunt, QB/Syracuse

After a hot start to the Terrel Hunt era, things have taken a turn for the worst for Syracuse as their quarterback of choice is struggling mightily. Since ACC play started, the redshirt sophomore has completed just 25 of 58 passes for 194 yards and six interceptions. Prior to Saturday’s massacre against Georgia Tech he’d been running the ball very well, but that’s now ground to a halt as well. His struggles, minimized when the team’s defense is playing well, has now hit a breaking point and SU is now searching for answers. He’s the obvious answer this season based on the rest of the roster, but is he a long-term solution? Under Hunt and offensive coordinator George McDonald, the passing game’s absolutely collapsed. It doesn’t help that the defense was ill-prepared for Tech’s triple-option either, but scoring zero points in a contest is simply unacceptable. After a mildly promising 3-3 start, the Orange and Hunt have a lot to work out during this coming bye week.

Honorable Mention:

Stephen Morris, QB/Miami (19/35 passing, 322 passing yards, 0 TD, 4 INT)

Tajh Boyd, QB/Clemson (17/37 passing, 164 total yards, 1 TD, 2 INT)

Syracuse Orange rushing defense (allowed 394 rushing yards, 7 rushing TD)

Clemson Tigers passing defense (allowed 444 passing yards, 4 TD)

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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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ACC Football 2013 Heisman Watch: Week 8

Clemson's Tajh Boyd is Still Very Much in Control of Heisman Race, Though Jameis Winston is Gaining

Tajh Boyd is Still Very Much in Control of Heisman Race, Though Jameis Winston is Gaining

Like the national Heisman race, the ACC‘s version is packed very tightly with a bevy of spectacular passers leading undefeated teams. There’s very few ways to separate any of these players from each other, but we try our best with what we have at hand. Have other nominees? Submit your ballots below.

1. Tajh Boyd, QB/Clemson (1,970 total yards, 20 total TD, 2 INT, 66.5% completion) (Last: 1)

No, Boyd’s performance against Boston College wasn’t amazing, but at the end of the day, he still managed over 360 total yards and two TDs. In a game that only featured 38 combined points between the two teams, I’d still say that’s pretty impressive. Under pressure, the senior’s accuracy has fallen off a bit, so that’s something to watch for. Though the main concern at the end of the day is to continue winning football games.

2. Jameis Winston, QB/Florida State (1,576 total yards, 19 total TD, 2 INT, 73.2% completion) (Last: 2)

Winston had a bye last week, though it’s tough to forget how well he’s played up to this point. He’s played second-fiddle to Boyd all season, but that could all change should he lead FSU to a victory against the Tigers on Saturday. In last year’s ACC Heisman race, EJ Manuel and Boyd were both pretty equal until the ‘Noles beat Clemson in late September. Winston has an opportunity to repeat the feat this year, and truly state his case for the trophy.

3. Teddy Bridgewater, QB/Louisville (1,921 total yards, 20 TD, 2 INT, 71% completion) (Last: 3)

Louisville appears bored with their opponents, and that goes double for Bridgewater, whose incredible statistics have fallen off somewhat from the early part of the season, but still possesses one of the best number lines in the entire sport. Just like the two gentlemen in front of him, if Bridgewater can continue to generate wins without many mistakes, his candidacy will only continue to improve. Unfortunately, Friday against UCF is likely to be one of his final performances on a national stage.

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