ACC Football 2013 Heisman Watch: Week 5

Through Four Games, No Defense Has Been Able to Stop Maryland's C.J. Brown

Through Four Games, No Defense Has Been Able to Stop Maryland QB C.J. Brown at All

The ACC‘s top teams are still unbeaten, but that doesn’t mean we’re only choosing from a few teams here. The league is deep with playmakers this season, so plenty to choose from as we try and determine who might contend for college football’s highest honor. Have other nominees? Submit your ballots below.

1. Tajh Boyd, QB/Clemson (773 total yards, 9 total TD, 0 INT, 62.2% completion) (Last: 1)

Boyd’s performances have seemingly become old hat to most viewers, which could end up hurting his candidacy in the long run (especially if the Tigers wind up losing a game at some point). And that’s not even his fault. It takes a pretty talented player to make 282 total yards and three scores seem mundane, and yet, that’s where he’s at. He just needs to keep doing what he’s doing and help his team keep winning games.

2. Teddy Bridgewater, QB/Louisville (1,250 total yards, 14 TD, 1 INT, 71.8% completion) (Last: 2)

Bridgewater never seems to stay in a game long enough to put up even bigger numbers — or his team just starts running the ball incredibly early. That’s unlikely to change as the year goes on and this schedule fails to get much harder. But it doesn’t appear that critics are complaining much thus far. The Cardinals winning, specifically on account of the junior quarterback, is all that really matters in the big scheme of things.

3. C.J. Brown, QB/Maryland (1,326 total yards, 13 total TD, 1 INT, 66.7% completion) (Last: 4)

Maryland didn’t put up much of an effort in the second half against West Virginia, which explains why Brown’s numbers weren’t exactly at the season’s typical torrid pace. The senior passer really has put on quite a show overall though, and his team is still undefeated — both of which should count for something (especially the second part). He’s proved himself to be one of the best pure dual-threats in the country, and if they can pull off a monster upset of Florida State in a couple weeks, then maybe people will finally start taking notice of his body of work.

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ACC Football 2013 Power Rankings: Week 5

Clemson Survived a Scare Vs. NC State on Thursday, and Stay Atop This Week's Rankings

Clemson Survived a Scare vs. NC State on Thursday, and Stay Atop This Week’s Rankings

The season’s four weeks old, and surprisingly, the ACC‘s still got a good deal of unbeaten teams within its ranks. Perhaps the league’s rebounded in a big way? Or maybe they just figured out how to schedule better from a PR standpoint? I’d bet a little bit of both. 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 5)

1. Clemson Tigers (3-0) (1-0) (Last: 1): Clemson almost became the latest high-ranked victim of Raleigh, N.C. But due to a questionable out-of-bounds call and a fantastic effort by the Tigers’ defense, they manged to escape and remain in the national title conversation. Also worth noting: Tajh Boyd has sort of entered a bizarre realm in which nothing he does impresses us anymore. Throwing for 245 yards and three touchdowns in a win should still be an accomplishment, even if you are the league’s most consistently excellent passer.

2. Florida State Seminoles (3-0) (1-0) (Last: 2): Jameis Winston isn’t perfect! Or so we’ve discovered… The Florida State passer completed just 10 of 19 passes for 148 yards and two scores, and was one of many FSU players who had a less-than-stellar game against the team’s worst competition to-date. So is this a case of State just looking ahead to the rest of the slate, or an opportunity to cast some doubt on the ‘Noles? They’ve yet to be tested at this point, but they’ve also looked less impressive in each successive game. Time will tell, I suppose…

3. Louisville Cardinals (4-0) (0-0) (Last: 3): Like most, I’d love to get to the bottom of this running clock situation from Saturday, as it makes the Cardinals’ blowout of FIU even more impressive. But already four games in to this schedule to forget, it’s already gotten a bit sad, no? Of course, Teddy Bridgewater‘s numbers should not be discounted as a result, but we’re all starting to see the issues brought to light in preseason. Louisville’s playing through a 12-team disaster movie and just as a cinematic monster should, they’re plowing through everything in their path. Unfortunately, it doesn’t mean they’ll be rewarded for doing so, even if it’s not their fault they have such a poor schedule anyway.

4. Miami (FL) Hurricanes (3-0) (0-0) (Last: 4): Miami, just like their rivals up in Tallahassee, sleep-walked through this week — or as much as you can sleep walk through a 77-7 victory. They had a bit of an excuse after Stephen Morris‘s injury, but nonetheless, what’s been most alarming about the ‘Canes start (in a bad way), is the lack of play-making by its top offensive weapons. So long as Morris is back and healthy, we’ll get a real glimpse at what they’re capable of soon.

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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 Television Schedule & Spreads: Week 4

This Week's ACC Slate Starts on Thursday, With Clemson Traveling to Raleigh to Face NC State

This Week’s ACC Slate Starts on Thursday, With Clemson Traveling to Raleigh to Face NC State

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 4 TV Schedule & Spreads

Thursday, September 19

Clemson Tigers at NC State Wolfpack (+14), 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Saturday, September 21

North Carolina Tar Heels at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (-6.5), noon ET, ESPN

Marshall Thundering Herd at Virginia Tech Hokies (-9), noon ET, ESPNU

Florida International Panthers at Louisville Cardinals (-42.5), noon ET, ESPN 3/College Gameplan

Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Army Black Knights (+3), noon ET, CBS Sports Network

Pittsburgh Panthers at Duke Blue Devils (+4), 12:30 p.m. ET, ESPN 3/College Gameplan

Tulane Green Wave at Syracuse Orange (-14.5), 12:30 p.m. ET, ESPN 3/College Gameplan

West Virginia Mountaineers at Maryland Terrapins (-6), 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU

VMI Keydets at Virginia Cavaliers (-42), 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN 3

Bethune-Cookman Wildcats at Florida State Seminoles (-40.5), 6 p.m. ET, ESPN 3

Savannah State Tigers at Miami Hurricanes (-59), 7 p.m. ET, ESPN 3

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ACC Football 2013 Season Preview: Pittsburgh Panthers

Can Aaron Donald and a Strong Defense Help Overcome Pitt's Offensive Futility?

Can Aaron Donald and a Strong Defense Help Overcome Pittsburgh’s Offensive Issues?

Team: Pittsburgh Panthers

2012 W-L: 6-7 (3-4 in Big East)

Head Coach: Paul Chryst (6-7; second season)

Returning Starters: 13 (5 Offense, 8 Defense)

Bad luck, bad hires, bad timing… just seems like nothing can go right for Pittsburgh of late. And this offseason didn’t really make things easier, as players continue to leave the program — most notably would-be standout halfback Rushel Shell this spring, who ended up at arch rival West Virginia. There are two positives: the ACC move and coach Paul Chryst actually sticking around pas the one season mark, but are they enough to outweigh the on-field losses? We’ll find out pretty quickly as Pitt’s thrown into the fire early — a Labor Day date with defending conference champion Florida State. While the Panthers aren’t exactly expected to beat the ‘Noles, a respectable showing could at least show signs that this team is ready and willing to compete in its new conference right away. If they fall flat though, it could be a very long season for a team in transition.

The offense will take on a very different identity than in years’ past, with or without the personnel to do so. Losing Shell and former starting running back Ray Graham (nearly 1,700 yards between them last season), Pitt’s usual propensity for running the ball seems to be a difficult sell. Backup Isaac Bennett will take over primary ball-carrying duties, but without much experience himself, or depth behind him, it’s unlikely you’ll see the Panthers running the ball nearly as much as normal. Making matters a bit more worrisome, the offensive line has to replace its own set of departed players, and try and account for a lack of depth as well. Several freshman could conceivably end up in the regular linemen rotation — a disconcerting thought when you think about the types of pass-rushers Pitt will face in the ACC. With positions shifting around, it may come down to tackle T.J. Clemmings‘s ability to handle a switch to the offensive side of the ball and take pressure of the veteran guards. If the line can come together quickly, it’s obviously a huge relief for both the running game (which needs plenty of help) and the also-green passing attack as well.

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ACC Preseason Top 50 Players of 2013: #40, Jameis Winston

Florida State’s Jameis Winston is #40 on Our Countdown of the ACC’s Top 50 Players for 2013

Florida State’s Jameis Winston is #40 on Our Countdown of the ACC’s Top 50 Players for 2013

We’re less than two months away from the start of the 2013 college football season, and that means preview countdowns! 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. 40, Jameis Winston, QB/Florida State (Last Season: NR)

The expectations surrounding sophomore quarterback Jameis Winston have already reached outlandish proportions. So despite my misgivings around putting a first-year passer on this list at all, trust me, you’re sure to find more infuriating assessments of him whether you’re a ‘Noles fan or not. The ridiculous bar that’s been set for him aside though, it would appear that Winston’s the real deal and the face of this offense going forward. Having already beaten out the heir apparent to EJ Manuel, now-West Virginia QB Clint Trickett, he’s just got to show it on the field.

Lucky for him, FSU’s schedule lays out pretty nicely for him (and the team) to get off to a hot start. The opener — a road game against Pittsburgh — should be the toughest test for the team until mid-October’s trip to Clemson. By that point, one would assume he’s already made himself nice and comfortable in the Florida State offense. He’s a former four-star recruit with a phenomenal arm and boatloads of athleticism. Winston will also get protection from one of the best offensive lines in the ACC, plus the support of a strong running game and an experienced group of receivers. There are plenty of playmakers who can not only pick up the slack for the learning-on-the-go Winston, but will actually make him look better over the course of the season.

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