Even a Referee Standing Over the Ball Won't Stop Them
1. Florida State: 11-0 (8-0)
Last Week: W 20-17 vs. Boston College
This Week: Florida
Previous Ranking: 1
Competitive, Solid, Respectable
2. Georgia Tech: 9-2 (6-2)
Last Week: Bye
This Week: at Georgia
Previous Ranking: 2
3. Louisville: 8-3 (5-3)
Last Week: W 31-28 at Notre Dame
This Week: Kentucky
Previous Ranking: 3
4. Clemson: 8-3 (6-2)
Last Week: W 28-8 vs, Georgia State
Next Week: South Carolina
Previous Ranking: 5
5. North Carolina: 6-5 (4-3)
Last Week: W 45-20 at Duke (Thursday)
This Week: NC State
Previous Ranking: 9
6. Duke: 8-3 (4-3)
Last Week: L 20-45 vs. North Carolina (Thursday)
This Week: Wake Forest
Previous Ranking: 6
7. Virginia: 5-6 (3-4)
Last Week: W 30-13 vs. Miami
This Week: at Virginia Tech
Previous Ranking: 10
8. Boston College: 6-5 (3-4)
Last Week: L 17-20 at Florida State
This Week: Syracuse
Previous Ranking: 8
Can Everyone Please Focus on the Rest of the Conference?
9. Miami: 6-5 (3-4)
Last Week: L 13-30 at Virginia
This Week: Pittsburgh
Previous Ranking: 4
10. Virginia Tech: 5-6 (2-5)
Last Week: L 3-6 (2OT) at Wake Forest
This Week: Virginia
Previous Ranking: 7
11. Pittsburgh: 5-6 (3-4)
Last Week: W 30-7 vs. Syracuse
This Week: at Miami
Previous Ranking: 11
12. NC State: 6-5 (2-5)
Last Week: Bye
This Week: at North Carolina
Previous Ranking: 12
13. Syracuse: 3-8 (1-6)
Last Week: L 7-30 at Pittsburgh
This Week: at Pittsburgh
Previous Ranking: 13
14. Wake Forest: 3-8 (1-6)
Last Week: W 6-3 (2OT) vs. Virginia Tech
This Week: at Duke
Last ranking: 14
Georgia State at Clemson
This game may be best broken down in three parts.
The Good: Clemson's defense is truly marking their mark as one of the program's best in a long time. They picked off three GSU passes, and Clemson scored touchdowns on all three ensuing drives. In total, they forced four turnovers and allowed just 40 rushing yards. They're the best defense in the country.
Dabo gave Tyshon Dye an audition as the lead back against a putrid rush defense and he made the most of it. He ran for 124 yards and 2 TDs on 20 carries. He runs "hard" and is a great compliment to Wayne Gallman's more shifty "jump cut" type running. It took a long time for the running backs to come around. Had Zac Brooks not gotten hurt, I suspect he would have been the lead back all year, but after starting with D.J. Howard, using C.J. Davidson heavily until his fumble at Syracuse (in addition to FSU), it seems the redshirt freshman duo is ready for prime time.
The Bad: No team scored as few points against Georgia State as Clemson did, 28. Appalachian State beat them 44-0. Although we ran the ball well, the offense overall was a major disappointment. Cole Stoudt finished with only 132 passing yards and a pick (the latter of which wasn't completely his fault). He did have a nice TD pass to Mike Williams and a pretty deep ball to Germone Hopper, but Hopper dropped it.
The Ugly: Even though the game was well in hand, and Cole Stoudt is still nursing that shoulder injury, and the fact that we needed to get Nick Schuessler some meaningful playing time prior to possibly needing him against South Carolina, Dabo and company kept Cole Stoudt in deep into the fourth quarter. In that final quarter, Cole got sacked on fourth down and remained on the ground clutching his left shoulder. It's clear his shoulder isn't right and maybe that's a major part of his more recent struggles, but that only serves as more reason to get him out of the game quickly (to keep him healthy) and get Schuessler some PT in case (in case Watson and Stoudt are injured or Watson is injured and Stoudt plays like he did versus GT). If Watson is unable to go next week (I'm still hopeful he will) I don't believe we can win with an injured - and now aggravated - Cole Stoudt and a third-string QB who hasn't seen sufficient playing time to be ready.
Around the ACC
The biggest news in the ACC came out of Winston-Salem (what?), where Wake Forest got their first conference victory! Virginia Tech held Wake Forest scoreless with the help of three missed field goals. Wake even benefited from a penalty and got to re-kick one, but missed it anyway. Surprisingly, when overtime came, it was Wake's kicker Mike Weaver, who went 2/2 while the Hokies failed on special teams - missing a FG in double overtime.
It's a huge win for Wake Forest. In the midst of a horrible season, they managed to secure one win they can smile about. Better yet, it was a big recruiting weekend for the Deacons who had some legitimate recruits on hand for the win. The folks in Winston-Salem are fired up after their first conference win, and as you can image, the folks in Blacksburg are pretty crestfallen.
Regarding what VT should do with their currently employed legendary coach, I think our editor, Brian Goodison said it best:
"I set a meeting with him after the season and say, 'Frank thanks for everything you’ve done here, but it is time to retire. Let’s go outside, announce your retirement, and you can coach the bowl game before moving on. It is time.'
If he doesn’t agree then I think you give him one more year. Not because recent performance deserves it, but because he is a legend and just out and firing him may not be an option unless they stink it up for another year."
We'll see if they even make a bowl. To get that sixth win they'll have to beat Virginia next Saturday. They've won every matchup with the Hoos since joining the ACC (10-0). Ending the season with a loss there, and sending UVA bowling instead would be devastating.
Virginia added some intrigue to the game by claiming their fifth win of the season by womping Miami. After Miami took an early 7-0 lead, Virginia scored 30 unanswered before Miami tacked on some garbage time points on special teams. This leaves Miami searching for answers. They've done well on the recruiting trail, yet still fail to convert that into results on the field. Al Golden currently has the same number of ACC wins (16) as Shannon had (both in four season, though Golden has one remaining). Miami hasn't won a bowl game since the 2006 MPC Computers Bowl. They'll have some decisions to make after the season.
Louisville should be proud of their transition to the ACC. With Notre Dame and Kentucky out of conference, a 9-3 record would be rather impressive and they'll likely be favored to get their ninth win at home next week versus Kentucky. As for Notre Dame, they went 2-2 versus ACC teams and I can't wait to play them next season. They play six ACC teams in 2015 to make up for playing only four this season.
Pittsburgh pounded Syracuse, as has everyone aside from Wake Forest, and of course, FSU found a way to win. They needed a last second game winning field goal and a referee to get shoved out of the way, but they did it.
Finally, there was a Thursday night game that had ripple effects across the ACC. North Carolina's defense appeared out of thin air and helped UNC beat Duke 45-20 in Durham. As a result, Georgia Tech will play FSU in the championship game. This makes FSU's path to a title a bit harder, and opens a path for the ultimate back-door invitation to the Orange Bowl for Clemson. Should Georgia Tech lose to UGA and FSU, and FSU head to the inaugural College Football Playoff, the Orange Bowl committee will have to scramble and find an ACC replacement. Who's that ranked behind all the teams that had excellent years? Oh it looks like a 9-3 Louisville and a 9-3 Clemson coming off big wins over their SEC rivals. Take your pick folks.