This week we start by ranking all 14 ACC teams, then we'll discuss the Clemson game, and finally we'll walk through the rest of the happenings across the conference.
1. Florida State: 9-0 (6-0)
Last Week: W 34-20 vs. Virginia
This Week: at Miami
Previous Ranking: 1
2. Clemson: 7-2 (6-1)
Last Week: W 34-20 at Wake Forest (Thursday)
Next Week: at Georgia Tech
Previous Ranking: 2
3. Louisville: 7-3 (5-3)
Last Week: W 38-19 at Boston College
This Week: at Notre Dame
Previous Ranking: 4
4. Duke: 9-1 (5-1)
Last Week: W 27-10 at Syracuse
This Week: Virginia Tech
Previous Ranking: 3
5. Georgia Tech: 8-2 (5-2)
Last Week: W 56-23 at at NC State
This Week: Clemson
Previous Ranking: 5
Muddled Mess of Mediocrity
6. Miami: 6-3 (3-2)
Last Week: Bye
This Week: Florida State
Previous Ranking: 6
7. Boston College: 6-4 (3-4)
Last Week: L 19-38 vs. Louisville
This Week: Bye
Previous Ranking: 7
8. North Carolina: 4-5 (2-3)
Last Week: Bye
This Week: Pittsburgh
Previous Ranking: 8
9. Virginia: 4-6 (2-4)
Last Week: L 20-34 at Florida State
This Week: Bye
Previous Ranking: 9
Georgia Tech Co-eds Level of Bad
10. Pittsburgh: 4-5 (2-3)
Last Week: Bye
This Week: at North Carolina
Previous Ranking: 10
11. Virginia Tech: 4-5 (1-4)
Last Week: Bye
This Week: at Duke
Previous Ranking: 11
12. NC State: 5-5 (1-5)
Last Week: L 23-56 vs. Georgia Tech
This Week: Wake Forest
Previous Ranking: 12
13. Syracuse: 3-7 (1-5)
Last Week: L 10-27 vs. Duke
This Week: Bye
Previous Ranking: 13
14. Wake Forest: 2-7 (0-5)
Last Week: L 20-34 vs. Clemson (Thursday)
This Week: at NC State
Last ranking: 14
Clemson at Wake Forest
We'll start by discussing the Clemson game. As I often try to do, we'll start by talking about the negatives in hopes of ending on a high note. Unfortunately, the negatives section will have to be especially long for a 14-point win.
This was as flat as we've come out against a lesser opponent since NC State in 2011. Luckily, Wake Forest is very bad and even playing above their heads at home they couldn't steal one (although I give Coach Clawson credit for improving the team since he first took over).
Clemson looked sloppy as Stoudt threw into coverage early resulting in a Kevin Johnson interception. Wake Forest would cash in shortly thereafter. Adam Humphries muffed a punt which handed them another TD. Clemson got stopped on fourth down three times, one of which included a fumbled pitch from Stoudt to Artavis reminiscent of the Davidson fumble versus Syracuse that cost us seven.
The offensive line struggled early in the game, and Cole Stoudt missed a of handful big opportunities with under thrown balls (most memorably one early to Jordan Leggett and another late following the Artavis Scott Jet Sweep TD).
On defense, they held the Deacs to just 119 total yards which moves them into first place nationally for total yards per game allowed. That said, I was disappointed that they didn't show the killer instinct we've seen all season when the offense and special team's put them in a bad position. We've become accustomed to those errors turning into field goals, not touchdowns.
One other thing that got me worked up was the Robert Smith ejection and half-game suspension. On the ESPN broadcast, Doug Rhoads, the ACC Coordinator of Officials said "The initial forceable contact has got to be in the helmet for that to be targeting... That initial contact to me looks below the head and in the chest area." Watching the game live in person, this seemed to be the case and reviewing the replay it still appears to be the case. I don't mind so much them throwing the flag, but I'm miffed that they'll suspend him for a huge game based on that play. Doug Rhoads later walked back his comments, but I believe that's just politicking and he was right when he was speaking off the cuff. The ACC will not rescind the suspension and we'll be shorthanded against GT.
Although the Tigers ddn't play as well as I had hoped, they did extend their win streak over unranked opponents to a whopping 25 and there were some positives.
Wayne Gallman looked outstanding. Even without his 30-yard dash at the end of the game, he was still averaging over 4.0 YPC. I'm very encouraged with his emergence as a 100-yard back. He topped the mark for the second game in a row and the second time this season (106). Tyshon Dye also got into the action for the first time in his career. Not only that, but he looked quite bruising, and I'm excited for his future with the program.
Despite the fumble, Artavis Scott had a big game with eight receptions and 122 yards. With 53 receptions, he leads the team by a wide 15 catch margin. Of the four receivers Clemson brought in with his class, he has stood out as the star. Kyrin Priester was dismissed and will join Washington State. Demarre Kitt has five receptions as he gets worked into the offense and Trevion Thompson is redshirting. Scott's Jet Sweep TD was his most impressive play of the day as he showed off speed, agility, and strength (on the stiff arm).
It was good to get Jordan Leggett back. He had a drop, but also beat his defender on a handful of occasions. Hopefully Guillermo and Watson are back and near 100% versus Georgia Tech. I'm not confident we can win that game without them healthy. Vic Beasley also got banged up and reportedly had a swollen hand at its conclusion. Winning in Atlanta has proved to be difficult and I believe we'll need to hit on some big plays to beat them. I'll be keeping my eye on the injury report this week.
As for Wake Forest, I congratulate them on a game well played. They still belong ranked dead last in the ACC after falling to 2-7 overall, but they're showing small signs of progress. They still can't run the ball, but in the second half against BC and the first half against Clemson they resembled a decent squad. Compare that to getting throttled by Utah State and they have reason to be optimistic and as excited as a school that chants "Danny Manning" during a football game can be about the program.
Lastly, before we move on to the rest of the ACC, let's check in on our game of over/under from our Q&A with SB Nation's Wake Forest site - Blogger So Dear.
Over/Under: 0 rushing yards from Wake Forest - Over (7) (BSD Prediction - Under)
Over/Under: 5.5 sacks for Clemson's defense - Under (5) (BSD Prediction - Under)
Over/Under: 1.5 passing touchdowns from Cole Stoudt - Over (3) (BSD Prediction - Over)
Over/Under: 9 total points from Wake Forest - Over (20) (BSD Prediction - Under)
Around the ACC
There were only four other ACC games as many teams were on bye and there were no non-conference matchups. Georgia Tech blew the doors open against NC State. It was largely due to NC State turning the ball over and generally being the inept team that lost 0-41 at Clemson, however Georgia Tech's offense 479 rushing yards is darn impressive and certainly enough to give me anxiety about next week's game. Clemson will have to find a way to limit turnovers (which have suddenly become a struggle) and limit big plays (which GT hit NC State with on a handful of occasions). NC State will host Wake Forest next week for a chance to end their seven game ACC home losing streak in what should be a competitive game.
Duke continued to take care of business despite letting Syracuse stick around late into the game. The Orange defense held Duke in check, but the offense committed two turnovers and the special teams allowed a punt return for touchdown by Jamison Crowder that broke a 10-10 tie. Syracuse didn't score after that play and Duke ran away with a 27-10 win. For Duke, it means they'll almost definitely win the Coastal division. For Syracuse, they're done perusing a bowl game for the year and will shift focus to basketball season early (if they hadn't already done so).
Florida State won unimpressively against Virginia, 34-20. If not for three turnovers in their own territory, Virginia could have won. Jameis Winston threw two more interceptions and now has 11 on the season. Really, this is the best case scenario for Clemson. As long as Clemson holds at two losses, I'll be hoping FSU can keep winning to hold the Orange Bowl slot open for us while Jameis Winston continues to struggle and hurt his draft stock for all that is right and good in the world.
Finally, Louisville pulled out a tough win in Chestnut Hill against the always plucky BC Eagles. They held a precarious five-point lead entering the fourth quarter, but Gerod Holliman snared three more interceptions. Louisville's star safety now has 13 and is just one short of the NCAA record. DeVante Parker continued to dominate opposing secondaries and notched 7 catches and 128 yards against a strong BC defense. Louisville will play Notre Dame with the winner likely being ranked and the loser likely being left out, similar to the Clemson at GT game.
Boston College missed another PAT, but overall played them tough. Steve Addazio has himself a plucky team that will go to war with him. They may never get back to where they were with Matt Ryan, but soon they'll be in the lot with FSU, Clemson, and Louisville making the Atlantic a very tough football division.