What an exciting weekend of ACC football! Okay … no … it wasn’t. There were five blowouts and two out of conference games. Things don’t look up next week either as Miami and FSU are idle. Double-dose of yawn until Week 8 with the Clemson-FSU game.
Clemson – I’m sure the leaves are starting to look beautiful in upstate New York, but that didn’t distract Clemson from thumping Syracuse. On a fun note, the debuts for Pitt and Syracuse were FSU and Clemson. Nice scheduling. Week six grade: A
Duke – Idle
Florida State – The Noles steamrolled a ranked Maryland team. Even with C.J. Brown’s injury, FSU was well on their way to winning. It’s safe to say they read my warning about playing down to the competition. I can tell me and Jimbo are in sync. Week six grade: A+
Maryland – Yes, we’re still buying the Terps. Look, this team’s expectations were very low to begin with and they are still 4-1. As ugly as it was, the FSU loss was only one game. They have two dogs next, Virginia and Wake, in order to get C.J. Brown healthy from the concussion. Fun thought: If Maryland beats West Virginia 37-0 and FSU beats Maryland 63-0, do the transitive properties work out to FSU beating WVU 100-0? How can we make this game happen? Week six grade: F
Miami – Remember when the Jackets led this game? Neither do I as The U steamrolled Tech in the second half en route to a 15 point (GT scored with 10 seconds in the game) thrashing of a big divisional roadblock. Stephen Morris continues to impress in his swan song in green and orange (and white). Duke Johnson also pounded Tech and the defense really came alive in the second half to lock things down. Week six grade: A-
Pittsburgh – Idle
Boston College – Stop the presses, I’m rethinking this Eagles team. Yes, it was only Army, but the win puts them at 3-2. The rest of their schedule is a who’s-who of winnable dates. UNC, NC State and Syracuse remain in league and with C.J. Brown’s health, Maryland could even come into play. The icing on the cake is awful New Mexico State. That means just two measly ACC wins will get BC to a bowl.
Virginia Tech – Their biggest win, Georgia Tech, looks worse now with Miami blowing them out. They continue to be one dimensional, generating just 48 yards on 34 carries (1.4 avg) against a pretty pedestrian Tar Heels club. Logan Thomas also looks like a completely different QB. When he ultimately returns to doing Logan Thomas things, I’m not sure VT can overcome that. Week six grade: B+
Georgia Tech – Tech can still have a nice season and make a decent bowl, but the big criteria here is on expectations. Tech was supposed to be a contender for the ACC title, but with two league losses to Virginia Tech and Miami they face an insurmountable hole in the Coastal division. Their only hope are major injuries, or upsets, to VT and Miami, and even that would still require Tech to navigate a schedule that includes Clemson and an improved Pitt team. Seven, maybe eight, wins will probably be the final number – eight or nine with a bowl win. Nothing to scoff at, but not what Tech fans had penciled in. Dropping the VT game in Atlanta looks even worse now following the Miami game. That was a must split stretch. Week six grade: D
North Carolina – I don’t think Larry Fedora’s up-tempo offense was meant to produce 23.6 points per game (97th), but the defense isn’t exactly helping. They sit at 90th in the nation with 31.4 points allowed per contest. Big time uh-oh in Chapel Hill. More about his job status in my update on coaches hot seats coming soon. Week six grade: D
NC State – You lost to Wake … WAKE! The Forest has just one good offensive player and he ate you alive. How do you not even slow down Michael Campanaro? I know he is amazing, but he is a wideout. Bump him at the line, double team … heck, triple team … that is just weak. Week six grade: F
Syracuse – The two game winning streak ‘Cuse experienced against weak opponents was exposed a little bit against Clemson. Worse, the schedule is a tough one. There are only two games left I would even consider manageable for the Orange. Is it basketball season yet? Week six grade: F
Virginia – For those who missed it, Virginia lost. That isn’t surprising. What is surprising is that the outcome was 48-27 against Ball State of the MAC. Yes, the MAC is a nice league and Ball State has a nice team (5-1, 2-0), but this was at home for a “power league” team. Spoiler alert: Mike London will be on my coaches hot seat article. Week six grade: F
Wake Forest – They won! No “oh-for” in the league. Let’s see if they can’t get the old mo going their way in two weeks against Maryland. It has to feel good that they got the big monkey off their back. Week six grade: A
Buy That Kid Dinner (if the NCAA allowed it):
Michael Campanaro (WR, Wake Forest) – 12 receptions, 153 yards, 12.8 avg, 2 TD, long of 38. Those 153 yards accounted for almost 60% of Wake’s passing output. Even more impressive, those 153 yards accounted for 40% of Wake’s total offensive yardage.
Obvious mention to FSU’s Jameis Winston for having another huge day (393 yards, 5 TD, 0 INT), but Campanaro came up huge in a feel-good day for Wake.
Sorry BC, Andre Williams’ beast-mode game (263 rushing yards, 5 TDs) gets the old downgrade due to weak competition. Still impressive and worth mentioning for people that did not catch the BC-Army game.
Kevin Johnson (CB, Wake Forest) – In addition to seven tackles, which is pretty solid for a corner, Johnson had a huge interception late in the game. Down two scores and about to enter the red zone, Johnson picked off the NC State pass at his own seven. Then, to make sure the field was flipped, he returned it 45 yards.
Myles Willis (KR, Boston College) – Willis had a low volume-high impact day returning kicks. He had just three of them, but totalled 111 yards for an average of 37 yards with a long of 46. He took his kicks out to the BC 37, 42 and 49. The Eagles took advantage of the short fields and put seven on the board after each return. You’ve got to love those hidden yards that make or break games.
Dunce of the Week:
Week 10 and 12. Why are those significant? They are the only two weeks in which the ACC slate is all conference games. What is the ACC doing? Why are Old Dominion-North Carolina and Citadel-Clemson games in Week 13? Even good games like Clemson-South Carolina in Week 14 is marred by Wake Forest at Vanderbilt. BC travels to New Mexico State in Week 11 … huh? I really have no idea what is going on.
Sure, the ACC has some scheduling juggling with the Pitt-Notre Dame rivalry, as well as three in-state, cross-league rivalries in the final week, but is it really this hard to make a schedule. I like that ACC play starts early (week 2 this year), but when you only play an eight-game league slate, there will be dog games late. The quick fix is to go to nine, but with Notre Dame’s new associate status that makes it very difficult. This wasn’t always avoided when the league played nine either.
Look at these gems:
-2003: Troy-Virginia in Week 10 and Connecticut-Wake Forest in Week 13.
-2004: UConn-GT in Week 12 and ECU-NC State in Week 14.
-2005: Temple-Virginia in Week 10 and Middle Tennessee St-NC State in Week 12.
-2006: Kent State-Virginia Tech in Week 11, Western Michigan-FSU in Week 12 and ECU-NC State in Week 13.
-2007: A good year! Only Vandy-Wake in Week 13.
-2008: Another good year! Vandy-Duke in Week 9 and Vandy-Wake in Week 14.
-2009: ECU-VT in Week 10.
-2010: USF-Miami and Wake-Vandy in Week 13.
-2011: USF-Miami in week 12 and Vandy-Wake in Week 13.
-2012: USF-Miami in week 12 and Vandy-Wake in Week 13.
These aren’t isolated incidents, the ACC has an epidemic on its hands.
This leads to four treatments outside returning to nine league games:
The first is the status-quo, basically endorsing all the bad games.
The second is to make Notre Dame a full member, but knowing the Irish, this is a non-starter.
Next would be to end the Notre Dame association, but this would be foolish since the ACC wants to include their brand.
That leaves just one final solution – ditch the early league games. Despite being a nice niche for the league, this would avoid a lot of the headaches we get when we see Citadel at Clemson late in the season. Sure, Georgia Tech, Clemson and Florida State would still be a bit of a juggle with their games against Georgia, South Carolina and Florida, but it should still work. This minor sacrifice of pushing league play back by the ACC will avoid meaningless blowouts late in the season … and that is just common sense, after all, we don’t see this in the Pac 12, the Big 12 or the Big Ten.