Welcome to the ACC Roundtable of the ACC Correspondents! As is and will be the plan for the remainder of the football season, the Confidential correspondents will discuss the Week that was (week 7) and the Week that will be (Week 8) for the ACC and their respective schools. Special thanks to the Confidential contributors–Len (Louisville), David (Florida State), John (UNC), Matt (Syracuse), Mike (NC State), Brian (FSU), and Anthony (Syracuse/ACC)–for their comments and opinions. Instead of breaking the questions down, we are doing a Part I with some of the correspondents… and then a Part II with the rest of the correspondents. Tell us what you think below.
WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST SURPRISE FOR THE ACC IN WEEK 8?
Len (Louisville): BC & Clemson. I wasn’t expecting a 4 point game here. After a change at QB & OC. Syracuse seems to have found themselves offensively.
John (UNC): I was surprised by the Virginia Tech/Pitt score. It seems like every year for the past few years, I’ve found myself giving the Hokies the benefit of the doubt, only to be disappointed. Perhaps the rest of the conference has caught up, or Beamer ball has slipped a bit, but this team doesn’t look like a vintage Tech team, and it certainly isn’t playing like one. That said, I still think the Hokies have something up their sleeve, and they’ll keep the Coastal Division race interesting until the end.
Brian (FSU): Syracuse bouncing back and winning the way they did. Syracuse may give Clemson more fight this week than they expected… although it was only Wake that Syracuse beat, so maybe I am jumping the gun.
Anthony (Syr/ACC): North Carolina beating Georgia Tech. I really thought that Georgia Tech was ready to turn the corner at 2-0 in conference play, but they turned a different corner. Meanwhile, UNC righted the ship, building off a good game against Notre Dame in South Bend.
WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST SURPRISE/DISAPPOINTMENT FOR YOUR SCHOOL IN WEEK 8?
Len (Louisville): That NC State offense was so good against the Cards defense. That was one of the best performances against this defense all season. Gardner is still struggling with his accuracy and our WR’s are still struggling to catch the ball. The biggest surprises for me is Parker’s strong performance in his first game back & that it took Dyer this long to make a positive impact on a game.
John (UNC): Last week was exactly what the Tar Heels needed. Sure, the defense wasn’t amazing, giving up huge chunks of yardage to the Yellow Jackets, but the team showed a lot of maturity when they lost the lead with three minutes to go. The offensive, led by Quarterback Marquise Williams, truly one of college football’s breakout players of 2014, was spectacular. They were confident, yet patient, and didn’t try to force anything. Most importantly, the Heels avoided penalties on both sides of the ball, a problem that had been plaguing them all season.
Brian (FSU): I was both surprised and disappointed how much attention the ND vs. FSU game received. I knew it would get much attention, but I was surprised to learn it was the most watched Non-BCS Bowl game since November 2012 (which I believe was also a ND game, but against USC). Of course ND had much to do with the ratings, along with the fact it was a top 5 match up, but that is not the only reason. I suspect another major factor was America rooting for FSU to falter. People tuned in to root for ND to beat FSU, and its not like everyone loves ND. FSU has become the heels of CFB, and not of the Carolina Blue variety, but of the 4 Horseman variety. Of course like those guys, FSU defies everyone, and keeps finding ways to win… whether the refs were looking away when Double A slips in a chair shot or not! FSU keeps styling and profiling its way to wins… Okay, I will stop. I got it out of my system, but in all seriousness I am disappointed that my Noles are so hated. I suppose this is how Raiders fans felt when they mattered.
Anthony (Syr/ACC): Wake Forest is a decent defense, but Syracuse’s play calling and QB play continued to be improved over past weeks. It is clear that former Offensive Coordinator George McDonald was part of the problem, as his replacement is using a backup QB to move the ball with backup WRs. The offense still has a long way to go, but it just looks better.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO IN WEEK 9 FOR YOUR SCHOOL?
Len (Louisville): The Cards are on a bye but they play a Thursday night game with FSU. They played 8 straight games and stayed healthy, better than I expected. I’m looking for the Cards to use this time to recover & work on their offensive struggles. The Cards actually got two players back the last two weeks, FS Reve & WR Parker.
John (UNC): The SEC may have the Iron Bowl and the Egg Bowl, but the ACC is home to the South’s Oldest Rivalry. North Carolina and Virginia have been playing each other since 1892, and every time they get together it’s exciting. UVA might have owned the Tar Heels in the mid-2000s, but this decade, it’s been all North Carolina. I’m looking for my team to seize the momentum from last week’s exciting Georgia Tech win and take it to Charlottesville to beat the Hoos.
Brian (FSU): They do not play, so I guess I am hoping for no news. No bombshells. No drama. No nothing. Just getting ready for UL, and trying to survive another week is all I want to hear! Oh the other thing I look forward to is all the Lane Kiffen to UF rumors floating around, and Gator fans freaking out… I know it is highly unlikely that it will happen, but how can we make this become reality is my question?
Anthony (Syr/ACC): Can Syracuse’s offense move the ball AT ALL against Clemson? The Syracuse defense may or may not succumb to poor tackling and overpursuit of sacks/turnovers against Clemson’s vulnerable offense. But the matchup between the Syracuse offense and the Clemson defense will likely decide the game. I suppose one cannot discount the speedy Clemson skill players making a difference on special teams too. Coverage will need to be better.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO IN WEEK 9 FOR THE ACC?
Len (Louisville): It’s a good slate of games this weekend, I’m looking forward to all of them being competitive. VT v Miami & GT @ Pitt standout to me, maybe we can see some clarity in the Coastal Division.
John (UNC): I’m excited about this week’s Coastal Division matchups. With three divisional games, and everyone still in the hunt, we’ll have a much clearer picture about this year’s winner by the end of the day Saturday. Sure, current leader, Duke, is off, but others can still control their own destiny if they get hot.
Brian (FSU): This is a slow weekend, as 3 of the 4 most interesting teams (ND/FSU.UL) are on byes, so I guess I will look to see if Clemson can not be upset by Syracuse. I also think it might be interesting to see if BC continues to turn the corner. Their defense is good, and should handle Wake. Otherwise, I guess UM vs. VT can be a solid game on Thursday Night, and it is the only game the ACC will have in any kind of national spot like. Okay, I will go with that, Canes and Hokies need to have a good game to help the ACC cause!
Anthony (Syr/ACC): A slow week. Did you know that Georgia Tech/Pitt is the game with the two teams with the best combined records (9-5)? Miami and Va Tech are a combined 8-6. Plus, Ga Tech/Pitt are 4-2 in conference, while the latter are 2-4. The Coastal pillow fights remain interesting, as the teams seem to cannibalize each other down to mediocrity.
WHO ARE YOUR FOUR PLAYOFF TEAMS IF THE SEASON ENDED TODAY?
Len (Louisville): The undefeated are dropping like flies, this is getting tougher. My teams today are 1) FSU, 2) Miss St, 3) Ole Miss & 4) ND. With Baylor losing I kept ND in. The Ole Miss & Miss St game is shaping up to have huge playoff implications, who would’ve guessed that at the beginning of the season. Unless Marshall makes it in, I dont see a way for there to be more than two undefeated in the playoffs making 3 & 4 a toss up. Maybe we should start the playoff next season?
John (UNC): It was another exciting week with another couple of Top 5 losses. I’m still not sold on the validity of the penalty at the end of the Florida State-Notre Dame game, but since that’s how things worked out, I’m keeping the Seminoles in the playoff (until Jimbo sits Winston, which he probably should). and removing the Irish. I still also feel pretty good about Mississippi State, but instead of Baylor, I’m adding Alabama. Because the Big 12 and Pac-12 will work themselves out of the playoff in the end, I’m keeping Michigan State for now, but expect the Big 10 to lose all representation if they lose to the Buckeyes on November 8th.
Brian (FSU): 1) Miss State, they look good, 2) ND, I think other teams will start losing rapidly with the Irish only have one close loss, 3) Mich State, they will not lose again, 4) Bama, yeah the SEC will have two teams in, and Bama has turned it on. Contrary to what the talking heads at the 4 letter network might say, FSU has some tough teams left. UVA and UL both have great defenses, and one is a Thursday Night road game; UM is statistically a solid team, along with it being a rivalry game on the road; BC plays everyone tough; UF will play FSU hard as they always do; and the ACC title game against Duke could be hard. So, I see FSU with the way they are playing dropping a game somewhere in there, and probably in its next game. I see all Pac 12 teams with 2 losses (Oregon on upset watch this week!), and the Big 12 is playing themselves out of contention.
Anthony (Syr/ACC):Florida State, Alabama, Michigan State, and Oregon. FSU should run the table. Who is going to prevent it? Louisville is the best opponent and Florida State has 10 days to prepare. Florida? Please. The Coastal champ? Virginia is the team that should really worry FSU fans, as that has the look of a team that has caused FSU trouble in pre-Winston years. Alabama need only run the table. With #1 Mississippi State and #5 Auburn looming, don’t discount Nick Saban. Michigan State is benefiting from Ohio State’s recent surge, and may get a second chance to beat a decent Nebraska team. The Oregon loss can look better if Oregon keeps winning–as its one loss was assisted by OL injuries. As for Oregon, their path is harder than FSU’s but not that much harder.
In other words, it remains plausible for my original four picks to still make it to the playoffs, so how can I not stick with it? See:
I am still watching Notre Dame though.
Stay tuned for Part II tomorrow. In the meantime, what do you think? How would you answer these questions?