Before 1987, Syracuse was a very similar program that it has been in the past several years–fighting for (rarer) bowl spots. Then, Don McPherson led Syracuse on a magical 1987 season that culminated with an 11-0 record and ultimately a tie with Auburn in the Sugar Bowl. A few years later, Marvin Graves would lead Syracuse to back-to-back 10-win seasons, two of just four such seasons in the Carrier Dome era. While Donovan McNabb’s NFL career gives him notoriety, it was Don McPherson that led Syracuse from being a regional also-ran to a team that could compete on a national level. In the years since McNabb, Syracuse has struggled to be above .500. There are anomalies, including a 10-win season and an 8-win season… and there is also the Greg Robinson era falling considerably on the bad side of the mediocre bell curve. In any event, the question is–how does Syracuse get back to being nationally relevant in football? Maybe it is as simple as going back to what worked in the 1980’s.
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 13) and the Week that will be (Week 14) for the ACC and their respective schools. Special thanks to the Confidential contributors for their comments and opinions. Tell us what you think below.
WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST SURPRISE FOR THE ACC IN WEEK 13?
Len (Louisville): I was expecting North Carolina to beat Duke but not in that fashion. I know BC is good but I was expecting Florida State to handle them better. It’s hard to rank them number 1 in the country when they haven’t dominated anyone.
Mike (NC State): It was a wild week in the ACC. Florida State struggled mightily against Boston College, but that has been the norm this year for the Noles. Then there was that weird 0-0 tie and double overtime win for Wake Forest over Virginia Tech, the Deacs first conference win of the season. But Duke failed to show up against UNC, and while I thought the Heels might win, by rights it should have been a bit closer than the 45-20 blowout it was, or as we call it down here, the whuppin’ it was.
John (UNC): Last week, the talk was about Notre Dame’s freefall (which continued with a loss against Louisville). This week it’s all about the Hokies. What happened to this team? Seriously. Even with an uncommon number of season ending injuries (it’s in the double digits), this isn’t how a Frank Beamer team plays. Fighting for bowl eligibility on the last game of the season? Something has got to give.
Brian (FSU): Duke completely getting destroyed by UNC. Duke has completely fallen on its face. It went from one moment showing it is a regular power in the ACC to possibly being a flash in the pan. To let your rival ruin your season in that manner might be as soul crushing as it gets in college football. Duke has to win this weekend or risk an 8-4 regular season, with no shot at double digit victories on the year.
Anthony (Syracuse): I have to go with Duke getting blown out by UNC. Virginia Tech losing to Wake Forest after defeating Duke–well, the Duke win looks a bit less impressive now. And Wake has been trending up since bottoming out against Syracuse. And UNC winning is not the same level of surprise that UNC dominating was. Coastal is just a mess.
WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST SURPRISE/DISAPPOINTMENT FOR YOUR SCHOOL IN WEEK 13?
Len (Louisville): My biggest disappointment would have to be that Louisville didn’t force more turnovers. I was surprised by Notre Dame tenacity on defense with all their injuries. ND came out on senior day & were fired up to play & pretty much sustained that throughout the whole game. I was really surprised that ND missed the field goal to send it to overtime.
Mike (NC State): It was a bye week for State, so now might be a good time to drop in a line about an intriguing 2015 recruit: Darian Roseboro, Def. Tackle. Roseboro played for Lincolnton High School, not far from where I live, and he is rated 4 stars by Scout.com. He’s 6’3″ and 293 lbs and should be making plenty of tackles for the Pack next season. Looking forward to that.
John (UNC): I legitimately thought that North Carolina had a chance against Duke, especially given the Blue Devils’ performance the week before in their loss against Virginia Tech. Never in my wildest dreams, however, did I think it would be a blow out in the Tar Heels’ favor. What a game! So yes, I wasn’t surprised at the outcome, just how it went down. And unfortunately, I also wasn’t surprised when I heard that the team destroyed Duke’s locker room and field. North Carolina football is the gift that keeps on giving…at least if you’re a reporter.
Brian (FSU): I was both surprised and disappointed that Winston found a way to spark off the field type controversy ON THE FIELD! He is very lucky the referee did not flag him for touching the referee. I was also very surprised that the kicker missed his 3rd kick of the season.
Anthony (Syracuse): Scott Shafer’s punt on 4th and 1 from his own 47 with a minute or so remaining was just the latest example of him not being nearly as hardnosed as he claims. So that is more of a disappointment than a surprise. The real disappointment is that the defense could not stop Pitt without RB James Connor. But for a few shanked FGs and an opportune red zone interception, the score could have been a lot worse. Simply stated, a Syracuse team that purports to be hard-nosed is anything but that right now.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO IN WEEK 14 FOR YOUR SCHOOL?
Len (Louisville): Pitino (Editor’s Note: Petrino? Why does Jurich have to confuse us like this!) is undefeated vs Kentucky & I look forward to that remaining true this Saturday. The cats are struggling as of late while the Cards are playing at their best right now. Bonnafon is developing consistency at the quarterback position & Pitino doesn’t take a knee against the cats so I am looking forward to a huge victory.
Mike (NC State): Everything. It’s the rivalry game Pack fans look forward to all season, and here’s hoping for a good showing against the Tar Heels. Realistically, Carolina is peaking and playing at home, so it could be a long day. But if State does win, it would give us a more bowl-attractive 7-5 record, so go Pack!!!
John (UNC): I can’t overstate the importance of a win this week. Sure, the Tar Heels are bowl eligible now, but a victory against the Wolfpack would give North Carolina a much needed boost in the public eye. Frankly, the University just needs something positive to talk about, and a sweep of their main conference rivals would be a good start.
Brian (FSU): Hopefully, FSU knocking off the Gators putting Fisher’s record against the big 3 rivals for FSU at 13-2. I still think FSU is due for a loss though, so I will watch the game with one eye closed.
Anthony (Syracuse): Syracuse showing up with great effort and a game plan.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO IN WEEK 14 FOR THE ACC?
Len (Louisville): All the rivalry games! Should be a fun weekend. Clemson v South Carolina and if Georgia Tech can upset Georgia. How the ACC fares against the SEC. Could be a statement weekend.
Mike (NC State): Florida State faces its last hurdle before the ACC title game, and it’s a doozy. Sure, Florida isn’t as tough this year as they would have liked, but this game is for my money the best rivalry in college football. And if the Noles, who have been building their undefeated record on the edge of a sharp razor all season, can’t win this one there will likely be no playoff spot waiting no matter what happens against Tech in Charlotte.
John (UNC): As a Tar Heel in a Hokie family, I’m really hoping for a Virginia Tech win. But that’s not the only important game going on. This week, the ACC has an opportunity to make a statement against its bitter rival to the South. If the conference can hold its own against the SEC (and we’re not talking just Louisville-Kentucky), then it will gain a whole lot more respect in the college football world, and with the selection committee.
Brian (FSU): The ACC is favored to win 3 of its 4 SEC match-ups, Louisville vs. KY/FSU vs. UF/Clemson vs. S Car, and GT has a realistic shot to beat UGA. I would like to see the ACC at least go 2-2 in those games… please no losing record.
Anthony (Syracuse): A whole slew of rivalry games. But more specifically… the ACC/SEC matchups. The ACC needs Florida State to win and expects Louisville to win. But can Georgia Tech rise up and beat Georgia? Can Clemson end its streak of losing to South Carolina. And keep an eye on Virginia–if Mike London wins, does he save his job?
WHO ARE YOUR FOUR PLAYOFF TEAMS IF THE SEASON ENDED TODAY?
Len (Louisville): 1 FSU 2 Oregon 3 Alabama 4 Baylor.
Mike (NC State):Florida State, Oregon, Mississippi State and Alabama, in that order.
John (UNC): Despite the fact that TCU was almost upset by a lowly Kansas team, they’re staying in the top 4…for now- Florida State, Alabama, Oregon, TCU.
Brian (FSU): Right now: 1) FSU, 2) Oregon, 3) Bama, 4) Ms St. End of Year: 1) Bama, 2) Oregon, 3) Ms St, 4) OSU.
Anthony (Syracuse): (1) Florida State; (2) Alabama; and (3) Oregon. For number 4, you look at Mississippi State, Ohio State, Baylor, and TCU, obviously. Ohio State has the worst loss. But they are also looking fairly strong right now (save for a lackluster performance against Indiana). Baylor beat TCU, but lost to West Virginia. Mississippi State may have the best resume–the best loss at the very least. But I think the committee will want four conferences represented if possible. So if Ohio State can run the table, they will be number 4. And if you look at Ohio State–they beat the same team, Minnesota, than TCU beat. So (4) Ohio State.
What do you think? How would you answer these questions?
It is now the end of November. The regular season is down to its final week. The Conference Championship Game is set–all that is left is for some rivalry games. Here is how the correspondents view the top 10 in the ACC:
Everyone has some opinions on what they would like to see change–both in the sports world and outside of it. For whatever its worth (and it probably is not worth much), there are plenty of changes throughout sports that this author would like to see. Before we touched on the College Football Playoff reporting issues and ranking issues. But how about the playoff system as a whole? Consider…the Confidential’s Perfect College Football Playoff:
Everyone has some opinions on what they would like to see change–both in the sports world and outside of it. For whatever its worth (and it probably is not worth much), there are plenty of changes throughout sports that this author would like to see. Before we touched on the College Football Playoff reporting issues. But the rankings needs work also…as Florida State should be #1. As should ANY team that is the sole undefeated team from a Power 5 conference after 10 games.
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF RANKINGS
OK, with the College Football Playoff Committee’s decision to have Alabama leap over FSU and Oregon based on beating Mississippi State, the Confidential cannot take it any longer. The goal in football has always been to win 100% of your games. Always. Unless you are outside a major conference (see Brigham Young), going undefeated and being the SOLE undefeated team was usually the best way to win a title. Indeed, if this season were to end under the BCS regime or its predecessors, an undefeated Florida State would be the national champion.
But, by the same token, if Tennessee or Wisconsin or Kansas State or Arizona State did the same thing, they too would be the national champion. That is and has always been the way it is done.
In light of same, there is absolutely no reason why any one-loss team from a power conference–a dozen weeks into the season–should ever be behind a one-loss team. None. The system should reward perfection BEFORE it starts analyzing warts for size, shape, and color.
The rankings as of today should be: (1) Florida State; (2) Alabama; (3) Oregon; and (4) Mississippi State. It is perplexing that the committee has undefeated Florida State #3.
The excuse is that Florida State has not played anyone. But Florida State scheduled and beat Oklahoma State and Notre Dame out-of-conference. What else can the Seminoles do? They have also beaten Louisville, Clemson, and Miami within conference. And Florida looms. Again, what else can the Seminoles do?
In fairness, Alabama tested itself with West Virginia opening week. The Mountaineers are 6-4 and Oklahoma State is 5-5, with WVU also having won the head-to-head matchup. Oregon, too, tested itself… beating Michigan State.
The problem is that Oregon lost to Arizona at home. This is the same Arizona team that lost to Southern Cal, which lost to Boston College. Oregon walked onto a football field and walked off the loser. That is something that Florida State has yet to do.
Similarly, Alabama walked off the field at Ole Miss a loser. Not an embarrassing loss by any stretch. But not so significant that a team with a perfect record should bow to it.
At this late juncture of the season, the sole undefeated team from a Power 5 conference should be the #1 team. And this is a change that the Confidential would like to see.
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 12) and the Week that will be (Week 13) for the ACC and their respective schools. Special thanks to the Confidential contributors for their comments and opinions. Tell us what you think below.
WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST SURPRISE FOR THE ACC IN WEEK 12?
David (FSU): Duke, what are you doing? I really didn’t see them losing to Va Tech going into the week, and you’ve got to feel for both Clemson (Watson’s knee) and Miami (I seriously don’t know how FSU won).
Len (Louisville): Clemson, Duke and Notre Dame all losing. Duke’s hold on the Coastal loosened and Georgia Tech is ready to take it from them. North Carolina can knock their rivals from the division lead this weekend.
Mike (NC State): While Virginia Tech’s upset of Duke was an eye-opener, the Georgia Tech domination of Clemson is the surprise of the week in the conference. Jackets fans will now be watching the UNC-Duke Thursday night game with renewed interest, as this is the best chance for another Duke loss.
John (UNC): Wow, Notre Dame’s freefall continues. Losing to a 3-6 Northwestern team just shows how far the mighty have fallen. Injuries aside, there’s no excuse for the Fighting Irish to lose to the Wildcats, especially in South Bend. Not that Notre Dame would have a chance for a big bowl with three losses anyway, but they may need to re-think their football conference affiliation status at this point. Welcome to the ACC…for real this time.
Brian (FSU): ND losing to Northwestern… what the heck happened? There went my pool. NW has one of the worst offenses in college football and puts crazy points on ND on the road. Brian Kelly has gone from top tier college football coach to a mistake waiting to happen in just two weeks.
Anthony (Syracuse): Tough call. I really did not see Duke losing to Va Tech, Clemson losing to Georgia Tech, or Notre Dame losing to Northwestern. The latter was the biggest upset though. But I will go with Florida State yet again starting slow and having to come back. The Seminoles are playing with fire. If you cannot come out strong against a rival like Miami–that is not a good sign. Credit FSU for the win, but it is high time that FSU play a full 60-minute game.
WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST SURPRISE/DISAPPOINTMENT FOR YOUR SCHOOL IN WEEK 12?
David (FSU): I could go on for days about everything that surprised me in this game. How lost the D was for the first 25 minutes of the game, how the Defense turned it on and shut down Miami for the next 35. How moving Cam Erving to Center & starting a True Freshman in Rod Johnson at LT actually worked, and worked very well. Helped open up running lanes for another True Freshman who is emerging as a the team’s homerun threat in Dalvin Cook.
Len (Louisville): Notre Dame losing. It would have been nice to face a ranked opponent on their turf. The Cards are playing for a good bowl game and we can knock the Golden Domers down a few more notches for the ACC.
Mike (NC State): Hey! The Pack can run the ball! Ok, it was only Wake, but NC State’s 362-yard rushing performance, including 100+ yards by both Matt Dayes and Shadrach Thornton was a high point in a season of struggles. And they are now bowl-eligible. But hey, Wolfpack, don’t settle for sneaking in at 6-6. Beat Carolina!!
John (UNC): I was so impressed with how the Tar Heels came back against Pitt, despite being down almost the whole game. One thing the team has shown this year is resiliency. Even though the defense is among the worst in the country, they always show up when they’re needed most. With a young team all-around, hopefully, it’s the sign of good things to come.
Brian (FSU): I am surprised FSU did not lose to UM by a field goal, and in reality UM is the team that got burned by a shanked field goal in reality. I am also surprised ESPN is beginning to cover the fact it may have jumped the gun on the Winston got paid for autographs scandal. Reports from OTL are coming out that the signatures in question were questioned so much by the original authenticator brought in to verify the signatures that said authenticator refused to authenticate the items in question (a different entity had to be brought in). In fact, when you read the story at ESPN it seems very shady. The guy claiming he got Winston to sign the items would not let the authenticator observe Winston actually sign the items. Also, it seems now that OTL has had handwriting experts look over the signatures and let us just say the experts seem to think they do not seem to be Mr. Winston’s John Hancock. Of course with my Noles’ luck this will all change tomorrow, and new information will blow up to make FSU look bad a little more. I was disappointed that all of FSU’s key opponents decided to get worse. Clemson and ND both choked winnable games away, and likely ACC Ch. Game Opponent Duke fell on its face again.
Anthony (Syracuse): As far as we know, no more starters were lost during the bye week.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO IN WEEK 13 FOR YOUR SCHOOL?
David (FSU): The Noles are almost 3 touchdown favorites heading into a home match up vs. BC, and all I’m looking for is seeing them escape with a comfortable win. Can we get one week where it isn’t down to the wire? Please? Honestly, look to see the same OL lineup and that they continue to gel. The run game for FSU has quietly been improving and I expect that to continue to flourish.
Len (Louisville): I should have mentioned this last week as probably the biggest surprise from the BC game was that the Cards won the game with their second string QB, true freshman Bonnafon. Gardner is at least done for the season with another knee injury and Bonnafon will start the rest of the season. He has had a tough season so far having been thrust into action a week after his father passed earlier in the season but performed well at Boston College. The bye week should help him prepare for the trip to South Bend. The Domers are playing poorly right now and Cards S Holliman only needs 1 more INT to tie the NCAA record. Only 15 FBS teams have more INT’s than his 13. He has 2 games to set the record (vs Kentucky).
Mike (NC State): The Pack is on a bye, so get prepared for the season-ending showdown. I say again, beat Carolina!!
John (UNC): This week is huge for North Carolina. With a win Thursday, they could deny Duke a chance at the ACC championship, and become bowl eligible at the same time. A Tar Heel dream. With a loss, well…that would put a whole lot more pressure on the season finale against NC State. The Wolfpack are a much better team than their record suggests, so North Carolina really needs to take care of business against the Blue Devils. Game. Set. Match?
Brian (FSU): Hopefully, and finally a strong win. Of course, BC is no pushover… in fact I tend to think they can win. I love my Noles, but they cause my blood pressure to rise a little too much.
Anthony (Syracuse): Syracuse really needs to win one of its final two games to get to 4 wins. 4 wins is a bad season, without question, but it would be great to avoid the valleys experienced only during the G-Rob era (his BEST season was 4 wins). Winning at Pitt has been elusive, but you have to wonder whether Syracuse fan force turnovers. Pitt has had problems in that regard and Syracuse’s defense is healthy.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO IN WEEK 13 FOR THE ACC?
David (FSU): I’m going to take the Louisville v ND game here, and think ND gets back on track after two weeks I’m sure any Fighting Irish fans have already tried to erase from their memory.
Len (Louisville): Can the Heels knock the Dookies from the Coastal lead. FSU may get more help by playing Georgia Tech in the CCG. Tech is looking stronger than Duke and should be higher ranked if they can beat Georgia. Bonnafon didnt fare well in the Cards trip to Death Valley, how will he handle the trip to South Bend? I have been waiting for this game for a long time and with it being played on my father’s birthday makes it all the sweeter. I just wish he was here to see it.
Mike (NC State): Louisville/Notre Dame should be interesting, though it has lost some of its luster. Then there’s Boston College/FSU, which will likely be closer than expected. But the game of the week is that Thursday nighter between Carolina and Duke. Both teams need it badly; UNC to get bowl-eligible and Duke to hold off charging Georgia Tech. Should be a good one.
John (UNC): I would love to see two more teams become bowl eligible. Sure, I’m biased, because one of the teams in position is North Carolina, but it would be great for the conference, there’s no denying that. I also think a Louisville win against Notre Dame is extremely possible, and that would be fun to see as well. Until the Fighting Irish join the conference full-time, I’ll root for the REAL ACC over them any day.
Brian (FSU): How about Louisville, FSU, ND, GT, and Clemson all trending up for their out of conference play. I want GT to get rested and ready to upset UGA. I want Louisville and ND to not kill each other before they face Kentucky and USC the following week. FSU and Clemson need to somehow get ready for their big rivals the following week, without choking and looking ahead (yeah it is doubtful CU will stumble… FSU however, different story). Long story short, I want the ACC to look as good as possible going into rivalry week to take some OOC schools down!
Anthony (Syracuse): Duke/UNC is a huge showdown as it will determine who plays in the ACCCG. Louisville traveling to ND will be very interesting… the new kid on the college football block vs. the old establishment. ND is reeling, so it will be interesting to see how they respond to adversity.
WHO ARE YOUR FOUR PLAYOFF TEAMS IF THE SEASON ENDED TODAY?
David (FSU): 1)FSU 2)Bama 3) Oregon 4) TCU with Miss St. and Baylor lurking.
Len (Louisville): 1) FSU, 2) Alabama, 3) Oregon, 4) Miss St. Miss St played better than I expected but they and Alabama still have a tough road ahead and I don’t expect them both to make it. I look for Baylor to sneak in at #4. The worst case scenario for the SEC would be to have Missouri as champion since they lost to Indiana.. In that scenario it would be possible for the SEC to be left out.
Mike (NC State):1) Florida State 2) Alabama 3) Oregon 4) Ohio State.
John (UNC): None of the teams from my top four lost last week, so no changes here. It’s Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and TCU until further notice.
Brian (FSU): 1) FSU, 2) Bama, 3) Oregon, 4) Miss St. In 3 weeks: 1) Bama (wins out), 2) Oregon (wins out), 3) Baylor (wins out), 4) OSU (wins out)…. Miss St likely loses to Ole Miss, and until I am proven wrong I am assuming FSU playing with fire will burn it soon… also that pre-ACC title game student conduct hearing could have a major impact on FSU’s standing. Even if FSU runs the table, winning the ACC title without Winston, if the hearing causes Winston to be removed from the team how will the committee react? The safe money is to exclude FSU on the same grounds 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament have been lost by teams who have a star played injured just before the tourney.
Anthony (Syracuse): (1) Florida State; (2) Alabama; (3) Oregon; and (4) Ohio State. I am not a big fan of the Big 10, but you have to think that there is going to be a strong push by the Committee to get the Big 10 into the finale somehow. If Ohio State wins out, they will be in.
What do you think? How would you answer these questions?
It is now mid-November. The season is down to its final weeks. The Atlantic is clear, the Coastal is essentially down to two teams. Here is how the correspondents view the top 10 in the ACC: