ACC Recap, Weekend of October 19, 2013
If you doubt whether ACC football can be huge, the moments prior to kickoff of Clemson-Florida State should quickly disabuse you of that. What a great job by the Clemson athletic department and fans to make the scene truly memorable. Unfortunately, Clemson did not follow through on the field. But let’s take a look across the ACC.
Florida State and Jameis Winston. What more can you say? 51-7 at one point, en route to a 51-14 win over #3 Clemson. On the road. With a redshirt freshman QB and a retooled defense. As for Winston, 444 yards passing was more than enough. The key for Florida State now is to avoid the upsets that have plagued Jimbo Fisher teams… the North Carolina State and Wake Forest-type losses. With Miami, Florida, and a conference championship game potentially on the horizon, there are ample opportunities to be beaten. The Seminoles just cannot beat themselves. But what a great win for Florida State!
Georgia Tech dominated Syracuse in all facets of the game, winning 56-0. The Yellow Jackets were so effective running the ball in the first half that they did not have to attempt a single pass. The rare situation where a team has to pass the ball to NOT run up the score. But even that did not help. A blocked punt, a fumble recovery, and a few interceptions… while generally preventing Syracuse from doing anything. Georgia Tech needed this win more than Syracuse, and they came out and played like it.
Wake Forest? Wake Forest. Don’t look now, but the Demon Deacons are now #3 in the Atlantic, defeating Maryland 34-10. Despite losing to Louisiana-Monroe, Wake Forest is now 4-3 and closing in on bowl eligibility.
Duke was down 22-0. Duke won 35-22. You cannot do that without some serious offensive and defensive rallying. Virginia is reeling, but the Blue Devils deserve credit for the win.
Notre Dame and Miami both pulled out close wins. For Notre Dame, the narrow win over rival Southern Cal was important to keep them in the BCS at-large hunt. These games are never resolved strictly on talent, so kudos to the Fighting Irish. And Miami had to travel to Chapel Hill for a Thursday night game against North Carolina. Miami survived to get to 6-0 and give ACC officials some hope that the November 2 matchup with Florida State will be another “college game day” event.
Pittsburgh has only lost to ranked teams (Florida State and Virginia Tech). With FCS foe Old Dominion providing a rare mid-season opportunity for a win, the expectation was that the Panthers would get a breather. Unfortunately, that was not the case as Old Dominion lingered for far too long. Pitt got the win, 35-24, but it was not impressive enough to deserve a “good” analysis.
We will put Clemson here, rather than in the “ugly.” The atmosphere for the game was outstanding. Plus, we saw the warning signs with Clemson when they had trouble putting away Boston College and North Carolina State. Even Syracuse was able to run the ball effectively against the Tigers. Clemson needs to keep its focus and continue striving towards a BCS bowl. With a win over Georgia (at closer to full strength) and an opportunity to beat South Carolina, and given the eye test, this is a team deserving of an opportunity for BCS at-large consideration.
Another team that provided “warnings” was Louisville. Too many unimpressive performances against lesser opponents. Not only did that give future opponents hope, it had to lead to question marks inside the locker room. Is there any doubt what Alabama and Oregon would do to Temple? It would not be a 30-7 win, that’s for sure. In fairness, Central Florida is a very good team. Maybe even a top 20 team. But that was Louisville’s chance to show that they were top 5 material and they fell short.
It is not looking good in Virginia for Mike London. There were already some questions and losing to Duke 35-22, blowing a 22-0 lead in the process, is just downright ugly.
But not as ugly as Syracuse’s 56-0 defeat. Scott Shafer boasted that the win over North Carolina State featured some hard-nosed “Northern” running of the football. Well, Georgia Tech only ran in the first half and was unstoppable. Shafer’s emotion is great, but he needs to choose his words more carefully. He is really venturing into “talking the talk before walking the walk” category.
The Confidential just needs to add that the officiating in the Syracuse-Georgia Tech game was awful. Georgia Tech would have won by many many points without the benefit of an absurdly one-sided series of calls. So this is worthy of review by the home office before this crew impacts a competitive game. If you are going to extend one drive based on a blow to the head by Syracuse, a more egregious blow to the head on Syracuse has to be called. Zero penalties for Georgia Tech? If these refs do not have the courage to make the call against a home team in a blowout, they have no business calling a meaningful game.