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The Direction of The ACC Confidential

As many of you know, the previous owner of The ACC Confidential has stepped aside and has graciously allowed me to take over. I cannot thank him enough for allowing me to do this. It was an efficient and seamless transition and hopefully the direction will be the same.

Having grown up in North Carolina and attended an ACC university, that will go unnamed, I have a strong connection with the ACC. I can remember getting out of school at noon on Fridays to watch the first round of the ACC Basketball Tournament. The ACC Basketball Tournament will always be a Friday, Saturday and Sunday event for me; no matter how much they try to change it.

I can remember growing up watching Grant Hill, Hubert Davis, James Forrest and Tim Duncan. In football, I watched Florida State dominate the 1990s only to be dethroned by Maryland in the early 2000s. I can remember the day Virginia Tech and Miami were brought on board to make it a football conference. Well, we know how that went.

I lived through the scandals at UNC, Duke (lacrosse) and Louisville. I have been to three Final Fours of which UNC lost in two of them; they were not part of the third. I have watched numerous national championships won and lost by the ACC. In fact, I am a huge fan of non-revenue generating sports as well. Look for many women’s lacrosse and volleyball posts on The ACC Confidential moving forward.

Overall, I cannot tell you an exact direction. I am going to publish what comes to my mind. If I have time, I will publish several posts a week. If I don’t have time, I might only publish one blog post every few weeks. It will all be by the seat of my pants. Hopefully you enjoy the ride and I look forward to discussing the ACC with many of the readers of The ACC Confidential.

My Final Post, New Era Begins

After 5 years and 1,000+ posts, and running this blog, it is time to move on to new and exciting ventures.  I am in the process of transferring the blog.  Thank you to everyone who contributed to the blog while I was owner/operator.  Thank you to all of our followers, especially those who followed us into the new format.

The new owner/operator will likely make a post of introduction and continue things from there.

Go ACC!

 

The Confidential’s ACC Football Over-Unders: Recap.

Every year, the Confidential does over-unders for each ACC school, based solely on the regular season.  In 2014, we had 6 schools correctly pegged within 1/2 a win of their ultimate totals.  In 2015, we improved to 7 schools correctly pegged within a 1/2 a win of their ultimate total.  And now it is on to 2016.  Remember, these are regular season wins only.  No bowl games or playoffs.  Here is the final tally of the Confidential’s over-unders for 2016, as well as the final results/analysis:

Clemson: 11.5 wins.  CORRECT!  At 11-1, Clemson ended up within 1/2 a win of the Confidential’s projection.  And Clemson certainly could have beaten Pitt.  Of course, Clemson should have lost to NC State, Troy, or both.  It is what it is.

Notre Dame: 10.5 wins.  WOEFULLY INCORRECT.  At 4-8, Notre Dame blew a season with a weak schedule.  They lost to Texas (who fired its coach), Michigan State (down season), and Duke (down season), among others.  Just a horrible, terrible season.

Florida State: 9.5 wins.  CORRECT!  At 9-3, Florida State fell a bit short of the under, but this was always setting up to be a tough season for the Seminoles.  They did fine overall.

Miami: 8.5 wins.  CORRECT!  A streaky season for the Hurricanes, with blocks of 4 wins surrounding a block of four losses.

North Carolina: 8.5 wins.  CORRECT!  UNC fell one game short of its win total, like several of the above teams.  In fact, the ACC ended up fairly down by the end of the year.  However, it it was a decent OOC season and the ACC teams fared well in their SEC rivalry games (3-1) again.

Louisville: 7.5 wins.  INCORRECT!  Many folks criticized this one and perhaps deservedly so.  But Louisville losing to Kentucky should silence Cards fans for a while.

Virginia Tech: 7.5 wins.  INCORRECT!  Like Louisville, the Hokies did much better than expected at 9-3.

Pitt: 7.5 wins.   CORRECT!  Despite the difficult schedule, Pitt fared well at 8-4, including the sole win over Clemson so far.

Duke: 6.5 wins.  INCORRECT!   Duke finished at 4-8, well short of the estimated over-under.

North Carolina State: 5.5 wins.   CORRECT!  This one was correct heading into the surprise  victory over UNC, which pushed NC State into the “over” category.

Georgia Tech: 5.5 wins.  INCORRECT.  The Yellow Jackets did much better than expected with an 8-4 regular season.

Virginia: 5.5 wins.  INCORRECT!  Virginia only managed 2 wins.  On to 2017.

Boston College: 5.5 wins.  CORRECT!  BC had an easy OOC schedule and fared well.  Wins over NC State and Wake Forest gave the Eagles the “over.”

Syracuse: 4.5 wins.  CORRECT!  Losing to USF, Wake Forest, and NC State meant that Syracuse could not get the over, despite the Virginia Tech upset.

Wake Forest: 3.5 wins.  INCORRECT!  At 6-wins, the Demon Deacons went way over and are going bowling!

PRESEASON ANALYSIS: By far, the most controversial selection was Louisville at only 7.5 wins.  However, with road trips to Syracuse, Marshall, Virginia, Boston College, and Houston–it is asking a lot of the Cardinals to avoid tripping up against three of its four easiest conference games and two challenging OOC games.  Meanwhile, Florida State and Clemson remain on the schedule.  Notre Dame at 10.5 wins surprised some folks too, but look at who the Fighting Irish play and where.  In any event, it is what it is.  The Coastal, of course, is a mess.  Would any team winning it be a true surprise?  Meanwhile, the Atlantic has NC State, Boston College, Syracuse, and Wake Forest in a perpetual battle to avoid the cellar, it seems.

POSTSEASON ANALYSIS: Well, the Confidential edged up to 8 teams picked correctly (within 1/2 game of their final win total).  ND and Duke were the biggest disappointments (along with Virginia), while Wake Forest, Va Tech, Louisville, and Georgia Tech all did better than expected.  Louisville ended up handling its difficult road games, except Houston.  And they almost nipped Clemson.  Anyway, it is an improvement for the Confidential!

 

 

ACC Thankfulness

No matter how high or low you are, you have much to be thankful for.  The life that God gave you (even if you are falling short in using it Him).  Liberty (to the extent that government still allows much of it).  Health.  Happiness.  The Lord’s forgiveness and plan of salvation.  But each ACC school also has much to be thankful for this year in football, such as:

  • Clemson–thankful that Dabo Swinney has restored success to Clemson and then some.  Even if Clemson loses before bowl season, Clemson was in the running all year long again.
  • Louisville–thankful that Lamar Jackson and Bobby Petrino have made Louisville as much as a football school as a basketball school lately.  What Charlie Strong started, Jackson and Petrino have taken even farther
  • Florida State–thankful that Jimbo Fisher has put FSU back in a position where 8-3 seasons are disappointing.  There were some mediocre years.
  • Virginia Tech–thankful that the transition from Frank Beamer has been so smooth.  The team has not only not lost a step, it is doing even better.
  • North Carolina–thankful to avoid sanctions and to have hoops/football teams that are at the top.
  • Miami–thankful that Mark Richt came home to restore some of the Hurricanes swagger, even if streaky and not quite all the way back.
  • Georgia Tech–thankful that last year’s dismal season remains the anomaly, as a nice rebound season continues.
  • Wake Forest–both football and hoops are trending up under Clawson and Manning.
  • NC State–thankful that the A.D. does not schedule tougher, so as to keep them within scratching distance of a bowl every year (unlike some schools that over-schedule)
  • Duke–thankful for Coach K, always, as well as Cutcliffe’s turnaround.
  • Notre Dame–thankful to be a partial member of the ACC, given the football team’s struggles this year.
  • Syracuse–thankful for Coach Boeheim, always, but also thankful for Dino Babers injecting life into the football program
  • Boston College–see NC State.
  • Virginia–thankful for Coach Bennett and hoops dominance of late, as well as a new era in football.
  • The ACC–thankful that ESPN has been able to keep the Big 10 and its cash at bay.

What do you think?  What else should each school be thankful for?

ACC Football: From Riches to Rags in Weeks

For a good part of this season, ACC football was something to brag about.  Entering Week 5, only Notre Dame and Virginia were below .500.  As of Week 10, only Duke was added to those schools and it was very impressive how deep the football depth actually was.  Plus, Clemson and Louisville were a combined 15-1.  Good times!  Even entering this week, there was a way–however unlikely–for both Clemson and Louisville to be in the playoffs.  And then Houston goes ahead and throttles Louisville, 36-10.  So much for that.

Now, the ACC looks to be having a down season.  Clemson is 9-1, but could have (should have) lost to both Troy and NC State.  Although Clemson beat Louisville, Louisville just lost by 26 to a team that lost to SMU.  Florida State has losses to both Clemson and Louisville.  Virginia Tech has lost to Georgia Tech and Syracuse.  North Carolina was blown out by that same Virginia Tech team and lost to Duke.  Miami lost four straight at one point.  North Carolina State lost to Boston College and East Carolina.  Even Notre Dame has been more dreadful than mediocre.  And so on.

This is a long way of saying that maybe, just maybe, this is a year that the ACC does not have a representative in the playoffs.  If Clemson wins out, it (and the ACC) will be there.  But that is it.  Much like Washington is the Pac-12’s only hope, the ACC is down to one school with a chance.  At present, it seems as if the playoff will be: Alabama, (winner of Ohio State/Michigan), Clemson, Washington.  And if everything holds, that is how it should be.

As for Louisville, with Ohio State and Michigan yet to play each other, the Big 10 was guaranteed to have only one school with one loss.  Louisville had a chance to beat out any of those two loss teams by winning out.  It failed.  Now it is part of a group of two loss teams, and not a real opportunity to make the sour taste of a blowout loss fade away.  As always in football, if you are going to lose bad, lose early.  See Penn State, Oklahoma.

 

The Confidential’s ACC Basketball Preseason Rankings

The Confidential’s football top 15 rankings are a regular thing.  With basketball right around the corner, it is time to roll out a preseason ranking.  This is sure to fire up some folks–but, remember, no games have even been played yet.  And if bubble teams can make Final Fours every few years, even a middle of the pack team has a chance.  In any event, here are the preseason rankings:

  1. Duke. Duke is as stacked as ever, with top recruits and a lot of returning experience surrounding Grayson Allen.  More than enough ingredients for Coach K to bake a Final Four cake.     
  2. North Carolina.  The Tar Heels have lost considerable talent, but Virginia and Syracuse have lost a lot too.  It will probably be a step back, but don’t be surprised to see UNC in the hunt to win the ACC.
  3. Syracuse.  Huh?  Syracuse lost some players to the NBA off a team that barely eked into the Big Dance, but has had an influx of transfers to fill out the roster.  Hard to argue against that.
  4. Virginia.  The Wahoos are one of several teams battling for the #2 spot behind Duke, and a potential surprise to win it all.  One wonders if there will be a hangover from the difficult loss to Syracuse in the Big Dance last year.
  5. Louisville.  A very good team.  And even if it is not in November, Rick Pitino will find a way to make them even more dangerous by March.
  6. Florida StateThe second tier is led by Florida State, who is capable of threatening to rise to the top tier under Leonard Hamilton.
  7. MiamiThe Hurricanes take a step back this year, but don’t expect them to drop TOO far.  The Florida hoops teams are doing quite well of late.
  8. Notre DameThe Fighting Irish lost a great player, but still return three starters.
  9. Virginia TechSooner or later, Buzz Williams will have the Hokies making some noise.
  10. Clemson.  Clemson had a few nice upsets last year and will look to build on that this year.
  11. Wake Forest.  Danny Manning has things moving in the right direction.
  12. Pittsburgh.  The loss of Jamie Dixon will be felt this year.
  13. North Carolina State.  The offense will lag behind the defense this year.
  14. Georgia Tech.  Still rebuilding under Josh Pastner.
  15. Boston College.  Oh well.

Projected NCAA bids: BOLD.  Projected Post-Season bids: Italics.

What do you think?  How would you rank the top 5, top 10, and/or top 15? 

Bowl Eligibility List 10/18/16 (Alphabetical)

Want to know which college football teams have gotten to six wins?  Well, here is a running alphabetical list of the FBS schools to get to that win total.  We will update periodically.  Anyway, here is the current list:

  • Alabama (SEC) 
  • Baylor (Big XII) 
  • Boise State (MWC)
  • Clemson (ACC)
  • Houston (AAC)
  • Michigan (Big 10)
  • Nebraska (Big 10)
  • Ohio State (Big 10)
  • South Florida (AAC)
  • Texas A&M (SEC)
  • Utah (Pac 12)
  • Washington (Pac 12)
  • Western Michigan (Mac)

Additional Notes: Undefeated teams are in bold.

West Virginia is the only undefeated team that has yet to get to 6 wins (obviously, this makes them 5-0). West Virginia plays Baylor on December 3rd, meaning that these two teams can be 11-0 entering conference championship week.  That actually sets up the Big XII pretty nicely to perhaps get a playoff spot.

Alabama plays Texas A&M on 10/22, meaning one of those teams will not be undefeated very soon.

Washington travels to Utah in two weeks.  A trip to Washington State and the conference championship game are the other potential spots for a loss.

Nebraska travels to Ohio State a week after traveling to Wisconsin.  They do not play Michigan.  The best case scenario for the Big 10 might be Nebraska and Michigan winning out and playing in the conference championship game.  If Ohio State beats Nebraska, but loses to Michigan, Michigan could lose to Nebraska in the CCG leaving the Big 10 with only 1-loss teams.  If, for example, Clemson, a Big XII team, Alabama, and Washington are undefeated–the Big 10 would be left out of the playoff, right?

Houston and USF are 6-1, but do not play each other this year in the regular season.  Who can stop Western Michigan?  If they go 13-0, can they sneak into a high pay bowl ahead of an AAC team?  They have wins over Northwestern and Illinois.  In contrast, Houston will have a win over Oklahoma, while USF’s best OOC win will be Syracuse.

While we are at it, let’s all root for Rice, who is 0-6.  The Owls players work too hard to not get a win all year.  This week, they play Prairie View A&M.  This should help the cause considerably.

 

Five Notable ACC Performances From Week Three

The ACC put up a whole lot of points last weekend, totaling 498 points for an average of 35.5 points per team. Seven teams scored over 40 points, as the conference had a strong weekend. All eyes were obviously on Florida State and Louisville, where Lamar Jackson and the Cardinals totally demolished the Seminoles 63-20. With all 14 teams playing, there were plenty of notable performances to acknowledge.

Louisville Quarterback Lamar Jackson

This is an obvious choice, but it would be a disservice to Lamar Jackson to take his performance for granted. The leading Heisman candidate made Florida State look like a high school team, competing on 65% of his passes for 216 yards and a touchdown through the air and torching them on the ground for 146 yards and four touchdowns in the Cardinals 63-20 win. Jackson was impressive in his first two games, piling 13 total touchdowns, but many were hesitant to give Jackson his due since they were against Charlotte and Syracuse. Jackson silenced the critics with a signature performance against Florida State. If Jackson continues this torrid pace, he will easily become Louisville’s first Heisman Trophy winner.

Georgia Tech Running Back Dedrick Mills

The Yellow Jackets’ freshman running back had a big game against Vanderbilt, leading the team with 14 carries and scoring three touchdowns in the team’s 38-7 victory. Dedrick Mills ran for 58 yards on the day, including a 15-yard touchdown in the first quarter. The 5’10” 210-pound running back was the Jackets’ weapon on the goal line, scoring two more touchdowns in the third quarter from four yards and five yards out. Mills was a key component in the Yellow Jackets’ rushing attack in their win against a SEC opponent.

North Carolina Quarterback Mitch Trubisky

The Tar Heels got a huge boost of momentum in their 56-28 victory over James Madison, with the junior quarterback leading the way. Mitch Trubisky was surgical, hitting on 24 of his 27 pass attempts for a whopping career-high 432 yards and three touchdowns for UNC. Trubisky led an offense that completed seven out of eight third down conversions and a total of 635 yards. The Tar Heels hope this game gets Trubisky into a groove as they open their ACC schedule against Pittsburgh this week.

Virginia Tech Quarterback Jerod Evans

Junior quarterback Jerod Evans and Virginia Tech bullied Boston College in a 49-0 victory. Evans tied a school record with five touchdown passes, the second time this season he has thrown at least four touchdowns. Evans went 16 for 23 on the day with 263 yards in the air and an additional 48 yards on the ground. Evans was in complete control of the game as the Hokies gained 476 yards on the day and owned a 35:15 time of possession.

Miami Quarterback Brad Kaaya

The Miami signal caller finally had his breakout game against Appalachian State in a 45-10 victory. Brad Kaaya threw for 368 yards on a 77.8% completion percentage with three touchdowns. Kaaya surpassed the 300-yard mark for the eighth time in his Miami career and is now tied for third-all time in school history with 49 career passing touchdowns. Kaaya injured his knee during the game, but played through it and should be a full go against Georgia Tech in two weeks.

 

ACC Week Two: Five Breakout Player Performances

 

 

The second week of the ACC football pretty much went as scripted. The powerhouse teams won and the teams under them played as expected. The ACC went 9-5 this weekend (there were two matchups featuring all-ACC teams) with big-name players such as Louisville’s Lamar Jackson and Miami’s Mark Walton having spectacular games. There are player performances that need to be recognized, some less obvious than others.

 

Louisville Quarterback Lamar Jackson

I know this is the most obvious performance to talk about, but any list without Lamar Jackson would serve as an injustice to him. Jackson put up an astonishing 610 yards and five touchdowns in the Cardinals’ trip up to Syracuse. Jackson is putting up Heisman numbers, as the Cardinals have dismantled their two opponents this season. Jackson ran for 199 yards on a 9.5 per rush average on the way to running in for four touchdowns. Jackson will have the opportunity to prove himself this week as #2 Florida State comes to town.

 

Miami Running Back Joseph Yearby

Teammate Mark Walton is one of the leading rushers in the nation, but Joseph Yearby is just as important to the Hurricanes offensive attack. Yearby carried the ball three more times than Walton and also added 21 yards in the passing game to his 121 yards on the ground. Yearby only trails Walton by 45 yards this season, as both players have been vital to Miami’s dominant 2-0 start.

 

Florida State Wide Receiver Jesus Wilson

Quarterback Deondre Francois, running back Delvin Cook, and wide receiver Travis Rudolph will receive all the praise and headlines, but Jesus Wilson is just as important to the Seminoles’ success. Wilson is a very dynamic and explosive player, as he is featured in the Seminoles’ running, passing, and return game. Wilson ended the first quarter with an impressive 89-yard punt return for the Seminoles. The senior also took a jet sweep for six yards and was the Noles’ second-leading receiver bringing in four balls for 53 yards.

 

North Carolina Mitch Trubisky

After a loss that could put a team in the tank for the following week, North Carolina needed a leader to step up. Quarterback Mitch Trubisky stepped it up as he completed 80% of his throws and accounted for four touchdowns, two with his arm and two with his legs. The junior showed confidence and the ability to get better each play. Senior teammate T.J. Logan wasn’t surprised saying, “He was ready to come out here and ball. Just Mitch making plays.” Trubisky went 19-24 with 265 yards and two touchdowns and also added 42 yards on the ground with two more scores.

 

Wake Forest Running Back Cade Carney

The Demon Deacons are enjoying their 2-0 start this season and have freshman running back Cade Carney to thank. The freshman running back caused problems all day for the Duke Blue Devils, rushing for 108 yards and three touchdowns. Carney’s highlight play of the day was a 55-yard run on 3rd-and-short. The true freshman was named one of the ACC’s offensive players of the week, joining the names of Lamar Jackson and Florida State’s Travis Rudolph.

Tough Road Ahead for NC State after 1-1 Start

Of course it’s still early, but it already feels like NC State is behind the eight ball. Everyone knew that it would be a tough road for the Wolfpack. When they drew games against Notre Dame and Miami outside of the division play, those six wins were definitely going to be tough to obtain. Now, without one of those non-conference wins, State will probably need an upset or two to go bowling this winter.

What’s done is done, so we have to put aside the questionable coaching in a largely disappointing game with ECU. Not to take anything away from the Pirates, they certainly showed up on Saturday. However, it’s hard not to see that game as a missed opportunity. Moving on, NC State now must find five more wins in one of their toughest schedules. If we were to break this up into tiers, it would look like this: games they have to win, games they could win, and games they probably won’t win.

Games NC State has to Win

9/17 vs Old Dominion

10/1 vs Wake Forest

10/29 vs Boston College

11/12 @ Syracuse

There were six relatively easy wins on this schedule, these four plus William & Mary and ECU. My thought at the beginning of the year was that, being NC State, this team would inexplicably lose one of these, but replace it with an improbable win (which we’ll get to later). If ECU is going to be the loss in this scenario, that’s fine, but there’s no margin for error anymore. These four games have to be wins, there’s no way around it. I know the three ACC schools are better this year, and Wake could even be looking at nine wins. The fact is, Wake hasn’t won in Raleigh since 2006. BC is a little scarier, especially since they lead the all time series 8-5, but that’s still one to feel confident about. Finally, Syracuse has only beat State once in nine total meetings. With these four wins, the Wolfpack’s win total will be at five, with just one more win needed to get to the postseason.

Games NC State Could Win

11/5 vs Florida State

11/19 vs Miami

The aforementioned “improbable” win in my mind has to be Florida State. Every other year, the Seminoles make the trek to Raleigh, and as is tradition, NC State gets a win that makes everyone scratch their heads. Ok, maybe it’s not as common as I’m making it out to be, but the Wolfpack have won five of the last nine meetings in Raleigh. This is the most likely win, even if FSU is currently second in the AP poll. The other option is Miami, another home game. It’s hard to know what kind of team the Hurricanes will be this year, but it’s very possible that under their new coach, they might not live up to the preseason hype. They could function as win number six, which would be preferable to playing for bowl eligibility against UNC a week later. Speaking of the Tar Heels…

Games NC State Probably Won’t Win

10/8 vs Notre Dame

10/15 @ Clemson (LOL)

10/22 @ Louisville

11/25 @ UNC

Don’t get me wrong, I’d be overjoyed if the Wolfpack could pull the upset in any of these games (especially that last one). Unfortunately, these four look like they’re on another level right now. Sure, Notre Dame is at home and it was a fun game last time, but they looked like a solid team in their overtime loss at Texas. The only hope State has in these games is the change of a trap game. Notre Dame follows their trip to Raleigh with Stanford and Clemson with Florida State (after a bye week). Finally, all bets are off in a rivalry game. UNC looked like a far superior team in 2014, when NC State left Chapel Hill with a 35-7 win. Overall, wins in these games are possible, but shouldn’t be counted on in the quest for six wins.

Final Thoughts

After two vastly different non-conference games, it’s hard to say anything definite about this team. If they follow the regular pattern, I’d still predict a 6-6 record and a lower bowl game (probably Shreveport or DC). Perhaps that improbable win will be enough to make fans forget about last week’s loss. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

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