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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.

ACC to Relocate Championship Games from North Carolina

Brian Hamilton of Sports Illustrated has reported that the “ACC will relocate all neutral-site championships for 2016-17 from North Carolina, due to HB2 law,” including this statement:

Not really much to say here.  After several decades of television, movies, music videos, and atheists running educational institutions, what else can be expected?  On the one hand, you have fools that believe that a man should be able to dress like a woman and go into the womens bathroom.  On the other hand, you have fools who want to force that same man out of the womens bathroom where their daughters are and into the mens room where their sons are.  And here comes the ACC to pick a side of fools.

 

ACC Roundtable of the Confidential Correspondents: Week 1/2

Welcome to the ACC Roundtable of the ACC Correspondents!  As is and will be the plan for the remainder of the football season, some of the Confidential correspondents will discuss the Week that was (week 1) and the Week that will be (Week 2) for the ACC and their respective schools.

Q1: What stands out about your school’s performance last week?
Harrison Huntley (NC State): The emergence of Ryan Finley was the big story of Week 1. The biggest question mark State had was at QB. The coaching staff wouldn’t name a starter, and made it clear that the battle would be decided on the field. I don’t know if it’s been announced yet, but Finley has to get the nod after his performance last week. He went 17-21 with 174 yards and 2 TD’s. Contrast that with Jalen McClendon’s 6-9, 88 yd and an interception, Finley seems to have ended the debate.
Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): The fact that Syracuse was able to play so fast in their first game under Dino Babers.  Although he claimed it was slow, it was fast enough for Bobby Petrino to make comments that drew the ire of numerous Syracuse blogs.  See e.g. here.  Look, Syracuse offense has been an “issue” for most of the post-Pasqualoni era.  Under Greg Robinson, getting first downs was exciting.  The latter part of the Doug Marrone era was a pro-style offense that moved the ball decently, but there were other times when wins came by defense.  Scott Shafer’s offenses had some moments, but also had some not so great moments, but remained a defense-first program.  The idea of having an offensive-first philosophy has not been the case in a long, long time.  That it also happens to be fast paced and tailored to the Carrier Dome is exciting.  That it worked pretty well against Colgate stood out.
Q2: What are you looking to see out of your school this week?
Harrison Huntley (NC State): Wolfpack fans have made it clear that the team needs to leave Greenville with a win. There doesn’t seem to be any expectations in terms of stats, all that will matter is what is on the scoreboard. It’s the risk you take playing these kinds of games. A win over ECU won’t make many headlines, but a loss certainly would.
Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): Well, the offense looked good (not great) against Colgate.  How will it look against bigger, stronger, faster, smarter athletes?  A few Dungey passes were just missed by Colgate defenders.  Against Louisville, that will be a Pick Six.  A few other passes were caught because of superior athleticism.  That will not happen in any other game.  So… how good will Syracuse’s offense be against a very good opponent?  We’ll be looking at that very closely.
Q3: Did any other ACC team impress you this week?  If so, who and why?
Harrison Huntley (NC State): I was pleasantly surprised with how well Florida State played, especially after trailing by so much. They seem to have solved their QB problem as well with Francois, and the defense played on another level in the second half. I still think NC State will win that one in Raleigh, but they looked very impressive in that second half.
Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): Miami.  I do not  care who the opponent is, when you put up points like that, you are doing something right.  And, for Miami, it is all the more important that they get some swagger back.  If the conference is going to be FSU, Clemson, and a diminutive dozen, so be it.  But Miami being an elite program would be good for the ACC by both restoring balance to the divisions and making the conference look better to outsiders.  Miami has had good moments in the past, to be sure.  The issue is whether Richt will carry it through week after week.  We will see.
Q4: As of the season to date, who are you projecting in the college football playoff? 
Harrison Huntley (NC State): Alabama, Clemson/FSU, Michigan/Ohio State, Houston.
Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, and Oregon.  Florida State, Michigan, and Houston are all in the hunt obviously.  But Houston was upset by UConn last year–there is little room for error this year.  If it comes down to 1-loss teams from major conferences–unless Houston’s only loss is to a Louisville team that is also in the playoffs, it is hard to see Houston making it in.  Florida State and Michigan would be excluded based on head-to-head results.

What do you think?  How would you answer these questions?

Virginia Hits Rock Bottom Against Richmond

If you are a Virginia sports fan, you thought that the football team had hit rock bottom.  You fired a decent football coach in Mike London, who recruited well but failed to win games on the field.  You hired a well-known coach in Bronco Mendenhall away from Brigham Young.  You were ready to begin a new era.  And then you learned that there was a new level to “rock bottom,” with an embarrassing loss to FCS neighbor Richmond, 37-20.

Yes, the FCS-level Spiders beat Virginia by 17 points.  This was not a FG for the win situation.  And Virginia is not just an FBS team, it is an FBS team in a P5 conference.  How often does any of this happen?  Rarely.  But, take some comfort Virginia fans, you are not even the first ACC school to be embarrassed by an FCS opponent in the modern era.  Footballgeography.com lists a few recent examples:

  • In 1999, Furman beat North Carolina 28-3.  That is a larger margin, and a far more futile offensive showing by the Tar Heels.  This same UNC team was pretty bad, but also manager to finish the season by beating both NC State and Duke.
  • In 2006, Richmond shutout Duke, 13-0.  Sure, that Duke defense did a better job than Virginia yesterday.  But to be SHUTOUT by an FCS foe is beyond shameful.
  • In 2012, current ACC school Pittsburgh–then a Big East team–lost to Youngstown State 31-17.  Similar score, similar margin.

So, while it is rare, it does happen that an ACC school will get thumped by an FCS foe.

Outside of the ACC, it has also happened.  In 2011, North Dakota State beat Minnesota 37-24.  In 2006, New Hampshire beat Northwestern 34-17.  In 1996, Montana beat Oregon State 35-14.  And so on.  The past twenty years have seen a number of comfortable wins by FCS opponents over FBS P5 foes.  Outside of the P5, last year Portland State beat North Texas 66-7, resulting in the firing of North Texas’s head coach immediately after the game.  And, for whatever its worth, South Florida lost to McNeese State 53-21 in 2013 in Willie Taggert’s debut, only to stay within 15 points against a 13-1 Michigan State team the following week.  They say the most improvement is done between weeks 1 and 2, and apparently that was the case.  And it may be for the 2016 Virginia Cavaliers.

And the good news is that it usually means that “rock bottom” has been hit.  The 1999 UNC loss was dreadful, but UNC was 6-5 the next year and in the Peach Bowl in 2001.  Duke would lose to Richmond two more times (2009 and 2011), (and would be generally horrible from 2006 to 2008 at 5-31), but go bowling from 2012 to 2015.  Pitt actually went to bowl game in 2012, and has gone bowling every year since.  The great thing about “rock bottom” is that it usually cannot get worse.

So, while rock bottom is not a fun place to be, it is at the very least the “cannot get any worse” place.  For Virginia fans, that means the future is necessarily brighter than the present.

 

 

Not Much Time to Enter ACC Survivor Pool

The Confidential’s Survivor Pool is back for 2016!  2015 went down to the wire… see results here.  For 2016, we are back, continuing the double-elimination format!  Sign up today!

We are limiting this to the first 100 entrants.  Last year’s entrants were given a heads up to join.  Now opening this up to all ACC fans. 

Winner gets $50.00 via PayPal.  See the official rules here:

http://www.officefootballpool.com/pools.cfm?poolid=115035&p=2&pwd=n%2Arbaa

Pool ID Number: 115035
Pool Entry Code: n*rbaa

With thousands of ACC fans, sign up today!  Contest entry closes September 1, 2016 @ 1:00 p.m.!

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