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ACC Roundtable of the Confidential Correspondents: Week 14/15

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 14) and the Week that will be (Week 15) 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 14?

Len (Louisville): The ACC going 4-0 against the SEC. That was a great win by Georgia Tech. I am also surprised by how Miami finished the season. They showed potential earlier in the season but finished on a down note. It looked as if they would challenge for the coastal but instead tied with Virginia Tech and Virginia.

Mike (NC State): I don’t know how big a surprise it was, outside of Georgia Tech/Georgia, but the ACC sweep of the SEC was a rush.  Finally some good news in the ongoing battle against The Best Darn Football Conference Ever Just Ask Them.  ACC!!! ACC!!!

John (UNC): Wow. Say what you want about the supposed weakness of the SEC East, but the fact is that Clemson, Louisville, Georgia Tech and Florida State helped the conference make a statement this past Saturday. You can add Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech to that discussion too. With 11 bowl eligible teams for the second year in a row, and a perfect rivalry weekend record against the SEC, the ACC is poised to take another step forward. That is, unless Georgia Tech proves to be TOO good, and knocks the Seminoles out of the playoff.

Brian (FSU): The ACC going 4-0 against the SEC last week. Wow, you would think that would impress the committee… but yet FSU is 4 and GT who has beaten 2 straight ranked teams and is 10-2 is not even top 10, while Michigan State who has not beaten a single committee ranked team and is also 10-2 is ranked 3 spots higher at 8. In that case, the committee is saying Michigan State’s two loses to ranked teams in Oregon and OSU is more important than Georgia Tech’s wins over ranked teams Clemson and UGA. Oh and to add insult to injury no conference has more wins against non-conference Power 5 opponents (10) than the ACC, and the ACC is one of two power 5 conferences with a winning record in that same category (the other being the Pac 12). So, I am surprised both by the ACC’s success and utter lack of respect by a committee that seems either ignorant of college football or void of credibility in its selection.

Anthony (Syracuse): The biggest surprise had to be North Carolina State taking the Tar Heels to the woodshed.  It looked like UNC was finally putting something together…. and… NOT!  A close second for me is Pitt beating Miami.  Again, Miami looked like they were ready to turn the corner… and then NOT!  The ACC sweeping the SEC did not surprise me, really.

WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST SURPRISE/DISAPPOINTMENT FOR YOUR SCHOOL IN WEEK 14?

Len (Louisville): The Cards pulled out the victory with its 3rd string QB & while losing the turnover battle. Bolin was dreadful in his only other appearance this season but turned out one of the best performances by a Louisville QB this season against Kentucky. Their pregame antics reeked of desperation and I was surprised by the lack of class from our rival. I was disappointed that the antics worked and that some Louisville players fell to their level.

Mike (NC State): Well. let’s see.  The Wolfpack beat UNC to finish 7-5.  They played their best game of the season against their archrivals. Not much to complain about, but I was disappointed in a couple of things. The overly aggressive plays that resulted in boneheaded penalties that twice prolonged a Carolina drive in the second half were ridiculous.  And why not pull the starters going into the fourth quarter with the game already won?  Maybe I’m just a grumpy old man.  Anyway, big win, happy happy. The Pack is back.

John (UNC): I’ve all but given up on trying to understand this team. One week the Tar Heels completely demolish a very good Duke squad (now 9-3), and the next they fall flat on their faces against another big rival in NC State. ON SENIOR DAY. If that isn’t motivation, I don’t know what is. Now, they await their bowl placement, and all I can say is, they need the extra practices.

Brian (FSU): I was surprised FSU could win a game in spite of Winston instead of because of Winston. I was disappointed in the committee deciding that TCU should be ranked higher than FSU, at 3.  This decision is idiotic for many reasons, but here are a few:  TCU has a loss, FSU does not have any losses. TCU has 2 less wins than FSU, not 1 but 2. TCU has faced only 9 power 5 schools, FSU has faced 11. TCU actually has a worse SOS than FSU in most rankings, and the one used by ESPN recently has TCU behind FSU in that category. The committee chair yesterday had the cojones to say FSU is undefeated but struggled in its games… FSU WON ALL OF ITS GAMES! So the eye test or game control literally means more in the committees eyes than wins. By the way Kansas, Washington State, and Arkansas all say hello committee members… all teams who are not very good that gave teams ranked higher than FSU fits, not allowing those higher ranked teams to control those games at all; and saying hello right behind those bad teams are Baylor, Ole Miss, and Arizona… they actually beat TCU, Bama, and Oregon. I would like to ask Ninja Swofford to start getting vocal now. I would hope if FSU wins this weekend it could not possibly fall again, but if OSU sitting at five blows out a team in Wisconsin ranked near GT, and FSU struggles to win in its game then FSU, if recent history holds, could fall to 5. Everyone says it is impossible, but 2 months ago would you have thought college football’s only unbeaten team would be sitting behind 3 one loss teams? One last thing, Mike Tranghese was too sick to vote last week, and FSU sat at 3… he was able to vote this week and FSU is at 4.  You know the same Tranghese who was the Big East commissioner until 2009… just saying, if anyone has a an ax to grind against ACC schools it would be the guy whose league imploded due to ACC poaching.

Anthony (Syracuse): Scott Shafer has gone from hero to zero so quickly it is really unfathomable.  If he was coaching with any sense of courage, maybe he would be given the benefit of the doubt.  But his gutless playing for field position–without any regard for game, score, and time.  His hard-nosed mantra is a ruse.  Meanwhile, his team plays undisciplined football, both in terms of penalties and knowledge of the game.  Any Syracuse fan can look past the injuries, but the warning signs on Shafer are huge.  He will likely get 2015 to show that 2014 was an anomaly.  If it shows that 2013 was the anomaly, he will be unemployed.

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO IN WEEK 15 FOR YOUR SCHOOL?

Len (Louisville): Our bowl match up. Where are we going & who will we play. Who be will our starting quarterback? Bonnafon will be available but Bolin looked good against Kentucky. Accuracy has been a problem for Louisville QB this season.

Mike (NC State): What bowl, what bowl?  That’s about all that’s left to contemplate.  Watching the game it seemed that the Belk was mentioned a lot.  Wherever the Pack ends up, it’s a lot better feeling than last year.

John (UNC):  The Tar Heels began the season with ACC Championship dreams, but once again, they’ll be watching, not playing, this Saturday. It’s ironic that North Carolina’s best chance to win the league happened the year they weren’t eligible to participate, but that’s irony for you. With movement already happening in the coaching world (vacancies at Michigan, Florida and Nebraska among others), I’m hoping that Coach Fedora pulls the trigger and at least begins a discussion with a few prospective defensive coordinator replacements. Unfortunately, while former Florida coach Will Muschamp has North Carolina ties (his father played for the Tar Heels), he’s likely to be out of the price range of the basketball centric pocketbooks in Chapel Hill.

Brian (FSU): FSU winning the ACC and getting in the playoff… but I am fully aware of how dangerous GT is in reality. In fact, all my complaining is likely to be moot… I think the Jackets pull it out.  One thing to look for is Smelter is hurt, and GT relies on him for making the big catch and or the big reverse. Of course it is raining this weekend in Charlotte, so that helps Tech much more than FSU. Long story short, I think FSU loses… but if they win, I hope it is a narrow victory. I also hope TCU, Baylor and OSU blow out their opponents… and Oregon and Bama win this weekend. I want to dare the committee to be stupid enough to keep an unbeaten FSU out. I want chaos. I have written them off… and I am rooting for the rest of the country to look at the committee as a bunch of foolish members. I am essentially daring the committee to leave out an unbeaten FSU.

Anthony (Syracuse): It will be interesting to see if the fans cool off over what was a disappointing season made worse by poor coaching.  I suspect not.

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO IN WEEK 15 FOR THE ACC?

Len (Louisville): Can Georgia Tech upset Florida State and if so can they make the playoffs? Will FSU fall out of the top 4 by winning again? Apparently in this new world of college football you have to lose to be number one and going undefeated is meaningless.

Mike (NC State): What else but the ACC Championship Game?  Part of me wants an underdog Georgia Tech win, but the other part smacked that part down and threw it in the garbage disposal.  Not only am I pulling for FSU, they absolutely have to win so we can see Round Two of The ACC Wins It All.

John (UNC):  Nothing got me more excited for the ACC Championship Game than watching Georgia Tech-Georgia this past weekend. What a game! As a North Carolina fan, it’s funny to think that the Yellow Jackets’ only two losses are to the Tar Heels, and to the Blue Devils, who North Carolina beat. But Georgia Tech has really come on strong at the end of the season under the direction of newly crowned ACC Coach of the Year (and North Carolina native) Paul Johnson. The Seminoles better be on watch Saturday if they want to preserve their playoff hopes.

Brian (FSU): Ummmm good recruiting, and John Swofford getting after the committee.

Anthony (Syracuse): Well, FSU winning would be best for the ACC.  On the other hand, if a 13-0 Florida State is dominated, that will tarnish the ACC’s season somewhat.  But if Florida State can beat Georgia Tech, then this will be a true sign that they will be very competitive in the playoff.

WHO ARE YOUR FOUR PLAYOFF TEAMS IF THE SEASON ENDED TODAY?

Len (Louisville): 1 FSU ( because being undefeated should still mean something ) 2 Alabama 3 Oregon 4 Ohio State. I can’t understand the argument of ranking Alabama and Oregon ahead of FSU but not TCU! FSU & TCU resumes or similar but only one is 12-0. I’m calling BS on the committees rankings this week. If you want geographical matchups then don’t seed the top 4. Go Noles!

Mike (NC State):

Florida State – undefeated for a reason.
Oregon – the western powerhouse rolls on.
Ohio State – they earned it, no matter who is at QB.
Alabama – so FSU can complete the Auburn/Alabama sweep.

John (UNC): It’s conference championship week and anything could happen. Arizona has ALREADY beaten Oregon once. Georgia Tech is looking strong. Ohio State will probably screw up. One thing is certain though, and that’s the power of Alabama. For another week, I’m sticking with Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and TCU. I’m just not as confident about it as I was before.

Brian (FSU): Right now: 1) FSU, 2) Oregon, 3) Bama, 4) Baylor…. in reality it will end up being: 1) Bama, 2) Oregon, 3) OSU, 4) TCU

Anthony (Syracuse): The fact that the committee has Florida State at #4 is an abomination.  The entire committee should be scrapped and replaced.  Under the old system, the only question would be who was #2.  Under the new system, the only question should be who is #2 through #4.  In NO circumstance should an undefeated team from ANY POWER FIVE conference… that is the sole undefeated team… be anything but a #1 seed overall.  The bottom line is that Alabama, Oregon, and TCU have each not even been the winner on a field this year, whereas nobody can say that about the Seminoles.  And while FSU has had its share of good fortune, so has TCU (see the West Virginia late-game implosion).  Moreover, there is nothing about the committee’s ranking that is consistent.  So my top 4 is: (1) FSU; (2) Alabama; (3) Oregon; and (4) T.C.U.

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

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ACC Roundtable of the Confidential Correspondents: Week 13/14

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?

ACC Roundtable of the Confidential Correspondents: Week 12/13

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?

ACC Roundtable of the Confidential Correspondents: Week 11/12

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 11) and the Week that will be (Week 12) 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 11?

David (FSU): The week went pretty much as planned, though Clemson did struggle a bit more than I expected early, the week was pretty much the status quo.

Len (Louisville): All the blowout victories. Not surprised by the wins but by the margins. The way Arizona State dominated Notre Dame.

Mike (NC State): The way Wake Forest hung with Clemson, trailing only 20-17 going into the fourth quarter.  This does not bode well for NC State; of their remaining two opponents, Wake looks to be the most winnable game.  Or is it?

John (UNC): Nothing too surprising this week, honestly. All the teams that won were expected to win, even though the margins may not have been exactly the same. At times, Clemson struggled against Wake Forest, and Florida State looked sloppy against Virginia, but no one will remember that years from now when they look back at each team’s win-loss record. Pretty standard. Oh wait, Notre Dame got destroyed by Arizona State, completely ending the Fighting Irish’s chance at the College Football Playoff. Not entirely surprising given the way they’ve played against their questionable schedule, but fantastic for the ACC’s chances at having them join all-in at some point in the future.

Brian (FSU):  Wake Forest putting up 20 points on Clemson’s defense.  I could not believe Wake’s anemic offense was able to score on Clemson.  On a side note I am surprised that OSU blew out Michigan State… you know the same OSU team that lost to the team currently in last place in the Coastal.  Of course if you watch ESPN the OSU hype machine is spinning that OSU is improving while asking us to ignore the VT loss.  Here is the thing, if you praise OSU you cannot do so without praising the ACC.  If one of the worst ACC teams can handily beat the best Big 10 team at their house, what does that say about the ACC?  You cannot brush off that loss for OSU when all they have played since the loss are other Big 10 teams and High School level competition, and the best Big 10 team should be able to handle the worst of any conference, even with a new QB.  Everyone has called JT Barrett one of the bright spots for OSU this year… well you cannot ignore what one of the worst ACC teams did to that QB in September. Sorry all BIG 10 homers, fact is the Hokies beat your best team.

Anthony (Syracuse): By far… it was Clemson allowing 20 points to Wake Forest. A close second was Notre Dame laying an egg against Arizona State.

WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST SURPRISE/DISAPPOINTMENT FOR YOUR SCHOOL IN WEEK 11?

David (FSU): I was surprised at not seeing Mario Pender & some others play either at all or very sparingly in the second half. FSU seemed to pack it in once they had a 2 score lead, appearing to just desire escaping with a W and as much rest as possible for key players still hampered by injury. 

Len (Louisville): I was surprised by how bad Boston College special teams were. I was disappointed in Dyers performance, I was expecting him to continue his high level of play. I was pleased that they weren’t caught looking ahead to Notre Dame. The 38-19 final score was surprising as well, it’s a solid road victory.

Mike (NC State): Zero momentum carried over from the Syracuse game and the Pack was pummeled.  Not that the Tech game looked too promising, but 56-23?  Really?

John (UNC):  North Carolina was off last week, so thankfully, we didn’t lose. The Tar Heels continued to be in the news though, as former player Michael McAdoo (no relation to former basketball player James Michael McAdoo) sued the school, claiming that the University ‘failed to provide him with a quality education.’ While that may be true on some level due to his involvement in the African American Studies Department’s paper classes, this is a guy who got kicked out of school for plagiarism and academic fraud that he committed, not someone else. While I agree that it’s the University’s responsibility to provide a quality education, I am a firm believer in personal responsibility. The blame falls solely on McAdoo for going along with the paper class system instead of waiting to speak out when it was more convenient for him. Much like fellow whistle blower Rashad McCants, McAdoo’s professional career has been a complete bust, in part because of his bad attitude.

Brian (FSU):   I was surprised and disappointed that the UM game is currently sitting at -1.5 FSU.  Yes, UM is a rival…. Yes, statistically they have better numbers… Yes, they have played better offenses, and their D is top 11… Yes, FSU has not looked like last year… I do not care!  Fact is FSU should be more of favorite than they are, and certainly not an underdog (trending that way).   FSU has actually faced far better run defenses and defenses that are far more aggressive than UM.  UM has actually played some of the worst run defenses, have Duke Johnson, and they are still not a top 30 team in rushing.  In two of the games they lost this year they played good run defenses (the only 2 all year ), and could not break a 100 yards rushing.  Fact is, if you stop UM’s ground attack they are in trouble.  Would you believe me if I told you with all the injuries and all the criticism that FSU has the third best run defense UM will have faced all year, sitting at 35? Well they are, and are coming in healthier in the front line than they have been all year.  Remember, FSU had 2 total linebackers going up against Louisville… that will not be the case against UM.  That being said… UM will likely shock FSU… I always assume the worst.

Anthony (Syracuse): Syracuse keeps losing players and keeps performing at the same level.  For all the criticism lofted at Scott Shafer (e.g. here), he has kept this team together despite the losses.  Syracuse may not have talent, but it certainly has heart.

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO IN WEEK 12 FOR YOUR SCHOOL?

David (FSU): I’m most looking forward to seeing how the run game works itself out on both sides of the ball. Getting Pender back should help FSU, and supposedly Cook will be able to play as well. Can the team finally have a dominate rushing game that we expected to see at the start of the year? As for MIA, they’ve already proven they can run the ball as well as anyone in the ACC not named GT. Will the FSU DL have gap composure and integrity? Exactly how healthy are Mario Edwards & Eddie Goldman, their play will be vital to FSU’s chances for success.

Len (Louisville): The Cards are on a bye week so I’m looking forward to them getting healthy again. Lorenzo Mauldin missed the game against BC due to a shoulder injury, that injury has been nagging him all season. Golson is struggling with turnovers and Holliman added 3 ints to his season total, giving him 13 to lead the nation, so I am looking forward to our trip to South Bend in two weeks. The Cards defense should be able to pressure Golson much like Arizona St did which should give the Cards the advantage.

Mike (NC State): The Wolfpack must focus and beat Wake to ensure bowl eligibility.  I have no confidence that they can go into Chapel Hill and beat the Heels in Week 14, especially if the bowl issue isn’t yet nailed down.

John (UNC):  It’s Homecoming, so I’m looking for a win against Pittsburgh. If we can’t pull it off against the Panthers, our shot at bowl eligibility decreases significantly since a win at Duke can’t be guaranteed, or even remotely expected, at this point. The Tar Heels need to take care of business against the Panthers in order to set up a crucial home game against rival NC State the final week of the season. Something to watch- If NC State loses at home against Wake Forest this Saturday (highly unlikely, but possible), the stakes of the Tar Heels’ end of the month meeting with the Wolfpack become even higher. NC State is only 5-5 with two games remaining.

Brian (FSU):  Not much, since I somehow expect to lose. I would say, with our great kicker it would not be due to a wide right field goal… but then he shanked one against Louisville.

Anthony (Syracuse): Rest and healing.

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO IN WEEK 12 FOR THE ACC?

David (FSU):I’m actually going to take the Clemson v GT game here, the GT offense vs Clemson D should be a great matchup to watch, and both teams still have plenty on the line this year.

Len (Louisville): If FSU can remain unbeaten after traveling to Miami. Also the Clemson and GT game. You have two Coastal teams, Miami and GT, playing at their best right now hosting the two top dogs from the Atlantic. Pop open a cold one, grab your favorite snack and enjoy the games.

Mike (NC State): Florida State vs Miami.  One of the two rivalry games the Noles face as the season draws to a close.  The Hurricanes are peaking at the right time, and the Seminoles have looked vulnerable over most of this season.  Will this be the game that ruins the chance of getting an ACC team into the first College Football Playoffs?

John (UNC):  The spotlight is on the Florida State-Miami game, but the other four games have bigger implications. Will North Carolina get one step closer to bowl eligibility against the Panthers? Will NC State get to six wins with a victory over the lowly Demon Deacons? What will another (expected) loss for the Hokies do to Frank Beamer’s tenure at Virginia Tech? And how will fierce rivals Clemson and Georgia Tech fare coming into a game with only four losses between them? There’s a lot at stake on Saturday, and it’s more than just pride.

Brian (FSU): I could say the only time ranked teams from the ACC are playing each other this weekend, and it is a rivalry game in GT vs. CU… but the Duke game is also important.  Right now it is a 3 way race for the Atlantic, in reality.  GT needs a lot of help. Duke controls its destiny.  UM is in a good tie-breaker position against Duke head to head.

 Anthony (Syracuse):Well, there are two top notch games between FSU/Miami and Georgia Tech/Clemson.  What else could anyone want?

WHO ARE YOUR FOUR PLAYOFF TEAMS IF THE SEASON ENDED TODAY?

David (FSU): 1) Miss State 2) FSU 3) Oregon 4) Alabama (obviously this changes after this weekend).

Len (Louisville): 1 Miss State, 2) FSU, 3) Oregon. I was expecting a bigger margin of victory from FSU so I put them at #2. The top 3 are.solid but #4 isn’t getting any easier. My top candidates for the 4 spot are Alabama, TCU & Baylor. I would give this spot to the Big 12 champ but for now I will put Baylor there.

Mike (NC State):1 Florida State, 2 Oregon, 3 Mississippi State, 4 Alabama

John (UNC):  Oregon, Mississippi State and Florida State were victors on Saturday, but Michigan State fell out of the race entirely when they lost to rival Ohio State. I’m not ready to put the Buckeyes in the rankings though, because Alabama has made a great case to be team #4 this week. Actually, make that team #3. With a loss against the Crimson Tide this weekend, Mississippi State falls out of the rankings too, and TCU moves in. Get ready for the Horned Frogs!

Brian (FSU): Right now: 1) Miss St, 2) FSU, 3) Oregon, 4) TCU… of course I think Baylor having the tie-breaker over TCU should count for something.  At year end: 1) Bama, 2) Oregon, 3) Baylor (I think TCU will choke at UT… calling it now), 4) Miss St (With 1 loss, they beat a battered Ole Miss squad but by losing to Bama they avoid the SEC Title game, but resume trumps a 1 loss OSU BIG winner…  the BIG then literally flips a… cannot finish that sentence.) 

Anthony (Syracuse): I am going with Florida State, Mississippi State, Oregon, and TCU. I have zero issues with the way the playoff committee has things right now.  Except… why is Florida State #3?  They beat Notre Dame… who was good enough to propel Arizona State UP three spots.  Meanwhile, Oregon has a MUCH worse loss and just had their Michigan State win downgraded.  I think that they were just trolling #FSUTwitter

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

ACC Roundtable of the Confidential Correspondents: Week 10/11

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 10) and the Week that will be (Week 11) 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 10?

Len (Louisville): The way Miami beat North Carolina. The Canes are finishing strong as Duke Johnson is playing up to his potential & as their freshman QB settles into the starting role. They.are an improved team over the one that played the Cards in the first game of the season.

Mike (NC State): The relative ease with which Miami handled UNC.  I thought Fedora’s team had turned a corner, but now they need to win two of their last three to get into a bowl. If the Canes get to Charlotte to face FSU, that could actually be interesting…they beat Duke but lost to Tech…hmm…

John (UNC):  Louisville really blew it. They had a huge lead over the #2 team in the nation and couldn’t finish. Honestly, I wasn’t surprised the Cardinals led 21-7 at one point. I was more surprised that they didn’t win. The Seminoles, while talented, haven’t seemed as unstoppable as they were last year. They looked extremely vulnerable against a motivated Louisville team playing in front of a home crowd. That’s why I wouldn’t be surprised if the Noles lose one of their next four games. The remaining schools (Virginia, Miami, Boston College, Florida) have either beaten, or narrowly lost, to some of the hottest programs this year (just ask Georgia).

Brian (FSU):   I was surprised how good UM looked against UNC.  I was already concerned about the UVA game and UM, but now UM is looking like a very dangerous game for the Noles.

Anthony (Syracuse): I really thought that Florida State would play a 60-minute game against Louisville.  Instead, it was a 35 minute game, with a lot of good fortune along the way.  Florida State fans may not want to hear it, but the thing about luck is that it eventually runs out.  Florida State needs to play much better if it is going to repeat as national champions.  Jameis Winston impressed the heck out of me though.  If he can mature off-the-field, he could be an all-time great on-the-field.

WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST SURPRISE/DISAPPOINTMENT FOR YOUR SCHOOL IN WEEK 10?

Len (Louisville): That Parker didn’t score on the first play of the game. When he is up to full speed that would normally be a TD. I was surprised by all the holes in the Cards defense in the second half leaving the Noles wide open for big plays. The game drew a 3.5 TV rating so that bolds will for the ACC & gave the Cards national exposure. It was a big recruiting weekend & the Cards got 4 quality commitments.

Mike (NC State): I was really surprised that Pharoah McKever would be the guy who made the play that snapped the Pack’s ACC drought.  Here’s hoping that the Wolfpack uses this win as a springboard.  It feels really good to stop thinking about the losing streak and realize State is just one win from bowl eligibility. 

John (UNC): I really thought North Carolina would put up a better fight against Miami. I really did. With a two game winning streak and a chance to take the lead in the Coastal Division race, there was so much at stake this past Saturday. Instead of rising to the occasion, the Tar Heels put up an anemic 258 yards and looked lost on both sides of the ball for the first time this year. At least in losses to East Carolina (who saw their Peach Bowl dreams go up in flames with a loss to Temple), Notre Dame and Clemson, the North Carolina offense was dynamic, giving the team a chance to win (unlike the defense). This week it wasn’t. Awful. Just awful.

Brian (FSU): I was surprised that FSU was able to develop a run game against one of the best D’s in the country.  I was disappointed by FSU’s kicker missing a kick finally.

Anthony (Syracuse): After facing a very tough Clemson team, Syracuse quarterback AJ Long continued to look like a true freshman against NC State.  Granted, they had two weeks to prepare for Syracuse.  Even worse, he was not running the ball until the 2nd half.  There is little point in having a mobile QB and taking his feet out of the game.  Not one of Tim Lester’s best offensive coordinator performances.  Then again, he has only had 4, none of them with Syracuse’s two best weapons or a healthy offensive line.

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO IN WEEK 11 FOR YOUR SCHOOL?

Len (Louisville): If the offense continues to improve & if the Cards can contain BC QB Murphy. The D has been solid against the run so it will be interesting to see how well they handle the best scrambling QB that they will face this seaon. With Dyer turning in back to back strong performances it would be nice to see the WR’s step up their game & score some TD’s against BC with Notre Dame lurking ahead on the schedule. This could be a trap game, if the Cards are caught looking ahead, BC is good enough to get the victory.

Mike (NC State): Curious to see two things: will the momentum carry on? And how well can the Pack deal with that Ga. Tech option?  They stopped the Syracuse rushing attack but this is a whole different wrinkle.  One that they face but once a year.

John (UNC):  I’m excited that it’s a bye week for the Heels. Whatever is going on with the team needs to be addressed. With three games left, and two wins needed for bowl eligibility, it’s not too late to save the season, even though it will be probably be disappointing either way because of the preseason expectations. Matchups against Pittsburgh (4-5) and NC State (5-4) at home are very winnable, and despite the fact that Duke is a much better team than the Tar Heels this year, games between the two schools are almost always close.

Brian (FSU): I would like to say hopefully FSU finally showing up at full strength in a game (last week 7 linebackers were our plus FSU’s safety who led the ACC with tackles), or as close to it as possible, but then word hits that Winston is banged up.  He should still play, but hopefully FSU will find a way to end this game early so Winston can get some rest along with other key players… of course hope is the key word… I am not expecting a big win by FSU.

Anthony (Syracuse): The offense must get better.  The defense has played well for the past several games now.  The offense needs to have one of those “it all comes together against a good opponent” games.  If they don’t have it this week, then the result will be sitting at home for December/January.

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO IN WEEK 11 FOR THE ACC?

Len (Louisville): The Cards have already lost at Virginia & in Death Valley, can they get a quality road win in Boston? Can ND win at Arizona State? GT going into NC State should be an interesting game but Duke is in control of the coastal so the meaning isn’t as great. However a three way tie is still possible if Duke losses again.

Mike (NC State): Three ACC teams are clinging by a thread to the top 25: Clemson (21), Duke (24) and Louisville (25).  The one that might fall off:  the Cards, if they are not on their game at Boston College.  And an angry Syracuse could give Duke more than they are bargaining for.

 John (UNC): I’m really interested in the NC State-Georgia Tech and Boston College-Louisville games. Can the Wolfpack seize the momentum from their first ACC win under second year coach, Dave Doeren, or will the Yellow Jackets prove that they belong back in the Top 25? And which team, the Eagles, or the Cardinals, win the Battle of the Birds and take that next step, proving that they belong in the upper echelon of the Atlantic? It will be a fun weekend to watch for sure.

Brian (FSU): I want to see if Louisville will implode or will it stand up and beat a very good BC team.  If BC wins, they are very much still in the Atlantic race.

Anthony (Syracuse): My eyes remain squarely on Florida State and Notre Dame.  If these two want to be in the playoff, they need to start working on style points.  ND has several spots to leapfrog.  Florida State eking by opponents will lead to a first-round playoff elimination.

WHO ARE YOUR FOUR PLAYOFF TEAMS IF THE SEASON ENDED TODAY?

Len (Louisville):1) FSU 2) Miss State 3) Auburn 4) Oregon. The odds are good that the SEC will get two in but which two is still up in the air. The SEC East has been correctly called a dumpster fire with Missouri leading the way with their loss to Indiana. Should they win the CCG how would that effect the way the committee perceives the SEC? Florida thumping Georgia enhances the game between the Noles & Gators so I’m not buying the weak argument that FSU wouldn’t make it in with 1 loss, their schedule isn’t weak. They dont have a win against a top 5 team but you can also make a strong case as to why some of the SEC wins were againat over rated teams.

Mike (NC State):This part is getting a bit easier.  1) Mississippi State, 2) Florida State, 3) Oregon, 4) Auburn.  Although I am dead set against the SEC getting two in, this is where I think we are at this moment.

John (UNC): Ole Miss lost, so in comes Oregon, as predicted and right on schedule. They are joined by Mississippi State (who already beat Auburn, but has tough matchups against Alabama and Ole Miss ahead of them), Florida State (who is only in for now after their shaky play against Louisville) and Michigan State. Again, while another SEC West team may deserve a bid, and certainly the final few games could show this, I still think the committee will go for balance in the Playoff’s first year.

Brian (FSU): If the playoffs started today it would be: 1) Miss St, 2) FSU, 3) Auburn, 4) Bama; but I think at yearend FSU will lose somewhere (they are playing with fire too much this year with how they win, and I am still not sold they will finish unbeaten… UM is the best bet right now, but UF looks dangerous and so does UVA or BC and of course the Coastal Winner).  Also, I think Miss St will lose twice more (Bama and Ole Miss… although I am less certain about this outcome due to the Treadwell injury).  I think Auburn will lose to Bama. I think LSU could shock Bama, but I think Bama pulls it out.  All that said the Final 4 will be in my view: 1) Bama, 2) Oregon, 3) ND, 4) Mich St.

Anthony (Syracuse):My preseason was FSU, Alabama, Oregon, Michigan State.  I may have under-appreciated the Big XII, which has TCU and Kansas State primed to have someone enter the mix.  If the season ended today, then I think the committee nailed it with Miss St., FSU, Auburn, and Oregon.  All I know is that this system is working great.  Every game matters, yet we’ll decide the champion on the field.  #5 through #8 will have some reason to complain, but they had a chance to control their own destiny and tripped up.  No undefeated team (save Marshall) will be left out.

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

ACC Roundtable of the Confidential Correspondents: Week 9/10

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 9) and the Week that will be (Week 10) for the ACC and their respective schools.  Special thanks to the Confidential contributors–Len (Louisville), David (Florida State), John (UNC), Mike (NC State), Brian (FSU), and Anthony (Syracuse)–for their comments and opinions.  Tell us what you think below.

WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST SURPRISE FOR THE ACC IN WEEK 9?

Len (Louisville): Miami beating VT the way they did, 30-6. VT has gone in the wrong direction since winning at Ohio St. VT can still become bowl eligible but have to win games at Wake & at Virginia to end the season. They have BC at home next but travel to Duke for the first of 3 straight road games. This off season could be interesting for Hookie fans. My biggest surprise of the weekend however came on the ACC Blitz show before the game of the week when they discussed swapping Clemson for Miami in a divisional shake up. I favor going divisionless if a change occurs.

David (FSU):  Biggest surprise for me was that the rest of the country just now is realizing VT & Frank Beamer are FSU & Bobby Bowden circa 2007-2009. Beamer has needed to go for a while now and that offense? Eeesh. I want to say pull the trigger VT, but who is chomping at the bit to head to blacksburg as a replacement?

Mike (NC State): Not so much Georgia Tech’s win at Pitt but how they did it.  After  two straight losses, the Jackets could have tucked their tail between their legs and conceded the Coastal race.  Instead they dominated, jumping out to a 28-0 first quarter lead and never looking back.  On the road against a team on the verge of  bowl eligibility.  Impressive to say the least.

John (UNC): At some point, something has got to give in Blacksburg. Frank Beamer is one of the most respected coaches in the game, and deservedly so, but the Hokies have really slipped in recent years. I was amazed at how flat they played against Miami, and I’m really beginning to wonder if Beamer will coach through the end of his contract (which just got extended until 2019). More likely, I see him having a ‘farewell season’ next year, and stepping down before bowl eligibility is no longer a given.

Brian (FSU):  I am shocked that UM was able to bring a whooping so easily at VT’s house (wait can I say that in today’s world?).   It is so surprising because the last time UM won in Blacksburg was in 2005… although that was also a shocker, when #3 VT was blown out at home by Coker’s Canes.

Anthony (Syracuse): The North Carolina and Miami wins.  Both Virginia schools really needed a big win and neither got it.  At least Virginia was competitive.  The onside kick by Fedora was legendary.

WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST SURPRISE/DISAPPOINTMENT FOR YOUR SCHOOL IN WEEK 9?

Len (Louisville): They were finally on a bye week so hopefully they got themselves healthy. Patrino is difficult to beat when he has extended time to prepare. Add to the fact that it’s a home game on a Thursday night & history says the Cards have an edge here, but will it be enough to pull the upset?

David (FSU):  FSU had a bye week, if there was any disappointment it was the news that Mario Pender was considered questionable for Thursday’s game.

Mike (NC State): The biggest disappointment for NC State is that a bye week is really their most impressive recent performance.  I still think they will recover and likely get a bowl game, but time is running short.  If this ends up another 0-8 conference season, it will be running out on the Dave Doeren era.

John (UNC): I was blown away with how things unfolded at the end of the Virginia game. In no way did I ever think the Tar Heels would attempt an on-side kick. In retrospect, it makes sense, but the sheer improbability of being successful with such a move is enormous. It paid off though. It also didn’t hurt that Virginia got flagged for a crucial penalty coming out of a time out, giving North Carolina a first down and ending the game. What a finish.

Brian (FSU): I was hoping I could say that I was surprised no bad news or drama took place during FSU’s bye week, and as of Monday it seemed likely to come true…. then FSU’s starting RB got himself into some trouble.  So, I think I am disappointed that Williams allegedly behaved the way he did.  For the record assuming all of the facts about what Williams allegedly did are true, and I think they are, I am more than fine with him being removed from the team permanently.

Anthony (Syracuse): The biggest surprise was that Syracuse’s defense could force Clemson mistakes.  The biggest disappointment is that Syracuse’s offense did not realize that it was not going to beat Clemson by anything other than tough running of the ball.  When you have less than 200 yards of offense, it is going poorly.  Run the freakin’ ball and at least hope to tire the opponent out.  Beyond that, AJ Long looked like a true freshman, which is fine because he is.

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO IN WEEK 10 FOR YOUR SCHOOL?

Len (Louisville): Parker presence should help the offense since the opposing defenses will no longer be able to stack the box & will have to double team him or risk a huge play. Can Dyer have a repeat performance? These new weapons on offense should help the struggling Gardner & the OL. The Cards saw improvement from the QB & OL with Parker & Dyer performance against NC State. My ideal scenario would be the Cards getting the win & FSU still making the playoffs.

David (FSU): I’m looking forward to Matthew Thomas getting more comfortable at LB, I’d also like to see a little less of Lorenzo Featherston at DE. Not because he’s played poorly, but I don’t think his body can handle the grind of the season much longer if he keeps getting the same amount of snaps. Look for Demarcus Walker to step up. Offensively, I hope to continue to see the rise of Travis Rudolph as a dependable option for Jameis, and Dalvin Cook to split time with Karlos Williams.

Mike (NC State): The pressure is on against Syracuse, both teams will be desperate for a win.  While State did look better last time vs Louisville than they did against BC, the result was the same.  Really all phases need to step it up several notches to pull off this absolutely vital road win. The road ahead is narrow, with only  Wake Forest looking winnable.  And that is no guarantee.

John (UNC):  Last year, the Tar Heels rattled off 5 straight wins, going 6-1 at the end of the season, including a Belk Bowl victory over the Cincinnati Bearcats after a poor start. With the right play calling and focus, they look ready to do the same thing this year. Miami seems improved from the squad that beat the Tar Heels in the last seconds of the game in Chapel Hill last year, but this is a North Carolina team that still has a lot to prove and has shown significant improvement the past few weeks. I don’t see the game being at Miami as a disadvantage. The Hurricanes have no home crowd, and the Tar Heels proved they can march right into a division rival’s backyard and pull victory from the jaws of defeat last week. I’m not expecting a win necessarily, but I wouldn’t be surprised with one either. The defense still needs improvement.

Brian (FSU): I am dreading FSU’s game against Louisville this Thursday.  All year I assumed this was the best place for FSU to lose.  Vegas agrees, hence the -3.5 FSU line on the game (opened at -8.5, a lot of Cardinal money coming in the last few days).  Considering FSU is unbeaten but only 1-6 against the spread, if FSU wins, odds are it will be able to finally cover this week.  So I guess that is what I am looking forward to… yeah I know it is not much, but like I said, I think FSU loses this Thursday night.

Anthony (Syracuse): The NC State game is not mathematically a must win for bowl eligibility, but it is nevertheless a must win.  Syracuse can run the table against Duke (H), Pitt (A), and BC (A), but it is not likely.  If Syracuse cannot win this one, it does not deserve a bowl.

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO IN WEEK 10 FOR THE ACC?

Len (Louisville): Separation in the Coastal Division. Duke & GT are looking to be the best there & they have a chance this week to to start separating themselves from the rest of the pack. Duke has the head to head edge and are my pick to face FSU in the CCG.

David (FSU): Hard to beat the Thursday night matchup with FSU @ Louisville, Can FSU keep the unbeaten streak alive?

Mike (NC State): Of course the big matchup is FSU-Louisville Thursday night, but watching the Coastal sort itself out is fascinating.  Every game in that division is almost like a playoff, and this time around we have such matchups as UNC/Miami, Georgia Tech/Virginia  and Pitt/Duke to go with the  Virginia Tech/BC interdivisional matchup.  Somebody has to win the Coastal.

John (UNC): I think there’s a really interesting slate this week. Louisville has looked strong at many different points this season, and has the opportunity to eliminate new conference rival Florida State from the playoff with a win at home. Once again, there is a lot at stake in the Coastal Division, and a win by Pittsburgh versus the Blue Devils at home could really change the direction of the whole season.

Brian (FSU): I guess since I think FSU will lose, I am looking forward to see if Duke can continue its reign over the Coastal.

Anthony (Syracuse): 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): 1) FSU 2) Miss State 3) Oregon 4) Notre Dame.  3 & 4 are a toss up right now with a lot of good 1 loss teams. Alabama, Mich St, Kansas St & TCU all deserve consideration. I wrote this before the playoff committee released their rankings so I’m curious how my 4 compares to theirs.

David (FSU): 1) Miss State 2) FSU 3) Alabama 4) Oregon

Mike (NC State):This playoff thing is about 100 times more exciting than the BCS it replaces.  Here are my four as of right now:

Mississippi State, Florida State, Oregon, Michigan State.  Marshall likely finishes unbeaten but is relegated to a non-playoff former BCS bowl, which is why we need to look at expanding the field to sixteen sooner rather than later.  Give the Cinderellas a chance to get to the ball.

John (UNC): I’m just not buying 3 SEC West teams in the Playoff like the inaugural rankings suggested. Much like the PAC-12, I see the SEC West cannibalizing itself in the next few weeks. Either Auburn or Ole Miss is going to win this weekend, and someone still has to lose Ole Miss-Mississippi State. A more likely scenario includes Oregon jumping back in, and being joined by Florida State, one SEC West team and Michigan State who can easily run the table in the Big Ten. Sure, the playoff committee likes the SEC right now, but I see a little more diversity in January.

Brian (FSU): My Top 4 at year end is: 1) Bama (Miss St struggled with KY so I think they choke to Bama and Ole Miss, I think Bama wins out, and since I think Ole Miss loses to Auburn this weekend, all other SEC teams will have at least 2 losses), 2) ND (they will not lose again, and the Pac 12 winner will have 2 losses), 3) Mich St (who can beat them in the BIG?), 4) TCU… I predict FSU loses this Thursday (and probably a second time), and no way FSU gets in with even 1 loss… too much negative press for the school and negative perception of the strength of the ACC.  For crying out loud, I saw a replay of an ESPN CFB show the other night where some analysts seem to suggest FSU should not even be top 4 if they are unbeaten.

Anthony (Syracuse): I will stick with what I wrote last night before the top 25 was issued:

If it were me: 1. fsu, 2. Miss st., 3 auburn, 4 nd

3 out of 4 aint bad.  ND ended up #10, but I understand that logic.  ND has some winning to do yet. 

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

“Rules to Build a Rivalry”

With the recent addition of Louisville to the ACC many have wondered, “What rivalries will the Cardinals develop in the conference?” It is difficult to say, as many general factors can go into developing a rivalry. Clearly you would think that things like being near each other regionally help, along with cultural similarities, and level of competition must play major roles in the development of rivalries.  Yes, they do, but those terms are vague, and by no means certain.  Consider FSU and UGA, they are closer together than most schools, yet other than the Dawgs poaching FSU assistants like it is their favorite past time, they are not real rivals.  Of course I am sure that frequency of play has a lot to do with the lack of a rivalry between the two today, but even if they played regularly there is no guarantee a healthy rivalry would develop.

Read more…

Garnet and Gold Colored Glasses… Or Not

I just wanted to introduce myself.  My name is Brian, and I will be contributing to The Confidential.  Bare with me, as I am no writer, but I will try to give a perspective from the point of view of a fan of the Garnet and Gold (FSU colors) on: the ACC, Seminoles, and College Football in general.  I have been a fan since the 90’s, and eventually graduated from the school as an undergrad some time later. I am sure my fandom will cloud my point of view on many things, but I do pride myself on seeing both sides of things; obviously with what is going on with FSU in the news today it is a constant struggle in this regard.  Anyway, let’s not get too serious right now, and I will highlight some of the things I hope to cover in the near future.

I am putting together a somewhat lengthy take on rivalries, and how they form.  I figure with Louisville joining the ACC, and the recent additions of other schools, it might be interesting to hear what a Seminole has to say on the matter.  I will discuss who are FSU rivals and why they are rivals, and outline some “rules” to a rivalry.  It is rather long at the moment, so I may spread it over a few posts over the course of a week or more focusing on one “rule for a good rivalry” every post.  Obviously the rules will be littered with colorful stories about Seminole and ACC past.

I also hope to discuss other matters like how Seminoles view its place in the ACC.  In addition, I will give my view on FSU’s and its fan-base in a very comical sense. Essentially, I will discuss some of the more bizarre stories and traditions at FSU, good and bad (I still do not get the glitter guys… just saying, they must find glitter in places that should not have foreign substance, for weeks).  I will also address future topics as they come forward, although I may hold off on some for a time so I do not let emotions skew my commentary (trust me Irish, you do not want to hear my take on last weekends game right now… Good Call!)

I will close with some brief comments to give you an idea of my fandom, so you know where I am coming from.  I once did not speak to a relative who was a fan of another rival school for months due to words exchanged during the game (yeah not proud of that one… long time ago though… now we argue about politics, so yeah we do not talk much).  I think Bobby Bowden should be on the Play-Off Committee, and I do not trust all those SEC/BIG/Pac 12/Big 12 connected folks… the ACC needs more than one major connection to a committee member.   I consider the fact that all of these networks striking deals with conferences has an appearance of impropriety which skews the reliability of their coverage and analysis against the perception of unbiased coverage; in other words, just because ESPN might one day try and tell me the SEC might arguably have the 4 best teams that should be in the playoff does not mean I will buy it.  FSU’s tradition of the flaming spear is the best in the ACC.  My idea of purgatory is being forced to watch an FSU kicker line up for a game winning field goal in the city of Miami over and over and over.  My idea of heaven is being allowed to watch highlights of Deion, Brooks, Ward, Weinke, Bolden, Warrick, Winston, Greene, and other greats play football over and over again without a Gator fan uttering the word Tebow in my presence.

ACC Roundtable of the Confidential Correspondents: Week 8/9, Part I

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?

ACC Roundtable of the Confidential Correspondents: Week 7/8, Part I

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.  Here is Part I, Part II will be tomorrow.  Tell us what you think below.

WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST SURPRISE FOR THE ACC IN WEEK 5?

David (FSU): North Carolina taking ND down to the wire, seems ND was guilty of the look ahead game but luckily survived.

Len (Louisville): North Carolina giving ND a scare. Louisville defense extended its streak to 17 qtrs without giving up a TD against Clemson. NC St only putting up 14 against BC. I think that national parity is starting to show itself with Ole Miss & Miss St LEADING the SEC. A few ‘experts’ can joke about Virginia leading their division but FSU is leading the ACC. The gap had definitely closed between them & everyone else.

John (UNC): I was surprised by the Duke-Georgia Tech score. The Yellow Jackets were finally ranked, looking good and playing at home. I didn’t even think an hour and 17 minute rain delay would stop the inevitable- a Georgia Tech win for the 11th year in a row. But I was wrong. Even though Duke hadn’t really been impressive yet this season (beating teams they should have and losing to a very average Miami team), this win went a long way toward showing that they’re for real. It will be interesting to see if they can maintain their momentum through the rest of the Coastal Division schedule.

Matt (Syracuse):  Although I didn’t watch the game, judging by the final score final score between the Irish and Tar Heels of 50-43, I would say that I was surprised by how well Mike Brey’s ball & tempo control stifled what should be a dynamic Roy Williams’ crew…wait, that was football?

Mike (NC State): The way North Carolina hung with Notre Dame.  Maybe Larry Fedora has been teasing us again and the Heels are about to turn on the afterburners.

Brian (FSU): My biggest surprise in the ACC last week is either Louisville being unable to beat Clemson when Watson missed most of the game due to injury, or Georgia Tech losing to Duke after it started the season so strong.  If I have to pick one it would be Georgia Tech, as it has been over a decade since Georgia Tech lost to Duke.  Also, when Georgia Tech beat a UM team that just beat Duke, it seemed the streak would continue. Now with Duke beating the Jackets, they have the inside track again on the Coastal.

Anthony (Syr/ACC): I have to say it was Boston College beating North Carolina State.  Boston College is a very hard team to predict–having beaten USC, but losing to Colorado State.  Really figured that Dave Doeren’s crew would take care of business at home.

WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST SURPRISE/DISAPPOINTMENT FOR YOUR SCHOOL IN WEEK 5?

David (FSU): It was great to finally see the run game/offensive line come together, even without starting tailback Karlos Williams.

Len (Louisville): That Quick didn’t score on that 80 yard pass with a minute to go. The play calling from the 5 yard line in the closing minute. That the Cards had a chance to win. That Patrino didn’t go with Gardner sooner. The OL protected better & overall played better but they still need to clean up those penalties. Bonnafon probably has more potential at QB but Gardner has a larger play book and makes decisions quicker. It was obvious to me early in the game that Bonnafons scrambling ability wasn’t going to be that big of a factor & thought that Patrino would’ve made the change sooner. Louisville’s defense is for real folks & if they can improve their offensive efficiency they should be able to compete with anyone in the country.

John (UNC): My biggest surprise is related to my biggest disappointment from last week’s roundtable. All season long, Coach Fedora had been inserting redshirt freshman QB Mitch Trubisky into the game on the third series, no matter the momentum or score. This week against Notre Dame, he didn’t play him at all. Perhaps the anger of the fans became too much, or Fedora finally realized that Williams really did give the team the best chance to win, but it’s because of this move that the Tar Heels were able to stick with Notre Dame for so long.

Matt (Syracuse): Even though the Orange lost, I’m going with surprise and not disappointment. I was pleasantly surprised by Syracuse’s offense under new OC Tim Lester and, presumed starter for the remainder season, AJ Long. I remain unconvinced that the problem on SU’s offense was solely on McDonald’s playcalling, but it is obvious that whatever changes were made were for the better.

Mike (NC State): I was disappointed in the play of Jacoby Brissett.  Granted, he was rushed early and often, but as the game started to get out of hand he seemed to panic.  Can’t get the image of him throwing the ball backward as he is being tackled and giving up more yardage than if he had just taken the sack.  Coach Doeren and staff need to address this, not to mention the poor offensive line play.

Brian (FSU): My biggest surprise from FSU last weekend was how good Cook looked.  I like Pender more than Karlos Williams at RB, but if you squinted your eyes just right Cook looked a few times like a young number 22 for Dallas Cowboys in the 90s… yeah I said it! (Also, I know this is a college site, but I refuse to acknowledge 22’s Orange and Blue roots).  My biggest disappointment is how poor the defense looked against an offense just off replacing its QB and OC.  I think some of the lack of being able to scout the new OC/QB for Syracuse explains the early struggles, but some of it is a lack of discipline from the defensive players.  The defensive talent is still raw, and this game showed that reality.

Anthony (Syr/ACC): The biggest surprise was Syracuse’s offense.  It looked inept with veterans at QB, WR1, WR2, and offensive coordinator.  Syracuse had none of them for the Florida State defense and looked… better?  Granted, Florida State may not have been playing with top notch passion, but Syracuse moved the ball with more rhythm than all year.

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO IN WEEK 6 FOR YOUR SCHOOL?

David (FSU):  Just win. Win and advance, don’t care how, don’t care who makes the plays. Look for Jameis to test a banged up secondary that struggled against UNC.

Len (Louisville): Improvement on offense. WR getting involved more, fewer penalties & Parker seeing action this week. I want to see the Cards win by 3+ TD’s to feel good about our offense going down the stretch of the season.

John (UNC): Honestly, I’m looking forward to something that resembles defense. There have been small signs of improvement the past few weeks, and despite the fact that the Tar Heels almost always lose to Georgia Tech (GT is 12-2 against North Carolina since 2000), the stage is set for a rebound win. This time last year, the Tar Heels were 1-5 before rattling off 5 straight wins and turning around their season. If it’s going to happen this year too, then you have to think that despite the fact the Heels just finished the most difficult stretch of their schedule, that this game is now actually the most important.

Matt (Syracuse): Not so much what I am looking forward to, but what I WANT to see from Syracuse: Tackling. Tackling. Tackling. Tackling. Tackling. Tackling. Tackling. Tackling. Tackling. Glad to see the offense take some steps forward, but the defense seems to get worse at the basics week-after-week. Too many missed tackles, too many (unsuccessful) strips at the ball. Scott Shafer has proven that he’s not above making changes to his coordinators mid-season, and if the Orange cannot tackle against WtF, then Chuck Bullough should be put on notice.

Mike (NC State): I have the same answer I did before the Clemson game: the Pack must stay competitive in a hostile environment.  Again, I think a win is only a remote possibility, but show me something more than you did in Death Valley.  Or even this past Saturday at home vs. BC.

Brian (FSU): The thing I am looking forward to out of FSU this week is what is likely the last big game feel of the season for FSU. I have a bad feeling the never ending Winston saga will eventually lead to either a loss due to distractions or outright implosion if something happens to Winston’s status as QB.  This weekend may be the last time an FSU game garner’s major national attention, even if a lot of the attention is not so positive.

Anthony (Syr/ACC): How will the Syracuse offense fair with game film for Wake Forest–a decent defense–to review.  If Syracuse’s offense plays anywhere near the way it did last week, the Orange can win.  Even without that, the Orange could still win.  But this might be Wake Forest’s best chance for a conference win all year–they will not go down lightly.

Stay tuned for Part II tomorrow.

In the meantime, what do you think?  How would you answer these questions?

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