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ACC Football Rankings: Week 13

Each week, the Confidential will rank the top 15 teams (includes Notre Dame) in the A.C.C. and provide a brief explanation for the decision.  Feel free to list your own below or otherwise comment.  Here it goes for week 13:

  1. Clemson 11-1.  Clemson destroyed rival South Carolina to end up 11-1 and just one game away from a playoffs appearance.  Virginia Tech is on a bit of a roll–should be quite a matchup. Next up: Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship Game.
  2. Louisville 9-3. The Cardinals have not had a second half with nearly as much impressiveness as the first half of the season.  The losses to Clemson and Houston can be excused, but the close games against Duke and Virginia (a combined 6-18) raised some questions.  The loss to rival Kentucky is inexcusable.  At the same time, it is hard to drop Louisville below a Florida State team it crushed and a Virginia Tech team that lost to 4-8 Syracuse.  In other words, #2 by default.  Next up: A nice bowl game.
  3. Florida State 9-3.  The Seminoles took care of Florida handily to claim state-wide domination for yet another season.  It would be interesting to see if Louisville could beat Florida State this Saturday, but, alas, they played at Louisville destroyed the Seminoles in a way that just cannot justify FSU leapfrogging a Louisville team with the same record.  Next up: a nice bowl game.
  4. Virginia Tech 9-3. The Hokies arguably deserve the #2 nod by beating Virginia to win the Coastal.  But Virginia Tech lost to Syracuse–easily the worst loss among the three 9-3 teams.  Also, Virginia Tech avoided the top 3 teams in these standings–something that the top 3 teams were unable to do (Clemson went 2-0, Louisville 1-1, FSU 0-2).   The Hokies get their chance to prove themselves with the Championship Game against Clemson.  Next up: Clemson in the ACC Championship Game.
  5. Pitt 8-4.  There are four Coastal teams at 8-4.  Of these, Pitt played the toughest OOC schedule, with 10-2 Penn State and 9-2 Oklahoma State.  They split those games.  They lost to UNC by 1, to Va Tech by 3, and the only real blowout loss was to Miami.  They also are the only team to beat Clemson.  There are many arguments to be made here, but we’ll go with Pitt at #5.  Next up: a decent bowl game.
  6. North Carolina 8-4. The Tar Heels beat Miami, Pitt, and Georgia Tech–which ordinarily should mean an easy slotting in at #5.  But it is hard to get by losses to Duke and NC State, a combined 10-14.  Again, a decent argument for #5.   Next up: a decent bowl game.
  7. Miami 8-4.  Miami beat Pitt badly.  Miami also beat Georgia Tech.  But the overall weak OOC schedule is likely what made Miami 8-4, and that includes a loss to one of the worst Notre Dame teams in recent history.  Still, a good year for the Hurricanes to build off of… with the other three losses coming to teams with a combined record of 26-10.  Next up: a decent bowl game.
  8. Georgia Tech 8-4.  Georgia Tech beat rival Georgia to get to 8-4, a very nice rebound year for the Yellow Jackets.  No dreadful losses.  A nice win over Virginia Tech.  Having lost to all three 8-4 teams, they get stuck with the #8 slot.  Next up: a decent bowl game.
  9. NC State 6-6.  NC State’s chances of a bowl game required a win at North Carolina.  And they got it.  Coupled with a win over Wake Forest, NC State easily gets the #9 slot.  Next up: a bowl game.
  10. Wake Forest 6-6.  Losses to Army and Boston College take some of the glee out of this otherwise good season for the Demon Deacons.  Next up: a bowl game.
  11. Boston College 6-6.  The Eagles won two conference road games…NC State and Wake Forest to get to 6 wins and bowl eligibility.  With a super soft OOC schedule, they did what they needed to do.  Despite losing to Syracuse, B.C. gets the extra practices and bowl swag.  It is what it is.  Next up: a bowl game.
  12. Duke 4-8.  Duke’s loss to Miami ended the season on a sour note at 4-8.  Duke did beat Notre Dame though.  Next up: 2017.
  13. Notre Dame 4-8.  Notre Dame’s loss to USC ended the season on a sour note at 4-8.  Notre Dame did beat Syracuse though.  Next up: 2017.
  14. Syracuse 4-8.  Syracuse’s loss to Pitt was exciting, but ended the season on a sour note at 4-8.  Syracuse did do amazing things on offense, even in the finale with its backup QB and an injured squad.  Next up: 2017.
  15. Virginia 2-10.  After beginning the season with a loss to in-state Richmond, the Wahoos finished the season with a loss to in-state rival Virginia Tech.  The latter was no surprise.  Next up: 2017.

So, what do you think?  How would you change these rankings?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

ACC Football Rankings: Week 12

Each week, the Confidential will rank the top 15 teams (includes Notre Dame) in the A.C.C. and provide a brief explanation for the decision.  Feel free to list your own below or otherwise comment.  Here it goes for week 12:

  1. Clemson 10-1.  Clemson rebounded from its first loss of the season to defeat Wake Forest by a comfortable margin.  The ACC’s only hope for a playoff team is the Tigers and that depends on two more wins.  The ACC Championship Game looms, but Clemson must first beat rival South Carolina. Next up: South Carolina.
  2. Louisville 9-2. The Cardinals leapfrogged Clemson in many ACC standings, but not here.  And Louisville confirmed same by losing to Houston convincingly.  This was not the Louisville of the early part of the season.  But a major bowl game is still in play after the rivalry game with Kentucky.   Next up: Kentucky.
  3. Florida State 8-3.  The Seminoles took care of Syracuse appropriately.  This was a nice tune-up before heading into a rivalry game with 8-2 Florida.  The Gators just beat LSU and will be ready.  Next up: Florida.
  4. Virginia Tech 8-3. The Hokies traveled to South Bend and nipped Notre Dame 34-31 to get to 8-3.  Now the Hokies just need to escape a rivalry game with Virginia to get to the ACC Championship Game.  Next up: Virginia.  
  5. North Carolina 8-3. The Tar Heels beat Citadel 41-7.  Hoorah.  North Carolina State comes to town next, really needing a win to get to bowl eligibility.  UNC needs to be ready.  Next up: North Carolina State.
  6. Miami 7-4.  After four straight wins, Miami loss four straight (including to Notre Dame).  Now, Miami has won three straight by handling North Carolina State on the road.   An 8-4 regular season would be an outstanding rebound for Mark Richt and Miami.  Duke comes to town next.  Next up: Duke.
  7. Pitt 7-4.  Pitt destroyed Duke 56-14.  Wow.  A wounded, fading Syracuse team comes to town next.  Syracuse may be “up” for this quasi-rivalry game.  or they may be very very down.  Either way, note that the top 7 teams in these standings are all at home this week.  Next up: Syracuse.
  8. Georgia Tech 7-4.  After sweeping both Virginia schools, the Yellow Jackets have confirmed that this is quite a rebound year.  But the major test remains–rival Georgia.  The Bulldogs have won three straight and are at home.  Next up: @ Georgia.
  9. Wake Forest 6-5.  Wake Forest lost to Clemson, which is no surprise.  Wake Forest is going bowling.  Boston College needs a win to go bowling.  This game will be a tough test for both teams.  Next up: Boston College.
  10. NC State 5-6.  After losing to Miami, NC State’s chances of a bowl now really need a win at North Carolina.  This will be a tough, but hardly impossible test.  Next up: @ North Carolina.
  11. Duke 4-7.  Duke is still bowl-eligible in a sense.  If they can beat Miami, they will be 5-7 and have a great APR to help get them in at 5-7.  The hard part will be beating streaky Miami.  Next up: @ Miami.
  12. Notre Dame 4-7.  We have covered the dismal Fighting Irish season at length.  A win over rival USC would be a nice way to finish a disappointing season.  Difficult to see Notre Dame accepting a bowl at 5-7 though.  Next up: @ USC.
  13. Syracuse 4-7.  Syracuse’s loss to FSU was, as expected.  With the injuries, it is difficult to envision Syracuse beating Pitt at Pitt.  Unlike Notre Dame, Syracuse would jump all over a chance to go bowling at 5-7 though.  Next up: @ Pitt.
  14. Boston College 5-6.  The Eagles beat UConn handily, but deserve minimal credit for having a cupcake OOC schedule. UConn was BC’s toughest OOC matchup, but Syracuse’s third toughest matchup.  Still, BC has a chance to go bowling.  Next up: @ Wake Forest.
  15. Virginia 2-9.  After a loss to Georgia Tech, all that remains is a trip to Virginia Tech with a game against the rival Hokies.  Next up: @ Virginia Tech.

So, what do you think?  How would you change these rankings?

ACC Football: From Riches to Rags in Weeks

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

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

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

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

 

ACC Football Rankings: Week 11

Each week, the Confidential will rank the top 15 teams (includes Notre Dame) in the A.C.C. and provide a brief explanation for the decision.  Feel free to list your own below or otherwise comment.  Here it goes for week 11:

  1. Clemson 9-1.  After flirting with disaster against Troy and NC State, Clemson finally lost a game to Pitt.  In fairness, this is a decent Pitt team that has beaten Penn State.  But it is the same Pitt that lost to Miami.  The only thing keeping Clemson here is the head-to-head win over Louisville.  Next up: @ Wake Forest.
  2. Louisville 9-1. The Cardinals have an argument for #1 that goes like this… Clemson lost to Pitt, we lost to Clemson–a much better team than Pitt.  However, Louisville did not play Pitt.  And Louisville played Clemson and lost.  Meanwhile, it is odd that Louisville’s conference season is already over.  They travel to Houston for a Thursday tilt against the 8-2 Cougars before playing Kentucky to end the season.  Next up: @ Houston.
  3. Florida State 7-3.  There is an argument for each of the three 7-3 teams to be #3.  North Carolina beat FSU, which is the same logic used above to separate Clemson and Louisville.  However, UNC was drubbed by middling Duke and Virginia Tech, who has lost to middling Syracuse and Georgia Tech.  Meanwhile, the Seminoles have not lost to a team with a worse record, as Louisville, Clemson, and North Carolina are a combined 25-5.  The Seminoles squeak into the #3 spot.  Next up: @ Syracuse.
  4. Virginia Tech 7-3. The Hokies had won three straight headed into a home game with Georgia Tech, where they lost by 10.  Georgia Tech is not horrible, but this was a game that Virginia Tech could have won to show some separation from the rest of the Coastal.  Not to be.  Given Va Tech’s domination of UNC, they get the edge at #4 though.  Next up: @ Notre Dame.
  5. North Carolina 7-3. The Tar Heels were on target to go 10-2, but then they lost to Duke–giving the Blue Devils their only ACC win of the season so far.  Sigh.  While UNC can get to 9-3 with wins over Citadel and NC State, it is just not the same.  Next up: Citadel.
  6. Miami 6-4.  After four straight wins, Miami loss four straight (including to Notre Dame).  Now, Miami has won two straight by a combined score of 85-42.  They beat Pitt, who just beat Clemson.  They also won @ Georgia Tech. They have been “back” and “not back” all season.  With a trip to NC State (who needs a win to get to bowl eligibility) and hosting Duke, perhaps we will really find out.  Next up: @ NC State.
  7. Pitt 6-4.  Pitt had a great win over Clemson, and has another great win over Penn State.  But losses to very good teams like Oklahoma State, North Carolina, and Virginia Tech also happened.  And Pitt also was blown out by Miami.  Against a tough schedule, Pitt has had a “good” season.  Winning out would be nice, with remaining home games against Duke and Syracuse (both teams are 4-6).  Next up: Duke.
  8. Georgia Tech 6-4.  Georgia Tech’s upset win over Virginia Tech got the Yellow Jackets to bowl eligibility.  With games against Virginia and Georgia, 8-4 is not out of the question.  Other than Virginia Tech, however, the wins are not all that impressive: Vandy, BC, Mercer, Duke, and Georgia Southern.  But that win over Virginia Tech separates Georgia Tech from Wake Forest.  Next up: Virginia.
  9. Wake Forest 6-4.  Wake Forest has six wins, but none of them are over teams that are bowl-eligible at the moment.  Wake has also lost to Army and NC State.  Kind of a gift to allow the Demon Deacons to be ahead of NC State, but it has had the better season overall.  Wake can get another win by beating Boston College at home.  Next up: Clemson.
  10. NC State 5-5.  At 5-5, NC State has a win over Wake Forest.  Otherwise, NC State’s wins are over teams below them in these standings (Notre Dame, Syracuse), Old Dominion, and William and Mary.  Losses to East Carolina and Boston College happened.  Really, this is a huge drop off from top 9 to #10 and beyond in the ACC.  Games against Miami and North Carolina can get NC State bowling, but it will not be easy.  Next up: Miami.
  11. Duke 4-6.  This Duke team is not very good, but it beat Notre Dame and North Carolina this year.  To get to bowl eligibility, the Blue Devils will need to win at Miami and Pittsburgh.  Possible, but 0-2 is also possible.  Also possible is that Duke will get one win and get a bowl invite at 5-7 due to APR standings.  Next up: @ Pitt.
  12. Notre Dame 4-6.  The Fighting Irish are 4-6.  The best win was Miami, who sits at 6-4.  The remainder of wins are Army, Syracuse, and Nevada.  With the exception of Navy (7-2), the losses are to programs all disappointed with their seasons so far, such as Texas (5-5), Michigan State (3-7), Duke (4-6), NC State (5-5), and Stanford (7-3).  Wow.  Next up: Virginia Tech.
  13. Syracuse 4-6.  Syracuse has had its moments, but the loss of QB Eric Dungey doomed them in a winnable game against North Carolina State.  There are theoretical ways for Syracuse to make a bowl game, but they will need wins against FSU and Pitt to do so.  Theory meet reality.  The Orange are trending in the right direction though.  Next up: FSU.
  14. Boston College 4-6.  The Eagles win over NC State was a nice boost, and with games against UConn and Wake Forest remaining, bowl eligibility is not out of the question.  But this Eagles team is a clear #14, having lost to Syracuse and having only one conference win overall.  Next up: UConn.
  15. Virginia 2-8.  With only two wins, Virginia is easily the #15 team.  Every other ACC team has at least 4 wins overall.  Anything can happen in the final two road games at Georgia Tech and at rival Virginia Tech, but a 2-10 record is a legitimate possibility.  Next up: @ Georgia Tech.

So, what do you think?  How would you change these rankings?

ACC Football Rankings: Week 10

Each week, the Confidential will rank the top 15 teams (includes Notre Dame) in the A.C.C. and provide a brief explanation for the decision.  Feel free to list your own below or otherwise comment.  Here it goes for week 10:

  1. Clemson 8-0.  The Clemson Tigers are 8-0, one of just four undefeated teams.  They have beaten Louisville and Florida State.  And Auburn.  And they still have four games left in the regular season…all against teams that are at least 4-4 as of today.  So it will be tough to go 12-0, much less 13-0.  But the easiest ranking spot to fill: Clemson.  Next up: Syracuse.
  2. Louisville 7-1. The Cardinals looked very pedestrian against Virginia.  This is not going to impress a playoff committee.  The good news is that the Cards will have a few more chances to do so, including an improved Kentucky squad to end the season to help offset Houston fading.  Averaging 50 points a game still also.  Next up: @ Boston College.
  3. Florida State 5-3.  The Seminoles may have three losses, but they are trending in the right direction–as their game against Clemson showed.  It will be interesting to see how FSU finishes.  Three winnable ACC games (Wake Forest, BC, Syracuse) before the finale against rival Florida, who is now 6-1.  Next up: @ NC State.
  4. Virginia Tech 6-2. The Hokies are bowl eligible with a win at Pitt.  And now it is on to bigger and better things: a Coastal division championship.  They have the edge with wins over NC, Miami, and Pitt.  A trip to Duke is next.  The Hokies stumbled at Syracuse and have to be careful not to allow another blemish.  Next up: @ Duke.  
  5. North Carolina 6-2. The Tar Heels had a week off to prepare for Georgia Tech, which is an advantage for any opponent of the Yellow Jackets and their unusual offense.  The Tar Heels do not need to leave the state for the rest of the year, as the remaining road game is down the street at Duke.  Next up: Georgia Tech.
  6. Pittsburgh 5-3.  Moving up after a loss?  Well, who else deserves this spot? Nobody.  Meanwhile, Pitt has three losses to 6-2 teams by a total of 11 points.  Does not get any easier for the Panthers, who have to travel to Miami and then Clemson.  But, for now, #6 is fitting.  Next up: @ Miami.
  7. NC State 4-4.  NC State remaining at #4 last week was an embarrassing mistake for the Confidential.  And NC State made it worse by being upset by hapless Boston College at home.  With home games against Florida State and Miami, and trips to Syracuse and North Carolina remaining, suddenly a bowl game is in doubt.  That’s what happens when you lose to Boston College.  Next up: Florida State.
  8. Wake Forest 5-3.  Wake Forest was having a GREAT season.  At 5-3 with several winnable games remaining, an 8 or 9 win season was possible.  And then Army beat the Demon Deacons.  At home.  All of the sudden, Wake Forest is looking at the upcoming Virginia game as a must-win.  With Clemson/Louisville to play, Wake Forest does not want to go into that Week 12 game against Boston College with 5 wins, because the Eagles may be playing that game for Coach Addazio’s job (although the BC win over NC State makes that less likely).  Anyway, disappointing week.  Next up: Virginia.
  9. Georgia Tech 5-3.  The Yellow Jackets had two weeks to prepare for Duke and pulled out the victory.  Before scheduling any bowl appearances, however, bear in mind that the next two opponents are road games against 6-2 UNC and Virginia Tech.  The good news is that Georgia is fading.  Next up: @ UNC.
  10. Miami 4-4.  From 4-0 to 4-4.  But it gets a bit easier for Miami.  The toughest remaining opponent is Pitt–and that is a home game.  And the remaining opponents of Virginia, NC State, and Duke are teams with less talent than Hurricanes.  First things first, Miami needs to stop the bleeding.  Next up: Pitt.
  11. Syracuse 4-4.  Syracuse is trending up.  The problem is that the next opponent is Clemson in Death Valley.  It just seems like a game that could be an upset, but is so possible an upset that an upset becomes less likely.  Kind of like a 5/12 matchup in the Big Dance that the #5 seed wins by 20.  Can Syracuse upset Clemson?  Any given Saturday, especially with Dino Babers.  But do not put too much hope into it, Syracuse fans.  Next up: @ Clemson.
  12. Boston College 4-4.  Job saving is the phrase that comes to mind with BC’s win over NC State.  Now the Eagles get a chance to be bowl eligible.  With Louisville, Florida State, UConn, and Wake Forest–there is a path.  All along, BC needed two wins over the group of NC State, Syracuse, and Wake Forest, as well as a win against UConn.  That is what happens with a cupcake OOC schedule.  It remains possible.  Next up: Louisville.
  13. Notre Dame 3-5.  A win over Miami suddenly becomes Notre Dame’s second win over a .500 P5 team.  Of course, if Syracuse and Miami lose this week, that will drop to zero.  At the same time, the Fighting Irish have a fighting chance to beat Navy/Army the next two weeks and get to .500 themselves.  With Virginia Tech/USC looming, they need to sweep the academies.  Next up: Navy (in Jacksonville, Florida).
  14. Duke 3-5.  At 0-4 in conference play, Duke football is fading a bit.  And with a remaining schedule of Virginia Tech, UNC, and trips to Pitt/Miami, this could be a very tough season result.  Next up: Virginia Tech.
  15. Virginia 2-6.  Virginia looked very good against Louisville.  The same team that lost to Richmond by 17, was in the game against Louisville from start to finish–which most opponents have failed to do this year.  Maybe the Wahoos can eke out another win or two this year.  Even if not, there is more reason in November 2016 to think that this thing might get turned around than there was 7 weeks ago.  Next up: @ Wake Forest.

So, what do you think?  How would you change these rankings?

ACC Football Rankings: Week 9

Each week, the Confidential will rank the top 15 teams (includes Notre Dame) in the A.C.C. and provide a brief explanation for the decision.  Feel free to list your own below or otherwise comment.  Here it goes for week 9:

  1. Clemson 7-0.  Two weeks to prepare for Florida State in another epic battle.  Florida State is trending up, so Clemson needs to be ready.
  2. Louisville 6-1. The Cardinals got back to normal against NC State, who was #4 in these standings heading into the game.  A game in which it was 44-0 in the first half.  Lamar Jackson may or may not win the Heisman, but he has been dominant more often than not.  Virginia comes to town next and it could get ugly quickly for the Wahoos.
  3. Florida State 5-2.  Bowl eligibility is a goal for some schools, but not Florida State.  A win against Clemson is for keeping alive the hope for an 11+ win season.
  4. NC State 4-3.  NC State lost big to Louisville, which has happened to nearly every Louisville opponent.  The schedule lightens up this week, as Boston College (who was handled by Syracuse) comes to town.
  5. Virginia Tech 5-2. The Hokies got back to being the Coastal favorite by defeating Miami, on the road, by a few touchdowns.  Next up is a Thursday trip to Pittsburgh and a chance to get to bowl eligibility already.
  6. North Carolina 6-2. The Tar Heels dominated rival Virginia to get to 6-2, making it two straight conference road wins.  UNC gets a week off before hosting Georgia Tech.
  7. Wake Forest 5-2.  Wake Forest has had a great season and gets Army next–with bowl eligibility on the line.  Louisville and Clemson are likely losses, but Virginia and Boston College are two remaining home games that Wake Forest can also win.  An 8-win season remains on the table.
  8. Miami 4-3.  From 4-0 to 4-3.  And now the Hurricanes are off to South Bend to take on the Fighting Irish, who are desperate for a win.  All of the sudden, the Miami is back discussion has softened.  This will take some time, Miami fans.
  9. Pittsburgh 5-2.  After beating Virginia, Pitt is quietly 5-2.  But the schedule down the stretch is very tough.  Pitt can beat anyone, including Clemson.  They could also lose out.  The Coastal is that wild.  Needless to say, Pitt will be what it will be.  Next up: Virginia Tech on Thursday, with the winner getting bowl-eligibility.
  10. Syracuse 4-4.  At 4-4, Syracuse is about where it should be, realistically.  They could have beaten Wake Forest and USF.  They could have lost to Virginia Tech and at Boston College.  In any event, with two wins over ACC foes and a win over UConn, Syracuse gets the #10 spot this week.  Enjoy the “bye,” Syracuse.  Next up is a trip to Clemson.
  11. Georgia Tech 4-3.  The Yellow Jackets have had two weeks to prepare for Duke.  The problem is that Duke has had two weeks to prepare for Georgia Tech’s unique offense–which isn’t THAT unique to its Coastal foes anymore.
  12. Duke 3-4.  See above.  Duke will be on the road, which gives Georgia Tech the edge.
  13. Boston College 3-4.  Boston College used to be about defense, but Syracuse moved the ball fairly easily against them–with Syracuse stopping itself by several false starts and red zone turnovers.  Meanwhile, BC’s scoring came from a kickoff return and a QB scamper for a TD that caught the Syracuse defense flat-footed.  In the absence of sustained drives and solid defense, this is becoming a very tough season for the Eagles.  The remaining schedule include Louisville and Florida State, as well as trips to improved North Carolina State and Wake Forest.  At this point, even the game against UConn has to be in doubt, and with it the future of the coaching staff.  Next up is a trip to NC State.
  14. Notre Dame 2-5.  Miami comes to town next for Notre Dame.  Is it good timing for the Fighting Irish that the Hurricanes have lost three straight?  Is it bad timing that Miami will be hungry for a win?  Does it matter?  The only thing that is clear is that these two teams both need to win badly and only one of them will be happy.
  15. Virginia 2-5.  With only two wins, Virginia is stuck at #14.  And it is hard to find another win on the schedule.  Notre Dame, however, still hosts Army and Navy, while USC and Miami are very mortal.  Even Virginia Tech showed some vulnerability–losing to Syracuse.  In contrast, the combined record of the teams left on Virginia’s schedule is 24-11.  No easy games.  Next up is the toughest remaining–Louisville comes to town.

So, what do you think?  How would you change these rankings?

College Coaches Chasing Cash, Finding Failure

For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.  1 Timothy 6:10

Say what you want about Jim Boeheim, but he has a pretty good life.  He turned down some money to stay at Syracuse, but all he has done there is win hundreds of games, send dozens of players off to get paid playing hoops, enjoy a rabid fan following, and have a court named after him.  Many basketball coaches leave very green pastures to end up in a desert with a bag of money and not a lot of success.  And college football is even worse–where the term “dream job” comes with a huge asterisk meaning “unless someone elsewhere offers me more money.”  All too often the coaches chasing cash end up finding failure.  And when a local Syracuse writer suggests that Syracuse fans need to be wary of Dino Babers leaving, it just shows how ridiculous college football can be.

Once upon a time, Rich Rodriguez was a relatively successful coach at his alma mater, West Virginia.  He was 57-18 his final six seasons, including 32-5 his final three.  Where has RichRod gone since then?  Well, he left for Michigan, which was a disaster with losses, scandal, and termination.  Now he is in sunny Arizona, coaching that team to winning seasons.  Of course, this year he is 2-5, which will mean a hotter seat.  Regardless, RichRod has not been coaching with national championship implications since leaving West Virginia.  And all he had to do was beat Pittsburgh to have a chance at that in his final season.  Meanwhile, West Virginia–now a member of the Big XII–is 5-0.  Was leaving a smart decision for any reason OTHER than the money?

Doug Marrone was hired as the Syracuse head coach for the 2009 season and beyond.  He called it his “dream job.”  He was paid well, but certainly not overpaid.  Coming after the Greg Robinson disaster, his 25-25 record was seen as miracle work.  He left his dream job to coach the Buffalo Bills to a 15-17 record over two seasons.   Where is he now?  Had to look it up… still an assistant coach with the Jacksonville Jaguars.  Was leaving a smart decision for any reason OTHER than the money?

In 2010, someone finally gave Charlie Strong a head coaching opportunity: Louisville.  After three consecutive seasons of worse records (6-6, 5-7, 4-8), Strong immediately made Louisville a winner again with two straight 7-6 seasons.  In 2012, Strong went 11-2 and in 2013 Strong went 12-1.  Louisville was–despite its Big East membership–nationally relevant.  Strong left for Texas in 2014, where he received a salary increase from $3.7 to $5.0 million annually.  While at Texas, Strong went 11-14 during his first two seasons…a step down from the 30-21 record that got Mack Brown removed.  This year, Texas is 3-3, with wins over struggling Notre Dame, Texas El Paso, and Iowa State.   Kansas State, Baylor, West Virginia, Texas Tech and TCU all have the same record or better (or much better) and remain on the schedule.  Meanwhile, Louisville is 5-1 and still in the running for a playoff spot, led by a Heisman Trophy candidate in Lamar Jackson.  Was leaving a smart decision for any reason OTHER than the money?

Speaking of Notre Dame, Brian Kelly paid his dues, coaching at Grand Valley State, Central Michigan, and Cincinnati–all to great success.  In fact, he left Cincinnati after 12-0 season in 2009 to go to Notre Dame.  At Notre Dame, Kelly entered 2016 with the following records (8-5, 8-5, 12-1, 9-4, 8-5, and 10-3).  If you are keeping score, that is a record of 55-23.  However, in 2016, the wheels have fallen off, and the Fighting Irish are 2-5.  Thus, Kelly is now on the hot seat.  He has made money and had success at Notre Dame, but a football factory does not tolerate bad seasons very well.  If he gets fired, there will be a truckload of money and another chance, but that is the difference between Cincinnati and Notre Dame.  The former would stomach an off season, while the latter may not (which would be absurd, really).

In fairness, Cincinnati was and remains on the outside of the power structure in football, where West Virginia, Louisville, and Syracuse all could have been but for realignment.  So Kelly leaving Cincinnati allowed him to have a chance at a national championship.  Cincinnati was 12-0, but on the outside.  That would not happen at Notre Dame or any other P5 football school.  But once you are in a P5 conference, you control your own destiny.  Except that, at a a big time football program, expectations are often unrealistic.  So be careful what you wish for when leaving one P5 school for another, supposedly greater program.

If Dino Babers decides to leave Syracuse, where would the better jobs be in 2017?  Maybe Texas, who will have shown three years of patience with Charlie Strong and have fallen behind schools like TCU and Baylor in the state of Texas.  Maybe Baylor, who cannot seem to avoid major scandal in any sport and who are on the verge of replacing Penn State as the college sports villain.  And, at Baylor, one has to get by the aforementioned Texas, West Virginia, Oklahoma, TCU, and other Big XII schools every year to get to the playoffs.  Not much easier than Clemson/Florida State really.  Maybe LSU, who considered Les Miles career coaching record of 141-55, a bulk of that in the loaded SEC, to be too disappointing to allow him to finish the current season.  In addition, the SEC has some pretty good defensive coaches and athletes to implement a complex defensive scheme.  And Alabama is still rolling.  So there is no slam dunk option.

Unless it is only about the money.  And if a college coach is only about the money, that makes them liars when they sit in living rooms and make promises to kids/families.  They expect players to refuse $100.00 handshakes and free sneakers, but they will break contracts and promises to get an extra 25% on their multi-million contract.  They expect students to take classes seriously.  Coaches demand that players study hard, work long hours, and be good stewards of the program around the clock–all for free.  Coaches cannot guarantee a scholarship from year-to-year, nor will they guarantee playing time. And if a student wants to leave for more playing time, they are penalized by the NCAA.  Meanwhile, coaches can bend the truth to get jobs, lie to recruit players, and leave for more cash.  As always, whether it is the NCAA or the coaches, or many other places in society, the love of money brings sorrow ultimately.

 

ACC Football Rankings: Week 8

Each week, the Confidential will rank the top 15 teams (includes Notre Dame) in the A.C.C. and provide a brief explanation for the decision.  Feel free to list your own below or otherwise comment.  Here it goes for week 8:

  1. Clemson 7-0.  Beating opponents is good, but Clemson has certainly kept it close and interesting all season long.  Live by the sword, die by the sword.  If you are going to do that, someone will trip you up eventually.  Two weeks to prepare for Florida State in another epic battle.
  2. Louisville 5-1. The Cardinals got a week off to rest and prepare for Duke, but looked like it never bothered to wake up.  While Duke’s defense may be stout, Louisville was still expected to score a bit more than 24 points.  A win is a win.  Next up: North Carolina State, who is not far down these standings at the moment.
  3. Florida State 5-2.  Look whose back!  After a win over a Wake Forest team that seems to be very real, especially on defense, the Seminoles are 5-2.  Like Clemson, FSU gets two weeks to prepare for their matchup.
  4. NC State 4-2.  NC State came a 33-yard field goal away from beating Clemson.  A loss in overtime shows that North Carolina State is legitimate.  Still a lot of work to do to keep and maintain what may be a temporary spot at #4.  Next up is a trip to Louisville.
  5. Wake Forest 5-2.  Yes, that is 5 straight Atlantic teams at the top of the standings.  Who else?  Wake Forest has lost to two teams–5-2 Florida State and 4-2 NC State.  Va Tech lost to Syracuse, but Wake Forest beat them.  Hard to NOT put the Demon Deacons here.  Two weeks to prepare for Army and bowl eligibility that comes with a win there.
  6. Virginia Tech 4-2. Syracuse is not yet a good team.  And they handled Virginia Tech at home.  While the Hokies were in the drivers’ seat in the Coastal entering this game, everything is a mess now.  Next up–5 days to prepare for Miami.
  7. North Carolina 5-2. The Tar Heels did fine at Miami to improve to 5-2.  When you start comparing losses, it is hard to put North Carolina up higher just yet.  The Coastal will sort itself out over time.  Next up is Virginia and a chance to get bowl eligibility already.
  8. Miami 4-2.  With a chance to put away the ghost of mediocre coaches past, Miami has now lost two straight.  While the talent at Florida State and North Carolina speaks for itself, Miami is again looking at a tough slate to get to 8 or 9 wins.  5 days to prepare for a trip to Virginia Tech.  Then a trip to Notre Dame, who may be fighting for bowl eligibility.  And so on.
  9. Pittsburgh 5-2.  After beating Virginia, Pitt is quietly 5-2.  The wins are OK–Penn State, Georgia Tech, etc.  But the schedule gets much tougher in the second half: Virginia Tech, @Miami, @ Clemson, Duke, Syracuse.  A bowl is likely, obviously, but can Pitt get that far beyond 6 wins?
  10. Georgia Tech 4-3.  As expected, Georgia Tech beat Georgia Southern to get to 4-3.  And now they get 14 days to prepare for Duke.  At least the Georgia game at the end of the season looks more winnable.
  11. Duke 3-4.  Who knows what Duke is?  They lost to Louisville, but played them very very well.  It is all Coastal down the stretch and it could get ugly.  But if they play like they played Louisville, maybe not.  Next up is a trip to Georgia Tech.
  12. Boston College 3-3.  Boston College used to be about defense, but they have been outscored 122-24 in conference play this year.  They have several more days to prepare for Syracuse.
  13. Syracuse 3-4.  “With hot Va Tech coming to town, it could get that much more unlikely that much faster.  Perhaps worse Syracuse teams have pulled upsets, but it is what it is.”  That what why Syracuse was #15 last week.  Instead of continuing to fade, Syracuse pulled one of its biggest upsets in history and earned its way a few spots up the standings.  Next up is Boston College and a chance to get back to .500.
  14. Virginia 2-4.  With only two wins, Virginia is stuck at #14.  And it is hard to find another win on the schedule.  Road trips to Wake Forest and the two Techs.  Louisville and Miami are still due to come to town.  Next up, rival North Carolina visits.
  15. Notre Dame 2-5.  Well, Notre Dame is in deep trouble now.  The only ACC team with 5 losses.  Sure, Army and Navy are still on the schedule, which should mean 4 wins.  But how can the Fighting Irish even get to 6 wins on a season with 8 home games and a neutral site game?  While Notre Dame beat Syracuse, the only other win was Nevada.  Syracuse’s wins over Virginia Tech and UConn are actually better, despite the head-to-head.

So, what do you think?  How would you change these rankings?

ACC Football Stockwatch: Buy, Sell, and Hold

After six weeks, the ACC is down to one undefeated team (Clemson).  A bunch of teams are battling to be in the top half of the conference.  If these teams were stock, who are you buying, selling, and holding?  Here are a few teams for each category.

BUY

Notre Dame.  What?  At 1-3, things were worrisome.  Splitting NC State and Syracuse means 2-4.  But will Notre Dame finish 4-8?  Probably not.  With 5 home games left, there is plenty of time to right the ship.  A wounded and vulnerable Stanford team comes to town next, with Army and Navy looming.  A bowl might be tough, however, as the remaining schedule is Miami (H), Virginia Tech (H), and disappointing Southern Cal (A).  Still, things should get better, right?  A buy low opportunity.

Louisville.  At 4-1, Louisville has scored 290 points.  Can they get better?  Well, maybe not better… but they have gotten past the Florida State/Clemson part of the schedule.  The only highly ranked team left on the schedule is Houston, who just lost to Navy.  The remaining six teams certainly could pull an upset, as is the nature of the game.  But they would be major upsets: Duke, NC State, Boston College, Virginia, Wake Forest, Kentucky.  The college football scoring record is 723 points (Florida State in 14 games).  Louisville is on pace to score 754 if they play 13 games (which seems quite likely).

SELL

Syracuse.  Look, Dino Babers may have Syracuse on the right track.  But, like the rebuilds at other schools, the dividends will not be paying off this year.  Absent an upset, the only real winnable game left on the schedule is Boston College–a road game where B.C. will have 15 days to prepare.  2-10 or 3-9 is far from out of the question.

Boston College.  At 3-3, B.C. would need a 3-3 finish to go bowling. They host Syracuse and UConn, which is nice.  But where does that sixth win come from?  A trip to NC State–possible.  Louisville?  Um, no.  A trip to Florida State?  Unlikely.  A trip to Wake Forest?  See above regarding the Demon Deacons.  And if Syracuse is going to win ANY game this year, it is the B.C. game.  Meanwhile, UConn will be VERY interested and motivated to beat B.C.  A bowl is looking unlikely, even with one of the softest OOC schedules possible.

HOLD

Wake Forest.  At 5-1, Wake Forest is in the drivers seat for a bowl game, and possibly a very good bowl game.  The Demon Deacons still have games with Virginia, Army, and Boston College.  Even assuming losses to Florida State, Louisville, and Clemson, 8-4 is on the table.  Getting to six wins would have been impressive pre-season… but 8?  Wow.  Still, with the much tougher back end of the schedule, Wake Forest is not going to struggle to put up more than 3 more wins down the stretch.  Again, no knock on Wake, but they have peaked at 5-1.

Miami.  Like Louisville, Miami is 4-1.  Like Louisville, Miami has dominated its opponents–except for the one narrow loss to an elite team.  In Louisville’s case, Clemson; in Miami’s case, Florida State.  It is less clear, however, that Miami is going to run the table unscathed again.  Miami still has trips to Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Virginia, and North Carolina State.  Meanwhile, North Carolina, Pitt, and Duke will visit Miami.  10-2 is possible and 9-3 is certainly doable.  Either way, Miami seems to be on the right track.

What do you think?  Who would you put in for each category?

 

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