The Confidential

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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.


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).


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.


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?


ACC Football Rankings: Week 7

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 7:

  1. Clemson 6-0.  Boston College used to have a great defense.  After allowing over 100 points in its last two conference games, maybe not.  Either way, Clemson rolled over B.C. on the road to get to 6-0.  They are now halfway to the Conference Championship game.  They need to take care of NC State and not look forward to Florida State though.
  2. Louisville 4-1. The Cardinals got a week off to rest and prepare for Duke.
  3. Virginia Tech 4-1. With a 34-3 drubbing of the Tar Heels in the inclement weather, the Hokies may officially be “back.”  North Carolina was flying high entering the game, but left with its Coastal tag between its legs.  Virginia Tech travels to Syracuse to face the fading Orange.
  4. Florida State 4-2.  Sure, it was not beautiful, but it was the 7th straight win for the Seminoles over Miami.  The trajectory of these two rivals is getting closer, but Jimbo Fisher got the win to keep FSU in the running for a major bowl.  Wake Forest is next and will not be easy.
  5. Miami 4-1.  Miami has narrowed the gap considerably–but still fell short against FSU 20-19.  So close.  But there is no time to rest as a hungry North Carolina team will be coming to town next.  To stay in the Coastal hunt, Miami needs to take care of business.
  6. NC State 4-1.  NC State has a win over Wake Forest, who at 5-1 is taking major steps forward.  NC State also has a win over Notre Dame, who has talent all over the field and handled Syracuse easily.   Oh, but things get very challenging with a trip to Clemson this week.
  7. Wake Forest 5-1.  Wake Forest just keeps winning.  After losing to NC State, they made several major mistakes and still put Syracuse away.  At the halfway point, the Demon Deacons need just one more win to go bowling… and Army, Virginia, and Boston College are all on the schedule.  Next up, a trip to Florida State, who may have just found some confidence with a win over Miami.
  8. North Carolina 4-2. The Tar Heels could be higher, with losses only to Georgia and Va Tech.  This shows just how deep the ACC is now.  Unfortunately, UNC must now travel to Miami, who will be looking to rebound from its disappointing loss to rival FSU.
  9. Pittsburgh 4-2.  The Panthers were able to beat Georgia Tech by a field goal, moving to 4-2.  A trip to Virginia is next.  While Syracuse and Duke will come to town to end the season, the next three weeks involve games against Miami, Clemson, and Virginia Tech.  A Virginia win is essential.
  10. Georgia Tech 3-3.  After starting 3-0, the Yellow Jackets are now 3-3, with losses to Clemson, Miami, and Pitt.  They need to defeat Georgia Southern, who (fortunately for Ga Tech) is not quite the same under its new coach.  A good opportunity to right the ship.
  11. Duke 3-3.  A win is a win, and Duke beat Army 13-6 to get to .500.  All six remaining games are against teams above Duke in these standings, so there is a real risk of Duke missing out on a bowl this year.  Next up: Louisville, who will be looking to take out two weeks of post-Clemson frustration on the Blue Devils.  Yikes!
  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 15 days to prepare for Syracuse.
  13. Notre Dame 2-4.  The loss to NC State shows just how far the Fighting Irish have fallen.  Someone joked that it is a good thing that Notre Dame is not in the ACC because it would drag down the conference S.O.S.  And that joke was true.  To get to bowl eligibility, Notre Dame will have to win four of these games: Stanford, Miami, Army, Navy, Virginia Tech, and @ USC.  Yes, that is five straight home games in a schedule with only three true road games.  And no Clemson, FSU, or Louisville on the schedule.  Stanford and USC are both down, while Texas and Michigan State are fading.  To miss a bowl in a season with THIS schedule would be dreadful.
  14. Virginia 2-3.  Virginia got the week off and gets to move up to #14.  After all, they have a better record and a win over a P5 program (which Syracuse does not).  Next up is 4-2 Pitt.
  15. Syracuse 2-4.  The Orange are fading fast.  With six games left, bowl eligibility is mathematically alive.  But the loss to Wake Forest may have put that reality out of its misery.  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.  With wins over Colgate and UConn, Syracuse deserves the #15 spot until the results prove otherwise.

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

8 Games for ACC Football, Rivalries, and More

With the ACC apparently deciding to stick with 8 conference games for football, at least part of the reason is that several ACC schools have SEC rivals that must be played each year.  Between those games, and the Notre Dame 5-game thing, that could eliminate scheduling flexibility substantially for some schools.

But what of these rivalries?  Could every ACC school have an out-of-conference rivalry with another p5 school?  Let’s consider the possibilities to allow every P5 team (including Notre Dame and BYU) to have an OOC rivalry game each year:

  • Florida State vs. Florida (same)
  • Clemson vs. South Carolina (same)
  • Louisville vs. Kentucky (same)
  • Georgia Tech vs. Georgia (same)
  • Notre Dame vs USC (same)

That provides for five ACC schools.  So, what of the other schools?   Just about everyone would want Maryland, and prefer Penn State and West Virginia based on proximity.  But that cannot be.  So how could we divide this up?  Also, have to assume that if every P5 school was to grab a rival, some of the old rivalries would resume, such as Oklahoma-Nebraska, Texas-Texas A&M, Missouri-Kansas, etc.  So we have to leave those out.

Pittsburgh would be the toughest because it has two options–West Virginia and Penn State.  We’ll go West Virginia.

Boston College would probably like to see UConn here, but UConn is not there.  Penn State probably makes some geographical sense.  Maryland is nearby and provides a fairly equivalent talent level.  But BC does not get first choice here.  Let’s go with Northwestern–another private school in the north.

Syracuse has to be Rutgers, as the two schools compete for recruits in New Jersey.  A battle for NYC if you will.  If the program was in better shape, then perhaps Penn State.

Wake Forest does not have a lot of P5 options, but they have had a decent rivalry with Vanderbilt over the years.  A couple of private schools in the South.  Sounds good.

Duke is another private school–which makes them a good match-up for Northwestern.  Both schools are sometimes considered to be sorta Ivy League.  But how about BYU?  Just as private and a fair equivalent on the football field lately.

Virginia Tech might have liked West Virginia, but with nearby Penn State a very “on par” team in terms of talent, let’s go with Penn State.

This leaves North Carolina, NC State, Miami, and Virginia.

Virginia is struggling on the football field, but doing quite well in hoops.  Maryland is just too close to not use.

North Carolina is too good in football to be matched up with Indiana.  And Indiana hoops is not quite what it once was.  But we are talking football anyway.  Instead, let’s look South, where Tennessee is doing similar things on the football field lately.

North Carolina State is a middle of the pack team that certainly has some potential,  but never quite reaches it.  Ole Miss might be too good on the football field right now, but it is a comparative school in many respects.

Miami and Auburn make some sense.  Pretty close geographically…as close as anyone can be to Miami.  Both have great upside every year, both often fail to live up to it.

What does that leave?  Well, Ohio State vs. Alabama, Michigan vs. LSU, Michigan State vs UCLA, Wisconsin vs Oregon, and so on.

So here is the recap:

  • Pitt vs West Virginia
  • BC vs Northwestern
  • Syracuse vs Rutgers
  • Wake Forest vs Vanderbilt
  • Duke vs BYU
  • Va Tech vs Penn State
  • Virginia vs Maryland
  • North Carolina vs Tennessee
  • NC State vs Ole Miss
  • Miami vs Auburn

What do you think?  If each ACC school without an SEC rival could pick a rival, who would it be?  










ACC Football Rankings: Week 6

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 6:

  1. Clemson 5-0.  No knock on Louisville, but Clemson gets the spot at 5-0, with a win over Louisville.  Maybe Louisville wins this game if played at home.  Maybe Louisville wins this game if played on a neutral site.  Maybe Louisville wins this game 6 or 7 times out of 10.  Maybe Louisville wins this game with better refs.  But Clemson won THE GAME that was actually played.  The best way to keep refs out of the game is to make them irrelevant by winning by a large margin.
  2. Louisville 4-1. Despite the loss, the Cardinals have a win over Florida State already on the resume.  So that gets them the #2 spot.  Even if Miami beats Florida State, Louisville will likely keep the spot.  What Louisville must do is remain focused and realize that winning out may yet get them a playoff spot–especially if Clemson stumbles against Florida State down the road.
  3. Miami 4-0.  Miami did what they were supposed to do in beating Georgia Tech.  But this is exactly the type of game that Al Golden would lose.  So now Miami has cleared its first obstacle.  The next obstacle is Florida State–who has dominated the Hurricanes of late.  Mark Richt can put a huge stamp on the resurrection of Miami by winning this game.
  4. North Carolina 4-1. The Tar Heels have four straight wins, as 2016 is setting up exactly like 2015–a disappointing loss to an SEC team that fades into obscurity and then a lot of wins.  Only this year, North Carolina has now gotten past Florida State too.  While an argument can be made for Virginia Tech at #4, we’ll make the Hokies earn it on the field against the Tar Heels this week.
  5. Virginia Tech 3-1. This was a tough one.  Both Virginia Tech and North Carolina have one loss.  They play this week.  North Carolina lost to Georgia, while the Hokies lost to Tennessee.  Again, the Hokies can easily take the #4 spot with a win over UNC.  Earn it on the field.
  6. Florida State 3-2.  Sure, the Seminoles have two losses, whereas a few ACC teams still only have one loss.  But the Seminoles beat Ole Miss and have lost to two teams that have only one loss UNC and Louisville.  A loss to Miami may yet in the cards though, as this is becoming a real rebuilding year for Florida State.
  7. NC State 3-1.  NC State has a loss to East Carolina, which pales into comparison with how Virginia Tech dominated ECU.  The win over previously undefeated Wake Forest propels them into the #7 spot though.  With Notre Dame coming to town, this is a huge statement game.  More importantly, with consecutive trips to Clemson and Louisville following this game–a loss can mean the realistic possibility of being 3-4 heading into the final 5 games.
  8. Wake Forest 4-1.  Well, Wake Forest had a chance to get itself into bowl eligibility with a 6-0 start, but it was doubled-up by North Carolina State, 33-16.  This puts Wake Forest behind NC State in the standings also.  Now it must face a Syracuse offense that can put points on the board in ways that Wake Forest perhaps cannot.
  9. Georgia Tech 3-2.  The Yellow Jackets are 3-1, with losses to Clemson and Miami–two teams that are a combined 9-0.  No shame in that.  Now Georgia Tech must travel to Pittsburgh, to face another 3-2 team that finds itself a few teams back in the Coastal standings.
  10. Pittsburgh 3-2.  The Panthers recovered from consecutive losses by defeating Marshall.  As expected.  The schedule gets tough again, with Georgia Tech coming to town, followed by a trip to Virginia.  After that, there are games against Virginia Tech, Miami, and Clemson–a combined 12-1.  So the importance of these next two games cannot be understated.  A bowl remains likely, but can Pitt can beyond merely 6 or 7 wins?
  11. Boston College 3-2.  Boston College has now beaten UMass, Wagner, and Buffalo en route to a 3-2 record.  Things get very real with Clemson up next.  An argument could be made for Duke here (who beat Notre Dame), but they just lost to Virginia.  Notre Dame just beat Syracuse, but they lost to Duke.  Meanwhile, Syracuse and Virginia have no business at #11 yet.  So B.C. gets this position–however temporary–by default.
  12. Duke 2-3.  It is hard to put Duke ahead of the pack, having lost to Virginia, who is at the bottom.  But Duke did beat Notre Dame, so Notre Dame cannot be ahead of Duke with the same record.  Next up is Army, which should be an easier game for Duke.
  13. Notre Dame 2-3.  The Fighting Irish did what they needed to do–beat Syracuse.  With Stanford and Miami looming, they really need to defeat North Carolina State–which will be tough on the road.  For now, Notre Dame gets the #13 spot.
  14. Syracuse 2-3.  The ‘Cuse could be #15.  But Syracuse has had to play Louisville (4-1), USF (4-1), and a desperate, hungry Notre Dame team.  They get to keep the #14 spot for another week.  Dino Babers can get them back to .500 with a win @ Wake Forest.
  15. Virginia 2-3.  Virginia got another win–this time over Duke.  It just shows the depth of the coaching and talent in the ACC that the #15 team is this good.  If Virginia had only just taken care of Richmond–it remains an anchor on these standings.

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

ACC Football Stockwatch: Buy, Sell, and Hold

After four weeks, coaches are already getting fired.  Teams are separating themselves.  If there was stock, who are you buying, selling, and holding?  Here are a few teams for each category.


Virginia Tech.  After a loss to Tennessee, the Hokies have dominated Boston College and East Carolina… two teams that rarely are dominated.  The smartest thing that a new coaching staff can do is retain that which is not broken.  In this case, the defense was not changed.  And now the offense and defense are both clicking.  With no Clemson, Florida State, or Louisville on the schedule, Virginia Tech could win the Coastal.

Boston College.  Huh?  Well, as 2-2, the Eagles have games against Buffalo, UConn, Syracuse, Wake Forest, and North Carolina state remaining.  Do you see four potential wins there?  Maybe.  If so, it will be a bowl.  That is an uptick over the present situation.

Wake Forest.  Like Boston College, Wake Forest does not have a horribly daunting remaining schedule.  Yeah, let’s give losses to Florida State, Clemson, and Louisville.  The Demon Deacons still have five more winnable games to get to bowl eligibility: @NC State, Syracuse, Army, Virginia, and Boston College.  Note that four of these games are at home too.  Wow.


Really, not much to sell here.  Virginia and Syracuse just had wins.  Florida State had some defensive woes, but is 3-1.  NC State and Georgia Tech have more wins than losses.  And so on.

But Notre Dame’s defensive woes are such that they fired their defensive coordinator.  So it might make some sense to sell Notre Dame until you see what a new coordinator can do.  At the same time, with three losses already, there is a path forward that has the Fighting Irish sitting home during bowl season.  They avoided Florida State, Clemson, and Louisville this year, but Miami and Virginia Tech look better than last year.  Meanwhile, Stanford is very good.  Lose those three games and there are six losses.  If so, Notre Dame has to hold serve against Syracuse, NC State, Army, Navy, and struggling U.S.C., just to get the six wins for bowl eligibility.  And if Syracuse upsets them this week?  Trouble.  Anything can happen, but it would make sense to “sell” for now.

Pittsburgh.  After a 2-0 start against in-state Penn State and Villanova, the Panthers dropped winnable games at Oklahoma State and North Carolina.  Marshall, Syracuse, and Virginia are “should wins.”  The Coastal is a mess, as usual. If Miami and Virginia Tech are for real, and Duke’s got the ship righted, Pitt may struggle to get to and beyond 6 wins.  Probably makes sense to “sell” and see where they are after the Georgia Tech game on October 8th.


Clemson and Louisville.  Only one of these teams will come out of this week’s matchup 5-0 and in the drivers’ seat for the playoffs.  One of these teams will come out 4-1 and have obstacles.  Both teams still have to get by Florida State, who can play the spoiler and try to sneak back in.  All three still have games against SEC foes.  But you need to wait out this week to know who controls their own destiny.

Miami.  Four weeks in, Miami is 3-0.  The three easiest games on the schedule are gone, now it is Coastal competition, Florida State, Notre Dame, and North Carolina State.  Mark Richt should be familiar with Georgia Tech’s offense from his Georgia coaching days, and with two weeks to prepare, it would be inexcusable for the Hurricanes to not have a great game plan.  But if Georgia Tech can win this game, the schedule for Miami looks a lot tougher.

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


ACC Football Rankings: Week 5

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 5:

  1. Louisville 4-0. The Cardinals are averaging 63 points per game.  That makes the 58 points against Marshall a disappointment.  And it is odd that Marshall scored more points against Louisville than Florida State.  But all eyes–including GameDay–turn to Death Valley where Louisville faces its toughest test of the regular season (well, maybe it will be @ Houston).  If Louisville can get by this one, look out.  But Clemson has the offense and defense to keep up with Louisville, and home field should be an advantage.
  2. Clemson 4-0.  While Louisville has looked impressive racking up its 4 wins, Clemson has not.  The nice win over Georgia Tech is another step in the right direction.  Louisville coming to town will be Clemson’s biggest challenge to date as Lamar Jackson is every bit the QB that Watson is.  The Heisman hype has shifted from Watson to Jackson too.  This should be a great game.
  3. Florida State 3-1.  Florida State’s offense put up 55 points on a decent South Florida defense.  But the defense is allowing a lot of points.  With North Carolina coming to town, things need to get righted pretty quick.  The playoff picture may be bleak for the Seminoles, but a prime bowl is still in the mix.
  4. Miami 3-0.  Miami got a week off… giving them two weeks to prepare for Georgia Tech’s unique offense.  That is a nice advantage.  This is the type of game Miami has lost during the past decade.  They are only cautiously slotted at #4.
  5. Wake Forest 4-0.  The Confidential told you that the Demon Deacons had the potential for 9 wins.  And they are already almost halfway there.  NC State is a big rivalry game, and it is on the road (again).  If they can win this one, a bowl is almost a certainty.
  6. Virginia Tech 3-1. This was a tough one.  Both Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech lost to highly ranked teams, with Clemson being a better team than Tennessee.  Both teams beat Boston College, Virginia Tech very handily.  But the Hokies are really starting to put up some offensive and defensive numbers… cannot ignore that.  East Carolina has been a thorn, but was quickly weeded and dispatched.  
  7. Georgia Tech 3-1.  The Yellow Jackets are 3-1, with only a loss to Clemson… no shame in that.  If the Yellow Jackets can beat Miami, they will rise substantially.
  8. North Carolina 3-1. The Tar Heels have three straight wins, as 2016 is setting up just like 2015–a disappointing loss to an SEC team that fades into obscurity and then a lot of wins.  But this year, Florida State is on the schedule.  And a trip to the Seminoles will show whether North Carolina is going to have a season similar to last year.
  9. Pittsburgh 2-2.  The Panthers have now lost two straight… albeit to decent teams.  Penn State is not the Penn State of old though, and Pitt seems to be taking a step back all of the sudden.  They get Marshall this week, who just got a taste of Louisville.  They will be ready.
  10. NC State 2-1.  NC State gets to host Wake Forest this week.  In August, this game looked like a tune-up game.  Now, Wake is 4-0 and has some momentum.  Things get pretty scary if NC State loses this game.  With Notre Dame replacing one of their four annual OOC cupcakes, and the other Atlantic foes looking solid, there are few spots for wins after this game.
  11. Duke 2-2.  Duke rebounded from the loss to Northwestern by beating Notre Dame at Notre Dame.  In fact, Notre Dame went ahead and fired its defensive coordinator thereafter.  Virginia comes to town, fresh off a win off its first win.  And with Army looming, Duke is still in the hunt for bowl eligibility.
  12. Notre Dame 1-3.  Notre Dame is in trouble.  Brian Kelly fired the defensive coordinator.  Texas is better, but not Texas.  Michigan State is good, but looked terrible against Wisconsin.  And Duke is not a juggernaut this year.  If Notre Dame cannot beat a Syracuse team that is giving up points aplenty, it is time to panic.
  13. Syracuse 2-2.  The Orange got past UConn, which is nice.  The offense is struggling to put up points, but generally moving the ball.  The defense is porous, but did better against UConn’s deliberate offense.  Few Orange fans expected a win against Notre Dame, and fewer still expected a win after the losses to Louisville and South Florida.  Somehow, however, Notre Dame’s struggles are giving the ‘Cuse optimism.  We’ll see.
  14. Boston College 2-2.  Boston College beat up on Wagner, and its embarrassingly easy OOC schedule continues with Buffalo next.  Not the Bills, but the Bulls–losers to Albany this year.  If B.C. is to have any chance of a bowl, it has to win this week.
  15. Virginia 1-3.  Virginia got a win!  A win is a win, and Central Michigan is no pushover.  Next up?  A trip to Duke.

So, what do you think?  Are we being too harsh on Georgia Tech for a loss to Clemson?  Is Florida State too high given their defensive woes?  Any other errors in your opinion?

ACC Football Rankings: Week 3-4

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 the week between Weeks 3 and 3:

  1. Louisville.  The Clemson win at Auburn was nice, but what Louisville did to Florida State was staggering.  The Confidential actually expected the Cardinals to win, but to win so convincingly was a surprise.  Again, Lamar Jackson is the real deal. Louisville needs to handle Marshall and not look forward to the game at Clemson in two weeks.
  2. Clemson.  Clemson finally started looking like Clemson.  Unfortunately, it was against an FCS opponent.  Clemson needs to get it together ASAP against an improved Georgia Tech squad that is 3-0 with wins over Boston College and Vanderbilt.  If Clemson is looking ahead to Louisville, there could be trouble.
  3. Florida State.  Logically, Florida State should drop substantially given that they have one loss, while a few ACC teams are still undefeated.  But the win against Ole Miss is still better than the wins that Miami< Georgia Tech, and Wake Forest have put up.  As bad as Louisville made the Seminoles look, we’ll leave them at #3. They travel to South Florida this week, the second straight week of playing a team on the road that just beat Syracuse on the road.
  4. Georgia Tech.  The Yellow Jackets are 3-0, with wins over Boston College and Vanderbilt.  Nobody else below them in these standings has two wins over P5 teams (Louisville does, though).  If Georgia Tech can beat Clemson, they will be the early favorites in the Coastal.
  5. Miami.  Miami continues to win and is starting to make some noise about being an ACC contender.  The schedule strength is going to ramp up and we’ll learn a lot in two weeks when the Hurricanes make their ACC debut this year against Georgia Tech.
  6. Wake Forest.  Don’t look now, but the Demon Deacons are 3-0, and their next three opponents are @ Indiana, @ NC State, and home against Syracuse.  They still have Boston College, Army, and Virginia on the schedule.  It is not impossible for them to sweep all of these games en route to a 9-3 season, right?  We’ll see.  But better to be 3-0 than what the teams below have.
  7. Virginia Tech.  At 2-1, the Hokies have wins over Liberty and Boston College.  The latter was impressive, given that the Eagles defense is ordinarily quite stout and 49 points was surprising.  Still, it is “just” Boston College, so the Hokies are plugged in at #7.
  8. Pittsburgh.  At 2-0, Pitt had a real chance to make its mark against an Oklahoma State team that had lost to Central Michigan.  But the Panthers defense was not strong, allowing 45 points in a 45-38 loss.  For Pitt, this puts them squarely in the middle of these standings, and the team on their heels is, no pun intended, the Tar Heels–Pitt’s next opponent.
  9. North Carolina. The Tar Heels went to Illinois and won and then held serve against James Madison.  They get to host Pitt this week to battle for a more significant move up these standings.
  10. NC State.  NC State bounced back from the East Carolina loss to beat Old Dominion 49-22.  This puts them at 2-1 and the slight edge over what is likely a “better” Notre Dame team.  Of course, the Fighting Irish come to town on October 8, so this edge will have to be earned shortly.  Next up is Wake Forest, though.
  11. Notre Dame.  Notre Dame is 1-2, having lost to an improved Texas team and a solid Michigan State team.  Of the 1-2 teams, these are the two most impressive losses (so far, anyway).  Duke is up next.
  12. Boston College.  Boston College is 1-2, like Syracuse.  B.C.’s losses were to 2-1 Virginia Tech and 3-0 Georgia Tech.  The Eagles have a win over UMass, and FBS opponent.  This gives them the slight edge over Syracuse (and Duke).  Next up are Wagner and Buffalo–two good chances for wins.
  13. Syracuse.  The Orange “D” was atrocious against Louisville and not much better against South Florida.  After jumping out to a 17-0 lead, the Orange stopped moving the ball and stopped stopping the movement of the ball.  As Louisville and South Florida are better opponents than Wake Forest and Northwestern, Syracuse gets a clear edge over Duke for the #13 spot.  The FCS opponents favor Syracuse slightly too.  Up next, a chance for a win against similarly-talented UConn, albeit on the road.
  14. Duke.  Look, losing to Wake Forest at home is not the end of the world, but losing to a Northwestern team with losses to West Michigan and Illinois State is not great.  1-2 keeps them out of the basement, but Duke is trending down.  And Notre Dame is up next.
  15. Virginia.  The only 0-3 team–Virginia looked better against Oregon than Richmond, and looked much better against UConn.  Perhaps Virginia can pull out a few victories this year after all?  Well, with Central Michigan up next, you would think MAC opponent, but the Chippewas beat Oklahoma State on the road, which Pitt could not do.  We’ll see.

So, what do you think?  Should we have dropped Florida State farther?  Any other errors in your opinion?

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