Welcome to the ACC Roundtable of the ACC Correspondents! As is and will be the plan for the remainder of the football season, the Confidential correspondents will discuss the Week that was (week 10) and the Week that will be (Week 11) for the ACC and their respective schools. Special thanks to the Confidential contributors for their comments and opinions. Tell us what you think below.
WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST SURPRISE FOR THE ACC IN WEEK 10?
Len (Louisville): The way Miami beat North Carolina. The Canes are finishing strong as Duke Johnson is playing up to his potential & as their freshman QB settles into the starting role. They.are an improved team over the one that played the Cards in the first game of the season.
Mike (NC State): The relative ease with which Miami handled UNC. I thought Fedora’s team had turned a corner, but now they need to win two of their last three to get into a bowl. If the Canes get to Charlotte to face FSU, that could actually be interesting…they beat Duke but lost to Tech…hmm…
John (UNC): Louisville really blew it. They had a huge lead over the #2 team in the nation and couldn’t finish. Honestly, I wasn’t surprised the Cardinals led 21-7 at one point. I was more surprised that they didn’t win. The Seminoles, while talented, haven’t seemed as unstoppable as they were last year. They looked extremely vulnerable against a motivated Louisville team playing in front of a home crowd. That’s why I wouldn’t be surprised if the Noles lose one of their next four games. The remaining schools (Virginia, Miami, Boston College, Florida) have either beaten, or narrowly lost, to some of the hottest programs this year (just ask Georgia).
Brian (FSU): I was surprised how good UM looked against UNC. I was already concerned about the UVA game and UM, but now UM is looking like a very dangerous game for the Noles.
Anthony (Syracuse): I really thought that Florida State would play a 60-minute game against Louisville. Instead, it was a 35 minute game, with a lot of good fortune along the way. Florida State fans may not want to hear it, but the thing about luck is that it eventually runs out. Florida State needs to play much better if it is going to repeat as national champions. Jameis Winston impressed the heck out of me though. If he can mature off-the-field, he could be an all-time great on-the-field.
WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST SURPRISE/DISAPPOINTMENT FOR YOUR SCHOOL IN WEEK 10?
Len (Louisville): That Parker didn’t score on the first play of the game. When he is up to full speed that would normally be a TD. I was surprised by all the holes in the Cards defense in the second half leaving the Noles wide open for big plays. The game drew a 3.5 TV rating so that bolds will for the ACC & gave the Cards national exposure. It was a big recruiting weekend & the Cards got 4 quality commitments.
Mike (NC State): I was really surprised that Pharoah McKever would be the guy who made the play that snapped the Pack’s ACC drought. Here’s hoping that the Wolfpack uses this win as a springboard. It feels really good to stop thinking about the losing streak and realize State is just one win from bowl eligibility.
John (UNC): I really thought North Carolina would put up a better fight against Miami. I really did. With a two game winning streak and a chance to take the lead in the Coastal Division race, there was so much at stake this past Saturday. Instead of rising to the occasion, the Tar Heels put up an anemic 258 yards and looked lost on both sides of the ball for the first time this year. At least in losses to East Carolina (who saw their Peach Bowl dreams go up in flames with a loss to Temple), Notre Dame and Clemson, the North Carolina offense was dynamic, giving the team a chance to win (unlike the defense). This week it wasn’t. Awful. Just awful.
Brian (FSU): I was surprised that FSU was able to develop a run game against one of the best D’s in the country. I was disappointed by FSU’s kicker missing a kick finally.
Anthony (Syracuse): After facing a very tough Clemson team, Syracuse quarterback AJ Long continued to look like a true freshman against NC State. Granted, they had two weeks to prepare for Syracuse. Even worse, he was not running the ball until the 2nd half. There is little point in having a mobile QB and taking his feet out of the game. Not one of Tim Lester’s best offensive coordinator performances. Then again, he has only had 4, none of them with Syracuse’s two best weapons or a healthy offensive line.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO IN WEEK 11 FOR YOUR SCHOOL?
Len (Louisville): If the offense continues to improve & if the Cards can contain BC QB Murphy. The D has been solid against the run so it will be interesting to see how well they handle the best scrambling QB that they will face this seaon. With Dyer turning in back to back strong performances it would be nice to see the WR’s step up their game & score some TD’s against BC with Notre Dame lurking ahead on the schedule. This could be a trap game, if the Cards are caught looking ahead, BC is good enough to get the victory.
Mike (NC State): Curious to see two things: will the momentum carry on? And how well can the Pack deal with that Ga. Tech option? They stopped the Syracuse rushing attack but this is a whole different wrinkle. One that they face but once a year.
John (UNC): I’m excited that it’s a bye week for the Heels. Whatever is going on with the team needs to be addressed. With three games left, and two wins needed for bowl eligibility, it’s not too late to save the season, even though it will be probably be disappointing either way because of the preseason expectations. Matchups against Pittsburgh (4-5) and NC State (5-4) at home are very winnable, and despite the fact that Duke is a much better team than the Tar Heels this year, games between the two schools are almost always close.
Brian (FSU): I would like to say hopefully FSU finally showing up at full strength in a game (last week 7 linebackers were our plus FSU’s safety who led the ACC with tackles), or as close to it as possible, but then word hits that Winston is banged up. He should still play, but hopefully FSU will find a way to end this game early so Winston can get some rest along with other key players… of course hope is the key word… I am not expecting a big win by FSU.
Anthony (Syracuse): The offense must get better. The defense has played well for the past several games now. The offense needs to have one of those “it all comes together against a good opponent” games. If they don’t have it this week, then the result will be sitting at home for December/January.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO IN WEEK 11 FOR THE ACC?
Len (Louisville): The Cards have already lost at Virginia & in Death Valley, can they get a quality road win in Boston? Can ND win at Arizona State? GT going into NC State should be an interesting game but Duke is in control of the coastal so the meaning isn’t as great. However a three way tie is still possible if Duke losses again.
Mike (NC State): Three ACC teams are clinging by a thread to the top 25: Clemson (21), Duke (24) and Louisville (25). The one that might fall off: the Cards, if they are not on their game at Boston College. And an angry Syracuse could give Duke more than they are bargaining for.
Brian (FSU): I want to see if Louisville will implode or will it stand up and beat a very good BC team. If BC wins, they are very much still in the Atlantic race.
Anthony (Syracuse): My eyes remain squarely on Florida State and Notre Dame. If these two want to be in the playoff, they need to start working on style points. ND has several spots to leapfrog. Florida State eking by opponents will lead to a first-round playoff elimination.
WHO ARE YOUR FOUR PLAYOFF TEAMS IF THE SEASON ENDED TODAY?
Len (Louisville):1) FSU 2) Miss State 3) Auburn 4) Oregon. The odds are good that the SEC will get two in but which two is still up in the air. The SEC East has been correctly called a dumpster fire with Missouri leading the way with their loss to Indiana. Should they win the CCG how would that effect the way the committee perceives the SEC? Florida thumping Georgia enhances the game between the Noles & Gators so I’m not buying the weak argument that FSU wouldn’t make it in with 1 loss, their schedule isn’t weak. They dont have a win against a top 5 team but you can also make a strong case as to why some of the SEC wins were againat over rated teams.
Mike (NC State):This part is getting a bit easier. 1) Mississippi State, 2) Florida State, 3) Oregon, 4) Auburn. Although I am dead set against the SEC getting two in, this is where I think we are at this moment.
John (UNC): Ole Miss lost, so in comes Oregon, as predicted and right on schedule. They are joined by Mississippi State (who already beat Auburn, but has tough matchups against Alabama and Ole Miss ahead of them), Florida State (who is only in for now after their shaky play against Louisville) and Michigan State. Again, while another SEC West team may deserve a bid, and certainly the final few games could show this, I still think the committee will go for balance in the Playoff’s first year.
Brian (FSU): If the playoffs started today it would be: 1) Miss St, 2) FSU, 3) Auburn, 4) Bama; but I think at yearend FSU will lose somewhere (they are playing with fire too much this year with how they win, and I am still not sold they will finish unbeaten… UM is the best bet right now, but UF looks dangerous and so does UVA or BC and of course the Coastal Winner). Also, I think Miss St will lose twice more (Bama and Ole Miss… although I am less certain about this outcome due to the Treadwell injury). I think Auburn will lose to Bama. I think LSU could shock Bama, but I think Bama pulls it out. All that said the Final 4 will be in my view: 1) Bama, 2) Oregon, 3) ND, 4) Mich St.
Anthony (Syracuse):My preseason was FSU, Alabama, Oregon, Michigan State. I may have under-appreciated the Big XII, which has TCU and Kansas State primed to have someone enter the mix. If the season ended today, then I think the committee nailed it with Miss St., FSU, Auburn, and Oregon. All I know is that this system is working great. Every game matters, yet we’ll decide the champion on the field. #5 through #8 will have some reason to complain, but they had a chance to control their own destiny and tripped up. No undefeated team (save Marshall) will be left out.
What do you think? How would you answer these questions?