Welcome to the ACC Roundtable of the ACC Correspondents! As is and will be the plan for the remainder of the football season, the Confidential correspondents will discuss the Week that was (week 9) and the Week that will be (Week 10) for the ACC and their respective schools. Special thanks to the Confidential contributors–Len (Louisville), David (Florida State), John (UNC), Mike (NC State), Brian (FSU), and Anthony (Syracuse)–for their comments and opinions. Tell us what you think below.
WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST SURPRISE FOR THE ACC IN WEEK 9?
Len (Louisville): Miami beating VT the way they did, 30-6. VT has gone in the wrong direction since winning at Ohio St. VT can still become bowl eligible but have to win games at Wake & at Virginia to end the season. They have BC at home next but travel to Duke for the first of 3 straight road games. This off season could be interesting for Hookie fans. My biggest surprise of the weekend however came on the ACC Blitz show before the game of the week when they discussed swapping Clemson for Miami in a divisional shake up. I favor going divisionless if a change occurs.
David (FSU): Biggest surprise for me was that the rest of the country just now is realizing VT & Frank Beamer are FSU & Bobby Bowden circa 2007-2009. Beamer has needed to go for a while now and that offense? Eeesh. I want to say pull the trigger VT, but who is chomping at the bit to head to blacksburg as a replacement?
Mike (NC State): Not so much Georgia Tech’s win at Pitt but how they did it. After two straight losses, the Jackets could have tucked their tail between their legs and conceded the Coastal race. Instead they dominated, jumping out to a 28-0 first quarter lead and never looking back. On the road against a team on the verge of bowl eligibility. Impressive to say the least.
John (UNC): At some point, something has got to give in Blacksburg. Frank Beamer is one of the most respected coaches in the game, and deservedly so, but the Hokies have really slipped in recent years. I was amazed at how flat they played against Miami, and I’m really beginning to wonder if Beamer will coach through the end of his contract (which just got extended until 2019). More likely, I see him having a ‘farewell season’ next year, and stepping down before bowl eligibility is no longer a given.
Brian (FSU): I am shocked that UM was able to bring a whooping so easily at VT’s house (wait can I say that in today’s world?). It is so surprising because the last time UM won in Blacksburg was in 2005… although that was also a shocker, when #3 VT was blown out at home by Coker’s Canes.
Anthony (Syracuse): The North Carolina and Miami wins. Both Virginia schools really needed a big win and neither got it. At least Virginia was competitive. The onside kick by Fedora was legendary.
WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST SURPRISE/DISAPPOINTMENT FOR YOUR SCHOOL IN WEEK 9?
Len (Louisville): They were finally on a bye week so hopefully they got themselves healthy. Patrino is difficult to beat when he has extended time to prepare. Add to the fact that it’s a home game on a Thursday night & history says the Cards have an edge here, but will it be enough to pull the upset?
David (FSU): FSU had a bye week, if there was any disappointment it was the news that Mario Pender was considered questionable for Thursday’s game.
Mike (NC State): The biggest disappointment for NC State is that a bye week is really their most impressive recent performance. I still think they will recover and likely get a bowl game, but time is running short. If this ends up another 0-8 conference season, it will be running out on the Dave Doeren era.
John (UNC): I was blown away with how things unfolded at the end of the Virginia game. In no way did I ever think the Tar Heels would attempt an on-side kick. In retrospect, it makes sense, but the sheer improbability of being successful with such a move is enormous. It paid off though. It also didn’t hurt that Virginia got flagged for a crucial penalty coming out of a time out, giving North Carolina a first down and ending the game. What a finish.
Brian (FSU): I was hoping I could say that I was surprised no bad news or drama took place during FSU’s bye week, and as of Monday it seemed likely to come true…. then FSU’s starting RB got himself into some trouble. So, I think I am disappointed that Williams allegedly behaved the way he did. For the record assuming all of the facts about what Williams allegedly did are true, and I think they are, I am more than fine with him being removed from the team permanently.
Anthony (Syracuse): The biggest surprise was that Syracuse’s defense could force Clemson mistakes. The biggest disappointment is that Syracuse’s offense did not realize that it was not going to beat Clemson by anything other than tough running of the ball. When you have less than 200 yards of offense, it is going poorly. Run the freakin’ ball and at least hope to tire the opponent out. Beyond that, AJ Long looked like a true freshman, which is fine because he is.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO IN WEEK 10 FOR YOUR SCHOOL?
Len (Louisville): Parker presence should help the offense since the opposing defenses will no longer be able to stack the box & will have to double team him or risk a huge play. Can Dyer have a repeat performance? These new weapons on offense should help the struggling Gardner & the OL. The Cards saw improvement from the QB & OL with Parker & Dyer performance against NC State. My ideal scenario would be the Cards getting the win & FSU still making the playoffs.
David (FSU): I’m looking forward to Matthew Thomas getting more comfortable at LB, I’d also like to see a little less of Lorenzo Featherston at DE. Not because he’s played poorly, but I don’t think his body can handle the grind of the season much longer if he keeps getting the same amount of snaps. Look for Demarcus Walker to step up. Offensively, I hope to continue to see the rise of Travis Rudolph as a dependable option for Jameis, and Dalvin Cook to split time with Karlos Williams.
Mike (NC State): The pressure is on against Syracuse, both teams will be desperate for a win. While State did look better last time vs Louisville than they did against BC, the result was the same. Really all phases need to step it up several notches to pull off this absolutely vital road win. The road ahead is narrow, with only Wake Forest looking winnable. And that is no guarantee.
John (UNC): Last year, the Tar Heels rattled off 5 straight wins, going 6-1 at the end of the season, including a Belk Bowl victory over the Cincinnati Bearcats after a poor start. With the right play calling and focus, they look ready to do the same thing this year. Miami seems improved from the squad that beat the Tar Heels in the last seconds of the game in Chapel Hill last year, but this is a North Carolina team that still has a lot to prove and has shown significant improvement the past few weeks. I don’t see the game being at Miami as a disadvantage. The Hurricanes have no home crowd, and the Tar Heels proved they can march right into a division rival’s backyard and pull victory from the jaws of defeat last week. I’m not expecting a win necessarily, but I wouldn’t be surprised with one either. The defense still needs improvement.
Brian (FSU): I am dreading FSU’s game against Louisville this Thursday. All year I assumed this was the best place for FSU to lose. Vegas agrees, hence the -3.5 FSU line on the game (opened at -8.5, a lot of Cardinal money coming in the last few days). Considering FSU is unbeaten but only 1-6 against the spread, if FSU wins, odds are it will be able to finally cover this week. So I guess that is what I am looking forward to… yeah I know it is not much, but like I said, I think FSU loses this Thursday night.
Anthony (Syracuse): The NC State game is not mathematically a must win for bowl eligibility, but it is nevertheless a must win. Syracuse can run the table against Duke (H), Pitt (A), and BC (A), but it is not likely. If Syracuse cannot win this one, it does not deserve a bowl.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO IN WEEK 10 FOR THE ACC?
Len (Louisville): Separation in the Coastal Division. Duke & GT are looking to be the best there & they have a chance this week to to start separating themselves from the rest of the pack. Duke has the head to head edge and are my pick to face FSU in the CCG.
David (FSU): Hard to beat the Thursday night matchup with FSU @ Louisville, Can FSU keep the unbeaten streak alive?
Mike (NC State): Of course the big matchup is FSU-Louisville Thursday night, but watching the Coastal sort itself out is fascinating. Every game in that division is almost like a playoff, and this time around we have such matchups as UNC/Miami, Georgia Tech/Virginia and Pitt/Duke to go with the Virginia Tech/BC interdivisional matchup. Somebody has to win the Coastal.
John (UNC): I think there’s a really interesting slate this week. Louisville has looked strong at many different points this season, and has the opportunity to eliminate new conference rival Florida State from the playoff with a win at home. Once again, there is a lot at stake in the Coastal Division, and a win by Pittsburgh versus the Blue Devils at home could really change the direction of the whole season.
Brian (FSU): I guess since I think FSU will lose, I am looking forward to see if Duke can continue its reign over the Coastal.
Anthony (Syracuse): A slow week. Did you know that Georgia Tech/Pitt is the game with the two teams with the best combined records (9-5)? Miami and Va Tech are a combined 8-6. Plus, Ga Tech/Pitt are 4-2 in conference, while the latter are 2-4. The Coastal pillow fights remain interesting, as the teams seem to cannibalize each other down to mediocrity.
WHO ARE YOUR FOUR PLAYOFF TEAMS IF THE SEASON ENDED TODAY?
Len (Louisville): 1) FSU 2) Miss State 3) Oregon 4) Notre Dame. 3 & 4 are a toss up right now with a lot of good 1 loss teams. Alabama, Mich St, Kansas St & TCU all deserve consideration. I wrote this before the playoff committee released their rankings so I’m curious how my 4 compares to theirs.
David (FSU): 1) Miss State 2) FSU 3) Alabama 4) Oregon
Mike (NC State):This playoff thing is about 100 times more exciting than the BCS it replaces. Here are my four as of right now:
Mississippi State, Florida State, Oregon, Michigan State. Marshall likely finishes unbeaten but is relegated to a non-playoff former BCS bowl, which is why we need to look at expanding the field to sixteen sooner rather than later. Give the Cinderellas a chance to get to the ball.
John (UNC): I’m just not buying 3 SEC West teams in the Playoff like the inaugural rankings suggested. Much like the PAC-12, I see the SEC West cannibalizing itself in the next few weeks. Either Auburn or Ole Miss is going to win this weekend, and someone still has to lose Ole Miss-Mississippi State. A more likely scenario includes Oregon jumping back in, and being joined by Florida State, one SEC West team and Michigan State who can easily run the table in the Big Ten. Sure, the playoff committee likes the SEC right now, but I see a little more diversity in January.
Brian (FSU): My Top 4 at year end is: 1) Bama (Miss St struggled with KY so I think they choke to Bama and Ole Miss, I think Bama wins out, and since I think Ole Miss loses to Auburn this weekend, all other SEC teams will have at least 2 losses), 2) ND (they will not lose again, and the Pac 12 winner will have 2 losses), 3) Mich St (who can beat them in the BIG?), 4) TCU… I predict FSU loses this Thursday (and probably a second time), and no way FSU gets in with even 1 loss… too much negative press for the school and negative perception of the strength of the ACC. For crying out loud, I saw a replay of an ESPN CFB show the other night where some analysts seem to suggest FSU should not even be top 4 if they are unbeaten.
Anthony (Syracuse): I will stick with what I wrote last night before the top 25 was issued:
What do you think? How would you answer these questions?