What we learned in the ACC: Week 14
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Well, the regular season is over and it took all 14 weeks to figure a few things out. Here's what Saturday revealed in the ACC:
Virginia Tech and Boston College will play for the ACC title. Again. Both teams took care of business at home on Saturday. The Hokies clinched the Coastal with their win over rival Virginia and BC won the Atlantic Division with little threat from Maryland. It's the second straight season they'll face each other in the ACC Championship Game, but both teams are vastly different from last year's. They are both young on offense and heavily dependent upon their defenses, but earned their way to the title game by beating the teams they had to. BC closed its regular season with four straight wins while the Hokies won three of their last four.
For the first time in ACC history, more than eight teams qualified for bowl eligibility. With NC State and Clemson both winning this weekend, that makes 10 bowl-eligible teams from the ACC fighting it out for nine guaranteed spots. The inaugural Eagle Bank Bowl is guaranteed one of those teams, and the Wolfpack would make sense there, but would also be a good fit for the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte. Clemson will be an attractive team to several bowls, and that will likely bump a few others like Maryland and perhaps even North Carolina down in the pecking order. It's also possible a 10th team can be picked up by another bowl looking to fill a spot like the Independence Bowl. I'll do a more extensive breakdown of the bowl scenarios tomorrow.
The gap between Florida State and Florida looms large, but the gap between Georgia Tech and Georgia was erased. To be fair, Florida is in a class all by itself, and could very well be the best team in the country. But coach Bobby Bowden wanted to know how much the Noles had closed the gap from last year's drubbing and now he has his answer -- they didn't. At Georgia Tech, though, Paul Johnson did something in his first season that hasn't been done in the previous seven. Not only did he beat a ranked rival from the SEC, but he did it on the road with an old-school offense and 26 points in the third quarter.
Boston College backup quarterback Dominique Davis is efficient enough to win the ACC title. Davis proved in his first start he is capable of managing the offense without turning the ball over. He completed 12 of 24 passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns. He's not as mobile as Chris Crane, but he might be more accurate. Offensive coordinator Steve Logan did a good job of putting Davis in a position to succeed, and he was clearly more comfortable after having a week to prepare. As long as the staff doesn't ask him to do too much, they get another good running game out of freshman Montel Harris and the defense continues to dominate, Davis is capable of winning another game as their starter.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney legitimized himself as a candidate for the head job. Swinney did exactly what he was hired to do on an interim basis -- win and get the team bowl eligible. His 31-14 drubbing of rival South Carolina punctuated a turnaround few could have possibly imagined at midseason. According to the Columbia State, Swinney is expected to meet with athletic director Terry Don Phillips this afternoon, and a team meeting has been scheduled for 3 p.m.