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What we learned in the ACC: Week 6

10/11/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Here's a look at what the ACC revealed in Week 6:

1. Wake Forest is the team to beat in the Atlantic Division. The Deacs are the only ones with a winning record in the division. The only other team in the division that has won four overall games is Boston College, and two of those wins were against Kent State and Northeastern. It's not that Boston College is inconsistent, it's that it's too young and inexperienced to repeat the success it had grown accustomed to in the past few years, and good defenses will expose that. Yes, the Deacs lost to BC in overtime, but no other team in the Atlantic Division has shown the poise and consistency at quarterback that Wake Forest has, and that will be the difference against a division in transition.

2. Emotion can't overcome X's and O's. It's not like Florida State didn't play with heart against Georgia Tech. It's not like quarterback Christian Ponder didn't play well enough to win. It's not like the Seminoles gave up. They played with a purpose and for their head coach, Bobby Bowden. But those qualities couldn't overcome a lack of adjustments, missed tackles or missed assignments on defense. Paul Johnson's offense has proven time and time again it's not a 3-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust philosophy. It's got big-play capabilities and FSU learned that the hard way Saturday night.

3. Virginia Tech is the most complete team it's been in years. I'll admit it: I was among those who were skeptical about the Hokies' offense. Even after the Duke game there was still a reason for the see-it-when-you-believe-it mentality. Well, I saw it on Saturday against Boston College. Tyrod Taylor has improved his passing game. His receivers have improved. It's not like he's throwing the ball a lot, but when he does, he's very effective. It allows offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring to mix things up a bit more. Ryan Williams is a star, plain and simple. Combined with the usual lunch pail mentality on defense, this team finally has everything it needs to contend for the national title.

4. NC State is not as good as many people thought. Coach Tom O'Brien sat at a table at media day this past summer and told reporters he had a good football team that would be better than his first two years, but so far it looks pretty status quo. The Pack's secondary was shredded on Saturday by Duke quarterback Thaddeus Lewis, and NC State is off to an 0-2 start in conference play with its best win over Pitt. Maybe the loss of linebacker Nate Irving this year is turning out to be bigger than initially thought. The musical chairs and injuries in the secondary hasn't helped. But Russell Wilson -- much like Ponder -- can't do this by himself.

5. Beware of the underdogs. Any coaches and players who think they're going to roll over Duke or Virginia this year are in for an upset. The Blue Devils are better in coach David Cutcliffe's second season and are capable of winning more than one ACC game. I predict Maryland will be its next victim. And Virginia started to turn the corner and gain confidence with a win in Chapel Hill and now ran all over Indiana. The Cavaliers need Mikell Simpson healthy, though, and he was released from the hospital Saturday night with an injury. He is their X factor and they'll need him to continue to make this comeback.