Sunday, October 7, 2012
What we learned in the ACC: Week 6
By Heather Dinich
Here’s a look back at the lessons learned in Week 6:
1. The ACC hasn’t changed. It’s still looking for a national title contender, and it can’t get out of its own way. No. 3-ranked Florida State’s national title hopes have all but disappeared with the 17-16 loss to NC State. Along with it went EJ Manuel's hopes at winning the Heisman. Once again, with the nation watching, the conference came up short. Miami was pummeled by Notre Dame, Boston College lost to a winless Army team, and Florida State failed to live up to the hype and the preseason expectations.
EJ Manuel likely saw his Heisman candidacy -- and FSU's national title hopes -- disappear.
2. The Atlantic Division race is wide-open. Welcome back, Clemson. While FSU would win the tiebreaker scenario should both teams finish with only one loss, the Seminoles’ loss to NC State was the first step in Clemson getting back into the race. To defend its division title, Clemson needs to win out and have FSU lose again. At this rate, anything is possible. After all, Maryland is the only team in the division that has yet to lose a league game. Of course, it has played only one. NC State, though, is now just as much in the mix as FSU and Clemson.
3. Miami’s magic is limited to the ACC. The young Canes just aren’t ready to beat a ranked opponent on the road. At 3-0 in league play, the Canes are one of the teams to beat in the Coastal Division, but once they get out of the cozy confines of the ACC, the gap widens. Miami was beaten soundly first by No. 21 K-State and again on Saturday by No. 9 Notre Dame. Both have been humbling experiences the players will learn from, but to convince anyone outside ACC country that it’s any good, it has to beat some better competition.
4. Duke is a legitimate contender. No starting quarterback? No problem. Backup Anthony Boone picked apart Virginia’s secondary and Duke improved to 5-1, its best start since 1994. The Blue Devils are now a win from going bowling for the first time since that season, but even more impressive is their place in the Coastal Division standings -- right behind Miami in the No. 2 spot. Duke is 2-0 in ACC play heading into Blacksburg, and yes, the Hokies should be concerned.
5. UNC can play the role of spoiler. The Tar Heels have been searching for their identity against lesser opponents, and they might have found it against the Hokies: spoiler. Virginia Tech’s defense was abysmal, but the Heels deserve credit for putting up points against somebody other than Elon and Idaho. Gio Bernard, who rushed for a career-high 262 yards and a touchdown, is still running. Larry Fedora’s offense got the best of Bud Foster’s defense. Expect more of the same as the ineligible Heels make their way through the division lineup. EJ Manuel likely saw his Heisman candidacy disappear.