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Sunday, October 27, 2013
What we learned in the ACC: Week 9

By Heather Dinich

Here’s a look back at what we learned about the ACC in Week 9, in no particular order:

Anthony Boone
Duke's victory over Virginia Tech was its first over a ranked opponent in more than 40 years.
1. Duke is a bowl team. It was one of the bigger questions in the ACC heading into this season, after Duke became bowl eligible last year for the first time since 1994. The program reached an even bigger milestone on Saturday, though, with its 13-10 upset of No. 14 Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. Duke is now bowl eligible in back-to-back seasons for the first time in school history, and it was the program’s first win over a ranked opponent on the road since 1971. It was also Duke’s first win over Virginia Tech since 1981. It wasn’t pretty. Both teams turned the ball over four times, and Duke was 0-for-11 on third downs, but the Blue Devils’ defense was the difference down the stretch.

2. This isn’t your 2012 Florida State team, or NC State. Not even close. Final: FSU 49, NC State 17. “We definitely didn’t want to give them a chance to even be in the game,” safety Terrence Brooks said. “That was our goal and we pretty much owed them one from last year. We wanted to impose our will and not let up any.” Mission accomplished. Last year’s 17-16 loss to the Pack was history the minute former coach Bobby Bowden planted the spear at Doak Campbell Stadium in his first trip back. The Noles outscored NC State 35-0 ... in the first quarter. FSU snapped a four-game losing streak as a ranked team against unranked NC State teams.

3. Clemson has moved on. Coach Dabo Swinney said the Tigers had long days on Sunday and Monday after losing at home to FSU last week, but had good practices the rest of the week. He said there wasn’t any sense of a hangover from the loss to the Noles, and had there been, they wouldn’t have been able to escape College Park with the win. It took about three quarters, but the Tigers eventually asserted themselves against Maryland and pulled away for the 40-27 win. It wasn’t pretty, but Clemson didn’t let the loss to FSU beat it twice, and the Tigers should still be a top-10 team with a BCS bid to play for.

4. Miami is the comeback king. Miami’s win over Wake Forest marked the third straight game in which the Canes had to overcome a double-digit deficit -- becoming the first FBS team to do that in a season since 2007 -- and it was the second straight game in which they scored the game-winning touchdown in the final minute. Two weeks ago it was Dallas Crawford against North Carolina, and on Saturday it was Duke Johnson against the relentless Deacs. The Canes, now 7-0 for the first time since 2003, had zero turnovers after giving away four in each of the past three games. Miami continues to survive, but its biggest challenge lies ahead in Florida State.

5. North Carolina has a pulse. Just when it looked like the Tar Heels were done for the season, they played one of their best games and snapped a four-game losing streak with a convincing 34-10 win over Boston College. It was UNC’s first ACC win of the season, and it drastically helped increase the Tar Heels’ hopes of becoming bowl eligible. Three of the last five games are at home, including Old Dominion and Virginia. It was arguably UNC’s most complete game of the season, as it converted 8 of 16 third downs, registered zero turnovers and sacked quarterback Chase Rettig four times.