ACC: team wraps 011514

Season wrap: Boston College

January, 15, 2014
Jan 15
Even though Boston College entered the season with a new head coach in Steve Addazio, preseason expectations outside the program remained low. The Eagles had only won two games the previous year and were picked to finish last in the ACC Atlantic. But Boston College exceeded expectations, getting back to a bowl game for the first time since 2010 and completing the best turnaround in the ACC. The Eagles did it largely behind Andre Williams, whose 2,000-yard rushing season got him a trip to New York as a Heisman finalist. Boston College ended up ranking No. 20 in the nation in rushing offense, a year after ranking among the worst teams in that category.

Offensive MVP: Williams. The senior ended the season with 2,177 rushing yards, the fifth-best total in NCAA history, won the Doak Walker Award and finished fourth in Heisman voting. Williams’ season included four 100-yard games, four 200-yard games and one 300-yard game. He was a unanimous All-American.

Defensive MVP: Kevin Pierre-Louis. Pierre-Louis led the team and ranked tied for sixth in the ACC with 108 tackles, while also adding six sacks en route to first-team All-ACC honors from the media and the coaches. Kasim Edebali also deserves recognition, with 9.5 sacks and 16 tackles for loss.

Best moment: Aside from having a Heisman finalist? Beating Virginia Tech. This was the best win of the season for the Eagles, one of just two against teams that finished the year above .500. Nobody gave BC much of a chance to win headed into the contest, but the defense forced four turnovers and Williams ran for 166 yards and two touchdowns in the 34-27 win.

Worst moment: The bowl game. The matchup between Williams and Arizona running back Ka'Deem Carey was one of the most intriguing in bowl season. But Williams looked like his shoulder was still bothering him, and the Wildcats totally dominated the BC defense en route to a 42-19 victory in the AdvoCare V100 Bowl. Definitely not the way the Eagles wanted to end the season.

Season wrap: Clemson

January, 15, 2014
Jan 15
This was predicted by many to be the year of the Tigers, as Clemson had the standout offensive trio of quarterback Tajh Boyd, receiver Sammy Watkins and coordinator Chad Morris. Together, along with a much-improved defense, the Tigers looked like a national title contender, especially after a season-opening win over No. 5 Georgia and a 6-0 start. That all changed after a humbling 51-14 home loss to Florida State. Clemson’s only two losses were to top-10 teams, but considering how the Tigers lost -- convincingly to FSU and downright ugly to rival South Carolina -- they were fortunate to still qualify for a BCS bowl. Clemson earned some redemption, though, with a 40-35 win over Ohio State in the Discover Orange Bowl.

Offensive MVP: WR Sammy Watkins. He finished the year with 101 receptions for 1,464 yards and 12 touchdowns. He broke Aaron Kelly’s school record for receptions in a season (88 in 2007) and the record for receiving yards (DeAndre Hopkins: 1,405 in 2012). He finished his career ranked second in ACC history in receptions and third in reception yardage. He is tied for second in 100-yard receiving games with 15. He finished his career with 5,129 all-purpose yards, second in Clemson history.

Defensive MVP: Vic Beasley. He was named the team’s defensive MVP and ranked in the top three in the nation in sacks (13) and tackles for loss (23). Beasley was named a consensus first-team All-American. He finished the season with 44 tackles and had six pass breakups.

Best moment: Winning the Orange Bowl. Considering Clemson’s lopsided loss to West Virginia the last time it was in the Orange Bowl, the win over Ohio State gave the program some much-needed redemption. Clemson became the only team in the nation to beat a top-10 team in its bowl game in each of the past two years.

Worst moment: Losing at home to FSU. Some will argue that the loss to South Carolina was worse, but it was the loss to the Noles that derailed Clemson’s hopes of winning the ACC and the national title. With the loss, Clemson immediately took a backseat to the Noles in the Atlantic Division race (again). Not only that, but Jameis Winston completely outplayed Tajh Boyd on his home turf, and Clemson looked utterly disjointed in the loss. The Tigers came unraveled when they had it all in their hands.

Season wrap: Duke

January, 15, 2014
Jan 15
Duke coach David Cutcliffe has made a recent habit of saying that the Blue Devils are here to stay. If it means more seasons like 2013 are on the horizon, those record books in Durham, N.C., could be re-written an awful lot in the coming years. Duke put together a historic season in 2013, winning eight straight games to go 10-4 (6-2 in the ACC) and win the Coastal Division title before dropping its final two games, against the two most recent Heisman Trophy winners. Still, the Blue Devils proved a lot this fall, with Cutcliffe taking home a number of coach of the year honors and his program achieving a first in reaching bowl games in consecutive seasons.

Offensive MVP: WR Jamison Crowder. The junior was one of the league's best offensive players, finishing second in the ACC in receptions (108) and receiving yards (1,360) behind Clemson's Sammy Watkins, to go with eight touchdowns (fifth in the ACC). He earned first-team All-ACC honors as a receiver (media and coaches teams), while making the first-team coaches list as a special-teamer and second-team media list as one. Crowder was second in punt return average and punt return touchdowns, averaging 16 yards per return and tallying two scores. (UNC's Ryan Switzer was first in both.) In total, Crowder finished fourth in the ACC in all-purpose yards per game, with 130.9.

Defensive MVP: DE Kenny Anunike. The Blue Devils had a number of different faces step up here throughout the season, but Anunike was the consistent voice and leader of the unit. A sixth-year senior who has been around since day one of the Cutcliffe era, Anunike put his injury-riddled past behind him en route to a second-team all-conference campaign (coaches and media). He finished with 13.5 tackles for loss, six sacks, three quarterback hurries, one forced fumble and a blocked kick. Nicknamed "The Nighttrain" by defensive coordinator Jim Knowles, Anunike's 66 tackles were fourth on the team, and he added two break-ups and two passes defended, as well.

Best moment: The Oct. 26 win at Virginia Tech was when everything started to turn for Duke in 2013, as it was a monumental upset that clinched bowl eligibility for the program. Still, it does not get much better than a tight win at rival North Carolina, one that was clinched by a last-minute interception and was concluded by Cutcliffe being carried off the field, as the Blue Devils notched win No. 10 and a berth in the ACC title game.

Worst moment: The loss to Texas A&M in the Chick-fil-A Bowl is the freshest wound, and one that Duke could have easily avoided. Still, the Blue Devils were phenomenal for a half, and there is no shame in losing to Johnny Manziel when he plays the way he played on New Year's Eve. So we'll go with a 58-55 home shootout loss to Pitt back on Sept. 21, a game that seems ridiculous in retrospect considering how much better Duke's defense ended up playing and how mediocre Pitt's offense ended up being, as the Panthers averaged just 26.3 points per game on the season, good for 81st nationally.

Season wrap: Florida State

January, 15, 2014
Jan 15
The season ended with Jimbo Fisher hugging the national championship trophy, a finale that seemed nearly inevitable as Florida State thundered through its schedule, even if that final win over Auburn in the VIZIO BCS National Championship was filled with drama. The Seminoles finished the year 14-0 and won every game (except the championship game) by 14 or more points. Florida State led the nation in scoring defense, finished second in scoring offense and featured some of the best individual performances in school history. The Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback grabbed the bulk of the headlines, but the defense was exceptional in its first season under coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. Kick returner Kermit Whitfield was electric, saving his biggest run for Pasadena, and the offense featured a trifecta of 1,000-yard players, with Devonta Freeman, Kelvin Benjamin and Rashad Greene each cracking that threshold.

Offensive MVP: Jameis Winston (redshirt freshman, QB)

Who else could it be? Winston won the Heisman, set the team record for touchdown passes and blossomed into the emotional leader of a national championship team. From his dynamic debut against Pitt (when he completed 25 of 27 passes for 356 yards and accounted for five touchdowns) to his final, game-winning drive in the BCS title game against Auburn (when he was 6-of-7 for 77 yards) Winston was spectacular. Now he just needs to do it again in 2014.

Defensive MVP: Lamarcus Joyner (senior, CB)

Joyner nearly left for the NFL after the 2012 season, but Florida State is thrilled he decided to stick around. He moved from safety to corner during the spring, and the new role fit perfectly in Pruitt’s scheme. Joyner was a crucial cog in a secondary that finished No. 1 in the country in passing defense and interceptions, and he excelled as a blitzer, leading FSU with 5.5 sacks and three forced fumbles.

Best moment: Benjamin’s final TD grab

It was a season filled with special moments for Florida State, from Winston’s big debut to Kenny Shaw’s Hail Mary grab to end the first half against Boston College to Joyner’s forced fumble that set the tone in a dominant win over Clemson. But of course, it was the final moment that will be remembered most fondly. After trailing nearly the entire game in Pasadena, Benjamin came down with a 2-yard touchdown pass with 13 seconds left to play, giving Florida State its third national title.

Worst moment: the investigation

There weren’t many bad moments on the field for Florida State this season. The Seminoles trailed in the first half against Boston College, then didn’t trail again until the national title game. But off the field, it was an extraordinarily challenging season, beginning when reports first surfaced of an open investigation surrounding Winston. For nearly a month, the quarterback faced questions about his role in a rape case, and while charges were never filed, the threat of a civil lawsuit continues to keep the case in the news.

Season wrap: Georgia Tech

January, 15, 2014
Jan 15
The season started off promising enough. Facing four straight ACC contests in their first five games of the season, the Jackets got off to a 2-0 conference start with wins over Duke and North Carolina. But they dropped the next two against Virginia Tech and Miami and then lost to Clemson later in the season, ending their shot at a return trip to the ACC championship game.

Georgia Tech ended the season with two heartbreaking losses to SEC opponents -- rival Georgia and Ole Miss in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl -- to finish a ho-hum 7-6, leaving some to wonder whether Paul Johnson is on the hot seat. Then quarterback Vad Lee announced his decision to transfer from the program, leaving more questions headed into 2014.

Offensive MVP: Robert Godhigh. The 2013 winner of the Brian Piccolo Award, presented to the league’s most courageous player, Godhigh had 1,215 combined rushing and receiving yards in 2013. He averaged 11.9 yards per touch, and 14 of his plays from scrimmage went for at least 30 yards.

Defensive MVP: Jeremiah Attaochu. It took a few games for Attaochu to get fully comfortable with his new role as a full-time defensive end. But when he did, he was nearly unstoppable. After notching two sacks in the first seven games, he had 10.5 over the final six games to set the school’s career record with 31.5 sacks.

Best moment: Beating Duke 38-14. Nobody knew at the time this would turn out to be the best win of the season for the Jackets, one of only two teams to beat the Blue Devils in the regular season. Lee had the best game of his career, throwing for four touchdowns and running for another.

Worst moment: Losing to Georgia 41-34 in double overtime. Georgia Tech built a 20-0 lead midway through the second quarter, and it seemed a great possibility the Jackets would end their four-game losing streak in the series. But the Bulldogs started chipping away at the lead behind Todd Gurley and Marshall Morgan. Gurley scored two touchdowns in overtime while Lee threw an incomplete pass on fourth down to end the game.

Season wrap: Maryland

January, 15, 2014
Jan 15
The season began on a high note for the Terps, with starting quarterback C.J. Brown finally healthy again and back in the lineup, a 4-0 start that included a win over West Virginia in nearby M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore and a much-awaited turnaround under coach Randy Edsall. After a win over Virginia, securing a bowl bid for the first time under Edsall seemed inevitable. A three-game losing streak against Atlantic Division opponents dropped the Terps to 1-4 in the ACC race, though, and Maryland plummeted back into mediocrity. It wasn’t until a stunning 27-24 overtime win at Virginia Tech that the Terps earned themselves a spot in the bowl lineup. Still, having lost five of their last seven games, including their bowl game to Marshall in nearby Annapolis, the Terps’ final season in the ACC ended with a thud, especially considering how it began.

Offensive MVP: QB C.J. Brown. He was the catalyst of the offense the entire season and finished with 2,242 passing yards and 576 rushing yards. He led the team with 12 rushing touchdowns and also threw for 13 touchdowns with seven interceptions.

Defensive MVP: LB Marcus Whitfield. He finished with 52 tackles, including 15.5 tackles for loss, nine sacks, three pass breakups, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and a blocked kick.

Best moment: Beating Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. Having lost three straight games, a win in Blacksburg seemed unlikely, but the Hokies’ usually stingy defense had no answer for Brown, and Maryland held the Hokies to a field goal in overtime before scoring the game winner.

Worst moment: Losing their top two wideouts to injuries in the same game. Maryland lost leading receivers Stefon Diggs and Deon Long for the season in a 34-10 loss to Wake Forest on Oct. 19. That was the start of the three-game losing streak. Long broke his tibia and fibula, and Diggs, one of the best all-purpose players in the ACC, broke his fibula. Diggs led the team with 520 yards on 26 receptions and three touchdowns, while Long led the team with 28 receptions for 446 yards and a score. In all, Diggs and Long had accounted for more than half of the team's total receptions at the time of their injuries.

Season wrap: Miami

January, 15, 2014
Jan 15
Miami scored a number of notable wins off the field this season, from surviving the NCAA cloud that finally went away to hanging on to coach Al Golden despite overtures from Penn State. As for on the field? The Hurricanes came awfully close to being "back," riding a 7-0 start to a No. 7 ranking before suffering a three-game losing streak. Getting routed in the Russell Athletic Bowl after a two-year bowl ban left a sour taste in their mouths, but the program still brings back plenty of talent, another strong recruiting class (No. 6 nationally, according to ESPN) and a breath of fresh air away from the NCAA spotlight. Now, 2014 will be about taking the next step for a program that was on the cusp in 2013.

Offensive MVP: RB Duke Johnson. Sure, the sophomore missed Miami's final five games with a broken right ankle, but that also explains in large part why the offense struggled so much during that 2-3 stretch to close the season. Johnson had rushed for 920 yards on just 145 carries (6.3 average) before leaving Miami's Nov. 2 loss at Florida State. He had 77 yards on four catches as well. Miami averaged 36.4 points per contest with Johnson in the lineup, but dipped to 29.8 without him.

Defensive MVP: LB Denzel Perryman. The junior earned first-team all-conference honors (coaches and media) after tallying a team-best 108 total tackles, which tied for sixth in the ACC. He had five tackles for loss, including 1.5 sacks, to go with two quarterback hurries, a forced fumble, three breakups and three passes defended. Next to Golden, getting Perryman to return for 2014 is the best news the Hurricanes have received since the end of the season.

Best moment: The moment dimmed with time, but there is no mistaking how big a win over rival Florida was for this program in Year 3 under Golden. The Gators were ranked No. 12 at the time, fresh off an 11-2 season, and the Hurricanes' defense made a statement with a 21-16 victory that helped trigger their 7-0 start. Florida going 4-8 did not end up helping matters, but you can bet that many prep prospects in the state noticed what happened on Sept. 7 at Sun Life Stadium.

Worst moment: For a program that had missed out on the postseason thanks to self-imposed bans in the previous two years, Miami disappointed tremendously in the Russell Athletic Bowl. Miami native and Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater had a career day in his collegiate finale -- and in coach Charlie Strong's Louisville finale -- doing whatever he wanted to the Hurricanes' defense in the Cardinals' 36-9 win. These squads will meet again in 2014, as Louisville joins the ACC. Bridgewater will be gone, but Miami needs to be ready regardless of who quarterbacks the Cardinals next season.

Season wrap: North Carolina

January, 15, 2014
Jan 15
The turning point in North Carolina’s season was actually a loss, the fourth straight for the Tar Heels. Reeling after a 1-4 start, UNC finally appeared to find its footing, leading No. 10 Miami nearly the entire game before a Dallas Crawford TD run with 16 seconds remaining completed a Hurricanes comeback.

It might’ve been the final dagger in a lost season for North Carolina. Instead, it was a building block. Freshman T.J. Logan got his first real taste of playing time, and he racked up 79 yards on 18 touches. Marquise Williams rotated in at quarterback and showed flashes of the potential that would carry UNC down the stretch. Eric Ebron had a career night, hauling in eight catches for 199 yards. By the next week, everything was starting to click.

North Carolina won five straight -- and six of its final seven -- following the Miami game, salvaging its season, making it to a bowl game and ending on a high note. More importantly, the Tar Heels identified a bevy of talented youngsters -- Logan and All-American Ryan Switzer chief among them -- that provide ample optimism for 2014.

Offensive MVP: Eric Ebron. He was arguably the best all-around tight end in the nation in 2013, leading UNC in catches (62) and yards (973). He was first-team All-ACC and a Mackey Award finalist, and he set the school record for single-season and career catches and receiving yards by a tight end. UNC’s most reliable receiving threat, 42 of Ebron’s catches went for first downs, the most by any tight end in the ACC, and eighth most overall.

Defensive MVP: Kareem Martin. It was a dismal start to the year for North Carolina’s defense, but Martin was a consistent star. He finished the season with 82 tackles -- third on the team -- while racking up 21.5 tackles for loss (fifth nationally) and 11.5 sacks (eighth nationally). Martin was the Walter Camp player of the week after dominating Pitt on Nov. 16 to get UNC back to .500, racking up eight tackles, 3.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.

Best moment: Finishing strong in the Belk Bowl. It was a perfect finale for 2013 for North Carolina. Playing in nearby Charlotte, the Heels dominated Cincinnati in every phase of the game. Williams was reliable and, at times, exceptional, assuring UNC is in good shape at quarterback heading into 2014. The defense was sturdy, led by Martin’s sack of Brendon Kay in the end zone for a safety. The special teams were crucial, with Switzer returning his fifth punt of the season for a touchdown. By the time the 39-17 win was over, that 1-5 start to the season was nothing but a distant memory.

Worst moment: UNC's blowout loss to East Carolina. The season-opening defeat at South Carolina wasn’t encouraging, but at least it was forgivable. The 28-20 loss to Georgia Tech in Week 4 was concerning. But the blowout loss to ECU -- 55-31 in a game that was never close -- turned those concerns into an all-out catastrophe at North Carolina. The defense was in shambles (ECU racked up 603 yards) and the offense looked out of sync, with Bryn Renner being asked to do it all. It was a low point for UNC, but to the Heels’ credit, it was a loss they didn’t allow to define their season.

Season wrap: NC State

January, 15, 2014
Jan 15
NC State went into the season with a new head coach, a new starting quarterback, and new faces at just about every position on the field and the sideline. But nobody expected the Wolfpack to turn in one of the worst seasons in recent memory. Thanks to injuries, inconsistency at quarterback, and a scheme change on offense and on defense, NC State went 0-8 in ACC play, its first winless season in the league since 1959. The defense had moments when it played really well, especially in a close loss to Clemson in September. But neither Pete Thomas nor Brandon Mitchell proved adept enough at handling the spread scheme coach Dave Doeren brought with him from Northern Illinois, and the Wolfpack averaged just 22.8 points per game.

Offensive MVP: Rashard Smith. One of the bright spots on the offense was Smith, who led the team in receiving yards (530) and all-purpose yards (1,201). Smith ended up ranked No. 7 in the ACC in all-purpose yards and No. 3 in punt return average, returning two punts for touchdowns.

Defensive MVP: Robert Caldwell. The middle linebacker made quite an impact in his first year in the starting lineup. Caldwell led the team with 105 tackles, including 14.5 for loss. He ended up No. 3 in the ACC in tackles per game (8.8) and 10th in tackles for loss.

Best moment: The 40-14 victory over Louisiana Tech in the season opener. The way the Wolfpack handled a team that won nine games in 2012 gave many people hope there would be plenty to build off. But the injury to Mitchell in that game ended up costing the Wolfpack, who ended up with only two more wins (including a struggle over Richmond).

Worst moment: ACC play. We can single out the moment that could have changed the course of the season -- Bryan Underwood’s long TD run against Clemson that was called back because an official ruled he stepped out of bounds and whistled the play dead. The ACC later said it was “unclear” whether Underwood had indeed stepped out. The touchdown would have given the Wolfpack the lead. Clemson won 26-14.

Season wrap: Pittsburgh

January, 15, 2014
Jan 15
Pitt fit right into the Coastal Division in its first season in the ACC, adding to the unpredictability of the conference race right into November. Losses to Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Miami knocked the Panthers out of the hunt eventually, but with the bowl win over Bowling Green, Pitt finished with a winning record in the second season under coach Paul Chryst. Pitt’s biggest problem was protecting quarterback Tom Savage, who had several talented players around him, but the Panthers were No. 118 in the country in sacks allowed, at 3.31 per game. Pitt relied heavily on several freshmen in 2013, particularly on offense, where receiver Tyler Boyd and running back James Conner emerged as stars.

Offensive MVP: WR Tyler Boyd. He was the nation’s most productive freshman receiver, compiling 85 catches for 1,174 yards and seven touchdowns. He set Pitt freshman records for both receptions and yards, eclipsing marks previously held by Larry Fitzgerald, who had 69 catches for 1,005 yards in 2002. He had 242 all-purpose yards in Pitt's bowl win over Bowling Green.

Defensive MVP: DT Aaron Donald. He became the Panthers’ first unanimous All-American since Fitzgerald in 2003, and the program’s first defensive player to earn unanimous status since Hugh Green in 1980. Donald led the nation in tackles for loss (2.2 per game), while ranking 10th in forced fumbles (0.33 per game) and 13th in sacks (0.83 per game). Of his 54 total tackles, nearly half came behind the line of scrimmage (26.5).

Best moment: Chryst dancing after Pitt's 28-21 win over No. 23 Notre Dame. Beating the Irish in front of a sold-out crowd at Heinz Field prompted some postgame moves in the locker room that quickly made their way around the Internet. Chryst is a funny guy, but he’s usually all business, and this was a rare opportunity to see him let loose and celebrate a marquee win for the program.

Worst moment: Pitt's 24-21 loss to Navy. This was a road game Pitt was expected to win, but the Panthers couldn’t hang on to a slim fourth-quarter lead. The defense, which had played extremely well in the first half, couldn’t make the stop it needed in the second, and the offense couldn’t sustain a game-winning drive. It was one of the most disappointing losses of the season because it was a winnable game against an opponent coming off back-to-back losses.

Season wrap: Syracuse

January, 15, 2014
Jan 15
An 0-2 record against Big Ten opponents was not the kind of start Syracuse wanted in Year 1 of the ACC and the Scott Shafer eras, especially with Northwestern routing the Orange from start to finish in Week 2. Still, a quarterback switch from Drew Allen to Terrel Hunt proved effective, helping the Orange play .500 ball in the ACC despite the step up in competition, as they finished 7-6 overall and 4-4 in conference play. Though Hunt struggled early on in league play, his reliable running game helped Syracuse to impressive road wins at NC State and at Maryland. Ultimately, Hunt came through in the final seconds against Boston College to make the Orange bowl eligible before delivering a strong performance in a Texas Bowl win over Minnesota. The future looks bright in Central New York.

Offensive MVP: RB Jerome Smith. The junior ultimately could not duplicate his 1,000-yard campaign from 2012, but considering the better defenses in the ACC, and the greater onus on him this fall, what he did in 2013 was probably more impressive. Smith declared for the NFL draft after rushing for 914 yards and 12 touchdowns on 200 carries, while adding eight catches for 74 yards and a touchdown.

Defensive MVP: DT Jay Bromley. The three-year starter put forth his best effort yet, finishing fifth in the ACC in sacks (10), 12th in tackles for loss (14.5) and tied for fourth in forced fumbles (three). Bromley added three quarterback hurries and finished with 42 total tackles on the season, earning third-team all-conference honors from both the media and the coaches for his performance.

Best moment: An argument can certainly be made for the Nov. 30 last-second win over resurgent BC to clinch bowl eligibility, but we'll go with the 21-17 Texas Bowl win over favored Minnesota, as it served as something of a coming-out party for Hunt, the game's MVP, going into next season. The signal-caller completed 19 of 29 passes for 188 yards and rushed for 74 yards and two scores on 15 carries, including a 12-yard rush with 1:14 left to clinch the win.

Worst moment: Blowout losses to Clemson and Florida State -- ranked No. 3 and No. 2 at the time each played Syracuse, respectively -- certainly stand out. But the Orange were hardly the only teams to get crushed by those two ACC powers. The Sept. 7 rout at Northwestern deserves some consideration, too, but ultimately an Oct. 19 trip gone wrong to Georgia Tech takes the cake, with the Yellow Jackets winning a 56-0 decision against a team that spoke of preparing for the triple-option since the spring. Syracuse ended up surrendering 394 rushing yards, finding itself down and virtually out by halftime when trailing 28-0. The Atlanta visit was one to forget for the Orange.

Season wrap: Virginia

January, 15, 2014
Jan 15
On Nov. 19, 2011, Virginia knocked off Florida State in Tallahassee for perhaps the biggest victory of Mike London’s tenure as coach. Virginia was 8-3 and London would soon have a lucrative new contract. The future looked bright.

In the 26 games since, London’s squad is 6-20, with just two ACC wins. In 2013, the Cavaliers went winless in conference play (2-10 overall), and it’s difficult to find one clear cause for all the problems. There were games when the defense was exceptional (Pitt, Virginia Tech) but the offense couldn’t score. There were games when the offense figured ways to move the ball (Ball State, Maryland) but the defense couldn’t hold. Then there were games when everything looked out of sync (Clemson, UNC) and London’s job security was tenuous at best.

In the end, it was a season to forget at Virginia, but there remain building blocks in place for the future, and a few performances from 2013 were worth remembering.

Offensive MVP: Kevin Parks (Jr., RB)

It was a tough season for Virginia’s offense, which finished 111th in the nation in scoring and 90th in total offense. But while the passing game struggled routinely, Parks provided a consistent threat for the Cavaliers. The junior finished with 1,031 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns, topping 100 yards six times, including each of Virginia’s final three games. Parks finished second only to Heisman finalist Andre Williams in rushing in the ACC.

Defensive MVP: Anthony Harris (Jr., S)

The 2013 season didn’t go according to plan for Virginia, but Harris provided more than a few highlights. He finished third on the team with 80 tackles, led the nation with eight interceptions and landed on numerous All-America teams. Harris was the star on a defense that showed some signs of significant progress -- particularly against BYU, Pitt and Virginia Tech -- and offers some hope that the Hoos can turn things around in 2014.

Best moment: Harris’ INT against BYU

Trailing 16-12 late in the fourth quarter of its opener against BYU, Virginia got its biggest play of the season when Harris picked off a pass from Taysom Hill, then flipped the ball to teammate Henry Coley, who ran it back to the BYU 13-yard line. Moments later, Parks ran for a touchdown, and the Cavaliers won their first -- and only -- game of the season against an FBS foe. At the time, it seemed like a turning point for Virginia. Instead, it proved to be one of the few highlights in a lost season.

Worst moment: the loss to Maryland

There were plenty of ugly games for Virginia this season, but the 0-8 record in ACC play tends to overshadow the fact that UVA was actually competitive early. A loss to high-flying Oregon and highly regarded Ball State were excusable. Virginia played Pitt close in its ACC opener, holding the Panthers without a point in the second half. Then the Cavaliers appeared in position to pick up a conference win on Oct. 12 when Alec Vozenilek lined up for a 42-yard, game-winning field goal attempt against the Terps. But he missed, and Virginia lost its next six games by an average of 22 points.

Season wrap: Virginia Tech

January, 15, 2014
Jan 15
Virginia Tech ended up making progress this season even though it did not feel that way for most of the year. The Hokies produced a top-10 defense, some stellar freshman performances, and more overall and league wins than they did a year ago. But they also lost uncharacteristically to Boston College, Duke and Maryland and ended the season with a tough 42-12 defeat to UCLA in the Hyundai Sun Bowl after quarterback Logan Thomas got knocked out of the game in the first half. Thomas and the Virginia Tech offense remained ineffective despite a new offensive coordinator, ranking No. 101 in the nation. Among programs with top-10 defenses, only Florida had a larger ranking disparity between its offense and defense.

Offensive MVP: Logan Thomas. The offense had its share of problems once again, but Thomas definitively proved he was the most valuable player in it when he got hurt against the Bruins. Without him, a close game turned into a rout. Thomas ended up with a better completion percentage, higher QBR and fewer interceptions than a year ago.

Defensive MVP: Jack Tyler. Plenty of terrific performances on the No. 4 defense in the nation, but we are going with the team leader. Tyler racked up 100 tackles for the second straight year, with 4.5 sacks, 11 tackles for loss and 12 quarterback hurries, and he was a second-team All-ACC selection.

Best moment: Beating then-No. 11 Miami 42-24. The Hokies went into the game off back-to-back losses to Duke and Boston College and had their ACC hopes dwindling fast. But they completely dominated Miami, posting their best offensive performance against an FBS team since scoring 44 against Florida State in the 2010 ACC championship game.

Worst moment: Losing to Maryland 27-24 in overtime. The very next week after that Miami win, Virginia Tech had a turkey of a performance against the average Terps and saw its ACC championship hopes come crashing down. The Hokies' defense could not slow down Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown, who ran for 122 yards and scored three touchdowns.

Season wrap: Wake Forest

January, 15, 2014
Jan 15
The disappointment of a fifth straight losing season was enough to prompt the resignation of longtime coach Jim Grobe following a 4-8 overall finish and 2-6 league record. In spite of returning one of the nation’s top receivers, a veteran quarterback, and a much-improved defense, the Deacs fell well below expectations and lost their final five games of the regular season. Wake Forest finished 113th or worse nationally in four of the five main offensive stat categories, and it only worsened after receiver Michael Campanaro broke his collarbone at Syracuse on Nov. 2. It was the fourth time in five years the Deacs missed out on a bowl game.

Offensive MVP: WR Michael Campanaro: He set the school record for career receptions with 229 and finished his career with 2,506 receiving yards, the third most in school history. He finished his career with seven 100-yard receiving games and led all receivers in receptions per game in ACC contests with 7.83. He ranked fifth in receiving yardage per game in ACC contests at 89.2 yards.

Defensive MVP: NG Nikita Whitlock: He finished second in the voting for ACC Defensive Player of the Year. Whitlock finished his career second in school history in tackles for loss with 49 and fourth in career sacks with 18.5. His nine sacks as a senior tied for the fifth most in a season. His 19 tackles for loss in 2013 marked the fourth-highest total by a Deacon in a season.

Best moment: Wake Forest 28, NC State 13: Despite its struggles, Wake Forest was still good enough to take advantage of the holes in Dave Doeren’s first roster and beat the Wolfpack for the sixth straight time in Winston-Salem. NC State lost for the eighth time in nine games at Wake, dating to 1997.

Worst moment: Campanaro’s injury. He broke his collarbone in the first quarter of a 13-0 loss at Syracuse and missed the final three games of the season. This was a huge loss not only for the program but also for the ACC, as Campanaro was one of the nation’s best receivers. Wake Forest didn’t score an offensive touchdown for the next 10 quarters following that injury.



Saturday, 12/20
Monday, 12/22
Tuesday, 12/23
Wednesday, 12/24
Friday, 12/26
Saturday, 12/27
Monday, 12/29
Tuesday, 12/30
Wednesday, 12/31
Thursday, 1/1
Friday, 1/2
Saturday, 1/3
Sunday, 1/4
Monday, 1/12