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What we learned in the ACC: Week 8

10/25/2009

Posted by ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich

Finally, some clarity in these divisions …

1. Georgia Tech and Clemson both control their own destiny. Clemson has already beaten Boston College and Wake Forest, so the Tigers would win their division with wins in their final three ACC games -- vs. FSU, at NC State and against Virginia. With Miami’s loss, Georgia Tech can represent the Coastal in the title game. All the Jackets need are wins over Duke and Wake Forest in their final two conference games.

2. Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech are the ACC’s top two teams this year. They’ve been the most consistent, well-coached teams in the conference. The Jackets are leading the entire pack now, but Virginia Tech, using the eyeball test, isn’t far behind. Their two losses came to two nationally ranked teams, Alabama and Georgia Tech, both on the road. The only team the Jackets have lost to is Miami on the road. Both Techs have established their running games and improved their passing games and gotten enough out of their defenses on a consistent basis.

3. There is no quit in Florida State. Not after a poor start to the season, and not after a dreadful start in the first half at North Carolina. FSU battled back from an 18-point deficit to win its first ACC game of the season, and it did it on a night when UNC was celebrating its first Thursday night game with former players watching. The win put the Noles in a much better position to reach the postseason. The catch, though, is that the Seminoles still face a road trip to Death Valley in two weeks, where they’ll face a much improved and confident Clemson team playing for the division title.

4. North Carolina is in serious trouble. The nation’s No. 1 pass defense didn’t look like it on Thursday night against Florida State. Quarterback T.J. Yates has not shown much improvement, if any, under this staff, and for all the talk about how good a job Butch Davis has done in recruiting, he didn’t have any playmakers to throw it to on the final possession when he needed one against FSU. Yates threw three straight incomplete passes and then was sacked to end the game. Not a good time for Davis to be asking for millions of dollars in renovations.

5. Duke is the best team on Tobacco Road. UNC and NC State have combined for a pathetic 0-6 record in conference play. Wake Forest has two conference losses and just lost on the road to Navy, which was playing without its starting quarterback. The Blue Devils, though, have just one conference loss -- an acceptable defeat to Virginia Tech -- and have strung together back-to-wins for the first time since 1994. They’ve already matched last year’s win total and still have five games left to play.