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What we learned in the ACC: Week 10

November, 4, 2012
11/04/12
10:00
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A few lessons learned in the ACC in Week 10, in no particular order:

[+] EnlargeMike James
Steve Mitchell/US Presswire Mike James and Miami are on pace to play in the ACC championship game.
1. Miami is leading the Coastal Division, and Virginia Tech has become irrelevant. This is what the top of the division looks like: Miami. You're welcome. With the Hurricanes’ 30-12 win over Virginia Tech, Miami is the team to beat in the division. If the Canes win out, they will play for the ACC championship for the first time since joining the league -- unless, of course, the program decides to self-impose another postseason ban. The Hokies, meanwhile, imploded in all three phases of the game and dropped to 2-3 in league play. The Hokies’ streak of eight straight 10-win seasons is officially over.

2. Duke still has lots to prove. Yes, the Blue Devils are bowl eligible and have turned a corner in the program’s fifth season under coach David Cutcliffe, but when it comes to hanging with ranked competition, the Blue Devils have been hung out to dry. It happened in a 50-13 loss to Stanford. It happened in a 48-7 loss to Florida State. And it happened again in Saturday’s 56-20 loss to Clemson. The loss didn’t shut Duke out of the ACC championship game -- if it wins out, it can still go to Charlotte -- but it was further evidence that the Blue Devils aren't ready to beat elite competition, let alone stay competitive for four quarters.

3. NC State is an afterthought in the Atlantic Division. That’s being kind. How did Florida State lose to this team? NC State scored only six points against a Virginia team that had lost six straight games. Tom O’Brien has coached himself back onto the hot seat with back-to-back losses, including to rival North Carolina. A questionable decision to punt to Giovani Bernard in Week 9 followed by an inexplicable, abysmal performance against Virginia has amounted to a collapse down the stretch.

4. Virginia has a pulse. Wow, Hoos. I stand corrected. On Halloween, I wrote, “Bury ‘em,” but it turns out UVa isn’t going down without a fight. The Cavaliers played arguably their most complete game of the season against NC State. The defense had three interceptions and forced five turnovers after coming into game with only four forced turnovers. They had six sacks and a safety when coming into the game with only seven total sacks. The offense ran away with a 26-0 lead en route to a 33-6 win. UVa had 446 yards of total offense, more than double NC State's 216. Nice job by the coaching staff, regaining the focus and getting the team better during the bye week.

5. Maryland quarterback Shawn Petty is OK. Yep, OK. Not a disaster, not the next Denard Robinson. He is a true freshman, a scout team linebacker playing quarterback, and considering the circumstances, he did pretty darn well in a 33-13 loss to Georgia Tech. The fifth-string quarterback ran for 24 yards on 17 carries, was sacked four times and completed 9 of 18 passes for 115 yards. He also fumbled twice and threw an interception. Had the defense done its job, this might have been a more interesting game. Not bad for the first time in a college football game, ever, after just seven days of practice as a quarterback.

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