Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NCF Nation [Print without images]

Sunday, November 8, 2009
What we learned in the ACC: Week 10


Posted by ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich

Live and learn ...

1. Clemson has gotten over the hump. Admit it, Clemson fans, you were waiting for it -- the self-destruction following the win over Wake Forest. There were hints against Miami, and plenty of missed opportunities against Florida State, but the Tigers have been able to overcome their mistakes this year and put themselves in prime position to win the Atlantic Division and play for the ACC championship. Their toughest opponents are behind them -- and so is their one "Clemson flop." It came against Maryland. You can stop waiting for it now.

2. Even the best quarterbacks can’t do it alone. Riley Skinner. Thaddeus Lewis. Christian Ponder. Three of the ACC’s most productive, efficient passers and leaders all lost this past weekend. It certainly wasn’t for lack of effort. Skinner couldn’t shake Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan. Lewis got tied up with UNC defensive end Robert Quinn. And Ponder threw as many interceptions (four) as he had all season. All three of them are still searching for bowl eligibility, but for seniors Skinner and Lewis, it’s their last chance at the postseason.

3. C.J. Spiller is a Heisman Trophy candidate. For the second time in three weeks, Spiller had more than 300 all-purpose yards. He surpassed the 3,000-yard mark with 3,074 career rushing yards. Against Florida State, he earned his first two-point conversion of his career. He breaks a record literally almost every week. Against FSU he became just the second player in school history to go over 3,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving. He moved ahead of Reggie Bush on the all-time NCAA all-purpose list with 6,702 yards. He rushed for a career-high 165 yards, and had his 20th career touchdown of 50 yards more, his eighth this season. Spiller is one of the best players in college football. Period.

4. Bowl fates still murky in the Atlantic Division. Clemson is eligible. BC is eligible. NC State, Florida State and Wake Forest are still livin’ on a prayer. Maryland, however, is not. The Terps needed to win out and not only did they lose the game to NC State, their starting quarterback, Chris Turner, suffered a knee injury in the process. It’s time for Maryland to start playing for the future, while half the Atlantic Division is still trying to become bowl eligible. With its overtime loss at Georgia Tech, the Deacs now have to win out in order to become bowl eligible, as does NC State. The Seminoles only need two more wins, but their season finale is against Florida, who, like Clemson, has a defense. The twist? FSU and Wake play each other on Saturday. Somebody’s gotta lose.

5. Paul Johnson is fearless. We always knew he was a fourth-down kind of guy, and you don’t need to talk to him long to sense his confidence that often tilts the scale toward arrogance. But those traits are the keys to his success. His players pick up on it, and that’s why, on fourth down, when it’s on the line, he wins.