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Sunday, October 23, 2011
What we learned in the ACC: Week 8

By Heather Dinich

More separation has occurred in each division race this week, but the Coastal Division could still get interesting. Here’s a look at what we learned from Week 8:

Marcus Davis
Virginia Tech now has a tenuous lead in the Coastal Division with Saturday's win over Boston College.
1. Virginia Tech stands alone in the Coastal Division. For now. With Georgia Tech’s loss to Miami, the Hokies are now the only team remaining in the division with just one conference loss. Four teams have two losses each, and North Carolina’s chances of playing for the ACC title dropped significantly when the Tar Heels picked up their third ACC loss of the season on Saturday to Clemson. The margin for error is slim right now for the Hokies, but after three-straight wins, they’re once again the team to beat in the division.

2. Georgia Tech has taken a turn for the worse. It’s hard to believe this team was once 6-0 and the game against Clemson was a highly-anticipated matchup of possibly two undefeated teams. Now, after back-to-back losses to Coastal Division opponents, the Yellow Jackets have taken a backseat in the ACC race and don’t look capable anymore of outscoring Clemson. In each of the past two losses, Georgia Tech’s offense has been held to a new season-low. That won’t fly next week against a Clemson team that just put up 59 points on North Carolina.

3. Virginia still can’t build momentum from a big win. Following last week’s upset of then-No. 12 Georgia Tech, coach Mike London talked about how he hoped it could be a turning point for the program, and how the team needed to win this weekend to build upon it. Instead, the Cavaliers made too many mistakes and the upset win becomes another one-hit wonder, just like the upset of Miami a year ago. Instead of building some momentum from the win over the Canes, UVa went onto finish the season by losing four straight. Three of the next four games are on the road, and the lone home game is against Duke, which has defeated Virginia three-straight seasons.

4. Wake Forest is Clemson’s biggest challenger in the Atlantic Division. North Carolina is standing in the way, but the Tar Heels look vulnerable right now. Wake Forest already has one conference loss, to Virginia Tech. If the Deacs can win on the road against the Tar Heels next week, their game against Clemson on Nov. 12 should determine the conference winner. The bottom line is that Wake Forest continues to find a way to win, and at 4-1 in the ACC, the crown doesn’t quite belong to Clemson just yet.

5. NC State still has life. Welcome back, Wolfpack. NC State finally earned its first ACC win of the season, and coach Tom O’Brien once again began to work some magic in the final six games of the season. NC State still needs three wins in five games to become bowl eligible, but with UNC, Boston College and Maryland still on the schedule, it suddenly seems like a much more realistic possibility than it did heading into the bye week.