Sunday, November 11, 2012
What we learned in the ACC: Week 11
By Heather Dinich
Here’s a look back on the lessons learned in the ACC in Week 11, in no particular order:
1. The Coastal Division continues to be confusing: Miami’s 41-40 loss to Virginia further complicated things, but Duke is the only team in the division that controls its own destiny. The Blue Devils can get to the title game in Charlotte, N.C., with wins at Georgia Tech and against Miami. Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Duke and Miami are all still in the mix, though. According to an ACC spokesman, North Carolina’s results will factor into the race, even though the Tar Heels are ineligible for the postseason. While it might seem like Miami wins the division with a victory over Duke, it’s not necessarily that simple because Georgia Tech, Miami and North Carolina could all finish in a three-way tie at 5-3, UNC beat Miami, Miami beat Georgia Tech, and Georgia Tech beat UNC. Confused? Exactly.
2. FSU can win outside the Sunshine State: It wasn’t a flawless performance, but Florida State’s 28-22 victory at Virginia Tech answered a big question about the Noles, who came into Blacksburg having lost the only game they played outside the state of Florida this year -- to NC State. The Hokies were 11-3 in Thursday night games, and Lane Stadium is one of the toughest venues in college football, particularly on a Thursday night. Virginia Tech gave FSU its best shot, as expected, but the Noles came through in the clutch and passed their toughest road test of the season. FSU is one win away from winning the Atlantic Division and will have to clinch it on the road this week against Maryland.
With a bowl berth in sight, Virginia coach Mike London and QB Michael Rocco have reason to be energized.
3. Michael Rocco should be Virginia’s quarterback -- for four quarters: Mike London has dabbled in the two-quarterback system with Rocco and Phillip Sims, but if Rocco’s four-touchdown performance in the victory over Miami didn’t change his mind, nothing will. It was Rocco’s first start since the Louisiana Tech game, and he threw for 300 yards and no interceptions. His 10-yard touchdown pass to Jake McGee with 6 seconds remaining won the game and kept UVa’s slim bowl hopes alive. Rocco has proven to have a good command of the offense and in the huddle.
4. Tom O’Brien isn’t toast: O’Brien’s seat at NC State was red-hot last week after an inexplicably flat performance in a home loss to Virginia, but he got his team to rally and become bowl-eligible for the third consecutive season. The Wolfpack joined the six-win club with its 37-6 victory over Wake Forest, the only ACC team to reach that mark this weekend. It was an important accomplishment, considering how deflated the team looked a week ago. With a win at Clemson this week, O’Brien shouldn't have any concern about his job security. But now that O’Brien has put his program in a position to finish strong and win a bowl game, the outlook is much brighter.
5. Extra time doesn’t always help defenses against Paul Johnson. So much for that theory. North Carolina’s defense had the bye week to prepare for the spread option, but the Tar Heels looked as if they’d never seen it before. Georgia Tech won 68-50 in what was a record-setting game for points scored. Not that the Jackets’ defense was oh-so-much better, but even UNC coach Larry Fedora had said last week what a help it was to have some extra time to prepare for that offense. UNC still allowed 30 points in the third quarter, 588 total yards and 7 rushing touchdowns. Might wanna keep practicing -- for next year.