I haven’t done one of these things for two weeks now (damn job!), so I’ve got so many thoughts that I just can’t write them all. I’m no Bill Simmons; I can’t crank out 10,000 word entries. Hell, I think I could write 5,000 on NC State alone, but I’ll go ahead and see if I can contain myself enough that I can get this finished today.
Boston College – With a bye tomorrow and the Maine game last week, the Eagles will have plenty of time to think about how they screwed up that NC State game. BC had no business blowing that game. About a half dozen things needed to go wrong in the last minute-and-a-half and every one did. At first, I thought that Jim O’Brien made a huge mistake going for that fourth down, but after further reflection, I changed my mind. Convert that one play and the game’s over. Even if they didn’t get it, they were still in very good shape. The two key mistakes were going with such a predictable play and not running the play clock all the way down to 1 before hiking the ball (my apologies if I’m wrong here. I’m just going on what I remember the announcers saying at the time). Those seconds were absolutely critical at that point. Still, even giving the ball back to State should have been OK. It wasn’t. And now BC has to avoid losing at home to an angry Virginia Tech team on national TV. They head to Tallahassee the next weekend. I think it’s fair to say that their game against the Hokies could make or break the BC season.
Clemson – Back in the day, before Florida State joined the ACC, Clemson ran things. They won the league most years and put occasional whippings on pretty much every team in the league every few years. The Seminoles changed all that. The ‘Noles came in and not only knocked the king off his throne, but bedded down with his wife (and daughter), ate his food and killed his dog. FSU dominated the ACC in a way that even Clemson never did. At the same time, the Tigers were starting to lose to nearly everybody. Not only were they no longer #1, they weren’t #2 either. And that’s what made their last two ACC games so satisfying to the Tiger faithful. First Clemson went down and smacked around Florida State in their own house, and then they came home and put a woodshed job on one of the ACC’s historically premier programs, UNC. It was like old times in Death Valley.
The Tigers have to hope they can keep the clock turned back to the 80s this weekend when they play at Wake Forest. Recent history between the two teams hasn’t favored Clemson as much as you might think. Plus, Wake is 5-0 and as confident as they’ve been since … uh, well probably forever. I have to think that given the attention this game has gotten and the reminders about how they lost in Winston-Salem last time, the Tigers will be prepared and will handle the Deacs. But you never know.
Duke – I think I pretty much covered the current state of Duke football here. They were simply awful against Virginia. Actually, “awful” might be kind. Somehow I don’t think they are going to go down to Tuscaloosa this weekend and beat Alabama. Their next two games after that? FSU and Miami. The over/under on Duke points in that three game stretch? I’m going with 8.
Florida State – If it wasn’t obvious before (it was), then there’s no denying it now the era of Florida State dominance is officially over. When they beat Miami to start the season, it seemed like maybe they were back, but that was a mirage. NC State recently lost at home to Akron and was blown out at Southern Mississippi – and the Pack dominated FSU for most of the second half last night. After the Noles scored to go up 20-10, State shut them down. The Pack ran down their throats when they had the ball and controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. And again, NC State is NOT a very good team (more on them later).
Maybe it’s time for Papa Bowden to think a bit more about what kind of gold watch he wants.
Georgia Tech – After they won convincingly in Blacksburg last weekend, everyone is high on the Yellow Jackets. Everyone but me. Don’t get me wrong, I think they are a solid team, but I’m not completely sold that they are a very good team. Good, sure, but not yet very good. Maybe it’s Reggie Ball that underwhelms me. He makes some great plays here and there and Calvin Johnson can make any QB look good, but Ball always looks to me like he could throw three consecutive picks at any time. I don’t trust him. Of course in the ACC in 2006, he may just be good enough.
Maryland – I have no idea about this team. How could anyone? They’ve played three patsies and one very good team. They squeaked by all the easy games and got destroyed in Morgantown. We’ll learn a whole lot more this weekend when they visit Georgia Tech, but as I wrote above, I don’t think the Jackets are that great. Don’t be surprised if the Terps keep it close or even pull the upset. Of course, don’t be surprised if GT wins by 40. I have no inkling of what to expect from Maryland.
Miami – Poor things. With all the heat that Larry Coker’s getting after starting 2-2, you almost want to feel sorry for him and Miami. But not really. I mean, it’s Miami! Who doesn’t hate Miami? Fortunately for the Canes, as poorly as they may be playing, the schedule’s being pretty kind right now. They had a bye and then Houston (whoops, that was supposed to be easy!) and now they UNC, Florida International and another bye (Duke) before they have to play a good team. That’s when things get interesting. Larry Coker will earn or lose his job in the back-to-back games against the two Techs in late October, early November.
North Carolina – I was listening to David Glenn on the radio a couple of weekends ago, before UNC played Clemson and State hosted BC. Glenn was arguing that as badly as things had gone for the local teams, he believed that at either UNC or State would probably still go to a bowl game. I believed him. I just didn’t know who the most likely candidate was, considering they were a combined 2-4 at the time with no 1-AA wins. A few hours later, the answer was clear. UNC lost 472-3 to Clemson and State won that miracle against the BC. State has since tacked on a W against FSU. Carolina gets their chance tomorrow to beat Miami, just like they did two years ago to save that season. Can they do it again? Sure because Miami sucks, but they probably won’t.
NC State – There’s not enough time to talk about all the storylines here. One thing I will say to all Wolfpack fans, take it easy with Daniel Evans. I know you all like to get excited about your saviors, but remember that you have a tendency to get a bit carried away. He seems like a good kid and he’s played pretty well so far, but he hasn’t proven that he’s that good yet. Last night, most of the highlight plays in the passing game were not by Evans, but by his receivers. That was one of the greatest collections of outstanding catches you’ll ever see. It reminded me of the old days of Florida State and Miami when they would just lob the ball down the sidelines and have their big, athletic receivers just outjump the defenders. I don’t think that’s going to work for the Wolfpack every week. That said, if they could bottle the energy and execution they display each year against the Seminoles and break it out each weekend, NC State would have that top-ten program they’ve been dying for ever since Chuck Amato arrived in Raleigh.
Virginia – The Cavaliers aren’t good. But they aren’t terrible. Not anymore. They were terrible in the first half of their Thursday night game against Georgia Tech, but they’ve been improving steadily (and slowly) since then. Their defense has actually been quite good (outside of two long touchdowns to Calvin Johnson), but their offense has been abysmal. Freshman QB Jameel Sewell really seemed to settle in once the game in Atlanta was out of hand though, and he kept it up against Duke (yeah, yeah, I know). They still aren’t letting him throw the ball downfield much, but if he can stay steady and not make mistakes, Virginia could still salvage a winning record in the depleted ACC. But with games left against NC State, Miami, FSU and Virginia Tech, it won’t be easy.
Virginia Tech – The loss to Georgia Tech last weekend was fairly shocking, but in hindsight, it really shouldn’t have been. The Hokies really didn’t look that great in their big wins against UNC and Duke (and they struggled against Cincinnati), but most people, myself included, sort of “rounded up” those performances, because we just assume that Virginia Tech should be really good. But they aren’t. Not yet. They are too young this year. By the end of the season, they might well be a top-fifteen caliber team, but they aren’t yet. Games in the next three weekends against BC and Clemson will probably show just how much the Hokies learned in their loss. Given Coach Beamer’s recent successes, I have to assume that the Hokies we see in those games will be much better than the ones that took it on the chin against the Yellow Jackets.
Wake Forest – Hands down, Wake is the best story in the ACC so far this year. Not only are they 5-0, but four of those wins came against teams in BCS conferences. Wake went on the road and blasted an SEC team without their starting QB or running back – and they did it by running the ball nearly every play! That just blows my mind, that a team like Wake could go into the SEC and destroy a team using a power running attack. How is that possible? How is it that Jim Grobe is still in Winston Salem? How many ACC schools wouldn’t trade their coach for Grobe, straight-up, right now? One? Two?
I kind of wish Wake could just end their season now before reality hits and they start losing games. But then, maybe they won’t start losing games. It’s been that kind of year in the ACC.