Around the ACC: October 6, 2011

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With five weeks under our belt, we’re starting to get a better idea of who
the main contenders are in each ACC division. Two teams in the league are
standing out above everyone else following the results of last week’s games.

Last week’s games went like this …

Wake Forest 27, BC 19
Georgia Tech 45, NC State 35
Maryland 28, Towson 3
Miami 45, Bethune-Cookman 14
Virginia 21, Idaho 20 (OT)
Clemson 23, Virginia Tech 3
Duke 31, FIU 27
North Carolina 35, ECU 20

Boston College continued their slide to the bottom of the ACC, while the
Georgia Tech offense continued to put up huge numbers. In the biggest game of
the day, Clemson easily defeated Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, and the Tigers
look like the team to beat in the ACC Atlantic Division.

ACC
Power Rankings
Rank Team
1 Georgia Tech
2 Clemson
3 North Carolina
4 Florida State
5 Virginia Tech
6 Miami
7 Wake Forest
8 Duke
9 Maryland
10 Virginia
11 NC State
12 Boston College

I think there are six teams on that list with a legit shot at winning the ACC,
and either Miami or Virginia Tech will be all but eliminated after this
weekend’s game. That will leave five teams to compete for the crown over the
last half of the season.

Two Teams Standing Out

Two teams are standing out right now: Georgia Tech and Clemson. Both teams
are undefeated in conference play, and they are both very impressive in their
own way.

63, 49, 66, 35 and 45 … those are the number of points the Yellow Jackets
have put up each week. 662, 596, 768, 496 and 413 … those are the yards of
total offense they’ve put up each week. This Georgia Tech offense is extremely
impressive, and no one has stopped it yet. The best defense they’ve faced, UNC,
allowed 35 points and 496 yards, and it could have been worse because the Yellow
Jackets dropped a deep, wide open touchdown pass.

Georgia Tech shouldn’t have any trouble beating Maryland and Virginia, their
next two opponents. Three straight games against Miami, Clemson and Virginia
Tech will decide their ACC record, and they get Clemson and Virginia Tech at
home. It’s very difficult to see the Yellow Jackets losing more than one ACC
game this season. If the Hokies want to win the Coastal, they are going to have
to beat Georgia Tech on the road and not drop any other ACC games.

Clemson has defeated three ranked teams in a row, most recently getting a
23-3 win in Blacksburg. The Tigers are already 2-0 in the ACC, and they’ve got
Boston College this weekend. They’ve also got the tiebreaker with Florida State
thanks to their head-to-head win. The Tigers get North Carolina at home, and
they have to travel to Georgia Tech. Even with a loss in Atlanta, we could see a
rematch in Charlotte for the ACC Championship in December, between the Jackets
and Tigers

Elimination Game in the Coastal Division

It’s not often that we see either Miami or Virginia Tech eliminated from the
Coastal Division race on October 8, and technically neither team will be
eliminated after Saturday’s game. However, realistically the loser of the
VT-Miami game will have virtually no shot at claiming the Coastal Division
crown.

Miami lost their first game of the season at Maryland. The Hokies dropped
their ACC opener last week against Clemson. Both of these teams are 0-1 in
league play, and whichever team drops to 0-2 is going to be finished in the
Coastal Division race.

The Hokies should be able to close out October strong, with Wake Forest,
Boston College and Duke on the schedule. November games with Georgia Tech on the
road and UNC in Lane Stadium will be very challenging. Miami will still have
road games against Florida State and UNC after their trip to Blacksburg on
Saturday.

This is basically a must-win game for Miami and Tech, so I expect to see both
teams fighting desperately on Saturday.

Standout Numbers

After a quick perusal of the stats on TheACC.com, here are some that stand
out.

  • Georgia Tech: 51.6 points per game, 587 yards per game, 61.3% on third
    downs. Those stats are #2, #2, and #3 nationally. GT leads the ACC and the
    nation in rushing at 378.2 ypg.
  • Florida State averages 74.2 penalty yards per game. Wow. That’s #111 in
    the nation.
  • Virginia Tech holds the ball for 35:48 per game, #2 in the nation.
  • Maryland holds the ball for just 24:40 per game, #117 in the country.
  • Wake Forest has the most underrated quarterback in the ACC, true sophomore
    Tanner Price: 279.8 yards per game, 7 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, 63%
    completion percentage.
  • NC State wide receiver T.J. Graham already has 1,074 all purpose yards,
    easily the best in the ACC. He is #2 in the country in all-purpose yards per
    game.
  • Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly already has 83 tackles, an average
    of 16.6 per game, #1 in the nation by a wide margin. Fellow BC linebacker
    Kevin Pierre-Louis averages 9.6 tackles per game. Does anyone else on that
    team make a tackle?
  • Virginia Tech defensive end J.R. Collins leads the ACC with 4.5 sacks,
    tied for #8 in the nation. Fellow defensive end James Gayle is fifth in the
    ACC with 3.5 sacks.

The Weekend Schedule and Picks

ACC
Weekend Schedule
Game Time TV
Louisville at UNC Noon ESPN2
Maryland at GT Noon ESPNU
FSU at Wake 12:30 ACC Network
BC at Clemson 3:00 RSN
Central Michigan at NC State 3:30 ESPN3
Miami at Virginia Tech 3:30 ABC/ESPN

Most of those games are pretty easy to pick, with the exception being the
Miami-Virginia Tech game. Perhaps Wake Forest, who would be undefeated had
Tanner Price not been knocked from the game at Syracuse in the opening week, can
hang with Florida State at home, but the Noles should win that game.

The most compelling matchup in the ACC, as well as the most important in
terms of the ACC Championship, is in Blacksburg, VA for the second week in a
row. Tech fans are hoping for a different outcome this time around.

I went 6-2 last week, and am now 36-11 on the season. Here are the picks for
this week:

UNC over Louisville
Georgia Tech over Maryland
Florida State over Wake Forest
Clemson over Boston College
NC State over Central Michigan
Miami over Virginia Tech

I wouldn’t classify this as a fun week of football in the ACC, but we should
know a lot more about the real contenders in the Coastal Division by 7pm on
Saturday night.

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