Around the ACC: October 27, 2011

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The ACC standings are beginning to clear up, and one team in each division
has a clear advantage. Three teams in the league are already bowl eligible, and
two others are very close with five wins. It’s almost November and the year is
going by fast, but there is still plenty of football left.

Here’s a look at last week’s results.

Clemson 59, UNC 38
Wake Forest 24, Duke 23
VT 30, BC 14
FSU 41, Maryland 16
Miami 24, GT 7
NC State 28, UVA 14

Clemson’s offense continues to impress, Miami steamrolled Georgia Tech, and
NC State got themselves back in the bowl picture with a victory over UVA.

Clemson and Virginia Tech lead their respective divisions, and both have the
inside track to meet in Charlotte for the ACC Championship.

ACC
Standings
Atlantic Coastal
Team Conf. Overall Team Conf. Overall
Clemson 5-0 8-0 Virginia Tech 3-1 7-1
Wake Forest 4-1 5-2 Georgia Tech 3-2 6-2
Florida State 2-2 4-3 Miami 2-2 4-3
NC State 1-2 4-3 Virginia 1-2 4-3
Maryland 1-3 2-5 Duke 1-2 3-4
BC 0-4 1-6 UNC 1-3 5-3

Wake is still technically in the picture in the Atlantic Division, but they are
unlikely to beat Clemson head-to-head. Virginia Tech basically has a two-game
lead over Miami as a result of their head-to-head win in Blacksburg, and they
will have a two-game lead over Georgia Tech if the Yellow Jackets lose to
Clemson this weekend.

Bowl Picture Shaping Up

We already know that Clemson, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech are going
bowling. Wake Forest and UNC need just one victory each to be bowl eligible,
while FSU, Miami, NC State and UVA each need two wins. FSU and Miami have very
favorable schedules from here on out, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the
winner of that game go undefeated for the rest of the season.

Orange Bowl: Unless something crazy happens, either Clemson or Virginia Tech
will be in the Orange Bowl. The Big East champs will be the likely opponent.
Possibilities include Cincinnati, Rutgers, West Virginia and Syracuse.

Chick-fil-A Bowl: Gary Stokan won’t let Virginia Tech or Clemson drop down to
the Champs Sports Bowl. Assuming Tech and Clemson meet in the ACC Championship
Game, the loser of that contest will be headed to Atlanta, likely against
Auburn, South Carolina or Georgia.

Champs Sports Bowl: Right now, Notre Dame is the projected opponent for the
ACC in this bowl. Since Miami played the Irish last season in the Sun Bowl, a
great matchup for the Champs Sports Bowl (in Orlando) would be Florida
State-Notre Dame. A lot of people would watch that game and there would
be a full stadium.

Sun Bowl: If Florida State goes to the Champs Sports Bowl, the Sun Bowl won’t
pass up a 9-3 or 8-4 Miami team. They would play a Pac-12 team, someone like
Cal, Washington or Arizona State.

Belk Bowl: This Charlotte-based bowl loves it when they get to take a team
from the state of North Carolina. They will have Wake Forest and UNC as options
this year, and possibly NC State as well. The Belk Bowl should come out well
this year.

Music City Bowl: Who would you pick — NC State, Georgia Tech or Wake Forest?
I’d take NC State, if possible.

Independence Bowl: Again, Georgia Tech, NC State or Wake Forest. Or perhaps
Virginia, if they can get themselves eligible.

Military Bowl: Wake Forest, UVA or NC State would be a great choice for the
D.C. bowl game, particularly UVA.

The smaller bowls will work their way out in time, but right now it looks as
if Clemson, Virginia Tech, Florida State and Miami will be the top four bowl
teams in the league. That’s the way it should be. Whether or not the Orange Bowl
is a good reward for the ACC Champion is a different story.

Likely Award Winners

It doesn’t appear too difficult to pick the ACC’s yearly award winners in
2011. Even though it’s not November yet, I think we already know who is going to
collect the hardware in Charlotte in December.


ACC Postseason Award Front Runners

Award

Favorite

Team
Coach of the Year Dabo Swinney Clemson
Overall Player of the Year Tajh Boyd Clemson
Offensive Player of the Year Tajh Boyd Clemson
Defensive Player of the Year Luke Kuechly BC
Overall Rookie of the Year Sammy Watkins Clemson
Offensive Rookie of the Year Sammy Watkins Clemson
Defensive Rookie of the Year Merrill Noel Wake Forest

Perhaps each of those guys isn’t necessarily the favorite, but it’s how I
would vote at this point.

It’s hard to argue against Dabo Swinney. He went from being on the hot seat
to coaching a Clemson team that is currently undefeated and in contention for
the National Championship. Another good choice would be Jim Grobe, who has Wake
Forest performing much better than expected.

Tajh Boyd has put up huge numbers this season (2,379 yards, 24 touchdowns, 3
interceptions), so he is the obvious choice for Offensive Player of the Year,
and he would be my pick for Overall Player of the Year also. With 118 tackles
through just seven games, it’s hard not to give Defensive Player of the Year
honors to Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly.

Sammy Watkins is a top weapon in the Clemson offense, so Overall and
Offensive Rookie of the Year should go to him. As far as Defensive Rookie of the
Year goes, Wake Forest cornerback Merrill Noel leads the conference with 16
passes defended. The next closest player has 11.

There’s still a whole month for players to put up impressive stats, but it
seems like most of the guys in the table above are locked in.

Upcoming Games

The action starts tonight when UVA visits Miami for a Thursday night
showdown. It ends Saturday night with a huge game in Atlanta between Clemson and
Georgia Tech.


Upcoming Games

Game

Time

TV
UVA at Miami 8:00 (Thursday) ESPN
NC State at FSU Noon ESPNU
Virginia Tech at Duke 12:30 ACC Network
BC at Maryland 3:00 RSN
Wake at UNC 3:30 ESPNU
Clemson at GT 8:00 ABC

Georgia Tech has played poorly on offense in recently weeks, but they’ll have
to get things cranked up a notch if they want to hang with Clemson. Wake Forest
and UNC play each other, and the winner will be bowl eligible.

Last week I went 4-2, and I’m now 47-17 on the season. Here are this week’s
picks:

Miami over UVA
FSU over NC State
Virginia Tech over Duke
BC over Maryland
UNC over Wake
Clemson over GT

Boston College will get their first ACC win this weekend against Maryland.
Georgia Tech’s slide will continue, as they won’t be able to hang with Clemson’s
potent offense.

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