- Heather Dinich, ESPN Staff Writer
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Step into my office
Paul in Chicago writes: Hey Heather, The Pac-12 North and the ACC Atlantic are the only two divisions in the FBS with three undefeated teams, all ranked to boot. Tougher division, go.
HD: Paul, I know it's not what ACC fans want to hear, but I think you have to go with the Pac-12 North. I'm just not convinced Florida State and Maryland are as elite as their 4-0 records might indicate. We'll learn more about both teams on Saturday, but I think Oregon-Stanford right now are both playing better than Clemson-Florida State. This is a great week to answer that question on the field, though, because Stanford and Washington both play, along with FSU-Maryland, so we'll be able to see how much of a gap there is between the second and third teams. I think Washington is going to fall off quickly because it has three straight games against ranked opponents, including back-to-back against No. 5 Stanford and No. 2 Oregon. Still, I give the Pac-12 North the nod because I'd pick Oregon to beat Clemson, and Stanford over Florida State. FSU and Maryland fans, of course, took exception to the fact that I questioned whether they're for real this week.
Stephen in South Salem, New York writes: Heather, so far, I didn't really expect Maryland to do this well considering that they had this many wins at the end of last season and went through 5 QBs. But this season looks different. How well do you think they will end up? According to an ESPN poll, they are the most surprising undefeated team in the country. CJ Brown at one point had the best QBR IN THE COUNTRY, over Johnny Football, Marcus Mariota, and that loser freshman at FSU. We have a pretty manageable schedule left besides in FSU and Clemson. Our defense is solid considering that we blanked West Virginia, a team that just upset #11 Oklahoma State. Couldn't Maryland go 10-2 or 9-3? I expect a bowl this season, I see us in either the Sun or the Russell. All I can say is that Maryland isn't a joke. Look for us to try to break the Top 25 and play hard in Tallahassee.
HD: Ouch. You hear that, #famousjameis? I expect the Terps' best shot in Tally, and so does FSU. But I didn't pick them to win. Still, I think you're right, Maryland's schedule is very favorable. They should be in a bowl game, and could finish with nine wins. As of right now, I'll give 'em eight.
Jason in Virginia writes: With the news that Exum is cleared to return, what do think would be the best solution for the Hokies' secondary? I know Exum has earned the right to start, but those true freshmen Fuller and Facyson I feel have earned the right to start as well. They are both playing out of their minds right now and I feel like making changes to the starting D now that the season is in full swing could create problems.
HD: Well, the staff has already decided to keep Exum at CB and try Facyson at WR, a move they had discussed this summer. Beamer said the most important thing is getting their best athletes on the field, and clearly Facyson and Exum both need to be out there -- if, of course, Facyson is even going to play. Beamer told me they should know that after Thursday's practice, but even if he does, how good will he be after eight months off to rehab a torn ACL? We'll see how it all plays out, but it's a good problem to have because they are all so talented.
Big Al in SC writes: In your bowl projections, have you ever picked an ACC team to go to the national championship. Also, at what point would you pick Clemson or even FSU to go to the big game? When Bama or Oregon loses and/or if Clemson/FSU wins out?
HD: No, I have not. I think those teams have to go undefeated to have a shot and Bama and or Oregon have to lose.
G3 in Houston, Texas writes: Both Maryland and Miami finished 4-0 in nonconference. How many teams in the ACC have gone undefeated in nonconference since the ACC expanded in 2004?
HD: Thanks to the ACC office for this info. It's happened 16 times since 2005, though in 2005 teams only had three nonconference games, four every year afterward. This doesn’t include bowl games.
Here are the teams and years that it has happened. (*denotes teams that also won their bowl games):
Boston College: (4) 2005*, 2006*, 2007*, 2008
Clemson: (2) 2005, 2007*
Georgia Tech: (1) 2008
Miami: (2) 2005, 2009
North Carolina: (2) 2009, 2011
Virginia: (1) 2005*
Virginia Tech: (3) 2005*, 2006, 2011.
Wake Forest: (1) 2006