Florida State Seminoles: Tim Smith

ACC Upset Watch: Week 10

October, 29, 2013
Last week, we were lulled into believing there would be no upsets in the ACC. So we skipped the upset watch. I mean, would Duke really beat Virginia Tech? Would Pitt really lose to Navy? Would Wake Forest nearly beat Miami?


We have learned our lesson. No matter how much better the ACC has fared this year, there still is a little bit of #goacc to go around the league. So the upset watch is back at its regularly scheduled time, with three games to keep an eye on Saturday. Remember, these are not predictions. These are simply games we think the underdog could make some noise and potentially win.

1. Virginia Tech (6-2, 3-1) at Boston College (3-4, 1-3). There are no more gimmes on the Hokies schedule, not after they lost to Duke last weekend. This team has been living on the edge all season, and it finally caught up to them against the Blue Devils. Clearly Virginia Tech will not be able to win on defense alone. Because its defense did enough to beat Duke. More than enough, really. Simply put, it is the offense that has to get itself in gear, something that has yet to happen through eight games. Beyond the four interceptions Logan Thomas threw, Virginia Tech had way too many critical penalties and only converted on four third-down attempts. That makes it tough to win games, no matter how good the defense performs. Even though the Eagles got blown out in Chapel Hill, they are a much better team than a year ago and gave panic attacks to both Florida State and Clemson earlier this season. Boston College took Virginia Tech to overtime a season ago, too. There is no doubt Boston College faces a tough task against the Virginia Tech defense, but the Eagles will not have to score 30 to win.

2. Pitt (4-3, 2-2) at Georgia Tech (5-3, 4-2). The Jackets are a double-digit favorite, but they are coming off a victory over Virginia in which they had five turnovers and nine penalties. They are not going to be able to get away with such a sloppy game against a better team in Pitt. While it is true the Panthers lost to Navy last week, the key here is they faced an offense similar to the one they will see Saturday against Georgia Tech. Pitt held Navy to 70 yards below its season rushing average. Facing this type of offense in consecutive weeks gives the Panthers an advantage that many other teams simply do not get. The Panthers also have one of the best receiving duos in the ACC in Devin Street and Tyler Boyd, the only ACC players in the top 10 in both receiving yards per game and receptions per game. Last week, Georgia Tech allowed two 100-yard receivers in Darius Jennings and Tim Smith. Consider Smith had only 13 catches going into the game before catching 10 passes against the Jackets; Jennings had only 15 receptions before catching 13 last week.

3. No. 7 Miami (7-0, 3-0) at No. 3 Florida State (7-0, 5-0). In a rivalry game between unbeaten teams, anything can happen. Are we going to pick Florida State to lose? No. But Miami could give the Noles some trouble. The Canes have the best offensive line Florida State has faced to this point in the season, and a dynamic runner in Duke Johnson. Miami is not afraid to play smash-mouth football, and that is a completely different style than what the Noles have faced over the last three games. The Canes also have played in close games essentially all season long, and have had to overcome double-digit deficits in their last three wins. While it is true the last two should have never gone down to the wire, Miami does know what it takes to play in and win close games. In years past, there might have been panic on the sideline at the prospect of having to come back to win. There is no panic anymore. This is a more mature, confident group. Florida State, on the other hand, has yet to play a game where the fourth quarter mattered. Perhaps Miami had a hard time getting up for games against North Carolina and Wake Forest and played down to its competition. There is no doubt Miami will be up and supremely motivated for this game. The Canes still have plenty to prove.

ACC Power Rankings: Week 9

October, 28, 2013
We have status quo in the top three this week. But there was plenty of shuffling in the middle of the pack. Again. Par for the course in the ACC.

1. Florida State (7-0, 5-0 ACC, last week: 1). The Seminoles remain in the hunt for a national championship after a thoroughly dominant win over NC State. Jameis Winston threw for 229 yards and three touchdowns in the first quarter -- the most pass yards in the first quarter of any quarterback this season. Another top-10 matchup looms this weekend, this time against rival Miami.

2. Miami (7-0, 3-0, LW: 2). The Hurricanes have had to overcome double-digit deficits in their last two games to stay undefeated. In fact, ESPN Stats & Information says Miami had less than a 25 percent chance of winning in the fourth quarter against both North Carolina and Wake Forest. Voila -- Miami beat the odds thanks to its run game and now has to face revved-up Florida State in Tallahassee.

3. Clemson (7-1, 5-1, LW: 3). The Tigers did not look pretty at times in their win over Maryland. But the key word in that sentence -- win. Clemson remained in the conversation for an at-large BCS berth thanks to solid performances from Sammy Watkins (single-game school record 14 catches), Rod McDowell (season-high 161 yards) and Tajh Boyd (15th 300-yard passing game).

4. Duke (6-2, 2-2, LW: 7). Congratulations are in order for the Blue Devils, who became bowl-eligible for the second consecutive season with a win over No. 14 Virginia Tech, their first win over a Top 25 team since 1994. It also happened to be the first Duke win over Virginia Tech since 1981. When you consider how badly the offense struggled throughout, major props go to a vastly improved defense that has put the clamps down in the second half in its last three games.

5. Virginia Tech (6-2, 3-1, LW: 4). You could probably pick a lot of words to describe the Hokies' loss to Duke. Disappointing fits best, considering another stellar defensive effort was wasted in one of the worst offensive performances of the season. Logan Thomas threw four interceptions, ending a string of three straight games without one. The loss kicked Virginia Tech clear out of the rankings.

6. Georgia Tech (5-3, 4-2, LW: 5). Welcome to the murky part of the ACC power rankings. Georgia Tech beat Duke earlier this year, but also lost to Miami and Virginia Tech. The Jackets also played a terrible game against Virginia -- turning the ball over five times -- and still managed to win. At this point, we have no idea which Georgia Tech team will show up every week.

7. Wake Forest (4-4, 2-3, LW: 8). The Deacs did lose, but they led Miami for nearly the entire game and played well enough to beat a top-10 team. Wake Forest is playing much better today than at the start of the season, and you can easily tell when you flip on the television. That is a big reason we have them here. Plus, they beat Maryland head-to-head.

8. Maryland (5-3, 1-3, LW: 9). After a 4-0 start, Maryland has lost three of its last four and is going to have to fight for a bowl spot. The Terps put up a valiant effort with just about every key offensive player on the bench against the Tigers. They get a week to rest before playing Syracuse at home. That game could get them to win No. 6, especially if C.J. Brown and Brandon Ross are healthy enough to return.

9. Pitt (4-3, 2-2, LW: 6). The Panthers lost on a last-second field goal to Navy, a team that Duke blew out earlier this year. They essentially let a winnable game against an average nonconference team slip from their grasp. These are the types of games ACC teams have to win. Pitt lost, and as a result has to take a tumble down.

10. Boston College (3-4, 1-3, LW: 10). We both thought Boston College would go into Chapel Hill and win. Instead, the Eagles lost 34-10, unable to find any consistency on offense against one of the worst defenses in the ACC. The bye week did not seem to do them any favors.

11. Syracuse (3-4, 1-2, LW: 11). Speaking of bye weeks, Syracuse was off after a demoralizing loss to Georgia Tech. We will see how the Orange regroup this week against Wake Forest, a game with major bowl implications for both teams.

12. North Carolina (2-5, 1-3, LW: 13). Congrats to the Tar Heels for picking up their first league win of the season. The two-quarterback system Larry Fedora is now using with Bryn Renner and Marquise Williams seems to be working, at least for now.

13. NC State (3-4, 0-4, LW: 12). The Wolfpack have lost three straight and are off to their first 0-4 start in league play since 2009. Coach Dave Doeren has had to deal with his fair share of injuries, but still, nobody expected this team to be winless in ACC play headed into November.

14. Virginia (2-6, 0-4, LW: 14). The Hoos have now lost five straight. How did this team beat BYU again? Virginia got career games from Darius Jennings and Tim Smith, five gift-wrapped turnovers from Georgia Tech, and still lost 35-25. It gets worse: They still have to play Clemson, Miami and Virginia Tech.

ACC's lunchtime links

August, 21, 2013
Let me be ...

ACC's lunchtime links

August, 12, 2013
Happy Monday, folks. Get your week started with some ACC reading.


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