Florida State Seminoles: Virginia Tech Hokies

ACC Power Rankings: Week 2

September, 9, 2013
It's time for a fresh set of power rankings with another week in the books. The top four teams remain the same from last week, but there was some shuffling the rest of the way down.

1. Clemson (2-0, 0-0 ACC; last week: 1): The Tigers did what we all expected in a 52-13 win over South Carolina State. They also ended up moving up one spot in the AP poll to No. 3. Their big win over Georgia in Week 1 remains the crown jewel in the ACC crown after two weeks.

2. Florida State (1-0, 1-0 ACC; last week: 2): The Seminoles were off this past week after beating Pittsburgh in the opener. Let's see what Game 2 has in store for Jameis Winston this weekend against Nevada.

3. Miami (2-0, 0-0 ACC; last week: 3): The Hurricanes had the most impressive win in Week 2, over No. 12 Florida, which vaults them to No. 15 in the latest AP poll. But that win does nothing to change their standing in the ACC. There remains a clear gap between Clemson, Florida State and the rest of the league. Miami looks like it is starting to close the gap, but the Canes still have a long way to go -- especially after their offense struggled for most of the day against the Gators.

4. Georgia Tech (1-0 0-0 ACC; last week: 4): The Jackets were also off in Week 2, so all we have to judge them on is a blowout win over FCS Elon. The next five weeks will tell us what we need to know about this team, as the Jackets prepare to play at Duke, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, at Miami and at BYU. That is one of the most brutal stretches any ACC team has to play this season.

5. North Carolina (1-1, 0-0 ACC; last week: 7): The truth is, you could flip flop the Tar Heels and Virginia Tech at this point. Despite their victories over the weekend, both have problems that must be addressed. For starters, North Carolina has to get the coin toss figured out. The defense was once again up and down. They need a more consistent, better effort out of that group.

6. Virginia Tech (1-1, 0-0 ACC; last week: 5): North Carolina gets the nod ahead of Virginia Tech for this week based on the quality of opponent it just played. The Tar Heels beat an FBS team, Virginia Tech an FCS team. I think we can all agree the Hokies have a formidable defense -- better than North Carolina's -- but the offense still has a ways to go to be respectable. Logan Thomas now has one touchdown pass and three interceptions on the season.

7. Virginia (1-1, 0-0 ACC; last week: 6): No. 2 Oregon boatraced the Hoos on Saturday, but the truth is, nobody really expected them to win the game. They stay in the top half of the rankings this week based on their win over BYU in the opener. That win looks a lot better today after BYU clobbered No. 15 Texas. Virginia enters a five-game stretch now with winnable games. If the Hoos can take advantage, they will be looking good for a bowl spot.

8. Maryland (2-0, 0-0 ACC; last week: 8): The Terps have beaten their first two opponents by a combined 90-20 and have not faced much of a test. The opponents' strength has been really weak, hence their spot here. Still, this is a team that has showed off its talent on offense in the first two weeks. C.J. Brown, in his return from a knee injury, ranks No. 3 in the nation in total QBR to lead all ACC quarterbacks. Chew on that one for a while.

9. Duke (2-0, 0-0 ACC; last week: 10): Give the Blue Devils credit for pulling out a road win in Memphis with backup quarterback Brandon Connette this past Saturday. You can write the win off by saying it was "only Memphis," but the Tigers are a rapidly improving team and Duke was on the ropes. Any road win is a good win for a team that won only once away from home last season.

10. NC State (2-0, 0-0 ACC; last week: 9): The Wolfpack get downgraded slightly for struggling to beat Richmond. While it is true the Spiders have caused FBS opponents fits, the Wolfpack nearly handed the game away with their own miscues. NC State had four turnovers, including three inside Richmond territory. Quarterback Pete Thomas struggled, throwing two interceptions. While he did lead the team into field goal range for the game winner, he has some work to do to improve.

11. Boston College (2-0, 1-0 ACC; last week: 14): The Eagles climb out of the cellar for the first time in a long time after their 24-10 win over Wake Forest. You can already see the difference new coach Steve Addazio has made in the program. His team is playing a lot more physically and with a lot more energy. That is best illustrated in Andre Williams, who is now averaging 5.5 yards per carry -- one full yard better than last season. The BC run game has gone from awful to respectable in a matter of weeks. The Eagles have now matched their win total from 2012.

12. Pittsburgh (0-1, 0-1 ACC; last week: 12): The Panthers were off last week, so they stay put here. The good news is they will not have to play a team as strong as Florida State the rest of the way in the ACC. They get New Mexico this week.

13. Wake Forest (1-1, 0-1 ACC; last week: 11): The Deacs were supposed to be better this season with so many veterans returning, but they looked completely lost against BC. The defense got gashed on the ground. The offense could not run, nor could it execute the option effectively. Not sure why coaches insisted on sticking with it when it was not working. Their inability to run the ball was a bugaboo last season, and it looks to be the same this season.

14. Syracuse (0-2, 0-0 ACC; last week: 13): The Orange have been the biggest disappointment in the ACC so far based on the first two games. No doubt they played a tough schedule to start against two Big Ten teams, but they were not even competitive in a loss to Northwestern this past weekend in which Drew Allen got benched after throwing four interceptions and the defense gave up 581 yards of total offense. Scott Shafer has some serious questions to answer before the season gets away from him.

3 Up, 3 Down: FSU 28, Virginia Tech 22 

November, 9, 2012
It wasn't easy to put together a list of the best and worst performances from Florida State's dramatic come-from-behind win Thursday. It's not because there weren't a fair number of heroes and villains though. It's that they were the same players.

In the end, do you blame players for flubbing big plays that put FSU in a late hole? Or do you give them credit for bailing the Seminoles out in the final two minutes to ensure a 28-22 win? There's no easy answer, but here's our best crack at breaking it down anyway.

Admittedly, a good bit of the luster has worn off what figured to be one of the best matchups of the ACC schedule this season, but Virginia Tech's rocky season doesn't mean Florida State will get an easy win on the road.

The Hokies are 4-0 at home this season, and Logan Thomas and Co. still provide an imposing obstacle for the Seminoles, who haven't always looked particularly sharp on the road.

So, which Virginia Tech team are we likely to see during this week's game? To find out, we checked in with Mike Barber, the Hokies beat writer for the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

NoleNation: After last week's loss to Miami, Virginia Tech's chances for a division title were dashed. What's the attitude among the players now? Have the losses started to take their toll or is Florida State viewed as a chance to salvage the season?

Mike Barber: Virginia Tech’s players had maintained a high level of confidence and good morale in the face of the early season losses, always pointing to the fact that they were still in the hunt for the Coastal title. Thursday’s loss to Miami ended that and ended the team’s streak of eight straight years with 10 wins. That hit the players, especially QB Logan Thomas, very hard. The talk has shifted to clichés about playing for pride, and extending the 19-year bowl streak, humble goals for a team that opened as the favorite to win the Coastal. But the players do say an upset over FSU would take a lot of the sting out of this ugly season.

NN: Virginia Tech has played much better at home than on the road this season, but the level of competition -- Georgia Tech, Autin Peay, Bowling Green and Duke -- hasn't been as tough either. Has there been real differences in how the Hokies have played at Lane Stadium thus far?

Barber: I base the difference on the opponents. Tech, until now, has had an easy home schedule. But veteran players, like senior linebacker Bruce Taylor, said the team lacks the intensity it has at home when it plays on the road. Obviously a Thursday night crowd at Lane Stadium for the FSU game will provide a great atmosphere, and Tech is 11-3 at home on ESPN’s Thursday night football. Not sure that makes up the talent gap.

NN: The Hokies' up-and-down performance this year has been mirrored largely by Logan Thomas. Why has he struggled so badly at times, and what does he hope to do differently against FSU?

Barber: Tech’s coaches have stood behind Logan Thomas, praising his toughness, competitiveness and effort. But it’s hard to argue that he’s executed well. Against Miami his miscues came out the worst possible times, throwing a red zone interception in the first quarter, fumbling a third-and-1 snap in the third and missing a fourth-and-1 throw in the fourth quarter. But the truth is, Thomas has missed throws like that all season long. He is playing behind a new line, with new WRs and new RBs, but his accuracy just seems off.

NN: The Virginia Tech pass rush figured to be among the best in the ACC entering the season, but the performance has been mediocre thus far. What's the plan for attacking EJ Manuel this week? Will the Hokies bring the blitz or do their best to keep Manuel in the pocket?

Barber: After a really slow start, Virginia Tech’s defensive line has played well the past three weeks. Against Duke and Clemson, it recorded five sacks in each game. Against Miami it had no sacks but felt like it got great pressure on the Hurricanes’ QB and that was a big reason it held Miami to 1-for-12 on third down conversions. FSU has so many offensive weapons, Tech will likely try to get by with rushing three or four defenders and dropping seven or eight in coverage.

NN: What are the two or three keys for Virginia Tech this week if they want to pull the upset?

Barber: Virginia Tech is a big-time underdog Thursday night against FSU. To pull the upset, it needs to get off to a fast start, something it’s struggled with this year. It’s important because that will keep the crowd into the game and make Lane an actual advantage. But with the way the team has performed this year, it’s also important to give the players reason to believe. X’s and O’s wise, Tech has to be able to control the ball through the running game, to eat some clock. It also needs to score touchdowns in the red zone. Defensively, it can’t give up big plays. A few easy scores to the Seminoles and this game could get ugly in a hurry.

Great info from Mike. If you're interested in reading more of his Virginia Tech coverage, you can find it HERE or follow him on Twitter at @RTD_MikeBarber.

Five storylines: FSU vs. Virginia Tech 

November, 7, 2012
Three months ago, Thursday night's showdown at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, Va., figured to be the marquee game of the year for Florida State. While the Seminoles have largely held up their end of the bargain, however, Virginia Tech's season has quickly devolved into a train wreck.

Still, there's plenty on the line for both teams Thursday as the Hokies try to salvage some respect and Jimbo Fisher's crew closes in on an ACC championship game berth.

So as we get set for the penultimate conference game of the season for FSU, here are five key storylines to watch.

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