Week 4: MVPs, Helmet Stickers and Power Rankings

Week 4 was definitely a step in the right direction for many teams in the ACC. The conference spotlight game was entertaining and displayed a legitimate title contender in FSU. For the most part, teams competing against out of conference opponents took care of business as expected. After an embarrassing week 3, it was good to see many teams in the ACC bounce back.

Biggest Surprise:
Week 4’s biggest surprise (to me) was Maryland playing West Virginia closely. Coming into the weekend, I didn’t hear or see anyone giving the Terps a chance to compete in this game. There is no doubt that the high winds played a factor, but the Terps deserve a lot of credit. With youth and inexperience comes inconsistency. I believe that philosophy applies directly to this team because they seem to look drastically different from week to week. One week the defense plays confident and makes big plays, the next week they look flat and weak. The offense is the same way. Some parts of games they seem to move the ball at will and at other times its all they can do to get a first down. Saturday’s performance was impressive because of how overmatched they seemed to be going into the game. In case you missed it, the game was competitive well into the 4th quarter. They managed to slow down one of the best offenses in the country and moved the ball effectively enough to keep the score close. Had they taken advantage of opportunities given to them in the second half and executed in a few of the key situations, they could have won that game. I’m not into “Moral Victories” but if there ever was a good loss, this was it.

MVP: EJ Manuel, Florida State QB. There’s an old adage that says big time players make big time plays in big time games. Well, considering the fact that Manuel went 27 of 35 through the air(385 passing yards) and rushed for 102 yards on top of that, he can be considered a big time player. The bottom line was Florida State had its back against the wall down 28-14 and EJ Manuel stepped up and led his team to a 35-3 run and put away a really good Clemson team. EJ Manuel has put himself in the running for the Heisman and ACC Player of the Year with this weekend’s performance.

Helmet Stickers

1.) Mike James, Miami RB. With so much attention around freshman running back Duke Johnson, it had to feel good for running back Mike James to have the success he did Saturday. James tallied four touchdowns on 15 carries and 89 yards rushing. All of those stats are career highs. It’s safe to say that his career hasn’t been as spectacular as many expected so far, but it was good to see him show his potential and why he was brought there. James finished the day with a 25-yard game winning touchdown, in case what he had already accomplished wasn’t good enough.  

2.) Stephen Morris, Miami QB. It was tough to leave Stephen Morris off of this week’s helmet stickers, especially because I knew his teammate was going to be at the top of the list. But when you pass for 436 yards and two touchdowns, you deserve to get recognition. His statistics from Saturday are impressive, but what impresses me more is his leadership and ability to bounce back from a personal mistake or mistakes made by others on his team. That’s what good quarterbacks are made of and Morris seems to be maturing into one of the better ones in this conference.

3.) Michael Campanaro,Wake Forest WR. Campanaro went off on Army this week finishing with 153 receiving yards on twelve catches and three total touchdowns. The bottom line is that this is a playmaker on a team that doesn’t get a ton of television coverage. You better believe that defensive coordinators are accounting for where he is at all times. Wake is fortunate to have him as an offensive weapon and is a big part of the reason this team is sitting at 3-1 right now.

ACC Power Rankings

1.) Florida State. Week 4: W 49-37 vs. Clemson. Florida State has emerged to be a National Title contender and clear front runner for the ACC Championship. The defense gave up more yards and points than expected, but they made plays and stopped Clemson late in the game when it counted the most. The offense looks spectacular through the air and on the ground. EJ Manuel has channeled his inner Charlie Ward and these Seminoles remind me of the teams in the late 90s and early 2000s that were National Championship caliber. Florida State is now in the driver’s seat and carrying the flag for the conference. They will make a short trip to Tampa next Saturday to face a South Florida team that is coming off back to back losses.

2.) Clemson. Week 4: L 37-49 vs. Florida State. Well, Clemson fans knew this past Saturday’s game was a fork in the road. They now will need help from other teams in the conference to be able to make it back to the ACC Championship Game. The offense was amazing, and it looked as if Clemson was going to win convincingly until the Seminoles exploded in the second half. As we all should know by now, Clemson has some work to do on defense, but I truly believe they are improving. Clemson will simply need to take care of their own business and let the rest handle itself. They travel to Boston College next week in a game that they should win convincingly.

3.) Miami. Week 4: W 42-36 vs Georgia Tech. Saturday’s win against Coastal Division opponent Georgia Tech was a huge victory for the Canes. In case you missed it, the Canes jumped out to an early 19 point lead before the Yellow Jackets responded 36-0 to take a 17 point lead. The Canes kept their cool and made the plays they needed to make to sneak out the win in Atlanta. This was surprising to many, because it was a road game and the fact that Georgia Tech was playing so well coming into this game. Miami is continuing to grow and is now leading the Coastal Division over Virginia Tech because they have two conference wins. The Canes will host NC State next Saturday in Miami.

4.) Virginia Tech Week 4: W 37-0 vs Bowling Green. Virginia Tech did what it needed to do Saturday against an inferior opponent. The offense started slow and looked a lot like what they were the week before at Pitt in the first quarter. Then the team settled in and started making plays on both sides of the field. The offensive line is a work in progress and injuries aren’t helping. Virginia Tech will play Cincinnati in Washington, DC on Saturday.

5. ) Georgia Tech Week 4: L 36-42 vs Miami. Saturday’s loss was devastating for the Georgia Tech program. They now find themselves with two in conference/division losses, and it’s still September. The Yellow Jackets will need to find a way to play better defense for a full game if they want to win games. The Jackets will have a tune up game in week 5 against Middle Tennessee State before traveling to Clemson in week 6.

6.) UNC Week 4: W 27-6 vs East Carolina. The Tar Heels took care of business in week 4, handling in-state opponent East Carolina. We are witnessing growing pains for this new scheme put in place this year. However, UNC did what it needed to do and avoided another loss. Idaho is coming to town in week 4 in what should be a tune up game before hosting divisional foe Virginia Tech.

7.) NC State Week 4: W 52-14 vs. Citadel. The Wolfpack better have figured out how to play better defense and be more efficient on offense, because they are now beginning conference play on the road at Miami. This will be a big test for the Wolpack, who were unimpressive in losses against Tennessee and a close win at UConn.

 8.) Maryland Week 4: L 21-31 vs West Virginia. The Terps played perhaps their best game Saturday, even though it was a loss. They have a lot of good plays they can take away from that game film to help them build confidence. There is a lot to be proud of and I am sure head coach Randy Edsall will be reminding all of his guys how well they played all week long. However, the Terps have been up and down all year so far. They have a bye week in week 5, then will host Wake in week 6. It will be interesting to see if Maryland can continue to grow and prove themselves this year in conference play.

9) Duke Week 4: W 38-14 vs Memphis. Duke is off to their best start in 5 years. They deserve credit for taking care of business against the teams that they should have beaten so far. Duke travels to Wake Forest in week 5 for a game I believe they can win. If they can stay physical on defense and play with the confidence they have shown in all games except for Stanford, they are capable of knocking off most teams in this conference.

 10) Wake Forest Week 4: W 49-37 vs Army. Wake rebounded from a bad loss against Florida State in Week 3 and also came from behind to win this week against Army. Wake’s offensive line won the battle in the trenches which made the running game a lot easier. Although they gave up 37 points, the defense held off the Black Knights late in the game when it mattered and help seal the game. Wake hosts Duke in Week 5 in a game that should show exactly how good or bad this team really is.

 11.) Virginia Week 4: L 7-27 vs TCU. Things are getting bad in Charlottesville. The offense is incapable of moving the ball and scoring. The defense doesn’t seem to play with enough energy and intensity. And the special teams are nothing special. The Cavs need to find a way to get the offense going because that will directly help boost the confidence of the rest of the team.

 12.) Boston College Week 4: Bye. BC had a bye week in week 4 and hopefully they used it well because they will now be hosting the Clemson Tigers in week 5. BC will obviously be overmatched in this game so they will need to play nearly perfect to be competitive.

Featured game, week 4: Virginia Tech vs. Cincinnati

The week 4 ACC schedule is rather thin. An interesting matchup to me will be Virginia Tech vs. Cincinnati. The game will be played at FedEx Field near Washington, DC. Many of the fans will be wearing orange and maroon even though Cincinnati is supposed to be the home team. This matchup is interesting because the Bearcats manhandled the Pitt Panthers earlier this season, winning 34-10. As you should know, the Pitt Panthers then manhandled the Virginia Tech Hokies in week 3. You can’t connect dots that way and consider it  a forgone conclusion that Cincinnati will win this game. The key to this game will be to watch the Bearcat defensive line going against and young and injury depleted Hokie offensive line. If the Hokies get dominated there, the score will likely reflect it. I think this game will start slow with very few points scored in the first quarter. I think it will be a close game, but I believe Beamer’s staff will find a way to win in DC Saturday.

My prediction: Virginia Tech 23 Cincinnati 20

Video: Best of the weekend, Week 4

Don Deibler is a college football enthusiast and Virginia Tech alumnus who has had a passion for college sports since he was a young child. Outside of the ACC, he follows Notre Dame and South Carolina intently. He currently lives in Frederick Maryland where he works in the mortgage banking industry and is in training for Air Traffic Control. You can reach him at [email protected].

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