Week 5: MVPs, Helmet Stickers, and Power Rankings

Week 5 was yet another disappointing performance for much of the ACC. Once again teams struggled with mediocre non-conference opponents. On the bright side, the top two teams (and the only two teams anyone outside the ACC is paying attention to) were victorious. Overall we are seeing inconsistency from many of the teams. It’s hard to predict how teams other than Clemson and Florida State are going to perform on a weekly basis. But that is exactly what makes this sport the best sport in the world – unpredictability. And it when it comes to being unpredictable, the ACC is the flagship conference. 

> Biggest SurpriseWeek 5’s biggest surprise occurred in Atlanta, Georgia where the Yellow Jackets got walloped by Middle Tennessee State. This is another one of those situations where the upset win isn’t shocking, but the way that the team was beat is surprising. Georgia Tech is not a bad team. They have many talented athletes and are capable and expected to play much better than they did Saturday. The second half was a complete abomination as they were outscored 28-7 in the final two quarters. Turnovers and mental mistakes on both sides of the ball factored into this loss. Middle Tennessee’s running back tallied 217 rushing yards and five touchdowns. Yellow Jacket fans have to be wondering why their team is performing this way. Sure, injuries and youth are part of it but just about every team in the nation is dealing with similar problems.  The Jackets now limp into a road game for week 6 in what will likely be their most talented opponent in #15 Clemson.

> MVP: Stephen Morris, Miami RB. Morris set an ACC record for single game passing yards with 566. He also had 5 touchdowns. It should also be noted that Morris scrambled and found his receiver (Phillip Dorsett) for the game winning touchdown in the last minute of the game. Morris has emerged to be one of the best quarterbacks in the conference. It will be interesting to see how he will fare against a confident Notre Dame defense in week 6.

> Helmet Stickers

1.) Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo, Duke DE. Many people reading are saying “Who?”. Well let me explain. Ondijo made a key sack/forced fumble in this week’s win against Wake Forest. The forced fumble turned out to be the biggest play of the game and has Duke sitting with its best start in the last 15 years. Ondijo is a perfect example of the resiliency of the 2012 Blue Devils who have had so many injuries and doubters to overcome.

2.) DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson WR. Hopkins set a school record with 197 receiving yards on 11 catches. Hopkins was instrumental in this week’s win against Boston College. Fellow superstar receiver Sammy Watkins was out with an abdominal virus and Hopkins filled the void very well. With this week’s record, Hopkins has (or has tied) school records for single game receiving touchdowns, single game receptions and now single game receiving yards. Remind me why Watkins is supposed to be the superstar please…

3.) Florida State Defense. Florida State’s defense stepped up in week 5 by allowing just 268 total yards and forcing 3 turnovers. The Noles’ offense was not producing the way they were capable of and had the defense collapsed, the ACC would have suffered a major embarrassment. I think it’s fair to say that in previous years that would have been more than likely the case. However, the 2012 Noles are a mature group and the defense keeps this team moving in the right direction.

>ACC Power Rankings

1.) Florida State. Week 5: W 30-17 vs. USF. This wasn’t the dominating performance many experts expected. However, it was reasonable to think there would be emotional fatigue after such a big primetime win vs. Clemson in week 4.  The Noles did what they needed to do on the road in a non-conference game. Credit FSU for carrying the banner for the conference and keeping an ACC team in National Title contention. FSU continues its road trip in week 6 as they travel to Raleigh, NC to take on NC State.

2.) Clemson. Week 5: W 45-31 vs. Boston College. Clemson bounced back after a huge week 4 loss to FSU and notched their first ACC win of the 2012 season. Even without star receiver Sammy Watkins, the offense was impressive, totaling 576 total yards and converting 63% of their third down attempts. However, the defense is still suspect. The Boston College offense is not elite and they managed to score 31 points Saturday. Clemson will need to continue their success on offense and improve on defense. Clemson will host the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in week 6.

3.) Miami. Week 5: W 44-37 vs. NC State. Miami has bounced back from a week 2 loss at Kansas State (who is now 4-0 and ranked #7 in the country) with three consecutive wins. The offense is maturing to be one of the most successful units in recent memory. The defense is still a work in progress, but seems to be improving. Miami will put its confidence to test in week 6 as they travel to Chicago to play #9 Notre Dame.

4.) North Carolina. Week 5: W 66-0 vs. Idaho. I’m not going to rave about stats and performances in this game as Idaho is not a formidable opponent for such an analysis. UNC took care of business and will host a deflated Virginia Tech squad in week 6.

5. ) Duke. Week 5: W 34-27 vs. Wake Forest. That’s right. I think DUKE is the 5th best team in the conference right now. I think this is the feel good story of the conference right now. The injury bug has hit this team so hard that at some points in the game they only have 3 or 4 players on the field that should be starters. The latest injury was to their starting quarterback. However, the team finds a way to win regardless of what happens. I like the confidence and team mentality that Head Coach David Cutcliffe has instilled in his players. I think the success has only begun for the Blue Devils and I am very interested to see how they fare in the week 6 matchup against UVA.

6.) NC State Week 5: L 37-44 vs. Miami. Despite the week 5 loss, the Wolfpack are improving as a whole. The offense is becoming more productive, but the defense is continuing to struggle. NCSU will have the opportunity to play the spoiler role in week 6 as they will host the #3 FSU Seminoles. This will be an 8pm night game so you know the stadium will be rocking. This is the game fans and players circled coming into the year and finally it is here.

7.) Virginia Tech. Week 5: L  27-24 vs. Cincinnati. The Hokies are one of the most surprising disappointments in the country this year. Logan Thomas is simply not the player he was a year ago. His accuracy and decision making continue to be major problems. The offensive line continues to get manhandled every week. The Hokies rank #86 in total offense and #57 in rushing yards nationally. And don’t let the defense off the hook either. The Hokies are in serious risk of not winning 10 or more games this year, which hasn’t happened since 2003. VT travels to play at UNC in week 6.

 8.) Wake Forest. Week 5: L 27-34 vs. Duke. This week’s loss at home against in-state foe Duke was a big disappointment for Wake. Unfortunately they have no one to blame but themselves. Four turnovers and the inability to finish drives with scoring is the reason they lost. Wake is now 1-2 in ACC play so far this year. Wake will look to rebound in week 6 at Maryland.

9) Georgia Tech. Week 5: L 49-28 vs. Middle Tennessee State. The Yellow Jackets took a beating at home this week. The first half was highly competitive, but the second half was a blowout. Tech was outscored 28-7 and was pretty much manhandled for the entire second half. MTSU had no trouble moving the ball and scoring and were never truly threatened by Paul Johnson’s offense. The loss was embarrassing for the school and the conference as a whole. These are the types of results that the ACC cannot afford to have. Tech will have a chance to redeem themselves in week 6 when they travel to play at Clemson.

 10) Virginia. Week 5: L 44-38 vs. Louisiana Tech. UVA suffered its third loss of this young 2012 season on Saturday. In case you don’t know, Louisiana Tech has one of the best offenses in the country and will very likely be ranked within the next few weeks. On the bright side of this loss, the inconsistent Cav offense was able to tally 38 points and 625 total yards. Had it not been for sixteen (yeah you read that correctly) penalties and three turnovers, the Cavs probably would’ve won this game. However, they lost and they now find themselves with a disappointing 2-3 record at the end of September. For week 6, the Wahoos travel south to face a confident Duke team.

 11.) Maryland. Week 5: Bye. The Terps had a bye week and hopefully they used it well. The Terps host Wake Forest in week 6 for what is a must-win game if they want to make a bowl game this year.

 12.) Boston College. Week 5: L 31-45 vs. Clemson. The Eagles played a competitive game against a team that is much more talented. BC is rebuilding and I wouldn’t expect to see more than 2 or 3 wins this year. BC will play at Army in week 6.

Featured game, week 6:

The matchup for week 6 that I am looking forward to the most is Miami vs. Notre Dame. The game will be played at Soldier Field in Chicago, IL which is just about a two hour drive from Notre Dame’s campus. This will virtually be a home game for Notre Dame as there are many alumni in the Chicago area. I am excited to see Miami’s confident offense take the field against such a talented Notre Dame football team. Both teams are off to great starts in the 2012 season. Notre Dame is clearly the better team on paper, but there is certainly possibility for an upset. I expect Miami to move the ball, especially through the air. They key will be Miami’s defense and how many points they give up to a potent ND offense. The key for Miami’s defense will be to pressure the quarterback. If Tommy Rees and/or Everett Gholston are able to get comfortable in the backfield this game could get ugly quick. I think Miami is capable of pulling the upset, but I don’t think it will happen because Notre Dame will be sharper on defense.

My prediction: Notre Dame 31 Miami 21

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].

Follow Inside the ACC on Twitter at @InsideTheACC.

Leave a Reply