Week 9: MVPs, Helmet Stickers and Power Rankings

Week 9 once again showed the distance between Florida State/Clemson and the rest of the conference. An even greater distance is emerging between the top heavy Atlantic Division and the revolving Coastal Division leaders. Clemson blew by Wake Forest on the road Thursday night and Florida State flexed their muscles to all the doubters (aka me) who put them on upset alert. Even though the ACC is having another down year, the two best teams are still very respectable. As fun as it will be to watch the race for the Coastal Division crown, the winner will likely not stand a chance against FSU or Clemson.

> Biggest Surprise Week 9: This week’s biggest surprise for me was not that FSU beat Duke but how badly they beat Duke. This game was a complete blow out. There were a few glimpses of early hope for Duke, but they could not move the ball or score to save their lives. Remember how I wrote last week that I was concerned FSU would come out flat? Yeah, that didn’t happen. The Noles blew it wide open in the first twenty minutes, jumping out to a 31-0 lead. There were long pass plays, long run plays, great special teams plays and dominating defense. It was an all around dominant performance for the Noles. Duke Coach David Cutcliffe has said several times this year that he believes FSU is the best team in the country because they have   “no weaknesses”. I think some folks in Tuscaloosa might have something to say about that but that’s neither here nor there. The bottom line is that Florida State is the best team in this conference and is currently carrying the conference flag as far as national respect goes. Florida State’s next game is a week and a half away on the road at Virginia Tech. After that they will face Maryland and be done with their conference games. They will have a big game at home to finish the regular season against the Florida Gators before they can start thinking about the post season. The best case scenario for the ACC is for FSU to win out and win a BCS game, too.

> MVP: Tajh Boyd, Clemson QB In case you weren’t able to watch Thursday night, Clemson’s offense had a record night. For the first half, it seemed like every other play was a long completion to Sammy Watkins. Boyd tallied a school record 428 passing yards and 5 touchdowns. Any concerns about the productivity of this offense were immediately silenced.

> Helmet Stickers

1.) Sammy Watkins, Clemson WR. I was tempted to put Watkins as a co-MVP this week but I wanted to stick with one guy. Watkins also set a school record with 202 receiving yards and one touchdown. This was the explosive, uncontainable Watkins that we have all been itching to see. He was true to form and basically unstoppable in this very impressive performance.

2.) Mike Glennon, NC State QB. Glennon put up big numbers (albeit in a losing performance) Saturday against UNC. He totaled 467 passing yards and five touchdowns. Although he had two interceptions, this was still a great performance.

3.) Devonta Freeman and James Wilder Jr. , FSU Running Backs. Jimbo fisher answered a lot of questions this week about how he would replace injured star tailback Chris Thompson. The answer was revealed on Saturday with a two headed monster of Freeman and Wilder. The two combined for 174 rushing yards and three touchdowns as the Noles didn’t skip a beat against a tough Duke team.

>ACC Power Rankings

1.) Florida State. Week 9: W 48-7 vs Duke. FSU flexed their muscles and proved all doubters wrong in a beatdown of the Duke Blue Devils. I would critique a phase of the game the Noles need to improve if there was one. The offense looks spectacular despite losing their best running back. The defense dominated both the pass and the run. And to top it off the special teams looked fantastic and even scored. FSU gets a week and a half before heading to Blacksburg to face a struggling Virginia Tech squad.

2.) Clemson. Week 9: W 42-13 vs Wake Forest. Clemson had some doubts about the consistency of their offense coming into this week. Those doubts were quickly erased as the Tigers blew out Wake on the road Thursday night. Tajh Boyd is as good as ever and Sammy Watkins is back in full effect. The most encouraging part of this team has to be the defense. They have improved drastically since the end of the 2011 season and this is making the entire team better as a result.

3.) UNC. Week 9: W 43-35 vs NC State. UNC may be the best team in the Coastal Division right now. Since they are ineligible it doesn’t matter, but they still get respect in the power rankings. The Tar Heels fought for a tough win against a talented QB in Mike Glennon. The Heels defense is certainly suspect but the offense is on pace to be one of the best in school history. This sounds a lot like the 2011 Clemson Tigers, but I don’t expect a late season drop off. UNC is off next weekend and then will host Ga Tech on Nov 10th.

4.) Miami. Week 9: Off. Miami was off this week and will play host to rival Virginia Tech Thursday night. The Canes are coming off a tough home loss to FSU a week and a half ago.

5. ) Virginia Tech. Week 9: Off. Virginia Tech was off this week and travels to Miami Thursday night. VT got walloped by Clemson a week and a half ago but still only has two conference losses.

6.) Duke. Week 9: L 7-48 vs FSU. Duke had a tough game against a team that looked far superior. It’s tough to understand this performance as well as the final three quarters of play at Virginia Tech a few weeks back. The worst thing that can happen is that this loss will carry over into future practices and games. As many coaches say “ Don’t let a team beat you twice”. Duke still leads the Coastal Division and controls their own destiny on their way to the ACC Championship. For all they know, they can have another shot at FSU. The final stretch begins Saturday vs Clemson.

7.) NC State. Week 9: L 35-43 vs UNC. NC State had a close loss against UNC. QB Mike Glennon has matured into a big time performer. The defense is still underachieving and may be an issue down the stretch. UVA comes to town Saturday in a game that is a must win for the Wolfpack.

8.) Virginia Week 9: Off. UVA was off this week, and the way things are going this year, a week off is probably best for everyone. I bumped them up a couple spots because of injuries and performances by the teams below. They are matched up against a hot offense in NC State this Saturday.

9) Boston College. Week 9: W 20-17 vs Maryland. Congratulations to BC players coaches and fans for the first conference win of the year. The question for this program coming out of this year is coaching turnover. Who will go and who will stay? BC is playing for pride only at this point and sometimes that can be a good thing. We will find out if they can build on the momentum Saturday against Wake Forest.

10.) Wake Forest. Week 9: L 13-42 vs Clemson. Wake took a tough loss at home Thursday night against a team that seemed to be much better athletically. The Decs had a tough time matching up against the Clemson offense which many teams do. The good news is that Wake only needs two wins out of the last four games to become bowl eligible. The easiest of the four remaining opponents comes this Saturday in Boston College.

11.) Georgia Tech. Week 9: L 17-41 vs BYU. Ga Tech is falling fast. The offense cannot get moving and the defense is having trouble keeping everyone from scoring. The Yellow Jackets made BYU look like a top ten team Saturday. The best thing for this program will be for this season to end so that they can regroup and rebuild for next year. Georgia Tech has four remaining games and technically can still become bowl eligible. However, they will need to find a way to play better defense and move the ball consistently if they intend on playing a bowl game this year. GT takes on Maryland this Saturday.

12.) Maryland. Week 9: L 17-20 vs Boston College. Maryland is not the worst team in the conference. But I have to put them at the bottom because they have lost yet another quarterback and also lost to a very bad Boston College team. The Terps still have four games remaining and have surpassed everyone’s expectations already. If they can somehow win two out of the four remaining games they will be in a bowl game after winning only two games last year. MD takes on Ga Tech this Saturday.

Featured game, week 10:
Virginia Tech at Miami.

It’s another big time matchup in Miami Gardens this week. Thursday night on primetime TV will be a Coastal Division rivalry matchup between the Virginia Tech Hokies and the Miami Hurricanes. Virginia Tech has won seven out of the last nine against the Canes. However, Virginia Tech is having their worst season in twenty years. VT is having trouble running the ball because of inexperience and injuries to the offensive line. Logan Thomas is struggling with decision making and isn’t throwing the ball as accurately as he did a year ago. The VT defense has also been an issue as the secondary has dealt with position changes and injuries as well. The Hokies are not the typical hard nosed team you expect them to be. Miami can score well but their defense struggles defending the run and short pass. The key story this game will be ball control and field position. Whoever can limit turnovers and untimely penalties will put themselves in a much more advantageous position. It will be interesting to see if either team can establish a consistent run game. As you know, if you can run the ball you can control the clock. The game is a complete toss up and can go either way but in my opinion I think Virginia Tech will sneak out with a win because of Logan Thomas’ ability to create plays and get short yardage first downs.

My Prediction: Virginia Tech 38 Miami 35

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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