Week 11 is in the books in the ACC, as Clemson remained undefeated and the Tar Heels stayed white hot. Additionally, Everett Golson lost his job, AGAIN. Let’s get to all of the top storylines as we march one week closer to the ACC Championship.
1. Death, Taxes, and Everett Golson Turnovers
It has happened once again.
Everett Golson seemed comfortable in his starting quarterback position for Florida State this season, much like he did in the beginning of 2014 for Notre Dame. However, the turnover bug became inevitable, as it became clear this weekend that Golson simply can’t handle the big time. After turning the ball over 29 times a year ago and yielding his starting job at Notre Dame to quarterback Malik Zaire, Golson once again turned the reigns over to veteran Sean Maguire at Florida State.
After not throwing an interception in his last 210 passing attempts dating back to last season with the Irish, Golson threw three picks in his last 17 attempts, going 5 of 9 for 52 yards and two interceptions before being pulled in the second quarter with his team trailing 17-7 to NC State. Maguire went on to lead the Seminoles to a comeback victory over the Wolfpack, as his 18 for 28 passing with two touchdowns paced the offensive effort in the final three quarters.
It’s safe to say we may have seen the last of Everett Golson’s collegiate football career, as he will be yet another great talent whose decision-making kept him from being great.
2. Duke’s Defense Stinks
The heading is short and sweet and so is this description. Yes, we remember that the Blue Devils got robbed a few weeks ago against Miami, but as Duke dropped their third straight game on Saturday against Pittsburgh, we can’t help but point to the vast deterioration of their defense. They are giving up 514 yards per game and 42.3 points per contest in their last three outings. Oof.
3. North Carolina is the Nation’s Hottest Offense, and a Dark Horse for the College Football Playoff
The Tar Heels are in the driver’s seat of the ACC Coastal after their 59-21 victory over Miami on Saturday in Chapel Hill. North Carolina became the second team in the last month to score 50+ against the Hurricanes (yes Clemson, we see you), as their offense is an absolute juggernaut at the moment.
The Tar Heels are averaging 42 points per game on the season, but are averaging nearly 63 points per game in their last two outings against Duke and the Hurricanes. Marquise Williams has come a long way since his ugly, turnover-marred season opener against South Carolina, which to date remains the Tar Heels only loss of the season. He has thrown for 2,222 yards and 16 touchdowns, while rushing for over 650 yards and nine scores on the ground.
In my mind, he has jumped Brad Kaaya at Miami to become the second-best quarterback in the ACC behind Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, and he will be able to stake his claim against Watson in the ACC Championship next month if his team continues to win down the stretch.
4. Travon McMillan is Poised to Become Virginia Tech’s First 1,000 Yard Rusher Since 2011
It is pretty unbelievable to think that anybody could actually emerge as a 1,000 yard rusher in Scot Loeffler’s offense at Virginia Tech. That’s not a slight on Loeffler in the least; it’s simply an observation that he likes to utilize as many ball-carriers as possible, as he attempts to get his play-makers the football in space. As Virginia Tech approached this season with a running back by committee approach, Travon McMillan, a freshman out of Woodbridge, Virginia, emerged as the number one back with a proven big-play ability nearly every time he touched the football.
Since taking over the starting running back job against NC State, McMillan has not rushed for less than 96 yards in a game, as he has quickly escalated his rushing total to 800 yards on 145 attempts. With two games remaining against two extremely porous run defenses in North Carolina and Virginia, it is hard to imagine McMillan not reaching the 1,000 yard rushing mark. It would be the first time a running back for the Hokies has surpassed the total since David Wilson rushed for over 1,700 yards in 2011.
5. The Heisman is a Quarterback Award, and Deshaun Watson is the ACC’s Favorite
While Alabama running back Derrick Henry has gotten significant recognition in the last two weeks for his great games against ranked opponents in LSU and Mississippi St. of the SEC, the race remains wide open with less than a month remaining in the regular season. To that end, there may not be a better representative in the ACC than Clemson’s Deshuan Watson.
Let’s face it, the Heisman Trophy will always be a quarterback award. Time and time again, a quarterback has a patented “Heisman moment” that trumps that of a contending running back that has one of his own. With the effort that Deshaun Watson put on display against Syracuse this weekend, the conference would be hard-pressed to find a better representative in New York next month.
Watson went 34 of 47 for 360 yards and two touchdowns through the air, while rushing for over 100 yards and a touchdown on the ground in his team’s 37-27 victory over the Orange to remain unbeaten. He is the conference’s best quarterback on the nation’s number one ranked team, and he may ultimately be the ACC’s best candidate come the ceremony in New York in December.