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Welcome to Your November ACC Landscape

Even if T.J. Yates hadn't turned superhuman down in Tallahassee, yesterday would have been one of the better weeks of ACC football. N.C. State-Clemson and Maryland-Miami both went down to the wire with late-game QB heroics. Even Virginia and Duke played an exciting, if ridiculously defensive-free game. Toss in the battle of the two Techs on Thursday and there was only one dud game this week, a BC-Wake game no one was going to watch anyway. And just take a look at what the conference looks like the following day:

No one wants to win the Atlantic Division. The talk going into Saturday was the three-way scrum between State, FSU, and Maryland for the Atlantic Division crowd. All three teams had but one conference loss, and N.C. State controlled their own destiny. Right up until they lost to Clemson, upon which Maryland was in the driver's seat for the few minutes before the fell to Miami. Then it was Florida State's to lose, which they promptly did. So now everyone's right back where they started, and it's no longer inconceivable that Clemson, one game back, could win the whole thing as well. With three games between two of the four contenders remaining – Maryland plays both State and FSU at home, while Clemson plays at FSU – this could be the strangest ACC finish since, well, last year.

No one wants to represent the ACC in the polls. With State and FSU's losses dropping them out, Virginia Tech remains the lone ranked ACC team. And this is the school that lost to James Madison, and has since stayed out of the limelight and passed it's one true test by beating N.C. State the first week of October. (It's hard to draw much of conclusion from their beating Georgia Tech, who played the second half without Josh Nesbitt.) The Hokies, although 16th and 17th, will probably drop out altogether should they lose at UNC, and I'm not sure the Heels could garner enough votes to replace them. This is why I had no problem with the ACC scheduling games that dropped them in the polls; they were bound to fall out of them anyway. Replace FSU's trouncing by Oklahoma and Miami's loss to Ohio State with easy wins, and they're still not ranked this week. The best you can argue is that if Virginia Tech had scheduled weaker and less hungry opponents in their first two weeks they'd be undefeated and unfavorably compared to TCU and Boise State every week. I'm more than happy to be spared that.

When a team appears on a schedule is having way too much influence on the division championships. It's the downside of the short football season. The teams from September no longer exist, and those in November are entirely different. If a full-complement UNC plays a Josh Nesbitt-less Georgia Tech or a Miami without Jacory Harris, they win easily. Conversely, if FSU kicks off their ACC slate with the Tar Heels, UNC remains 0-for-Tallahassee. The ideal schedule for the Coastal Division would play UNC early, GT and Miami as late as possible, and include both Atlantic cupcakes BC and Wake. Which with the exception of UNC, is the exact description of the Virginia Tech schedule.

A lot of people have to change their opinion of T.J. Yates. Yates now holds the single-game record for passing yards at Carolina, beating Damian Durant's mark of 417 against Arizona State (He has also has the fourth highest game on that list, for the 412-yard mark against LSU). Yates already holds the single-season passing record of 2,655 yards, set back in 2007, but will almost certainly eclipse that as he already has 2,312 yards this year. He's 923 yards from setting the career yardage record at UNC. He's nine completions away from holding that particular career record, will probably have the career and season completion percentage records, and has an outside chance of doing the same for the efficiency titles. Bottom line is, there's no passing statistic at UNC that his name is not going to be on by the end of his career. And his starting job has been in jeopardy every spring practice of his career. 

On and in case you were wondering about Dwight Jones, his 233 receiving yards bested any single-game performance from Hakeem Nicks, and is second only to Randy Marriot's 247 yard against Georgia Tech in 1987.