As the ACC has joined the SEC in SoCon Challenge week, Week 12 was not terribly interesting for the casual ACC fan.
For the more invested one, Virginia Tech needed a late touchdown to hold off Pitt, Duke finally beat someone in-conference besides North Carolina, Louisville made Syracuse look like an FCS team (while Florida State, North Carolina and Clemson played actual FCS teams), Miami held off Virginia in a dangerous trap game, and N.C. State fumbled away a game against Wake.
Let’s talk finales!
1. Miami 10-0 (7-0)
The Canes look to cap off an undefeated regular season with a win at Pitt, a matchup in which they’ve won three straight. After another uneven performance against Virginia, the question becomes: How long before their luck runs out? I’m still not sure how to feel about supporting a Coastal team for the playoff, but I’m here for a situation where the ACC finds itself with two bids.
2. Clemson 10-1 (7-1)
A visit to Williams-Brice Stadium at night may be more interesting than one would think, but 8-3 South Carolina is firmly in the morass of SEC East teams not named Georgia. Maybe the top of said morass, but morass nonetheless. Clemson’s offense has not been particularly efficient or explosive this season, and given Will Muschamp’s ability to muddy up an offense, I am officially putting the Tigers on upset alert.
3. Virginia Tech 8-3 (4-3)
The Hokies have limped to the finish line in 2017. After a big road losses to Miami and Georgia Tech, they came home and were played to a stalemate by a similarly-reeling Pitt team. Cam Phillips’ 23-yard TD was the icing on his hero cake in the 20-14 win, as it was the last of his eight catches for 117 yards. With a Friday night trip to Virginia in the offing, is this the year the streak ends?
4. Louisville 7-4 (4-4)
Am I overrating them slightly in the wake of wins over Virginia and Syracuse? Possibly. But the Cards’ defense has shown signs of life, and I’m going to lead the charge to get awesome Lamar Jackson back to New York for the Heisman. Consider:
2017 (11 games): 226/378, 3273 yards, 23 TD, 6 Int (59.8% comp, 8.66 YPA); 190 rushes, 1287 yards, 17 TD (6.8 YPA)
2016 (13 games): 230/409, 3543 yards, 30 TD, 9 Int (56.2% comp, 8.66 YPA); 260 rushes, 1571 yards, 21 TD (6.0 YPA)
He has been asked to pass more and been more efficient in doing so. He has been asked to run less, and been more efficient in doing so.
5. Wake Forest 7-4 (4-3)
The one departure from any head-to-head considerations as they walloped UL, Wake’s 30-24 win over State was the most fun game of the week and we’ll give them a bump for that. Not sure what a Tabari Hines is, but 3 TD’s to quadruple your season output is a nice stamp on a quality win for the Deacs.
6. N.C. State 7-4 (5-2)
N.C. Stated a game away at Wake Forest, and I almost (almost) felt bad for Emeka Emezie as he fumbled into the end zone to seal the game.
While it brings me joy that their breakout year can be no more than 9-4, I still want them to finish 7-6.
7. Georgia Tech 5-5 (4-4)
In the most shocking outcome of the week, Tech suffered its most lopsided defeat of the season in a 43-20 loss to Duke. Previously, only the game against Clemson was decided by more than 4 points. They’ve got to be regarded as the best team fighting for its bowl life as they prepare for a visit from #7 Georgia this week, as their canceled game against UCF (which, to be honest, they probably would have lost) suddenly looms large.
8. Boston College 6-5 (3-4)
They beat UConn at Fenway Park, which seems like the most Boston College thing ever. Already bowl eligible, they’ll continue their battle for Northern supremacy with a trip to Syracuse to close their very impressive season.
9. Virginia 6-5 (3-4)
The Hoos put up a great fight at Miami for three quarters, as Kurt Benkert (384 yards, 4 TD) continues to be a revelation. So much so that the Hoos just got a commit on Sunday from a QB Carolina has been heavily pursuing. They’re going bowling for the second time in a decade already, but their resurgent season can be completed with a home win vs. Virginia Tech.
10. Florida State 4-6 (3-5)
They did mean things in a 77-6 win over Delaware State, as one does. With a trip to listless Florida and a make-up game against ULM, the Noles are still alive for bowl eligibility. They should get there with relative ease.
11. Duke 5-6 (2-5)
Sure. Get pantsed by Army’s triple option one week, shut down Georgia Tech’s the next.
12. Syracuse 4-7 (2-5)
Lamar Jackson’s coming out party in 2016 was at Syracuse. His performance against them in a 56-10 win should get him back to the state of New York. I don’t have much to say about the Orange, except that they are good for one big upset a year under Dino Babers. The bottom of the Atlantic (with BC and Wake taking big steps forward) is getting really interesting.
13. North Carolina 3-8 (1-6)
Giving them the head-to-head bump over Pitt, because I’m a homer. After a slow start, the Heels were efficient in dismantling Western Carolina, 65-10, in a game that hopefully builds confidence going into State week and 2018.
14. Pitt 4-7 (2-5)
Hung with Virginia Tech on the road last week, so, yes they should be #13, probably. Carolina hung with Miami at home. Let’s see if the Panthers can do the same.