Each Monday morning, we compile our top five takeaways from the weekend’s action. Here’s what we got out of Week 6 of ACC football action:
1. Florida State struggles to remain “elite”: Just two weeks after their primetime win over Clemson catapulted them into the national championship conversation, the Seminoles were knocked right back down to earth by NC State. Year after year, we continue to see signs of FSU being “back,” yet each and every time, they’ve managed to reject contender status by inexplicably losing to inferior opponents. Now, the ‘Noles could still very well run through the rest of the ACC slate and make a BCS game. But come year’s end, what we’ll remember most is this loss.
2. Could Duke be the Coastal Division favorite?: It might have seemed farfetched as recently as a week ago, but the Blue Devils are on a roll, and could effectively take control of the division with a win against Virginia Tech this coming weekend. What’s been most impressive about Duke is how they’ve managed their five wins, though. Riddled with injuries — including one to Sean Renfree‘s elbow that kept him out of this Saturday’s win — they’ve still managed to overmatch teams on both sides of the ball. It’s hard to compete with that sort of depth, as they’re now proving to everyone.
3. Virginia Tech’s defense is a shadow of its former self: Top-10 in scoring defense last season, the Hokies brought back nine players on that side of the ball and were slated to repeat their elite performance from 2011. Instead, it appears the wheels have finally come off, after years of manhandling their ACC foes. Bud Foster’s group has been regularly outplayed this season, most glaringly in this past weekend’s blowout loss to North Carolina. Should this team get back on track, it’ll have to start with the defense.
4. Tajh Boyd is the best player in the ACC: We’ve been harping on this point since last season, and again in the preseason, we named Boyd the conference’s top performer. Following yet another game in which he amassed over 400 total yards, can we continue to doubt him? At the pace he’s on, the junior will very easily sign his name atop every quarterback record at Clemson. It’s only natural that ACC accolades are next, especially if he sticks around for his senior season, too.
5. Miami still needs work: The ‘Canes have been stomped in their two FBS non-conference games this year — though it’s also worth noting that both of those were against current top-10 schools. So while they’re 3-0 in ACC play, it’s tough to get past the general disarray of their mistake-prone offense when the competition’s a bit more challenging. A down year for the Coastal division may give them an opportunity to contend for a conference title, but this young group has plenty more to learn before they become a top-25 program again.