Each Monday morning, we compile our top five takeaways from the weekend’s action. Here’s what we got out of Week 8 of ACC football action:
1. Duke gets the monkey off its back: With a huge final drive to take the lead for good at 33-30 over North Carolina, Duke finally came through when it mattered most, and as a result, find themselves bowl eligible for the first time since 1994. After leading for nearly the entire game, the Blue Devils gave up one of the most bizarre touchdowns you’ll ever see, and found themselves down 30-26 with three minutes to go. Undeterred, they marched back down the field to tally the go-ahead score with just 13 seconds remaining.
2. Clemson has Virginia Tech‘s number: The Hokies have lost three games in 12 months to the Tigers, by a combined score of 99-30. And surprisingly, this time, it was Clemson’s defense that made the biggest difference. With the offense struggling, Brent Venables’ defensive unit forced four turnovers (and scored a touchdown of their own) to help get past a Tech team that came out firing. Each of the last three games between these two, it’s been something different, and this time, turnovers would write the story of the day.
3. Syracuse‘s defense continues to impress: After allowing 84 points in their first two games, the Syracuse defense has let up just 80 in the last five, and for once found themselves on the right side of the turnover margin this weekend. Needing a victory to stay alive in the postseason hunt, SU’s defense pitched a second-half shutout and took pressure off the offense en route to a huge 40-10 victory over UConn. The Huskies were the third opponent the Orange have held to 14 points or less this year.
4. Boston College has no run defense: Over their past three games, the Eagles have allowed teams to amass 1,108 yards on the ground, and on the season, the team is now ranked 123rd out of 124 FBS teams in terms of averaging rushing yards allowed per game (268.14). With the offense receiving less and less time on the field, BC finds itself unable to keep pace, now being outscored by nearly 10 points per game.
5. Florida State still has some work to do: Aggressive play-calling is great, and I think most of us would agree they have a legitimate gripe about the referees on Saturday night. But at the same time, FSU also shot themselves in the foot, missing a field goal, fumbling four times and failing to execute in the first half. The ‘Noles were able to right the ship by the end of the first half against Miami, but their mistaken-laden play still raised concerns.