ACC Football 2013 Week 9 Lessons: Are the Duke Blue Devils For Real?

Anthony Boone's Duke Team Pulled a Major Upset and Suddenly Looks to be  Factor in the Coastal Race

Anthony Boone’ & Duke Pulled a Major Upset, Suddenly Looks to be Factor in the Coastal Race

Each Monday morning, we compile our top five takeaways from the weekend’s action. Here’s what we got out of Week 9 of the ACC football season:

1. Duke Blue Devils are a real football program: Up until this weekend, we thought of Duke as a solid offensive team taking advantage of a very manageable schedule. But after defeating Virginia Tech, that narrative’s shifted completely. The Blue Devils are bowl-eligible for the second time in as many years (first time in program history for that) and now own their first win over a ranked team in nearly 50 seasons. But there’s still more work to be done. Last season’s 6-7 record fell short of the ultimate goal — a winning record — and that provides plenty of motivation for the rest of 2013. Based on what we saw from this team on Saturday, I’d say the Devils are well on their way to upping the ante going forward. Bowl games are now the norm, and they’re looking for much much more.

2. Miami wins again, but still looking shaky: Yet another game, yet another Miami comeback. At some point, we know the luck’s going to end though, and that’s the bigger issue here. The ‘Canes have not faced much in terms of challenges lately, so that leaves them with something to prove once again. Luckily (or unluckily) they’ve got Florida State up next — and on Gameday. Can they shake the recent issues of last-minute wins, or score a signature victory over the ‘Noles? Based on what we’ve seen lately, an upset here is starting to seem less and less likely.

3. North Carolina‘s not done yet: The Heels are starting to make their way out of the 1-5 hole, as they picked up a big win over Boston College this past weekend. From what we’ve seen in recent weeks, there’s a real possibility they’ve figured things out, at least enough to get to six wins. Their remaining schedule features just two teams with records above .500 and even then, both (Pittsburgh and Duke) could prove to be winnable. Should be an interesting run to the finish.

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ACC Football Player of the Week, Week 7: Anthony Boone, Duke

Duke Blue Devils' Quarterback Anthony Boone is the ACC Player of the Week for Week 7

Duke Blue Devils’ Quarterback Anthony Boone is the ACC Player of the Week for Week 7

Each week, we’ll be identifying the best ACC (plus Louisville) player from that weekend’s games. As always, it’s a completely arbitrary award with no specific criteria beyond the vague concept of “excellence.” No, we don’t take write-ins.

ACC Player of the Week, Week 7: Anthony Boone, QB/Duke

Since Boone exited the lineup with an injury in week two, Duke has not lacked for offensive production, though the team’s play has also been littered with mistakes — most notably turnovers. It’s not to take away from the job Brandon Connette did filling in, but rather to point out the fact that Boone had been named the starter months ago for a reason. In his first game back, the junior was accurate, composed and mistake-free, guiding the Blue Devils’ offense to a grand total of 435 yards and 35 points. Not only was he able to play a very smart game against a feisty Navy team, but he also moved away from over-reliance on Jamison Crowder as his primary receiver. While he certainly get the ball to the star ball-catcher, Boone was able to spread it around on 31 completions and run a much more fluid offense. If there was any doubt as to who’d be captaining this ship, the questions are over. Boone is back in charge and eying another bowl bid.

Honorable Mention:

Vic Beasley, DE/Clemson (5 tackles, 1 sack, 1 fumble recovery, 1 TD)

Prince-Tyson Gulley, RB/Syracuse (9 carries, 132 rushing yards, 1 TD)

Tajh Boyd, QB/Clemson (30/44 passing, 367 total yards, 2 TD, 0 INT)

Logan Thomas, QB/Virginia Tech (19/34 passing, 276 total yards, 1 TD, 0 INT)

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ACC Football 2013 Previews & Predictions: Week 7

Logan Thomas and the Virginia Tech Hokies Aim for Win No. 6 vs. Pitt

Logan Thomas and the Virginia Tech Hokies Aim for Win No. 6 on the Season vs. Pitt

As the country wraps up non-conference schedules for the most part and dives head-long into league play, we get this final middle of the road week of ACC football. It’s not that the matchups are bad, of course. We just know that next week’s slate is chock-full of more interesting story lines and a likely ACC showcase for College Gameday. Just like normal, we’re running down the list of every ACC (plus Louisville) game and predicting outcomes that will almost undoubtedly be wrong. Have some picks of your own? Predict away in the comments!

Game of the Week

Pittsburgh Panthers (3-1) (2-1) at Virginia Tech Hokies (5-1) (2-0): Both of these teams were pummeled in their respective season openers, and yet both have also managed to rebound nicely and factor into the early Coastal Division race. Of course, Tech’s five wins have been against a bit heftier competition than Pitt’s had over the last month, so it’s tough to consider them “equal” at this time. The Panthers’ wideouts have played out of their minds of late, but can they do so once again when facing the ACC’s top defensive unit? If the Hokies’ corners can keep containment along the outside, it’ll certainly be a tough task — especially since Pitt doesn’t have much of a running game. Their own defense will also pose a challenge to Virginia Tech, however, testing Logan Thomas to keep up his mistake-free ways. If he can do that, you have to believe the Hokies pull off yet another conference victory. Prediction: Virginia Tech 26, Pittsburgh 17

The Rest of the Slate (in order of start time):

Rutgers Scarlet Knights (4-1) at Louisville Cardinals (5-0): Don’t be fooled the same way some poll voters have. SUNJ’s 4-1 record is mostly a mirage, built on the backs of college football bottom-feeders and a narrow escape against SMU last week. Formidable teams have been able to score at will on the Scarlet Knights this year (twice allowed 50 points or more), and that makes Louisville’s job rather easy. Teddy Bridgewater should have no problem spreading the field against this defense, and even if the running game fails to get going early, they’ll be plenty of time for handoffs later. Louisville’s not overlooking this one as it might be their “toughest” game all year, so don’t expect them to sleepwalk through. Prediction: Louisville 42, SUNJ 20

Navy Midshipmen (3-1) at Duke Blue Devils (3-2) (0-2): Navy’s rushing defense (85th in the country) is a problem for the Midshipmen right off the bat, so don’t be surprised to see Duke quarterback Brandon Connette running even more than normal. Lost in the shuffle of his many interceptions, Connette’s actually collected a pretty stellar set of statistics both on the ground and through the air (1,246 total yards and 17 scores), and should continue to rack up more against a so-so Navy D. Duke’s defense hasn’t been much better against the ground game, but they do have the excuse of facing Georgia Tech. The line’s close on this one (-3 for Duke), but I see the Blue Devils winning comfortably. Prediction: Duke 35, Navy 20

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ACC Football 2013 Power Rankings: Week 7

Now Ranked in the Top 25 As Well, Virginia Tech Joins the ACC's Power Three

Now Ranked in the Top 25 As Well, Virginia Tech Makes It Four Elite Teams From the ACC

There’s a huge gulf between the top of the ACC and the rest of the conference — something that has both good and bad consequences. On the one hand, the conference is deeply involved in the national title race right now. On the other, we’re seeing a lot of blowouts, too, which hurts the league’s top-to-bottom image. As always, the poll includes all 14 current ACC members, plus future member Louisville. Feel like I’m totally right or completely off-base? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

ACC Football Power Rankings 2013 (Week 7)

1. Clemson Tigers (5-0) (3-0) (Last: 1): Another week, another big Clemson win. And yet, there are still some doubts about whether or not the Tigers are national title contenders. The defense can go cold for stretches and the offense is largely one-dimensional, sure. But given the country’s best resume win thus far (vs. Georgia) and a major Heisman contender at quarterback in Tajh Boyd, this team will be impossible to ignore as long as they keep on winning.

2. Florida State Seminoles (5-0) (3-0) (Last: 2): As mentioned up top, the gap between the ACC’s top teams and the rest is very large, with Florida State’s 63-0 massacre over Maryland being exhibit A. No, the Terps were not exactly a strong top 25 team at the time, but still, they were still perceived as one of the conference’s better teams going into Saturday. FSU’s absolutely dominant performance, led by both Jameis Winston and the defense, changed all that. And changed the perception of the ‘Noles too, from an interesting team to one that could easily contend for a championship.

3. Miami (FL) Hurricanes (5-0) (1-0) (Last: 4): The Hurricanes’ offense just continues to impress, no matter how banged up Stephen Morris may seem. Down 10 early, the group fought back against Georgia Tech, and pulled off the big divisional win. But at the same time, it might’ve been the defense that was most responsible for the turnaround. Holding Tech scoreless in the third allowed the ‘Canes offense to come back and take the lead, especially the dagger touchdown to go up 45-23 with just a little over a minute remaining.

4. Louisville Cardinals (5-0) (Last: 3): Louisville didn’t do anything wrong necessarily against Temple. But as an offense, it’s tough to say their 30-point output against the Owls was overly impressive. The Cardinals are still undefeated and as predicted, this schedule’s already starting to creep up on them. All three ACC teams ranked ahead have better wins to their respective names, and will only continue to add more as the year goes on.

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ACC Football 2013 Previews & Predictions: Week 5

Jeremiah Attaochu and the Georgia Tech Defense Are Aiming to Deliver a Big Win Over Virginia Tech

Jeremiah Attaochu & the Georgia Tech Defense Aiming to Deliver a Big Win Over Virginia Tech

Finally, some actual games that matter (a few anyway). The ACC‘s still got five undefeated teams (sort of six), but will that continue to be the case much longer. I’m sure we all hope so… Just like normal, we’re running down the list of every ACC (plus Louisville) game and predicting outcomes that will almost undoubtedly be wrong. Have some picks of your own? Predict away in the comments!

Game of the Week

Virginia Tech Hokies (3-1) (0-0) at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (3-0) (2-0): For all but one year of divisional play, this game has decided the Coastal. And while it may seem like a remote possibility given the state of Virginia Tech’s offense in particular, that’s still on the table for this season’s edition of the matchup. But this one’s not going to last long if the Hokies can’t cut down on mistakes. The kicking game’s a mess and despite some flashes of success, Logan Thomas is still as rough around the edges as he’s ever been — and as error-prone as he’s ever been too. Georgia Tech’s aggressive defense should take advantage of those opportunities, while Vad Lee could have the offense closing the deal by the third quarter. Prediction: Georgia Tech 31, Virginia Tech 21

The Rest of the Slate (in order of start time):

Miami Hurricanes (3-0) (0-0) at USF Bulls (0-3): In the past, this contest has actually been pretty close. But that was the old version of the USF program. The version we’ve come to know lately has fallen on some hard times, and that’ll likely continue this weekend. USF can’t seem to score points (just 12.3 per game this season), though over the last two games, the defense hasn’t been all bad. It’s certainly not the best MIami’s seen though, after facing and beating Florida in week two. Expect the ‘Canes to breeze through yet another contest en route to a 4-0 record. Prediction: Miami 30, USF 13

East Carolina Pirates (2-1) at North Carolina Tar Heels (1-2) (0-1): Considering the high expectations UNC had going into the season and the way things have gone instead, this ECU game is now a must-win. The defense is a bit of a concern, especially after last week’s second-half collapse versus Georgia Tech, but the bigger issue has been and remains the offense. North Carolina’s line is struggling to protect Bryn Renner and can’t open up holes for the running game either. The result has been a neutered attack that pales in comparison to what we’ve seen from previous Larry Fedora teams. They’ve got to figure things out this week against ECU or they’re in full-on crisis mode. Prediction: UNC 41, ECU 28

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ACC Football 2013 Power Rankings: Week 5

Clemson Survived a Scare Vs. NC State on Thursday, and Stay Atop This Week's Rankings

Clemson Survived a Scare vs. NC State on Thursday, and Stay Atop This Week’s Rankings

The season’s four weeks old, and surprisingly, the ACC‘s still got a good deal of unbeaten teams within its ranks. Perhaps the league’s rebounded in a big way? Or maybe they just figured out how to schedule better from a PR standpoint? I’d bet a little bit of both. As always, the poll includes all 14 current ACC members, plus future member Louisville. Feel like I’m totally right or completely off-base? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

ACC Football Power Rankings 2013 (Week 5)

1. Clemson Tigers (3-0) (1-0) (Last: 1): Clemson almost became the latest high-ranked victim of Raleigh, N.C. But due to a questionable out-of-bounds call and a fantastic effort by the Tigers’ defense, they manged to escape and remain in the national title conversation. Also worth noting: Tajh Boyd has sort of entered a bizarre realm in which nothing he does impresses us anymore. Throwing for 245 yards and three touchdowns in a win should still be an accomplishment, even if you are the league’s most consistently excellent passer.

2. Florida State Seminoles (3-0) (1-0) (Last: 2): Jameis Winston isn’t perfect! Or so we’ve discovered… The Florida State passer completed just 10 of 19 passes for 148 yards and two scores, and was one of many FSU players who had a less-than-stellar game against the team’s worst competition to-date. So is this a case of State just looking ahead to the rest of the slate, or an opportunity to cast some doubt on the ‘Noles? They’ve yet to be tested at this point, but they’ve also looked less impressive in each successive game. Time will tell, I suppose…

3. Louisville Cardinals (4-0) (0-0) (Last: 3): Like most, I’d love to get to the bottom of this running clock situation from Saturday, as it makes the Cardinals’ blowout of FIU even more impressive. But already four games in to this schedule to forget, it’s already gotten a bit sad, no? Of course, Teddy Bridgewater‘s numbers should not be discounted as a result, but we’re all starting to see the issues brought to light in preseason. Louisville’s playing through a 12-team disaster movie and just as a cinematic monster should, they’re plowing through everything in their path. Unfortunately, it doesn’t mean they’ll be rewarded for doing so, even if it’s not their fault they have such a poor schedule anyway.

4. Miami (FL) Hurricanes (3-0) (0-0) (Last: 4): Miami, just like their rivals up in Tallahassee, sleep-walked through this week — or as much as you can sleep walk through a 77-7 victory. They had a bit of an excuse after Stephen Morris‘s injury, but nonetheless, what’s been most alarming about the ‘Canes start (in a bad way), is the lack of play-making by its top offensive weapons. So long as Morris is back and healthy, we’ll get a real glimpse at what they’re capable of soon.

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ACC Football 2013 Previews & Predictions: Week 2 (Part 2)

After a Come-From-Behind Win Over BYU, Can Virginia Find a Way to Upset the Ducks on Saturday?

After a Come-From-Behind Win Over BYU, Can Virginia Find a Way to Upset the Ducks?

Welcome to part two of this week’s previews and predictions! Here’s part one if you missed it.

Western Carolina Catamounts (0-1) at Virginia Tech Hokies (0-1) (0-0): The Hokies are hungry to put last week’s disaster behind them, and rightfully so. Despite holding Alabama to just 206 yards of offense, special teams and their own offensive mistakes ultimately doomed them to a lopsided loss. Logan Thomas isn’t the only reason the offense was completely ineffective on Saturday — plenty of receivers dropped passes — but it still appears that he hasn’t progressed past last season’s struggles. He’ll have an opportunity to shake that feeling this weekend, however, against the incredibly overmatched Catamounts. The 41.5-point line on this one sounds a bit aggressive, but there’s no reason why Tech shouldn’t win handedly. Prediction: Virginia Tech 41, WCU 7

Oregon Ducks (1-0) at Virginia Cavaliers (1-0) (0-0): Virginia’s defense bailed them out last week, as the offense still attempts to get its bearings with David Watford at the helm. This week, it’s unlikely they’re so lucky, though. The Ducks will have two Heisman candidates (Marcus Mariota, De’Anthony Thomas) on the field on nearly every offensive play, plus more team speed than the Hoos can possibly compete with all at once. It shouldn’t be seen as a sign of a season dead in the water for Virginia, but Oregon is going to run away with this one. Improved defense or not, there’s just very little UVa can do about it. Prediction: Oregon 49, Virginia 13

Old Dominion Monarchs (0-1) at Maryland Terrapins (1-0) (0-0): Maryland looks like a team reborn after last week’s offensive showing (43 points), while Old Dominion actually doesn’t look too shabby themselves after putting up 38 in a loss to East Carolina. But the Terps should have very little trouble in this game. The defense, though young, looks like it may be able to measure up to last season’s standards, and as long as everyone stays healthy (no guarantee), the offense should continue firing on all cylinders. C.J. Brown should have plenty of protection when operating out of the pocket, and given ODU’s status still transitioning to the FBS, he’ll probably be able to take advantage of a size discrepancy while on the run as well. Prediction: Maryland 52, ODU 20

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