Athlon recaps the Week 9 action in the ACC.
Week 9 of ACC action was highlighted by North Carolina’s 43-35 win over NC State and Florida State’s 48-7 blowout victory over Duke. Clemson defeated Wake Forest 42-13, while Boston College earned its first win over a FBS team by knocking off Maryland 20-17.
Offensive Player of the Year Standings
1. Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina – Bernard recorded his fourth consecutive game of at least 100 rushing yards on Saturday, while taking a punt back with less than a minute to go to give North Carolina the victory over NC State.
2. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson – Boyd was sharp in Clemson’s easy 42-13 win over Wake Forest on Thursday night. He completed 27 of 38 passes for 428 yards and five touchdowns.
3. EJ Manuel, QB, Florida State – Manuel had an off game against Duke but leads the ACC in passing efficiency (174) and is completing 70 percent of his throws.
Defensive Player of the Year Standings
1. Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State – Werner recorded only three tackles and one tackle for a loss against Duke but still claims the No. 1 spot in the defensive player of the year rankings.
2. Joe Vellano, DT, Maryland – Vellano dominated the line of scrimmage in Saturday’s game against Boston College, recording five tackles, 2.5 sacks and one forced fumble.
3. Ross Cockrell, CB, Duke – Cockrell and Duke’s defense struggled against Florida State, but he ranked third on the team with seven tackles and forced one fumble.
Coach of the Year Standings
1. David Cutcliffe, Duke – Even though the Blue Devils lost to Florida State, this team still has a chance to win the Coastal Division title. Cutcliffe is a heavy favorite to take home ACC Coach of the Year honors.
2. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State – The Seminoles continue to rank as the ACC’s No. 1 team in the power rankings. Florida State crushed Duke 48-7 in Week 9.
3. Larry Fedora, North Carolina – With no postseason possibilities, Fedora has done a good job of keeping the Tar Heels motivated to play. North Carolina improved its record to 6-3 with a huge win over rival NC State in Week 9.
Post-Week 9 ACC Power Rankings
1. Florida State (8-1, 5-1 ACC)
Last Week: 1
Week 9 Result: Beat Duke 48-7
Thanks to NC State’s loss to North Carolina and a convincing 48-7 win over Duke, Florida State moved back into the driver’s seat for the ACC Atlantic title. The Seminoles lost four turnovers but held Duke to just 232 yards of total offense. Quarterback EJ Manuel was off for most of the game but connected with Rashad Greene on a 71-yard bomb to opening the scoring and a 35-yard pass to Kelvin Benjamin in the third quarter. The Seminoles have an off date in Week 10 and are back in action on Nov. 8 at Virginia Tech.
Next Game: at Virginia Tech (Nov. 8)
2. Clemson (7-1, 4-1 ACC)
Last Week: 2
Week 9 Result: Beat Wake Forest 42-13
The Tigers’ offense led the way for this team throughout the first half of the season, but the defense has come on strong over the last two weeks. After holding Virginia Tech to 17 points last week, Clemson limited Wake Forest to 13 points and under 300 yards of total offense. Quarterback Tajh Boyd found Sammy Watkins eight times for 202 yards and one touchdown, while DeAndre Hopkins caught six balls for 64 yards and one score. If the Tigers can win their final four games, they should have a good shot at making a BCS bowl.
Next Game: at Duke
3. North Carolina (6-3, 3-2 ACC)
Last Week: 6
Week 9 Result: Beat NC State 43-35
With North Carolina ineligible to play in the postseason, Saturday’s game against NC State was essentially this team’s Super Bowl. The Tar Heels jumped out to a 25-14 lead, but the Wolfpack led 35-25 going into the fourth quarter. However, North Carolina roared back and tied the game at 35 deep in the fourth quarter. After NC State failed to run out the clock with just over a minute to go, running back Giovani Bernard returned a punt 74 yards for the game winning score. The win snapped a five-game losing streak to NC State and gives the Tar Heels some in-state bragging rights until next season.
Next Game: Georgia Tech (Nov. 10)
4. NC State (5-3, 2-2 ACC)
Last Week: 3
Week 9 Result: Lost to North Carolina 43-35
The Wolfpack’s recent run of domination against North Carolina ended with a 43-35 loss. NC State rallied from a 25-14 deficit at the end of the first to hold a 35-25 lead going into the fourth quarter. However, the Wolfpack allowed the Tar Heels to score 10 unanswered to tie the game with just over two minutes to go. After NC State tried to run out the clock, Giovani Bernard returned a punt 74 yards for the game winning score. Not only was this a huge loss for bragging rights in the state, but the Wolfpack no longer control their destiny in the ACC Atlantic title race.
Next Game: Virginia
5. Virginia Tech (4-4, 2-2 ACC)
Last Week: 5
Week 9 Result: Bye Week
The Hokies had a bye in Week 9 and return to action against Miami this Thursday. The off date came at a good time for Frank Beamer’s team, especially after losing to Clemson 38-17 on Oct. 20. Virginia Tech still has a good chance to win the Coastal title but can’t afford to have two more losses. The Hokies play at Miami and Boston College, while hosting Florida State and Virginia. Virginia Tech will be an underdog against the Seminoles, which makes Thursday night’s game against Miami even more important for Coastal positioning.
Next Game: at Miami (Thursday)
6. Duke (6-3, 3-2 ACC)
Last Week: 4
Week 9 Result: Lost to Florida State 48-7
Although the Blue Devils are an improved team, they are still a long ways away from winning at Florida State. Duke was easily handled 48-7 by the Seminoles, managing only 232 offensive yards in the process. Quarterback Sean Renfree left early due to a head injury, and his status for this Saturday’s game against Clemson is uncertain. Despite the loss, the Blue Devils are still in the mix for the ACC Coastal title.
Next Game: Clemson
7. Miami (4-4, 3-2 ACC)
Last Week: 7
Week 9 Result: Bye Week
With a Thursday night showdown against Virginia Tech up next, Miami had an off date in Week 9. The bye week came at a good time for the Hurricanes, especially with quarterback Stephen Morris looking to recover from an ankle injury suffered in the 18-14 loss to North Carolina. And after playing eight consecutive weeks, there’s plenty of bumps and bruises that a bye can help to heal. Miami can still win the Coastal Division but Thursday night’s game will be critical to those title hopes.
Next Game: Virginia Tech (Thursday)
8. Georgia Tech (3-5, 2-3 ACC)
Last Week: 8
Week 9 Result: Lost to BYU 41-17
After showing some improvement on defense in the win over Boston College last Saturday, the Yellow Jackets reverted back to their porous ways. Georgia Tech gave up over 400 yards to BYU and allowed over 40 points for the fourth time this season. The defense wasn’t the only culprit, as the offense never got on track and was held without a touchdown. The loss to the Cougars dropped the Yellow Jackets to 3-5 and in serious jeopardy of missing out on a bowl game. Maryland and Duke would seem to be the most winnable matchups, but Georgia Tech would need to beat North Carolina or Georgia to get to six wins. Needless to say, the Yellow Jackets have to quickly find some answers on both sides of the ball to reach the postseason.
Next Game: at Maryland
9. Maryland (4-4, 2-2 ACC)
Last Week: 9
Week 9 Result: Lost to Boston College 20-17
After beginning ACC play 2-0, the Terrapins have lost back-to-back games and received even more bad news about their quarterback position on Sunday night. Maryland fell 20-17 to Boston College on Saturday, which dropped Randy Edsall’s squad to 4-4 overall. True freshman Caleb Rowe made his first start on Saturday and threw for 241 yards but also tossed three picks. Although Rowe performed admirably in his first start, he suffered a torn ACL and will miss the rest of the season. With Rowe out, Maryland has lost its top four quarterbacks to injuries. True freshman (and converted linebacker) Shawn Petty will start against Georgia Tech.
Next Game: Georgia Tech
10. Wake Forest (4-4, 2-4 ACC)
Last Week: 10
Week 9 Result: Lost to Clemson 42-13
Even though receiver Michael Campanaro returned to the lineup, it wasn’t enough for the Demon Deacons to knock off Clemson. Wake Forest trailed only 7-0 at the end of the first quarter, but the Tigers opened up a 35-7 lead by halftime. Quarterback Tanner Price threw for 232 yards and two touchdowns but was under duress from the Clemson defense for most of the night. The Demon Deacons’ defense struggled to keep up with the Tigers’ speedy receivers, allowing Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd to set a school record with 428 passing yards.
Next Game: Boston College
11. Boston College (2-6, 1-4 ACC)
Last Week: 12
Week 9 Result: Beat Maryland 20-17
The 2012 season has been a disappointment for Boston College, but Saturday provided at least one bright spot. The Eagles defeated Maryland 20-17 to claim their first victory against a FBS team this year. Trailing by four points with just over five minutes to go, Boston College drove from its own 15-yard line to score the game-winning touchdown with less than two minutes to go. Quarterback Chase Rettig completed only 55 percent of his throws but tossed two touchdowns and zero interceptions. The win over Maryland keeps Boston College’s slim bowl hopes alive.
Next Game: at Wake Forest
12. Virginia (2-6, 0-4 ACC)
Last Week: 11
Week 9 Result: Bye Week
The Cavaliers had a bye in Week 9 and return to action against NC State this Saturday. Virginia is riding a six-game losing streak and has yet to win in ACC play this season. Considering how much this team improved last year, the Cavaliers are one of the ACC’s biggest disappointments so far. Mike London’s team has struggled to find a spark on the ground, while the defense has yet to find its pass rush. Getting back to a bowl won’t be easy, but Virginia needs to find something to build on for 2013.
Next Game: at NC State
by Steven Lassan
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