Week 7 was a table-setter for the rest of the ACC season.
Clemson avoided an upset bid by Boston College, which sets up a huge showdown against Florida State next week. The Tigers and Seminoles are both national title contenders, and the matchup in Death Valley should be one of the best games in the ACC for 2013.
Virginia Tech recorded its sixth straight victory with a 19-9 win against Pittsburgh. The Hokies aren’t flashy on offense, but the defense might be the best in college football.
Duke beat Navy, which improved the Blue Devils to 4-2 and positions coach David Cutcliffe’s team for a chance to make another bowl game.
Maryland survived without quarterback C.J. Brown, Georgia Tech lost on the road to BYU, and Syracuse’s ground attack led the way for a 24-10 victory over NC State.
ACC Post-Week 7 Power Rankings
Clemson (6-0, 4-0): Boston College gave Clemson all it could handle, but the Tigers found a way to win, setting up a huge showdown with Florida State next Saturday. Clemson’s offense wasn’t firing on all cylinders against the Eagles but still managed 496 yards. The Tigers’ defense helped to pickup some of the slack, as Boston College was held to 4.8 yards per play, and end Vic Beasley scored on a 13-yard fumble return for the final dagger. Clemson can certainly play better, and it’s fair to wonder if this team was looking ahead to the matchup against Florida State next Saturday. However, a similar effort next week against the Seminoles would spell trouble for the Tigers. Next Week: Florida State
Florida State (5-0, 3-0): The Seminoles were on bye in Week 7 and return to action next Saturday at Clemson. Florida State has cruised to a 5-0 start so far and crushed Maryland 63-0 in Week 6. The Seminoles have lost five straight in Death Valley but defeated Clemson 49-37 in Tallahassee last season. And barring a collapse, the winner of next week’s game should claim the Atlantic Division title. Next Week: at Clemson
Miami (5-0, 1-0): The Hurricanes had a bye in Week 7 and return to action on Thursday at North Carolina. Miami lost 18-14 against the Tar Heels last season but has won two out of the last three games in this series. The off date came at a crucial time for the Hurricanes, as quarterback Stephen Morris was dealing with a leg injury in last week’s win against Georgia Tech and clearly wasn’t 100 percent. Next Week: at North Carolina (Thursday)
Virginia Tech (6-1, 3-0): It wasn’t necessarily pretty against Pittsburgh, but the Hokies won 19-9 and now have six consecutive victories heading into the bye week. Virginia Tech’s offense managed only 315 yards, with quarterback Logan Thomas carrying the load. The senior threw for 239 yards and one score and led the team in rushing for the second time in three games. Running backs J.C. Coleman and Trey Edmunds combined for just 38 yards on 15 attempts. The Hokies’ defense continues to carry the team, dominating the line of scrimmage against the Panthers with eight sacks and 10 tackles for a loss. After an opening week loss to Alabama, Virginia Tech has rallied behind a stout defense and timely offense. And this team has its sights set on a Nov. 9 showdown at Miami for the Coastal Division title. Next Week: Bye
Maryland (5-1, 1-1): Quarterback C.J. Brown was forced to miss Saturday’s game with a concussion, but the Terrapins used a solid performance from backup Caleb Rowe (332 yards) to hold off Virginia. In addition to Rowe, running back Brandon Ross also delivered a key performance, recording 88 rushing yards and two scores, while catching three passes for 81 yards. After holding its opponents to 41 points through the first five games, Maryland has allowed 89 in its last two contests. With the Terrapins moving to the Big Ten next season, this was the last scheduled matchup against rival Virginia. Next Week: at Wake Forest
Georgia Tech (3-3, 2-2): The Yellow Jackets suffered their third consecutive defeat, losing 38-20 at BYU. The Cougars jumped out to a 24-13 lead at halftime, but Georgia Tech’s defense stepped up in the second half, limiting BYU to just 88 yards in the final two quarters. However, the Yellow Jackets’ offense had two fourth quarter turnovers, including an interception return to give the Cougars a 31-13 edge. Georgia Tech quarterback Vad Lee threw for 133 yards and added 41 on the ground, but the sophomore tossed a costly interception and averaged only two yards a rush. The Yellow Jackets had a difficult schedule over the last three weeks, and the slate is considerably lighter for the rest of October. Next Week: Syracuse
Pittsburgh (3-2, 2-2): The Panthers had their three-game winning streak snapped in Blacksburg. Pittsburgh’s offensive line was a huge concern entering Saturday’s game against Virginia Tech, and the unit was simply manhandled by the Hokies’ defensive front. Virginia Tech recorded eight sacks and 10 tackles for a loss, and the Panthers recorded only 23 rushing yards on 26 attempts. Running back James Conner and receiver Devin Street both suffered shoulder injuries against the Hokies, and their status for next week’s game is uncertain. Next Week: Old Dominion
Boston College (3-3, 1-2): Coach Steve Addazio won’t take any solace in moral victories, but the Eagles have nearly scored upsets against the top two teams in the power rankings. Boston College lost 48-34 to Florida State on Sept. 28, and the Eagles gave Clemson all it could handle on Saturday, losing 24-14. Boston College held a 7-3 halftime lead, but the offense never got on track in the second half. Quarterback Chase Rettig had a costly fumble that was returned for a score in the fourth quarter, and running back Andre Williams was held to 70 yards. Even though Boston College didn’t win at Clemson, losing by 10 points to the No. 1 team in the ACC is a good sign for Addazio’s rebuilding effort in Chestnut Hill. Next Week: Bye
Duke (4-2, 0-2): It won’t register on many national radars, but the Blue Devils’ 35-7 win over Navy was impressive. Duke’s offense got a spark from the return of quarterback Anthony Boone, who completed 31 of 38 passes for 295 yards and three scores. The defense was the bigger storyline for coach David Cutcliffe, as the Blue Devils allowed 230 rushing yards to the Midshipmen but forced three turnovers and did not allow a point in the second half. With four wins in non-conference play, Duke needs just two more wins to get bowl eligible for the second consecutive season. Next Week: at Virginia
North Carolina (1-4, 0-2): The Tar Heels were on bye in Week 7 and return to action against Miami on Thursday night. North Carolina has been one of the biggest disappointments in the ACC through the first half of the season, but coach Larry Fedora’s team has a chance to turn things around. The schedule is easier in the second half of 2013, and the Tar Heels play five out of their next seven games at home. Next Week: Miami (Thursday)
Syracuse (3-3, 1-1): With a struggling passing attack, the Orange leaned on the ground attack against NC State, and running backs Jerome Smith and Prince Tyson-Gulley responded with a huge effort. Smith recorded 140 yards and one score, while Tyson-Gulley chipped in 132 yards and one touchdown. Quarterback Terrel Hunt only threw for 74 yards, but he added 92 yards on the ground. Syracuse averaged 9.1 yards per carry against the Wolfpack. The Orange turned in one of their top defensive efforts of the season on Saturday, as NC State’s offense managed just 3.7 yards per play and 2.9 yards per carry. The win over the Wolfpack was Syracuse’s first victory in ACC play. Next Week: at Georgia Tech
Virginia (2-4, 0-2): Close, but not good enough. That sums up Virginia’s upset bid against Maryland, as the Cavaliers missed a last-minute field goal to win in College Park. Virginia’s offense has struggled against FBS competition, but quarterback David Watford posted a solid stat line against the Terrapins, throwing for 263 yards on 27 completions. Running back Kevin Parks also chipped in 112 yards and one score, while the defense forced three turnovers. While Saturday’s loss was a valiant effort, Virginia’s schedule isn’t going to get any easier, which only increases the pressure on coach Mike London’s hot seat. Next Week: Duke
Wake Forest (3-3, 1-2): The Demon Deacons were on bye in Week 7 and return to action against Maryland next Saturday. Wake Forest went into the off week with some momentum after a 28-13 victory over NC State on Oct. 5. The Demon Deacons need to find three wins to get bowl eligible this year, which won’t be easy with a schedule that features Maryland, Miami, Florida State and Vanderbilt in the second half of the season. Next Week: Maryland
NC State (3-3, 0-3): The bad news: The Wolfpack is now 0-3 in conference play after losing to Syracuse 24-10. The good news: Quarterback Brandon Mitchell will return to the lineup against Florida State on Oct. 26. After averaging just 3.7 yards per play against the Orange, it’s clear NC State’s offense desperately needs a spark. The Wolfpack has not scored more than 14 points in an ACC contest this season, and quarterback Pete Thomas has thrown eight interceptions. Another concern for NC State has to be its rush defense. After allowing just 107.6 rushing yards per game coming into Week 7, the Wolfpack were gashed by Syracuse for 362 yards on the ground. NC State is off to an 0-3 start in conference play, but Mitchell’s return will help this team make a run at a bowl eligibility. Next Week: Bye
ACC Week 7 Recap and Awards
Offensive Player of the Week: Anthony Boone, QB, Duke
Still recovering from a collarbone injury, Boone wasn’t guaranteed to start Saturday’s game against Navy. However, Brandon Connette was injured after practice on Thursday and was ruled out just before kickoff. Boone was Duke’s starter prior to his injury against Memphis on Sept. 7, and the junior was sharp in his return to the starting lineup. Boone completed 31 of 38 throws for 295 yards and three scores. The junior did not throw an interception, and the 295 passing yards were the best by Boone in his three starts in 2013.
Defensive Player of the Week: Vic Beasley, DE, Clemson
Beasley gets the nod for the second week in a row as Athlon’s ACC defensive player of the week. The junior recorded five tackles (two for a loss), one pass breakup and one sack in a 24-14 win over Boston College. Those numbers are solid, but Beasley’s biggest contribution came in the fourth quarter. Linebacker Tony Steward forced a fumble from Boston College quarterback Chase Rettig, which Beasley picked up and returned for a 13-yard touchdown. The score gave Clemson a 10-point cushion, which was enough to hold off the Eagles’ upset bid.
Coordinator of the Week: Jim Knowles, Duke
Duke’s defense has received plenty of criticism over the last two years, as the Blue Devils finished 11th in the ACC in total defense last season and allowed 36 points a game. And in the first five games of 2013, Duke ranked 12th in the ACC in total defense, allowing 400 yards per game. However, the Blue Devils turned in one of their best defensive performances against a FBS team in recent years, as Navy was held to seven points and 230 rushing yards. The Midshipmen did not score a point in the second half and lost three turnovers. The seven points allowed by Duke was the fewest against a FBS team since holding Vanderbilt to just seven points in 2008. Although the Blue Devils have struggled at times on defense, Knowles and the defensive staff deserve a lot of credit for the performance against Navy.
Team of the Week: Virginia Tech
The pickings are slim here, but let’s give a tip of the cap to Virginia Tech. The Hokies used another strong defensive effort to beat Pittsburgh on Saturday, moving to 6-1 on the season. Last year, Virginia Tech won six games in the regular season and needed a bowl victory over Rutgers to get to 7-6. The offense is still a work in progress, averaging only 328.4 yards per game. However, quarterback Logan Thomas has not thrown an interception in three games. The Hokies are holding opponents to just 256 yards per game and only one opponent has scored more than 20 points in a contest this year.
Freshman of the Week: Jack Tocho, CB, NC State
Tocho made his first start of the season against Syracuse and made an instant impact for NC State’s defense. The true freshman recorded three tackles and picked off Syracuse quarterback Terrel Hunt twice. Tocho also added one pass breakup. The three-star recruit injured his shoulder against the Orange but made a solid contribution for NC State’s defense when he was on the field.
• Pittsburgh averaged just 3.8 yards per play against Virginia Tech.
• Maryland linebacker L.A. Goree turned in a strong performance against Virginia, recording 15 stops (with one tackle for a loss).
• In Saturday’s game against Clemson, Boston College running back Andre Williams was held under 100 yards for only the second time this season.
• Virginia Tech’s defense recorded eight sacks against Pittsburgh, with three coming from Dadi Nicolas.
• Virginia quarterback David Watford threw for a season-high 263 yards against Maryland.
• Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald recorded three tackles for a loss and two sacks against Virginia Tech.
• Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd has thrown for at least 300 yards in each of his last three games.
• Syracuse scored its first ACC win by beating NC State 24-10 on Saturday.
• Georgia Tech defensive tackle Adam Gotsis recorded four tackles for a loss and two sacks against BYU.
• For the first time since 2011, Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas has not tossed an interception in three consecutive games.