Florida State is back. After the Seminoles’ 51-14 victory over Clemson, it’s clear the ACC Championship runs through Tallahassee.
The Seminoles dominated the Tigers on Saturday night and made a statement in the national title picture.
While all of the focus in the ACC was in Death Valley on Saturday night, there was other action in the conference.
Miami barely dodged North Carolina’s upset bid on Thursday night to remain unbeaten. The Hurricanes and Virginia Tech are on a collision course in early November to decide the Coastal Division.
Georgia Tech dominated Syracuse, Duke won at Virginia, and Wake Forest handled Maryland 34-10.
Pittsburgh scored a non-conference win over Old Dominion on Saturday night.
ACC Post-Week 8 Power Rankings
Florida State (6-0, 4-0): Total domination. That’s the easiest way to sum up the Seminoles’ 51-14 win over Clemson on Saturday night. Florida State’s defense set the tone by forcing a fumble on the Tigers’ first offensive play and swarmed quarterback Tajh Boyd all night, holding the senior to just 156 passing yards on 17 completions. Clemson’s defense provided little resistance to the Seminoles, as quarterback Jameis Winston threw for 444 yards and three touchdowns, and the offense averaged a ridiculous 7.7 yards per play on 73 snaps. The 51-14 win not only puts Florida State in the driver’s seat for the ACC title but places the Seminoles squarely in the national title discussion. Next Week: NC State
Clemson (6-1, 4-1): The Tigers were simply defeated by a better team on Saturday night, as Florida State cruised to a 51-14 romp in Death Valley. Clemson’s high-powered offense never got on track, recording only 3.8 yards per play and committing four turnovers. The Tigers were gashed through the air on defense, with the Seminoles accumulating 444 passing yards on 22 completions. Although Clemson will have a hard time winning the division with Florida State in full control of the Atlantic, the Tigers still have plenty to play for. A BCS bowl is a strong possibility, and there’s a huge showdown against South Carolina for in-state bragging rights in late November. Next Week: at Maryland
Miami (6-0, 2-0): It was a sloppy effort, but the Hurricanes still found a way to win on Thursday night in Chapel Hill. Quarterback Stephen Morris had an off night, tossing four picks on 35 attempts. Running back Duke Johnson was injured in the first half, but Dallas Crawford picked up the slack on the ground, gashing the Tar Heels for 137 yards on 33 carries. And Crawford’s performance was the difference in the game, especially in the fourth quarter where he recorded two rushing scores to give Miami the victory. Miami’s defense allowed 500 yards but created a key turnover in the fourth quarter and held the Tar Heels to just six points in the second half. Next Week: Wake Forest
Virginia Tech (6-1, 3-0): The Hokies had a bye in Week 8 and return to action on Saturday against Duke. After getting thumped by Alabama 35-10 in the opener, Virginia Tech has won six in a row. Quarterback Logan Thomas isn’t posting prolific totals, but the senior has not thrown an interception in three games. With an elite defense, the offense doesn’t need to score 30 points each week, but this unit needs to get more production from its running backs. With the Blue Devils up next and a date against Boston College on Nov. 2, the Hokies have a favorable path to setup a showdown against Miami on Nov. 9 for the Coastal Division title. Next Week: Duke
Georgia Tech: After three consecutive defeats, the Yellow Jackets got back into the win column with a 56-0 rout over Syracuse. With a rushing attack averaging 5.9 yards per carry, Georgia Tech attempted only five passes. Quarterback Vad Lee threw for 88 yards and one score and rushed for 72 yards and two touchdowns. Four Yellow Jackets had at least 10 carries, including backup quarterback Justin Thomas, who averaged 9.5 yards per carry. Georgia Tech’s defense forced three turnovers and held the Orange’s rushing attack – which had back-to-back 300-yard games – to just 75 yards. Next Week: at Virginia
Pittsburgh (4-2, 2-2): It wasn’t pretty, but the Panthers beat Old Dominion 35-24 on Saturday night. Receiver Devin Street and running back James Conner sat out due to injuries, and the offense managed only 370 yards on 63 plays. However, Isaac Bennett was a capable replacement for Conner at running back, as he gashed the undersized Monarchs’ defense for 240 yards and three touchdowns. Quarterback Tom Savage finished with 104 yards and one touchdown. Pittsburgh’s defense has been a source of concern all season, and Old Dominion had plenty of success moving the ball. The Panthers step out of conference again next week, before rejoining ACC play on Nov. 2. Next Week: at Navy
Boston College (3-3, 1-2): The Eagles had a bye in Week 8 and return to action at North Carolina in Week 9. Boston College needs three wins to get bowl eligible in coach Steve Addazio’s first season, and the schedule is favorable enough to get to six victories. The Eagles play four of their next six games on the road, but matchups against North Carolina, NC State, Maryland and Syracuse are winnable, while a trip to New Mexico State should be an easy victory. Next Week: at North Carolina
Duke (5-2, 1-2): After falling behind 22-0, the Blue Devils scored 35 unanswered points to beat Virginia 35-22 on Saturday. The win over the Cavaliers was huge for Duke’s bowl prospects, and the Blue Devils need just one victory in their final five games to make back-to-back postseason trips. For the second week in a row, Duke’s defense stepped up. The Cavaliers averaged only 4.7 yards per play, and had only two drives in the second half of more than five plays. The Blue Devils’ offense also pitched in, with quarterback Anthony Boone throwing for 245 yards and two scores. Duke’s schedule will get tougher, but coach David Cutcliffe quietly has this team back in the mix for a spot in the postseason. Next Week: at Virginia Tech
Wake Forest (4-3, 2-2): After a sluggish 1-2 start to the season, the Demon Deacons are quietly building momentum to a run at six wins and a postseason trip. A 34-10 win over Maryland improved Wake Forest to 4-3 overall and just two wins short of bowl eligibility. The Demon Deacons were outgained by the Terrapins, but coach Jim Grobe’s team didn’t have a turnover and had a huge performance from quarterback Tanner Price and receiver Michael Campanaro. Price caught a touchdown from Campanaro and threw for 231 yards and one score on 26 completions. Campanaro grabbed 11 receptions for 122 yards and owns the school record for career catches with 217. Next Week: at Miami
Maryland (5-2, 1-2): What was once a promising start to the season is now in danger of taking a turn in the wrong direction for Maryland coach Randy Edsall. The Terrapins have lost two out of their last three games, and the injuries are starting to take a toll on this team. In Saturday’s 34-10 loss against Wake Forest, receivers Stefon Diggs and Deon Long were lost for the season. The defense is also battered with injuries in the back seven, which is bad news with a date against Clemson ahead. Next Week: Clemson
North Carolina (1-5, 0-3): A disappointing season in Chapel Hill continued with a 27-23 heartbreaking defeat to Miami on Thursday night. North Carolina had Miami on the ropes in the fourth quarter, leading 23-13 with just over 14 minutes to go. However, the Tar Heels’ defense struggled to stop the Hurricanes’ rushing attack, including 10 carries on the ground on the final drive, which culminated in a three-yard touchdown by Dallas Crawford to seal the victory for Miami. North Carolina might be the ACC’s biggest disappointment, but the Tar Heels still have a chance to make a bowl with an easier second-half schedule. Next Week: Boston College
Syracuse (3-4, 1-2): The Orange followed up a promising 24-10 win over NC State with a complete dud. Syracuse was thoroughly dominated in a 56-0 loss at Georgia Tech, which was the program’s worst defeat since a 59-0 defeat at Miami in 2001. Quarterback Terrel Hunt struggled (7 of 14, 68 yards) and was pulled in favor of Drew Allen, but he did not fare much better (6 of 15, 65 yards). The Orange struggled to get their rushing attack going, and the defense forced Georgia Tech into only eight third-down situations. At 3-4, Syracuse still has a chance to get bowl eligible and upcoming games against Wake Forest, Maryland and Pittsburgh will be critical in order to get to six wins. Next Week: Bye Week
Virginia (2-5, 0-3): The Cavaliers simply collapsed in their 35-22 defeat against Duke. Virginia jumped out to a 22-0 lead, largely due to the play of running back Kevin Parks, who had a role in all three Cavaliers’ touchdowns. After struggling for most of the first half, the Blue Devils came alive in the second half and outscored Virginia 28-0 over the final two quarters. Quarterback David Watford tied his season high of 263 passing yards, but the rushing attack mustered only 2.6 yards per carry. The Cavaliers’ defense shares blame in the loss, failing to force a punt by Duke in the second half. Coach Mike London got a vote of confidence from athletic director Craig Littlepage before Saturday’s game against Duke. But one look at Virginia’s upcoming schedule shows there’s not a guaranteed win, and 2-10 is a realistic outcome for the Cavaliers this year. Next Week: Georgia Tech
NC State (3-3, 0-3): The Wolfpack had a bye on Saturday and return to action at Florida State in Week 9. NC State has lost three out of its last four games, with its only victory in that stretch coming against Central Michigan. NC State has yet to win a game in ACC play and each conference loss has been by at least 12 points. But the Wolfpack could have some additional help on Saturday, as quarterback Brandon Mitchell could be ready to return to the lineup. Mitchell suffered a broken foot against Louisiana Tech and has missed the last five games. Next Week: at Florida State
ACC Week 8 Recap and Awards
Offensive Player of the Week: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
A crowd of over 83,000 and a top-five showdown on the road was nothing to Winston. The freshman completed 22 of 34 passes for 444 yards and three touchdowns in the 51-14 blowout over Clemson. Winston also rushed for a four-yard score in the third quarter and had a 94-yard toss to tight end Nick O’Leary that nearly resulted in a touchdown in the fourth quarter. The freshman’s only interception was the result of a miscommunication by the coaching staff, which is just his third pick on the season.
Defensive Player of the Week: Lamarcus Joyner, DB, Florida State
Florida State’s entire defense had a strong effort against Clemson, but Joyner gets the nod as the ACC’s top defensive player of the week. The senior switched from safety to cornerback in the offseason and is having an All-American-caliber year. Joyner set the tone for the Seminoles’ defense on Saturday, as he forced a fumble on Clemson’s first play and later forced another turnover that was returned for a touchdown by Mario Edwards Jr. Joyner finished the night with eight tackles, two forced fumbles, one interception and one sack.
Coordinator of the Week: Jeremy Pruitt, Florida State
Pruitt was a bit of a mystery coming into the season. After serving as Alabama’s secondary coach for three seasons, Pruitt was hired to replace Mark Stoops as Florida State’s defensive coordinator. In his first year calling the defense, Pruitt has been a big reason why the Seminoles haven’t missed much of a beat, despite returning only four starters. Clemson came into Saturday’s showdown against Florida State averaging 514.5 yards and 40.8 points a game. The Seminoles held the Tigers to 14 points and 326 yards, with Clemson’s offense managing just 3.8 yards per play. And with all of the new faces stepping into key roles this year, Florida State’s defense will only get better the rest of the season.
Team of the Week: Florida State
The question of whether or not Florida State is truly back was answered on Saturday night. The Seminoles thoroughly dominated Clemson 51-14 (ranked No. 3 nationally in Week 8) in Death Valley. The victory snapped a five-game losing streak in Death Valley and moved Florida State into the national title conversation. The Seminoles outgained Clemson 565 to 326, punted only twice and committed just one turnover. The 51-14 was arguably the biggest of Jimbo Fisher’s tenure and has the Seminoles positioned to play for the ACC Championship for the third time in four seasons.
Freshman of the Week: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
For this season, it’s almost time to rename the ACC Freshman of the Week honor in favor of Winston. The Florida State signal-caller threw for a career-high 444 yards and added four overall scores in the 51-14 victory over Clemson. In every game against BCS competition this season, Winston has completed at least 63 percent of his throws. The Alabama native ranks second nationally with a quarterback rating of 210.4 and sixth nationally in completion percentage (71.3).
• Miami quarterback Stephen Morris threw seven interceptions on 421 attempts last season but already has eight on 129 attempts in 2013.
• Pittsburgh running back rushed for a career high 240 yards against Old Dominion.
• Wake Forest quarterback Tanner Price is only the second player in ACC history to throw, run and catch a touchdown in a game.
• Miami receiver Phillip Dorsett suffered a MCL injury against North Carolina and will miss four to six weeks. Dorsett ranks third on the team with 13 catches for 272 yards and two touchdowns.
• Georgia Tech linebacker Quayshawn Nealy recorded only two tackles against Syracuse but recovered one fumble and picked off a pass.
• North Carolina’s Eric Ebron set a school record by a tight end with 199 receiving yards against Miami.
• After running for 100 yards in back-to-back games, Virginia running back Kevin Parks was held to just 50 on 15 attempts against Duke.
• Georgia Tech completed only three passes in its 56-0 win over Syracuse.
• Wake Forest receiver Michael Campanaro caught 11 passes against Maryland, which gave him the school record for career receptions with 217.