The ACC was short on intriguing matchups for Week 9. Florida State suffered no letdown from its win against Clemson, dominating NC State for a 49-17 victory. The Tigers got back into the win column with a 40-27 win at Maryland.
Miami needed another late comeback, this time against Wake Forest. The Hurricanes trailed 14-3 to the Demon Deacons but rallied behind running back Duke Johnson.
Duke didn’t do much on offense, but it was enough to upset Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. The loss against the Blue Devils isn’t too damaging to the Hokies, as the November showdown against Miami will decide the Coastal Division.
Also in ACC action, Georgia Tech beat Virginia 35-25, and North Carolina defeated Boston College 34-10.
Pittsburgh suffered a loss at Navy, which dropped the Panthers to 4-3 overall.
ACC Post-Week 9 Power Rankings
Florida State (7-0, 5-0): No letdown here. After a big win at Clemson, it was easy to think the Seminoles might not follow up last week’s victory with the same effort against NC State. Florida State quickly erased any doubts, as the offense scored 35 points in the first quarter and cruised to a 49-17 victory. While NC State scored 17 points in the second half, the bigger takeaway for coach Jimbo Fisher was the valuable snaps for his backups. Quarterback Jameis Winston continued to make his case for the Heisman, throwing for 292 yards and three touchdowns on 16 completions. Barring a huge turnaround by Florida, Florida State’s last ranked opponent until the ACC Championship will be Miami next Saturday. Next Week: Miami
Clemson (7-1, 5-1): The final score may have been a little closer than some expected, but Clemson erased a few of the bad feelings from last week’s 51-14 loss to Florida State with a 40-27 victory at Maryland. The Tigers’ committed three turnovers, which allowed the Terrapins to hang around. But quarterback Tajh Boyd threw for 304 yards and one score, while running back Roderick McDowell delivered his best performance of the year with 161 yards and two touchdowns on 30 attempts. The defense allowed a 71-yard touchdown in the first quarter but held Maryland out of the endzone again until just under six minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Clemson still has a chance to make a BCS bowl as an at-large selection. However, the Tigers’ likely need to go 11-1 for that to happen, which means they need to win at South Carolina in the regular season finale. Next Week: at Virginia
Miami (7-0, 3-0): With Florida State up next, the Hurricanes may have looked past Wake Forest. Whether it was a case of overlooking the Demon Deacons or not, Saturday’s performance didn’t inspire much confidence that Miami can win at Tallahassee next week. Quarterback Stephen Morris threw for 191 yards, but the difference maker was running back Duke Johnson, who rushed for 168 yards and two scores. For the second consecutive game, Miami scored the game-winning touchdown with less than a minute remaining. Next Week: at Florida State
Georgia Tech (5-3, 4-2): Despite five turnovers, the Yellow Jackets scored a 10-point victory at Virginia to earn their fifth win of the season. Georgia Tech’s offense recorded 507 yards, gashing the Cavaliers for 7.6 yards per carry. Virginia recorded 32 first downs, but the Yellow Jackets held the Cavaliers to just 4.8 yards per play. Safety Jemea Thomas was a bright spot for Georgia Tech’s defense, recording 15 stops and two pass breakups. After losing three consecutive games, the Yellow Jackets have won two in a row and host Pittsburgh next Saturday in a key game for positioning within the Coastal Division. Next Week: Pittsburgh
Duke (6-2, 2-2): It wasn’t pretty, but style points matter little for Duke coach David Cutcliffe. The Blue Devils upset Virginia Tech 13-10, earning their first win in Blacksburg. Also, the victory was Duke’s sixth of the season, which should ensure this team is back in a bowl game. The stat sheet was a one-sided affair in favor of the Hokies. The Blue Devils didn’t convert a third down, and quarterback Anthony Boone failed to complete a pass in the second half. However, Duke simply found a way to win, with its defense stepping up in the final two quarters for the second week in a row. The Blue Devils have a bye to regroup, and with the way Cutcliffe’s team is playing, it could easily win any of their final four games. Next Week: Bye Week
Virginia Tech (6-2, 3-1): It’s hard to envision a loss when you hold a team to just 198 yards and force four turnovers. But that’s what transpired in Blacksburg on Saturday, as Virginia Tech lost 13-10 to Duke. The Hokies easily outgained the Blue Devils (387 to 198) and didn’t allow a third-down conversion, but it wasn’t enough to win. Duke’s four turnovers resulted in only two field goal attempts by Virginia Tech, and the Hokies struggled to get any production from their running backs. Quarterback Logan Thomas tossed four picks, including one with less than five minutes to go, which sealed the victory for Duke. Although the loss is a setback for Virginia Tech, this team remains alive in the Coastal Division – assuming it doesn’t lose next week at Boston College. Next Week: at Boston College
Pittsburgh (4-3, 2-2): With a second-half schedule that features Miami, Notre Dame and Georgia Tech, the Panthers have very little room for error after losing to Navy on Saturday afternoon. Pittsburgh’s offense averaged 5.2 yards per play, but the rushing attack was largely held in check (3.6 ypc, 135 overall yards), while quarterback Tom Savage didn’t connect on a pass longer than 28 yards. The defense forced four three-and-outs in the first three quarters, but Navy’s final three drives resulted in 17 points and each spanned longer than 10 plays. The only good news for Pittsburgh is playing the Midshipmen will prepare this team for next week’s matchup against Georgia Tech. Next Week: at Georgia Tech
North Carolina (2-5, 1-3): A disappointing start to the season has cooled some of the momentum on coach Larry Fedora’s tenure, but the Tar Heels took out some of their early-season frustration with a 34-10 victory against Boston College on Saturday. The win over the Eagles was North Carolina’s first in conference play in 2013. A struggling run defense allowed Boston College running back Andre Williams to rush for 172 yards. However, the Tar Heels held the Eagles’ passing attack to just 59 yards. A bright spot for North Carolina’s offense was backup quarterback Marquise Williams, who threw for one touchdown and ran for 55 yards and one score. Next Week: at NC State
Boston College (3-4, 1-3): After starting 2-1, the Eagles have dropped four out of their last five games. A tough schedule has contributed to the recent struggles, as there’s no shame in losing at USC, Clemson and North Carolina, along with a home defeat to Florida State. As expected, Boston College was able to run on North Carolina (202 yards), but the passing attack struggled. Quarterback Chase Retting threw for only 57 yards on 20 attempts. The Eagles’ defense limited the Tar Heels to 5.4 yards per play, but despite four sacks, was unable to force a turnover. After next week’s game against Virginia Tech, the schedule lightens in the final four games, which should allow Boston College to get bowl eligible. Next Week: Virginia Tech
Wake Forest (4-4, 2-3): The Demon Deacons had their two-game winning streak snapped with a last-minute loss at Miami. Behind a steady diet of short passes from quarterback Tanner Price, Wake Forest jumped out to a 14-3 lead. However, Miami rallied in the second half, scoring two touchdowns in the final five minutes to win 24-21. Although the Demon Deacons lost, it’s clear Jim Grobe and his coaching staff have made the right adjustments after a sluggish 1-2 start. Wake Forest needs two wins to get bowl eligible and with Syracuse, Duke and Vanderbilt left, this team will have a chance to get to six wins. Next Week: at Syracuse
Maryland (5-3, 1-3): The Terrapins’ midseason slide continued with a 40-27 loss to Clemson. Injuries have taken a toll on both sides of the ball for Maryland, and it clearly showed on Saturday. Backup quarterback Caleb Rowe threw for 282 yards but completed just 19 of 45 passes. The defense did a good job of holding the Tigers to field goals in the first half. However, Clemson pulled away in the second half, with quarterback Tajh Boyd and running back Roderick McDowell leading the way. Considering all of the injuries that Maryland has suffered, next Saturday's bye week is timely and should allow this team to regroup for its final four games. Next Week: Bye Week
Syracuse (3-4, 1-2): The Orange had a bye in Week 9 and return to action on Nov. 2 against Wake Forest. Syracuse needs three wins to get bowl eligible, and three home games will give coach Scott Shafer a chance to earn a postseason trip in his first season. The Orange play Wake Forest on Saturday and finish the season with back-to-back home games against Pittsburgh and Boston College. Next Week: Wake Forest
NC State (3-4, 0-4): As expected, the Wolfpack were simply outmanned against Florida State. The Seminoles didn’t suffer any letdown after beating Clemson a week ago, gashing NC State for 35 points in the first quarter. The Wolfpack were able to score 17 points on the Seminoles’ backups in the second half, and quarterback Brandon Mitchell made his return to the lineup. The senior missed five games due to a foot injury and showed some rust in the loss to Florida State (17 of 33, 128 yards). Although the loss in Tallahassee wasn’t pretty, NC State has a favorable schedule in the final month of the season and still has a shot at bowl eligibility. Next Week: North Carolina
Virginia (2-6, 0-4): The Cavaliers’ miserable season continued with a 35-25 loss to Georgia Tech on Saturday. Virginia’s defense forced five turnovers, but the offense was unable to score any points off the Yellow Jackets’ mistakes. Quarterback David Watford threw for 376 yards and two scores. However, the rushing attack went nowhere, as running back Kevin Parks managed just 54 yards and one touchdown on 13 attempts. After five consecutive losses, the heat on coach Mike London is starting to build. Although London got a vote of confidence from athletic director Craig Littlepage, it’s tough to imagine he can survive if the final record is 2-10. Next Week: Clemson
ACC Week 9 Recap and Awards
Offensive Player of the Week: Duke Johnson, RB, Miami
For the second week in a row with the game in doubt, Miami turned to its ground attack to earn the victory. And the Hurricanes’ running backs and offensive line delivered once again, as the Miami scored with less than a minute remaining to beat Wake Forest 24-21. Running back Duke Johnson was the difference in the game for the Hurricanes, rushing for 168 yards and two touchdowns on 30 rushes. And it was a gutty performance from the sophomore, as he appeared to be less than 100 percent in the fourth quarter. The Hurricanes will need a similar performance from Johnson in next week’s huge showdown against Florida State.
Defensive Player of the Week: Kelby Brown, LB, Duke
Brown and fellow linebacker David Helton anchored Duke’s strong defensive effort against Virginia Tech. Brown recorded 14 stops, which ranked second on the team behind Helton’s 19. One of Brown’s tackles for a loss, but his biggest contribution was an interception with less than five minutes remaining, which sealed the victory for Duke. Brown ranks third on the team with 61 stops this season and has recorded 5.5 tackles for a loss. The junior missed 2012 due to injury but has been a key contributor for Duke’s defense in 2013.
Coordinator of the Week: Jim Knowles, Duke
The Blue Devils’ defense had some help from a sluggish Virginia Tech offense, but for the second week in a row, Duke’s defense has stepped up when it mattered. The Blue Devils didn’t allow a point in the second half of last Saturday’s victory over Virginia and held the Hokies to just 55 yards in the fourth quarter, which was just enough for Duke to score a 13-10 win in Blacksburg. The Blue Devils forced four interceptions off Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas and generated four tackles for a loss. Duke has held its last three opponents to five yards or less per play, and only one team in the last three games against the Blue Devils has scored more than 10 points. Knowles has pushed the right buttons this season, and the key stops on defense are a key reason why Duke is 6-2.
Team of the Week: Duke
Despite four turnovers, 198 yards of offense and zero third-down conversions, Duke defeated Virginia Tech 13-10. Saturday’s win in Blacksburg was the first in school history, and the Blue Devils are bowl eligible for the second straight year. Duke’s defense has taken a lot of criticism over the last few years, but this unit has delivered with the game on the line in back-to-back weeks. The Blue Devils did not allow a point in the second half of last Saturday’s win against Virginia, and this unit held Virginia Tech to just 24 yards on its final two drives to secure the win. It wasn’t pretty, but the victory in Blacksburg shows how far Duke has progressed under David Cutcliffe. After going 6-18 from 2010-11, the Blue Devils are 12-9 in their last 21 games. And Saturday’s win over Virginia Tech was the program’s first on the road over a ranked team since 1971.
Freshman of the Week: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
A tip of the cap needs to go to Virginia Tech cornerback Kendall Fuller, who recorded three picks in Saturday’s loss to Duke. However, this award should take permanent residence in Tallahassee this season. Winston did most of his damage in the first half against NC State and finished with 16 completions for 292 yards and three scores. The freshman tossed just two passes in the second half against the Wolfpack and has at least three touchdown passes in four consecutive games.
• Clemson running back Roderick McDowell rushed for 161 yards on 30 carries against Maryland. The 100-yard effort was his first since the season opener.
• In Saturday’s win at Virginia Tech, Duke did not convert a third down or complete a pass in the second half.
• Wake Forest freshman safety Ryan Janvion led the defense with 14 tackles in Saturday’s loss to Miami.
• Maryland linebacker Cole Farrand recorded 23 tackles in Saturday’s loss against Clemson.
• After missing five games due to a foot injury, quarterback Brandon Mitchell returned to the lineup for NC State. Mitchell completed 17 of 32 passes for 128 yards.
• Pittsburgh receiver Devin Street caught nine passes against Navy, giving him 186 career receptions. Street’s 186 career receptions are a school record.
• Freshman linebacker E.J. Levenberry led Florida State with eight tackles.
• Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins set a single-game school record with 14 catches in Saturday’s win over Maryland.
• Georgia Tech had three players – Zach Laskey, Robert Godhigh and David Sims – rush for 100 yards against Virginia.
• Florida State has averaged at least seven yards per play in every game this year.
• Duke did not complete a pass in the second half in Saturday’s 13-10 victory over Virginia Tech.
• Wake Forest receiver Michael Campanaro has three consecutive games of at least 10 catches.
• Pittsburgh’s defense allowed 17 points on Navy’s final three possessions, which was just enough for the Midshipmen to score a 24-21 upset.
• Virginia receivers Darius Jennings and Tim Smith became the first duo in school history to catch at least 10 passes in the same contest.