Athlon recaps the Week 8 action in the ACC.
Week 8 featured a full slate of action in the ACC. Florida State got a big win over rival Miami, while Clemson knocked off Virginia Tech. NC State escaped College Park with a close win, and Duke got bowl eligible for the first time since 1994 with an upset victory over North Carolina.
Offensive Player of the Year Standings
1. Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina – The sophomore has been on fire over the last three weeks and has 795 rushing yards and 24 receptions this season.
2. EJ Manuel, QB, Florida State – Although Manuel’s performance against NC State was shaky, he has thrown for 2,033 yards and 14 touchdowns this season. The senior leads the ACC in passing efficiency and is completing 71.5 percent of his throws.
3. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson – Boyd did not play well against Virginia Tech but leads the ACC in 308.4 yards of total offense per game.
Defensive Player of the Year Standings
1. Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State – Werner abused Miami’s offensive line for three tackles, two sacks and 1.5 tackles for a loss. The junior has eight sacks and 11.5 tackles this season.
2. Joe Vellano, DT, Maryland – Vellano is a big reason why Maryland ranks 11th nationally in total defense and sixth against the run. The senior recorded 10 tackles and one sack against NC State in Week 8.
3. Ross Cockrell, CB, Duke – Cockrell continued his strong season with two tackles for a loss and one pass breakup against North Carolina. The junior has 14 passes defended and four interceptions this year.
Coach of the Year Standings
1. David Cutcliffe, Duke – Even if Duke loses its final four games this year, Cutcliffe will be tough to unseat as the winner of this award. The Blue Devils are bowl eligible for the first time since 1994 and have legitimate Coastal Division title hopes.
2. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State – Since losing to NC State on Oct. 6, the Seminoles have outscored their last two opponents 84-27.
3. Randy Edsall, Maryland – The Terrapins are no longer unbeaten in ACC play but this is a much-improved team in Edsall’s second season.
Post-Week 8 ACC Power Rankings
1. Florida State (7-1, 4-1 ACC)
Last Week: 1
Week 8 Result: Beat Miami 33-20
It wasn’t a perfect effort, but the Seminoles did just enough to leave Miami with a 33-20 victory. Florida State committed 12 penalties (some very questionable calls by the officials) and had two turnovers, but used a stellar defensive effort and 229 passing yards from quarterback EJ Manuel to cruise in the second half to the win. Florida State still needs a loss by NC State to take control of the ACC Atlantic, but the Seminoles are clearly the best team in the conference after eight weeks of the season.
Next Game: Duke
2. Clemson (6-1, 3-1 ACC)
Last Week: 2
Week 8 Result: Beat Virginia Tech 38-17
With the offense struggling to get on track, the Tigers needed a big effort from their much-maligned defense to beat Virginia Tech. After allowing at least 30 points in its three previous games, the defense stepped up and created four turnovers, while taking an interception back for a touchdown in the second quarter. Quarterback Tajh Boyd threw for a season-low of 160 yards, but the defensive effort and 96 rushing yards from running back Andre Ellington was enough to knock off Virginia Tech 38-17. The Tigers have a short turnaround this week, as they travel to Wake Forest on Thursday night.
Next Game: at Wake Forest
3. NC State (5-2, 2-1 ACC)
Last Week: 3
Week 8 Result: Beat Maryland 20-18
Even though the Wolfpack had a bye week after beating Florida State, coach Tom O’Brien still had to be worried about a letdown against Maryland. It wasn’t easy, but NC State squeaked out a 20-18 win in College Park. Quarterback Mike Glennon led the way with 307 passing yards, while NC State’s defense forced two turnovers. However, the biggest moment in the game came in the final seconds, as Maryland missed a game-winning field goal, which gave the Wolfpack the win and kept their ACC Atlantic title hopes alive.
Next Game: at North Carolina
4. Duke (6-2, 3-1 ACC)
Last Week: 8
Week 8 Result: Beat North Carolina 33-30
Finally. Duke head coach David Cutcliffe and his staff have to be breathing a little easier this week, as a 33-30 victory over North Carolina in Week 8 has the Blue Devils bowl eligible for the first time since 1994. The Tar Heels took the lead with just over three minutes to go, but Duke quarterback Sean Renfree led a clutch drive to get the Blue Devils in position for the score. On fourth and goal from the five, Renfree hit Jamison Crowder for the winning touchdown, which was just enough for Duke to edge rival North Carolina 33-30. While the Blue Devils have to be happy getting to six wins, they have a legitimate chance to win the Coastal Division. The path isn’t easy, beginning with a road trip on Saturday at Florida State.
Next Game: at Florida State
5. Virginia Tech (4-4, 2-2 ACC)
Last Week: 6
Week 8 Result: Lost to Duke 38-17
The Hokies had no answer for Clemson last season and fell 38-17 in Death Valley on Saturday afternoon. The defense has struggled to live up to its preseason hype but held its own against the Tigers. Clemson managed only 160 passing yards, while running back Andre Ellington managed 96 rushing yards on 19 attempts. Although the defensive effort was solid, the offense struggled to get production from running back J.C. Coleman and committed four turnovers. As disappointing as this season has been for Virginia Tech, it can still get to the ACC title game. The Hokies are off this Saturday and play Miami in a crucial conference game on Nov. 1.
Next Game: at Miami (Nov. 1)
6. North Carolina (5-3, 2-2 ACC)
Last Week: 4
Week 8 Result: Lost to Duke 33-30
The Tar Heels had their eight-game winning streak against Duke snapped on Saturday night, losing 33-30 to the Blue Devils. Running back Giovani Bernard recorded his third 100-yard effort of the season, gashing Duke for 143 yards and one touchdown. Despite Bernard’s success, it wasn’t enough for North Carolina’s offense. Quarterback Bryn Renner threw for only 198 yards and the offense had two turnovers. The Tar Heels struggled to find answers on defense, as Duke recorded 276 yards through the air and 234 on the ground. After losing to the Blue Devils, North Carolina can salvage some in-state bragging rights with a win over NC State next week.
Next Game: NC State
7. Miami (4-4, 3-2 ACC)
Last Week: 5
Week 8 Result: Florida State 33-20
It’s pretty clear the Hurricanes aren’t as talented as Florida State, but Al Golden’s team found a way to make things interesting for a half on Saturday night. However, Miami’s porous defense eventually caved, and the offense struggled to get on track behind an injured quarterback. The loss to the Seminoles was the third consecutive defeat for the Hurricanes, which evened their record at 4-4 for the season. Miami has a bye this Saturday and has a crucial Coastal Division game against Virginia Tech on Nov. 1.
Next Game: Virginia Tech (Nov. 1)
8. Georgia Tech (3-4, 2-3 ACC)
Last Week: 7
Week 8 Result: Beat Boston College 37-17
The Yellow Jackets got a much-needed 37-17 victory over Boston College in Week 8, which snapped a three-game losing streak. Although the Eagles aren’t the ACC’s most explosive offense, the change in defensive coordinators seems to have paid off for coach Paul Johnson. Georgia Tech gave up just 296 yards – the second fewest this season – and forced two turnovers and two sacks. The Yellow Jackets step out of conference for a matchup against BYU this Saturday.
Next Game: BYU
9. Maryland (4-3, 2-1 ACC)
Last Week: 9
Week 8 Result: Lost to NC State 20-18
With a freshman quarterback and revamped schemes on both sides of the ball, the Terrapins were one of the ACC’s biggest surprises in the first half of the season. Maryland nearly continued its surprise start with an upset victory over NC State, but the Wolfpack rallied to a 20-18 win. Despite losing quarterback Perry Hills to a knee injury, the offense moved the ball behind Devin Burns and Caleb Rowe. Burns threw for 47 yards, while adding 50 on the ground. Rowe led the team into field goal position with seconds remaining, but kicker Brad Craddock missed a 33-yard attempt for the win.
Next Game: at Boston College
10. Wake Forest (4-3, 2-3 ACC)
Last Week: 11
Week 8 Result: Beat Virginia 16-10
In what could be an elimination game for bowl eligibility, the Demon Deacons knocked off Virginia 16-10 to improve their record to 4-3 this season. Quarterback Tanner Price completed just 7 of 19 passes for 102 yards, while Josh Harris and Deandre Martin combined for 75 yards and one touchdown. Wake Forest’s defense played well, allowing only 48 rushing yards to Virginia and forcing three turnovers. The Demon Deacons have a short week to prepare for Clemson on Thursday night and aren’t expected to get receiver Michael Campanaro back from a hand injury.
Next Game: Clemson
11. Virginia (2-6, 0-4 ACC)
Last Week: 10
Week 8 Result: Lost to Wake Forest 16-10
After starting 2-0, the Cavaliers have slumped to six consecutive losses, including four in ACC play. Virginia lost 16-10 to Wake Forest on Saturday, which put Mike London’s team in danger of missing a bowl game. The Cavaliers have yet to find their rushing attack, while turnovers have plagued this team through the first eight weeks of the season. Virginia has a bye this Saturday and needs to win its final four games – at NC State, Miami, North Carolina, at Virginia Tech – to get bowl eligible. It’s unlikely the Cavaliers can win their final four games, but this team needs to close with some momentum to build for 2013.
Next Game: at NC State (Nov. 3)
12. Boston College (1-6, 0-4 ACC)
Last Week: 12
Week 8 Result: Lost to Georgia Tech 37-17
With five consecutive losses, the Eagles are firmly entrenched as the No. 12 team in the power rankings. Boston College trailed Georgia Tech 28-3 at halftime but cut the lead to 31-17 early in the fourth quarter. However, the Eagles couldn’t get any closer, and the Yellow Jackets finished with a 37-17 victory. With games against Notre Dame, Virginia Tech and NC State remaining, Boston College has only two legitimate chances for a victory – Maryland (Oct. 27) and at Wake Forest (Nov. 3).
Next Game: Maryland
by Steven Lassan
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