The good news for the ACC from yesterday is that Virginia hung in with USC and almost upset them in Los Angeles and the conference the most exciting game from yesterday with a 54-48 shootout between Duke and Wake Forest… yeah that’s right Duke and Wake Forest combined for 102 points and 1000 yards of offense.
The bad news… well… just about everything else. Two high profile nationally televised games, a team coming off of a highly publicized game faced an FCS opponent, and a road test against an inferior BCS conference opponent all went wrong for the so called power conference and went wrong in horrifying ways.
Miami, Florida State, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech, the big 4 in their conference got shelled in each of their games. Miami got careless with the ball versus a hungry Ohio State team, Florida State got run off the field against Oklahoma, Georgia Tech had its secondary exposed by Kansas and Virginia Tech lost a home game against James Madison—of the FCS—a team that went 6-5 in the FCS last year—THE FCS!!!
The ACC has been talked about in recent years as being the weakest of the power conferences and yesterday’s poor showings did absolutely nothing to curb those feelings. What’s interesting about these games is their poor showings in big matchups in recent years.
The ACC is 1-9 in BCS bowl games including Georgia Tech getting beat-up by Iowa in the Orange Bowl last year. Then look at their games against big game competition. Florida State hasn’t beaten Florida in 5 years; Tech has beaten 8 out of nine times by Georgia. The conferences season kick-off classic versus the SEC has been a joke with Alabama and LSU stomping out Clemson, Virginia Tech and UNC. Then Boise State had a virtual road game with the Hokies and jumped out to a 17-0 lead eventually beating Virginia Tech in the last minute 33-30.
Then there was yesterday. There was no excuse for Miami or Florida State to play as poor as they did on the national stage with all of that talent like they did.
Miami came into Columbus, Ohio talking about revenge over the 2003 National Championship game where a controversial pass interference call cost them their sixth national championship. They left with their so-called swagger slapped right out of them.
The Buckeyes caused four turnovers thanks to Jacory Harris’s poor play and if not for two special teams scores or the stalling of the OSU offense the score would’ve been a lot worse. Miami was pushed around on both sides of the ball and Terrelle Pryor strengthened his Heisman Candidacy with an all-around impressive performance. “Feeling good doesn’t always end up good,” Harris said after the game. No kidding. For all of the hype about the game it all came crashing to a halt when Cameron Heyward picked off a Harris pass on Miami’s opening drive in the third quarter and returned it the OSU red zone. So much for that swagger.
At least Miami hung around. Florida State got a Boomer Sooner smack down. Traveling half-way across the country just to get destroyed defeats the purpose of scheduling such a game, unfortunately the Noles didn’t see it that way. Landry Jones and the Sooners offense got rolling and the Noles could only watch and not be willing participants. The Sooners rebounded from a poor performance against Utah State to easily handle Florida State and put themselves back in the national title talk. The Seminoles have nothing to do but more tweaking. “When you play good football teams and they get hot you have to match them, and you have to match them in all three phases,” said Jimbo Fisher, Florida State’s head coach. ” We matched them one time on offense and then we got pushed back on field position and didn’t execute.” His aforementioned statement is something the whole conference should take heed to.
For Georgia Tech it was a matter of taking a team for granted. After a humiliating 6-3 loss to North Dakota State the Kansas Jayhawks scored their biggest win since a Orange Bowl victory over (you guessed it, an ACC team) Virginia Tech.
“They came out mad,” said Yellow Jacket quarterback Joshua Nesbitt. “You could tell that they came out mad from losing their last game and they came out hungry.” Unfortunately for Georgia Tech they couldn’t match the intensity and couldn’t overcome a late 11 point deficit. The relatively young Jackets defense struggled in some instances to stop Kansas even though they only allowed 320 yards of offense. They routinely missed tackles and it showed on Daymond Patterson’s game clinching 32 yard touchdown reception to put the Jayhawks up 28-17 in the fourth quarter. The defense gave Kansas QB Joe Webb too much time to throw the ball and make plays and he burned them.
Meanwhile on the other side of the ball the Jackets normal running game was superb as they ran for 291 yards out of Paul Johnson’s triple option offense. However, when they needed to get back in the game throwing the ball Josh Nesbitt once again showed why he is a one-trick pony. Nesbitt was 5-15 for 115 yards and a touchdown, however he is not accurate at all and the offense if ever in a hole will suffer time and time again. Johnson has to figure out a way to get something out of the passing game going down the road or else the Jackets will see this same result over and over again.
Lastly there’s Virginia Tech… yikes. Coming off of a huge showcase game versus Boise State, you go out onto your actual home field and get pushed around by James Madison? An FCS school?
You couldn’t score more than 16 points against a team that allowed 38 to Maryland last year? Three turnovers all in the red zone versus a 6-5 team… FROM THE FCS!!?? REALLY?!?! Dude I know Mississippi and Minnesota just lost to FCS opponents, but at least they dropped 49 and 38 points respectively.
“I don’t know what’s going on,” tailback Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech running back said. “I really don’t.” I’ll give you a hint… TURNOVERS AND MISCUES ARE KILLING YOU!
If it wasn’t the special teams miscues from Monday’s thriller it was the Darren Evans fumble on the Dukes 19 yard line that sealed their fate. The offensive line couldn’t create holes for Ryan Williams who finished with 91 rushing yards. Tyrod Taylor looked nothing like the monster that he was versus the Broncos as he threw a costly interception and under threw Jarrett Boykin on a 4th down play that could’ve put the Hokies up early in the fourth quarter.
For a team that was seriously considered as a national title contender, this lost may put them in the back of the ACC title race.
Not that the ACC title would be anything to brag about. This Saturday put the ACC in the afterthought of the minds of college football when talking about the big names in the game. An ACC team will not play for the national championship, hell they won’t even be favored in the Orange Bowl against whoever they play. Right now the ACC is an inferior conference that needs to improve on its regular season results against bigger competition before we start talking about revivals in Tallahassee and Coral Gables, and national titles in Blacksburg and Atlanta.
For now let’s see if they can handle Pittsburgh, Rutgers, East Carolina and BYU in the next two weeks. If it’s anything like this past weekend’s results, it won’t be pretty.