ACC Weekend Recap
By Matthew Osborne
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Florida State's victory over Clemson cements the Seminoles as legitimate national title contenders.
The ACC bounced back from last week’s embarrassing performance with a much improved showing in week four of the college football season.
The conference avoided succumbing to any potentially detrimental upsets, and also had a team emphatically emerge as a championship contender.
Here is your ACC Weekend Recap.
Best Win: Florida State 49 Clemson 37
There was no doubt that the Seminoles had been extremely impressive in their first three wins of the season, but the Clemson game provided Jimbo Fisher’s squad with its first real test of the 2012 campaign. The Seminole defense was not nearly as dominant as we have grown accustom to seeing, but E.J. Manuel played the best game of his career, leading the Seminoles to a key victory that immediately legitimizes the team as a championship contender. Manuel finished the night with 380 yards passing and 102 yards rushing, making him just the second quarterback in Florida State history to throw for at least 300 yards and rush for at least 100 yards in the same game. As a team, the Seminoles racked up nearly 670 yards of total offense. The win is not only important for a Florida State program anxious to return to national prominence; it is important for a conference which has failed to produce a legitimate national title contender in quite some time. The Seminoles still have to maneuver their way through the remainder of the schedule in order to possibly compete for a championship, but Saturday’s convincing victory firmly cements Florida State as a team to be reckoned with on a national scale.
Worst Loss: Miami (FL) 42, Georgia Tech 36 OT
Georgia Tech scored 36 unanswered points after digging a 19-0 deficit early in the contest, but would allow the Hurricanes to score the final 23 points of the afternoon as Miami rallied for a critical overtime victory. Coupled with the Yellow Jackets’ season-opening loss to Virginia Tech, Saturday’s loss in all likelihood eliminates Georgia Tech from the ACC Coastal Division race. Al Groh’s defense, which appeared to be making strides in his third season at the school, took a major step back against the Hurricanes, allowing an astonishing 609 yards on the afternoon. The defense particularly struggled in the clutch, as Miami drove 91 yards with just over two minutes remaining in regulation to force overtime. Georgia Tech had a chance to take the lead on the first possession of overtime, but Tevin Washington was stopped short on fourth-and-one at the Miami. Saturday’s game marked the second time this season that the Georgia Tech offense has failed to produce points in an overtime situation. The Yellow Jackets had conference championship aspirations heading into this contest, and this was a game that they needed to win in order to make those dreams come to fruition.
Florida State now Carries the Torch for the ACC
Saturday night’s contest between Florida State and Clemson confirmed what most people around the country already assumed: Florida State is the best team in the ACC.
While that statement might not mean much considering the recent disappointments of the league, the ACC has been in desperate need of a contender on the national scene, and Florida State seems to finally be ready to fill that role.
The argument can be made that the winner of this game would have vaulted themselves to the status of contender regardless of the outcome, but, for the sake of the conference, it was likely more important that Florida State win this game. The Seminoles were receiving more hype and press attention than any other team in the conference, and a loss on Saturday night would have been another black eye for the ACC.
At this point, Clemson and Florida State are the only two teams in the conference which have not embarrassed themselves at some point this season. Therefore, they are the two teams with greatest ability to positively impact the conference’s reputation.
With Florida State winning Saturday’s game, the Seminoles now carry the torch for the ACC. Continued success throughout the remainder of the season could serve to alleviate some of the cynicism currently surrounding the conference.
Next Week’s Game of the Week: NC State @ Miami (FL)