The Road to Tampa Bay

Georgia Tech (6-1, 3-1) holds a half game lead over Virginia and Virginia Tech for the top spot in the Coastal Division. However, because of the head to head matchup, the Jackets need the Hokies to lose once more without dropping a game themselves in order to go to the championship game.

The Hokies (5-2, 2-1) started the season with a close loss to the East Carolina Pirates. Before last weekend, Virginia Tech had not lost since their first game of the season. They pulled away from Furman late in the third quarter to win the game 24-7. Virginia Tech then defeated the Yellow Jackets in a close game in Blacksburg, 20-17. The Hokies followed that with a three point come-from-behind win on the road at North Carolina. Virginia Tech helped their cause the following week with a non-conference win at Nebraska before beating Western Kentucky at home. They were sitting atop the conference at 2-0 until the Boston College Eagles knocked them off 28-23 last weekend.

The Cavaliers of Virginia (4-3, 2-1) dropped three of their first four by an average of 36 points. Virginia opened their season with one of the top teams in the nation in USC. The Cavs lost 52-7. Following a win over the Richmond Spiders, they dropped consecutive road games to Connecticut and Duke. They proceeded to upset Maryland, beat East Carolina , and then beat North Carolina at home in overtime. Despite this, Virginia controls their destiny in the coastal division.

Under Butch Davis, North Carolina (5-2, 1-2) has made huge strides, winning its first two games out of conference, then going 3-2 in next five beating Miami, Conneticut, and Notre Dame, but dropping to Virginia Tech and UVA.

After seven games, the Hurricanes (4-3, 1-2) are just trying to hold on to a .500 record. The Canes opened the season with a 45 point win over Charleston Southern before scoring just three points against the Florida Gators. Miami rebounded with a win on the road against Texas A&M, but lost a two touchdown lead in the fourth quarter against North Carolina. Miami played their annual rivalry with Florida State the following weekend but fell 41-39. Since then, the Hurricanes have won two straight over Central Florida and Duke for their first ACC win.

After hiring new Head Coach David Cutcliffe, the Duke Blue Devils (3-3, 1-2) showed an almost immediate improvement. While the Devils lost to Northwestern, they defeated Virginia two weeks later at home 31-3 to secure their first mid-season ACC winning record since 1994. The Devils lost their last two to Georgia Tech and Miami.

Boston College (5-1, 2-1) started the season minus several leaders from last season’s division championship team. The Eagles have gone 5-1 with their only loss coming to the Jackets in the second game of the season. BC opened their season with a win over Kent State before the Tech game. The Eagles then beat Central Florida Knights. Following a win over Rhode Island, Boston College picked up two conference wins with victories over North Carolina State and Virginia Tech.

Florida State (5-1, 2-1) has seemingly resurrected their storied program following their ACC title in 2005. Florida State opened their season with blowout wins over FCS teams Western Carolina and Chattanooga by a combined score of 115-7. Florida State followed that offensive outburst with a poor showing against Wake Forest, losing 12-3. The Noles have since won three straight over Colorado, Miami and North Carolina State.

Ralph Friedgen’s Terrapins (5-2, 2-1) edged by Delaware before falling to MTSU. The Terps followed that with an unexpected win over Cal. They continued their success against Eastern Michigan and over a fading Clemson team in the fourth quarter. Maryland showed their inconsistency, when they were shut out by a rising Virginia team. They beat the conference leader Wake Forest this past weekend 26-0 to rebound from that loss.

Wake Forest (4-2, 2-1) was the preseason pick to finish second in the conference. They opened the season with wins over Baylor and Ole Miss. They started the ACC schedule against Florida State with a 12-3 win. They hiccupped against Navy’s triple option before rebounding against Clemson on a Thursday night game. Last weekend, Wake was shutout for the first time in 123 games when they lost 26-0 against Maryland.

Clemson (3-4, 1-3) has been the story of the ACC so far this season, but not for good reason. Picked as the overwhelming favorite to win the ACC, Clemson fell flat against Alabama. From there, the Tigers won three straight over the Citadel, North Carolina State and South Carolina State. Clemson then lost two straight conference games to Maryland and Wake Forest. Head Coach Tommy Bowden resigned after the Wake Forest game opening the door for Interim Coach Dabo Swinney to take the reins for the loss to Tech this past weekend.

For North Carolina State (2-5, 0-3), this season has been filled with personnel changes, injury and the kind of inconsistency that makes a 2-5 team. State opened their season with a loss against South Carolina Gamecocks. The Pack defeated William and Mary the following week but lost to Clemson. They were them able to eke out an overtime win over the then No. 15 East Carolina Pirates. South Florida handed the Wolfpack their third loss and first of three in a row. Boston College and Florida State followed.