ACC Quick Slants - News, Notes & Tidbits
Posted Oct 4, 2012

At the conclusion of each week's games, CFN's Terry Johnson puts the previous weekend of ACC football under the microscope, looking for the Lucky 7

By Terry Johnson
Follow me @TPJCollFootball

BIG MAN ON CAMPUS - Stephen Morris
This one's easy: Miami's Stephen Morris is this week's ACC Big Man on Campus. All he did was throw for a conference-record 566 yards, while leading the 'Canes to a last minute TD, which kept them undefeated in conference play.

If not for the aerial assault between Baylor and West Virginia, Morris would have been a lock for national player of the week honors.

TEAM OF THE WEEK - Duke Blue Devils
It didn't look like Duke was going to beat Wake Forest when fourth quarter started. The Deacons had just scored twice to knot the game at 20 against a Devil defense that lost starters Lee Butler, David Helton, and Brandon Braxton to injury. The offense would have the same uphill battle with QB Sean Renfree sidelined with an injured right elbow.

Given these factors, and Duke's recent track record of futility, a 13th consecutive Wake Forest win was a virtual certainty.

But it didn't happen. Rather than crumble under adversity like so many Duke teams of the past, this year's team thrived on it. In true "next man up" fashion, QB Anthony Boone picked up where Renfree left off and led the Blue Devils to two fourth quarter TDs. The defense got into the act as well, forcing two turnovers in the final stanza, while holding the Deacs out of the endzone until the final minute.

That type of resiliency has many fans believing the Devils will qualify for their first bowl game since 1995.

The Virginia offense has had its struggles this season, but backup QB Phillip Sims continues to make the most of his time on the field.

After Louisiana Tech iced the game with a pick six in the third quarter, Sims was faced with the monumental challenge of leading a comeback. While his first drive failed to produce points (missed FG), the Cavaliers scored touchdowns on the next two.

His play over the game's final 20 minutes was so impressive that Head Coach Mike London said that Sims would start at QB this week as long as his leg was healthy.

CLUNKER OF THE WEEK - Middle Tennessee over Georgia Tech
Tech's loss to Middle Tennessee will be a candidate for Clunker of the Year. How does one of the top teams in the Coastal Division lose by 21 points to a team that was projected to finish seventh in the Sun Belt?

That is all...

12. Maryland - The Terps remain here after an open week.

11. Boston College - Don't let the 1-3 record fool you, BC still has a solid team. With a winnable game against Army this week, expect to see them move up.

10. Virginia - Will the 'Hoos get out of their own way? Virginia had 625 yards against Louisiana Tech, but lost the game with three costly turnovers. Until the Cavs learn to secure the football, they'll remain towards the bottom of the pack.

9. Georgia Tech - Losing to Middle Tennessee State drops the Jackets all the way down to this spot. However, Tech plays Clemson this week, which gives it an excellent chance to move up. After all, the Jackets have won five of the last six in the series.

8. North Carolina - Sorry, but beating Idaho 66-0 isn't an accurate indicator for how good this team is. A home game against Virginia Tech will provide a better metric.

7. Wake Forest - The Deacons played well against Duke before the Devils broke the game wide open in the fourth quarter. If they can take care of an improving Maryland team, they should move back into the top half of the league.

6. Virginia Tech - The Hokies find themselves in last place in the Big East after losing to Cincinnati. All kidding aside, the loss to the Bearcats is enough to drop the Hokies outside of the Top 5.

5. North Carolina State - The 'Pack remains in this spot again this week. Losing to Miami is nothing to be ashamed of.

4. Duke - Any team that can rally for the game-winning score with its top offensive weapon on the sidelines is a force to be reckoned with. While the Devils may not finish the season in this spot, they did take a huge step towards qualifying for their first bowl since 1995.

3. Miami - Don't look now, but the Hurricanes are atop the Coastal Division at 3-0. UM can jump Clemson this week with a win over Notre Dame.

2. Clemson - There's nothing new to report about the Tigers. Unfortunately, they play in the same division as the conference's best team.

1. Florida State - The 'Noles took another step closer to playing for the national championship by defeating in-state rival USF by 2 TDs.

1. EJ Manuel, QB, Florida State - Despite a so-so (19-26, 242 yards, 1 TD) performance against South Florida, Manuel remains atop the Heisman list. No one has turned in a better performance against a big opponent so far.

2. Stephen Morris, QB, Miami - Morris played his way into the Heisman Trophy discussion by throwing for 1,002 yards over the past two weeks. He'll need a little help to make it to New York, but can state his case with a strong showing against Florida State on October 20.

3. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson - Despite playing more consistently than any other QB in the conference, Boyd drops to No. 3 this week. His only hope is for a monster game in the Battle for the Palmetto State.

It's a big week for ACC football.

The conference gets a rare primetime showdown with a top ten opponent, as Miami resumes its famous "Catholics versus Convicts" rivalry with Notre Dame. Just like those classic contests of the 80's and 90's, the outcome of this game will factor into the national championship equation.

There are also two big conference games this weekend as Georgia Tech visits Clemson, and Florida State heads to NC State. While these games might appear to be mismatches on paper, both underdogs have a habit of ruining seasons for the favorites.

It will be fun to watch it unfold...