ACC Quick Slants: News, Notes and Thoughts
Posted Oct 12, 2012

At the conclusion of each week's games, CFN's Terry Johnson puts the previous weekend of ACC football under the microscope, and looks ahead to see what's in store for the upcoming weekend.

By Terry Johnson
Follow me @TPJCollFootball

BIG MAN ON CAMPUS - Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina
With apologies to Tajh Boyd, who threw for nearly 400 yards, Giovani Bernard takes home the conference's top honor this week.

Finally at full-strength after a nagging knee injury caused him to miss two games earlier in the season, Bernard made the most of his extended playing time, toting the rock 23 times for 262 yards and 2 TDs.

How impressive was this effort? The 262-yard total was the highest ever recorded by a single player against Frank Beamer-coached team.

TEAM OF THE WEEK - Duke Blue Devils
After its upset of Wake Forest last week, many people still wondered if this year's Duke team was a contender or pretender.

Saturday's game should have removed all doubt, as the Blue Devils dominated the second half against Virginia. The game was over early in the third quarter when Duke's defense stopped Virginia cold on a critical fourth-and-one in Cavalier territory. This turnover on downs broke UVA's back, and allowed Duke to take a commanding 28-17 lead.

Not a bad performance for a team that was missing several key players due to injuries, including starting QB Sean Renfree.

PLEASANT SURPRISE OF THE WEEK - NC State's Fourth Quarter Comeback
NC State's spirited fourth quarter rally might be a candidate for Pleasant Surprise of the Year.

Make no mistake about it: Florida State was completely in control of this game. Even when the Wolfpack cut the lead to 16-10 in the fourth quarter, the Seminole defense appeared to have the upper hand.

However, NC State played like a championship caliber team in the game's closing minutes. With just three minutes to play, the Wolfpack blocked an FSU punt, which gave them the ball at Seminole 43. After struggling on offense all evening, NC State marched down the field for the winning score, going 3-for-3 on fourth down conversions.

CLUNKER OF THE WEEK - Boston College loses to Army
Just when it looked like the team was improving, Boston College took a huge step back this week by losing to Army, who entered the game reeling from a 23-3 loss to FCS opponent Stony Brook.

The Eagle defense was nothing short of atrocious on Saturday, allowing the Black Knights to roll up a season-high 595 yards of total offense.

However, there's more to this story than just numbers. Despite giving up almost two weeks' worth of yardage, Boston College still found itself in position to win the game. All it had to do was prevent Army from going 38 yards in the final 1:09 to preserve the victory.

Three plays and 24 seconds later, the Black Knights scored the decisive TD, which will undoubtedly lead to speculation about Frank Spaziani's future in Chestnut Hill.

12. Boston College - Losing to Army drops the Eagles into the ACC cellar.

11. Virginia - The 'Hoos move down to No. 11 after suffering another blowout loss in conference play.

10. Wake Forest - The Deacons fall to this slot after losing their third straight conference game.

9. Maryland - Don't look now, but the Terps are tied for the lead in the ACC Atlantic Division. Will Maryland head to a bowl game? We'll find out Saturday against Virginia.

8. Georgia Tech - The Jackets move up one spot after trading scores with Clemson for the first half of Saturday's contest. It will be interesting to see what changes Tech makes on defense with the departure of Al Groh.

7. Virginia Tech - The Hokies drop out of the top half of the conference after allowing 533 yards to North Carolina.

6. North Carolina - By throttling Virginia Tech, the 'Heels showed that they will make life difficult for everyone the Coastal Division. As long as Giovani Bernard is healthy, UNC is capable of beating anyone in the conference.

5. Duke - Despite an impressive win over Virginia this week, the Devils drop one spot in the power rankings thanks to NC State's fourth quarter heroics.

4. Miami - While there's no shame in losing to Notre Dame, the Hurricanes fall one spot after suffering their second blowout loss of the season.

3. Florida State - No, the Seminoles do not control their own destiny in the Atlantic Division, because NC State also has one conference loss and owns the head-to-head tiebreaker against the 'Noles. With that said, don't be surprised to see the Seminoles back in the top spot by season's end.

2. North Carolina State - After knocking off the most talented team in the conference, the Wolfpack have earned this spot.

1. Clemson - The Tigers move into the top spot after taking care of a Georgia Tech team that had beaten them in four of the last five meetings.

1. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson - Now that Florida State is no longer unbeaten, Tajh Boyd is the ACC's best Heisman Trophy candidate. He was at his best against longtime nemesis Georgia Tech this weekend, completing 26 of 41 passes for 397 yards, rushing for 67 yards, and accounting for 3 TDs. He will need to have a huge game against South Carolina if he's going to make it to New York.

2. EJ Manuel, QB, FSU - Manuel's candidacy suffered a major blow with the loss to the Wolfpack. Not only did he post pedestrian numbers (17 of 29 for 218 yards) against a suspect NC State secondary, he also threw a crucial pick late in the third quarter that allowed the Wolfpack to cut the lead to 16-10. His only chance to get back into the race is to turn in huge performances against Miami and Florida.

3. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson - No, Hopkins won't win the nation's most prestigious award this season because he's not a QB. However, if the award were based on strictly on numbers, he would definitely be in the conversation. After all, Hopkins has emerged as the conference's top receiver, leading the ACC in both yards per game and receptions per game.

Despite the abbreviated schedule, this is still a key weekend for ACC football.

First place in the Coastal Division is up for grabs with undefeated Miami and Duke facing North Carolina and Virginia Tech, respectively. Despite their unblemished records, the Hurricanes and Blue Devils actually enter the game as underdogs.

In the only other significant action this week, Maryland travels to Virginia, with the winner putting itself in position to qualify for a bowl game.

It will be interesting to watch it all unfold...