ACC Football Recap, Week 12: DUKE (?!) in Coastal Driver's Seat

Grant Halverson

A lot happened in the ACC this past weekend; we recap all the events for Syracuse fans here.

We're all fans of one ACC team: Syracuse. But (surprise!), there are also 13 other teams in the football conference. Every Monday, we'll try and recap what happened all around the league, and where possible, relate it all back to the Orange.

Scores

Florida State 59, Syracuse 3

Clemson 55, Georgia Tech 31

Boston College 38, NC State 21

North Carolina 34, Pittsburgh 27

Maryland 27, Virginia Tech 24 (OT)

Duke 48, Miami 30

Takeaways/Lessons

Somehow, Duke (DUKE?!) is the top dog in the ACC's Coastal Division and now controls its own destiny in terms of getting to the ACC Championship Game. This is obviously stunning, confusing and in some circles, feels impossible, but it's really been a long time coming. David Cutcliffe has grown the Blue Devils over time, installed his offensive system and let the players catch up. Eventually, they did, and now the long-dormant program is reaping the benefits. We say Syracuse can "never" win anything of note in the ACC, but I'd think Duke's resurgence this season proves otherwise. Of course, Duke also gets to avoid playing against Clemson and Florida State every year, but the point is there is hope. The ACC, while it appears to be a two-team league right now, is actually a crapshoot more often than not. If the Blue Devils can get to the title game, then why not us one day?

Speaking of the Duke game, that contest may also be a testament to just how much the 'Canes miss Duke Johnson. Including the Florida State game in which he was injured, Miami's now lost three straight without him and looks like a shell of the team that started off the year 7-0. Obviously they're still going to the postseason, but perhaps all that talk about the return of "the U" was a bit hasty.

What wasn't hasty was the "Florida State is back" talk, as we saw first-hand down in Tallahassee on Saturday afternoon. No, Syracuse wasn't supposed to win, or even be competitive, but that was a display the likes of which we haven't seen in over a decade. Jameis Winston and the Seminoles simply ran circles around the Orange for the first two quarters and then coasted toward the finish -- and we STILL only put up three points. Even expecting to be blown out, it was demoralizing just the same, and I have little desire to play the 'Noles again any time soon. If FSU doesn't go ahead and win it all (and I don't see why they can't), I'll be stunned (TROLL TIDE!).

Elsewhere, both Maryland and Boston College racked up their important six wins, respectively, clinching bowl eligibility as we'd also like to ourselves. At five wins apiece, Syracuse and Pitt face off this Saturday with the winner clinching a postseason spot and the loser needing to win its final contest in order to do so. Hopefully the Orange can shake off the trauma of last week and get a win -- lest we have to depend on getting past Boston College to end the year instead. If you haven't noticed, Andre Williams is a monster, running for a ridiculous 339 yards in a win against NC State, giving him over 1,800 on the season with two games to play. Dear George McDonald: This is what Jerome Smith could be/should be. Give him the damn ball.

***

ACC Standings, Post-Week 12

ATLANTIC CONF W-L OVERALL
Florida State 8-0 10-0
Clemson 7-1 9-1
Boston College 3-3 6-4
Syracuse 3-3 5-5
Maryland 2-4 6-4
Wake Forest
2-5 4-6
NC State 0-7 3-7
COASTAL CONF W-L OVERALL
Duke
4-2 8-2
Georgia Tech 5-3 6-4
Virginia Tech
4-3 7-4
North Carolina
4-3 5-5
Miami
3-3 7-3
Pittsburgh 2-4 5-5
Virginia 0-6 2-8


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