A look back at week 6, and a look ahead to week 7-and a little beyond:
The conference game of the week turned out to be a snoozer, as Florida State dominated a Miami Hurricanes squad that is loaded with talent, but still has yet to take the next step to gain control of the conference. The Seminoles were in control of all three phases of the game in the 45-17 victory. The win marks four straight for the Seminoles, and with the victory have stamped themselves (for now) as the best team in the conference (and its only nationally ranked team). While they share an identical 5-1 record with North Carolina State, through six games the Seminoles have looked better and more consistent on both offense and defense (the loss to Oklahoma notwithstanding). As it is, the two of them are both in the same division, and the Thursday October 28th game in Raleigh could be for the Atlantic Division crown…unless Maryland’s Terrapins have something to say about the division race.
The Terps currently sit with a 4-1 overall record, 1-0 in conference with a win over Duke back on October 2nd. But the list of combatants has been a little lightweight. The Terrapins best win so far has been over a Navy team back on Labor Day-and Navy has an ACC win of its own, having beaten Wake Forest just this past weekend. Following a bye on Saturday, the Terps head down to Death Valley to take on the suddenly struggling Clemson Tigers, losers of three straight. Clemson’s latest defeat came at the hands of undermanned North Carolina, which has just dismissed three players from the team for good. And recent history doesn’t bode well for the Tigers; Maryland only ACC victory last season came over Clemson. If the Terps can get the victory in South Carolina, the Terps may figure into the Atlantic Division race as well. However, for Clemson this game qualifies as a must-win.
In the Coastal division, the team to beat appears to be Virginia Tech, which was left for dead after losing to James Madison back in Week 2. Since then, the Hokies have won four straight-the latest a non-conference pasting of Central Michigan 45-21. The schedule continues to be light for the Hokies as Wake Forest and Duke come to Lane Stadium in the next two weeks, then a bye before a Thursday night home date with defending conference champions Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets haven’t always been pretty, but they do sport a 3-1 conference record, and playing Paul Johnson’s crew is never an easy day with their triple option attack. And Miami may yet be heard from in the Coastal Division race-if it can hang around long enough, and Virginia Tech keeps winning. A showdown with the Hokies down in Miami could be for the Coastal Division title.
Of course, all of this is small potatoes on the national stage. When the first BCS standings are released on Sunday, the only name that might sniff a spot near the top ten is probably Florida State. But like seasons past, the ACC conference race promises to be another one of teams beating up on each other, with the survivors meeting in the conference title game. The dogfight for Atlantic and Coastal division champions began in earnest last week, and continues this weekend, as all teams except the Wolfpack and Yellow Jackets have conference games. Besides Maryland-Clemson and Wake Forest-Virginia Tech, other ACC matchups include: the struggling Boston College Eagles traveling to Tallahassee to face the Seminoles, Duke heading down to Miami to face the Hurricanes, and North Carolina’s Tar Heels headed up to Charlottesville to face the Virginia Cavaliers.