As the standings currently read, the Florida State Seminoles and Virginia Tech Hokies currently lead the Atlantic and Coastal divisions of the ACC. Both teams are in the process of turning the corner past recent adversity. For the Seminoles, the last few seasons have been average to mediocre; for the Hokies, losing its first two games of the season seemingly had everyone writing them off after picking them to win the conference. Now both of them sit as the last remaining unbeaten teams in the conference.
Florida State is looking more and more like the team to beat in the conference, and who would’ve thought it coming into the season? Given the way Florida State looked last season, the removal of Bobby Bowden as head coach and replacing him with first-time head coach Jimbo Fisher, no one would’ve thought that Florida State could be the best team in the ACC. Yes, they returned quite a bit of talent from last year’s team, including a lot of offensive veterans, but the defense was the question mark last season and remained so going into the season with a new coordinator. Yet through seven games, the Seminoles lead the nation in sacks, and are playing well on both sides of the ball. While they have won five in a row since their loss to Oklahoma, they still have some work to do, starting with Thursday’s game at N.C. State. A win there puts the Seminoles clear of everyone in the division save Maryland, whom they will meet on November 23rd.
For Virginia Tech, which was all but left for dead after losing to James Madison in the second game of the season, the turnaround has been concurrent with the revival of their offense. Tech has been scoring points in bunches, including last week’s demolition of Duke. With the way they have been playing lately, they might not want Saturday off, but they do have the day off to prepare for a game next Thursday with defending conference champ Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets and their triple-option offense are never easy to play, but they are coming off a loss to Clemson. That game begins a closing stretch of four games against Coastal division foes with dates against North Carolina, Miami and Virginia. The Hokies one-game lead over the Hurricanes currently makes their November 20th date in Miami look very intriguing.
Besides the Hokies and Clemson getting wins last weekend, Maryland beat Boston College, Miami defeated North Carolina and Virginia got its first FBS win over Eastern Michigan. Maryland now sits one win from bowl eligibility, one season after winning only two games all of last season amid cries for Ralph Friedgen’s removal. Miami’s win breaks a personal three-game losing streak for Randy Shannon against Butch Davis; and Virginia finally beat someone other than an FCS team. Not counting the Seminoles vs. Wolfpack, upcoming games in the conference include Clemson heading north to take on the BC Eagles, and Wake Forest comes off a bye week to take on the Terps at College Park. Two out of conference games round out the slate, with North Carolina hosting the Tribe of William and Mary, and Duke traveling to Annapolis to take on the Midshipmen of Navy.