ACC Notebook: The Showdown Is Finally Here (Kind Of)
By Eric Russell
During a preseason filled with anticipation for Florida State fans, the group most looked forward to October, when the battle of the unbeaten teams in the Atlantic Division would take place. Little did many know, the Oct. 5 matchup with Maryland would have many of the same story lines as the highly-touted Oct. 26 game against Clemson.
The Terrapins head into Saturday's game after using a bye week to prepare for the Seminoles. The last time Maryland saw action, they manhandled West Virginia in a 37-0 drubbing at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. The momentum Randy Edsall's team has combined with Florida State's defensive performance against Boston College adds more intrigue to Saturday's game. It may not have looked like it in the preseason, but this game will follow the theme of most big games this season: top-notch quarterback play.
Jameis Winston and C.J. Brown are the top two passers in the ACC when it comes to completion percentage and quarterback rating. So far, they have both been low-risk, high-reward quarterbacks. They have only thrown three interceptions between the two of them, and each averages more than 10 yards per passing play.
Maryland never has won a game in Tallahassee, but this week would be a great time for the program to start. They have made their way into the Top 25 and seem to have positive momentum on both sides of the ball.
The Logan Thomas We've Been Waiting For
A few weeks back, I mentioned that Virginia Tech's offense needed to step up for the Hokies to compete in the ACC. Thursday night was Exhibit A.
The performance wasn't perfect, but Thomas avoided the critical mistakes that plagued him in some of the earlier games this season. The offense still only put up 17 points, which brings me to what makes Thomas' performance a bit more impressive: the lack of a running game. The Hokies finished the game with 55 total rushing yards, and Thomas accounted for 58 yards himself.
The problems in the run game are cut-and-dry. Trey Edmonds was banged up. The defense still needs more help from the Hokies offense, but Thursday night was a bit of an improvement on Thomas' part.
Welcome To The ACC
The ACC Welcoming Committee has been tough this year. Newcomer Pittsburgh got Florida State in its first conference game, and now Syracuse gets the offensive buzzsaw that is Clemson.
Now that the Tigers' offense is moving at a pace which seems to please offensive coordinator Chad Morris, the Orange should have their hands full. Syracuse does have the 45th-ranked scoring defense in the nation, but the one time they faced a formidable opponent, Northwestern, they gave up 48 points. Some are calling the game an upset watch, but I see it as no more than a Clemson domination with much more orange involved.