ACC Notebook: The Defensive Conference
By Eric Russell
All of the impressive offensive numbers put up by a few ACC teams have overshadowed an even more impressive stat for the teams in the conference. At the halfway point in the season the ACC has four of the top defenses in the nation.
Florida State comes in at No. 3 allowing 12 points per game, Virginia Tech is at No. 7 and Miami and Clemson round out the Top 10 at No. 9 and 10 respectively. Those four teams and the conference's fifth-leading team, N.C. State, allows an average of 16 points per game. That's the lowest of any of the other major conference's Top 5 scoring defenses. Yes, that does include the SEC, who's Top 5 scoring defenses have the highest average among the major conferences at 20.8 points per game.
I should point out, I refuse to consider the American Athletic conference a "major conference" in football. However, It is worth noting that Louisville has the No. 1 scoring defense in the nation.
What's At Stake
Everybody loves a good upset.
Imagine the underachieving Tar Heels picking up a big upset victory over Miami on Thursday night. It would be a joy for some fans, and it would also be the ACC's worst nightmare.
The teams love the attention of having quality, nationally-respected programs this season. During Wednesday's ACC teleconference, Dabo Swinney made sure to point out the fact that his conference is the only one to have three undefeated teams remaining. UNC head coach Larry Fedora even mentioned that the attention the conference is getting is well deserved, and UNC wants to be a part of it. There's no avoiding having that number decreased this weekend, but the conference would like for it to stay at two. In order for that to happen the Hurricanes need to take care of business at least until their showdown with Virginia Tech.
Fedora also was adamant about UNC's season not being over. The Tar Heels will get a chance to prove Fedora right and rain on the ACC's parade on Thursday.
Maryland has a chance to become bowl eligible for the first time during the Randy Edsall era. The head coach has downplayed the idea of the team becoming eligible, but it will be a big step forward for him and the program.
Maryland also got good news on the injury front. C.J. Brown was cleared and has been practicing with the team all week.