The bye week couldn't come at a better time for N.C. State.
Given the football team's downward spiral, it's obvious some time off can only help the Wolfpack. But statistically, the bye week has more meaning.
Since the ACC expanded to 12 teams in 2005, State is 5-1 after a bye, including 2-1 under coach Tom O'Brien. Going back to his last season at Boston College, O'Brien has won three of four after a week off.
"I don't have an answer, but I hope it holds true again," O'Brien said of his post-bye success. "It's even more important this year because we have to find players that can play positions for us the last five games of the year."
The numbers alone are a good sign and are second to only Wake Forest (4-0) and Miami (6-1), but they're even better considering State's record the rest of the time against major Division I opponents.
Since 2005, State has 18 games against Football Bowl Subdivision opponents (with 28 losses).
So during the normal course of the season, the Wolfpack is 13-27, compared with 5-1 after a bye.
State's winning percentage (83.3) after a bye is above the league average (61.7, 42-26) since 2005.
Given Jim Grobe's attention to detail and ability to prepare, it's hardly surprising that Wake has the best post-bye record. Miami's record is a little tougher to explain, considering Larry Coker's reputation as a caretaker, but he was 3-0 and Randy Shannon is off to a 3-1 start, including an important 33-17 win over Georgia Tech on Sept. 17.
Another surprise is Virginia Tech's record (3-3) after a bye. The Hokies entered this season with eight regular-season ACC losses, and three of them came after byes. It should be noted that all three of Virginia Tech's post-bye losses were to Boston College.
The Hokies are on their bye this week, before hosting North Carolina next Thursday in Blacksburg.
"I like this bye week," said Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, whose team is coming of a 28-23 loss to Georgia Tech. "I think this one came at a good time."
The power of the bye week, and the opportunity to step back and evaluate a team and refocus the season, was never more evident than in Clemson's 38-3 win over Wake Forest this past Saturday.
The Tigers' 24-21 loss at Maryland on Oct. 3 stands as the Terps' only win over an FBS team. Twelve games into coach Dabo Swinney's tenure, Clemson fans were ready to dump him.
But after the bye, Clemson came back and throttled Wake to get back in the Atlantic Division race.
"The bye was critical," said Swinney, who also won last season at Boston College after a bye. "For us, it was a chance to just look at what we've done good and what we've done bad."
Clearly, the bye week is not a panacea. Maryland (2-4) and Duke (1-4) have losing records, and six other teams are either .500 or one game over .500, but it helps in most cases. And after losing to Duke by 21 and BC by 32, N.C. State needs help.
BCS and Coastal tiebreaker
To clarify a point from last week's column on how the ACC's tiebreaking procedure works, the chances of a random draw determining the Coastal Division champion are remote, if not impossible.
The seventh tiebreaker for three or more teams -- which is where we're headed if Georgia Tech, Miami and Virginia Tech each finish 7-1 -- involves the use of the Bowl Championship Standings.
The language in the ACC's rules does not account for a third team in the BCS standings. So unless two teams tie in the BCS standings -- which given the ability of computers to calculate places after the decimal point means it would virtually take a lightning strike -- the tiebreak will be determined by the BCS standings.
Unless, according to the ACC procedure, "the second of the tied teams is ranked within five-or-fewer places of the highest ranked tied team."
Then the head-to-head result would be used as the tiebreaker.
If we used this week's BCS standings, Miami (No. 10) would be selected over Georgia Tech (12), based on their head-to-head result. Virginia Tech (14) would be eliminated from the process based on its BCS position in the group.
It's still fairly complicated, but at least the ACC won't be sending a team to the conference championship game based on a raffle.
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