The ACC has a few issues

October 31, 2011 

GEORGIA TECH

The team that started 6-0 showed up again for Saturday's big 31-17 upset of Clemson. It was the best defensive effort the Yellow Jackets have had in quite some time.

OHIO STATE

Even the Buckeyes faithful hoping for Saint Urban to save the day have to be impressed with back-to-back wins over ranked teams, including Saturday's stunner over a superior Wisconsin team. The Michigan game in three weeks will determine if coach Luke Fickell can remove the interim tag, but he's given himself a chance to be Jim Tressel's full-time replacement.

N.C. STATE

Tom O'Brien quipped in April that he doesn't know what it's like to lose to North Carolina.

"Don't intend to find out, either," he said then.

There's a lot of "i's" to be dotted and "t's" to be crossed between now and Saturday if O'Brien wants to avoid his first loss to the Tar Heels. There were no redeemable qualities in Saturday's 34-0 loss at Florida State.

THE ACC

Virginia Tech is just making the rest of the league look incompetent at this point. Lackluster doesn't begin to describe the Hokies' win at Duke on Saturday, yet it's another ugly win and that's all Frank Beamer does and has done since 2004 (50-9 in ACC play).

Would anyone be surprised if the Hokies slog their way through the Coastal and beat Clemson in Charlotte on Dec. 3?

What we learned

John Swofford really does care about the UNC investigation: The ACC commissioner has been silent on the topic since the NCAA hit Chapel Hill 15 months ago. He was apparently saving his comments for the NCAA Committee on Infractions hearing on Friday, which he attended at the Tar Heels' behest. There's nothing wrong with Swofford helping. It's lunacy to think a former Morehead Scholar doesn't care about the academic well-being of the football program, let alone the school he worked at for 17 years as athletic director.

It's spelled L-U-C-K: It's one thing to be the preseason Heisman Trophy favorite, it's another to win it. The Stanford quarterback, who gave the NFL the Heisman stiff arm in April, did more than hold serve against USC - he had his Heisman moment. Luck finished with 330 passing yards and four total touchdowns in the Cardinal's 56-48, triple-overtime, comeback win.

Oklahoma State just might be charmed: When it's your year, it's your year. It's starting to look like the Cowboys, 8-0 and No. 3 in the BCS standings, might just run the table in the Big 12. Not only do they keep winning, but rival Oklahoma lost its top rusher for the season on Saturday, giving the Pokes a much-needed edge in a series in which it hasn't won a game in nine years.

Ranking the ACC

1. Clemson: They got "Super Bowled" by GT, but the Tigers are still the class of the conference.

2. Virginia Tech: A week off, and then on to Georgia Tech.

3. Georgia Tech: Paul Johnson is 1-4 against ACC teams coming off a bye.

4. Florida State: A different team when quarterback E.J. Manuel is healthy.

5. UNC: Good Bryn Renner equals good Tar Heels.

6. Wake Forest: Wake up the echoes, here come the Irish.

7. Virginia: On the verge of a bowl, against all odds (and common sense).

8. Miami: Another "who cares?" effort by The U against a less talented ACC team.

9. N.C. State: Here only by virtue of the problems of the bottom three teams.

10. Duke: QB roulette does not work. That's grounds to revoke David Cutcliffe's "guru" license.

11. Boston College: Deuce Finch (243 rushing yards) for the win!

12. Maryland: Just a five-alarm dumpster fire in College Park. I'd say Ralph Friedgen is laughing somewhere, but he cares too much about his former players.

jgiglio@newsobserver.com: 919-829-8938

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