Late Hits: Auburn’s luck, Duke’s peachy bowl fortunes

jgiglio@newsobserver.comNovember 17, 2013 

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    Auburn: It’s better to be lucky than good and there’s no doubt the Tigers were lucky on Ricardo Louis’ 73-yard touchdown catch at the end of their 43-38 win against Georgia on Saturday.

    Still, first-year coach Gus Malzahn has the Tigers at 6-1 in the SEC, after an 0-8 flameout last year cost Gene Chizik his job.

    Auburn might not beat No.1 Alabama on Nov.30, but Malzahn will be the SEC coach of the year.

    USC: Since dumping Lane Kiffin, the Trojans are 5-0 in the Pac-12, including Saturday’s 20-17 upset of No. 4 Stanford.

    The Trojans will always have talent, it’s just a matter of finding the right coach to put it all together.

    Interim coach Ed Orgeron, who is 5-1 since replacing Kiffin after a 62-41 loss at Arizona State on Sept.28, is certainly making his case for the full-time gig.

    Miami: Losing running back Duke Johnson for the season to an ankle injury hurt Miami, no doubt, but Johnson didn’t play defense. Since a 7-0 start, the Hurricanes have given up 41, 42 and 48 points in consecutive losses to Florida State, Virginia Tech and Duke.

    Maryland: The Terps won their sixth game, 27-24 over Virginia Tech in overtime on Saturday, and qualified for a bowl. That’s the good news.

    Any takers that the ACC ships them to Shreveport, La. as a going-away present?

    Banishment to the Independence Bowl would fall right in line with the ACC’s trolling of Maryland since the school’s decision to leave for the Big Ten.

• Duke is the best story of the college football season. That will make the Blue Devils an attractive option on the bowl circuit.

As long as Florida State and Clemson don’t stumble, Duke will have the inside track for the ACC’s spot in the Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta on Dec.31.

The Blue Devils (8-2) will probably need to win at least one more game to get to Atlanta, but that’s not an overwhelming task, given they’ve won six in a row and finish with Wake Forest and North Carolina.

Duke’s bowl fortunes would get a little cloudy if Clemson loses at South Carolina on Nov.30 and doesn’t qualify for a BCS at-large spot (they have to finish in the top 14 to do so).

• Wisconsin had three players run for at least 100 yards in a 51-3 blowout of Indiana on Saturday. The Badgers finished with 554 rushing yards.

It was an impressive showing by the Badgers but not totally unexpected. Last year, they set the school-record for rushing yards in a game with 564. The opponent? Indiana.

• Florida State put up 59 points to destroy Syracuse on Saturday and make a little history. The Seminoles finished their ACC schedule at 8-0 and with a record 411 points in conference play. The Seminoles had held the previous mark with 395 points in 2000.

How dominant was Florida State this season? It finished the season with a 411 to 98 margin in league play, which works out to an average of 51.3 to 12.2 points per game.

Only problem for FSU is it might have been too good at making the ACC look so bad.

Ranking the ACC

1. FSU: The challenge against Idaho? Avoid serious injury.

2. Clemson: The Tigers went 7-1 in the ACC but will only be remembered for the lopsided loss.

3. Duke: Can wrap up the Coastal Division title and state title with wins over Wake Forest and UNC.

4 (tie): Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech: Closing in on our first ACC title game without a Tech.

6. Miami: With Duke Johnson, the Canes are three spots higher, without him, they might drop another three spots by the end of the regular season.

7. UNC: The Tar Heels should have started the season with more urgency, but four wins in a row is four in a row.

8 (tie). Pitt, Boston College and Syracuse: There really should be some sort of annual consolation prize for finishing first in the Big East division.

11. Maryland: It took four chances but the Terps finally got to their sixth win. The ACC finale against N.C. State in two weeks promises to be crazy.

12. Wake Forest: Closing against Duke and Vanderbilt — Deacons wish it was 2002.

13 (tie): N.C. State and Virginia: Thirteen losses, and no wins, between the teams fit to be tied at 13.

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