- David M. Hale, ESPN Staff Writer
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After the early-season scrum, a line of demarcation is emerging in both divisions in the ACC, and Saturday's games helped draw that line a bit more clearly. Here's what we learned.
Clemson and Florida State are on a collision course: There was buzz in Syracuse that the Carrier Dome would make it tough for Clemson's up-tempo offense. Tajh Boyd responded by throwing for 455 yards and five touchdowns. FSU's defense was criticized all week after struggling against Boston College. The Seminoles responded by holding Maryland to 33 yards rushing while pitching a shutout. Only two weeks remain before the ACC's top two teams face off in Death Valley, and Boyd and Jameis Winston both look like Heisman contenders while the Tigers and Seminoles have their sights set on a national championship.
Miami and Virginia Tech are rolling, too: The Coastal Division race hasn't gotten the same national attention as the Atlantic, but the battle at the top looks nearly as intriguing. The Hokies had little trouble shrugging off North Carolina, and Logan Thomas seems to be rounding into form. He's completed 38 of 53 passes (72 percent) for 514 yards, four TDs (plus one rushing) and no interceptions in his last two games. Meanwhile, Duke Johnson carried Miami to a huge win over Georgia Tech, keeping the Hurricanes undefeated and effectively burying the Yellow Jackets in the division. Johnson racked up 325 all-purpose yards, while Stephen Morris threw for 324 yards and three TDs. Miami and Virginia Tech will go head to head on Nov. 9.
There were big performances on smaller stages: While the big boys hogged the bulk of the ACC spotlight Saturday, Wake Forest and Boston College managed to make some noise of their own behind some big-time performances from their stars. BC's Andre Williams continued his torrid start to the 2013 season, racking up a whopping 263 rushing yards and five TDs against Army. Williams has gone over 100 yards in four of five games this year, including twice topping 200. Meanwhile, Michael Campanaro continues to shine for the Demon Deacons, who got their first ACC win of the year. The ACC's leading receiver hauled in 12 catches for 153 yards and two touchdowns. It was Campanaro's fifth game with 12 or more receptions since the start of last season.
Syracuse and Maryland were exposed: There was ample enthusiasm for both programs leading up to Saturday's games, but they came up well short in showdown games against the ACC's elite. At Syracuse, the Orange had hoped they'd turned a corner behind new starting QB Terrel Hunt. That might still happen, but Hunt struggled badly against Clemson, completing 8 of 24 passes for 52 yards and three INTs. Meanwhile, Maryland showed it wasn't ready to compete for the Atlantic Division title, getting smoked 63-0 in Tallahassee. C.J. Brown went out early with a concussion, and Stefon Diggs left a quarter later. The Orange and Terrapins could still find success this year, but they're both 0-1 in ACC play and all that enthusiasm from a week ago seems a distant memory.
Problems in the Triangle: North Carolina was already reeling before it had to go on the road to face one of the nation's top defenses without its starting quarterback. The outcome was predictably ugly, as the Tar Heels fell to 1-4. Meanwhile, NC State hoped it had made strides under first-year coach Dave Doeren, but instead the Wolfpack lost in Winston-Salem for the sixth straight time. Add in Duke's rough start to conference play (the Blue Devils were off this week) and the three teams in the Triangle are a combined 0-6 in the ACC.
3dSharon Katz, ESPN Stats & Information
4dTom VanHaaren and Erik McKinney