On the same day that Clemson lost the verbal commitment of the No. 1 recruit in the nation for the class of 2013, it also lost a little more hope in getting back to the ACC championship game. The Tigers, at 8-1 overall and 5-1 in the ACC, are on the wrong end of a head-to-head tie with Florida State atop the conference’s Atlantic division and would need some help to leapfrog the Seminoles.
A Virginia Tech upset of No. 8 FSU on Thursday night would’ve done the trick. Unfortunately for the Tigers, a 39-yard touchdown pass from E.J. Manuel to Rashad Greene with 40 seconds remaining in the game to give the ‘Noles an eventual 28-22 win not only sucked the life out of Lane Stadium, it may have sucked the life out of Clemson’s hopes for a second consecutive ACC championship showing.
Florida State, at 9-1 overall and 6-1 in the ACC, now has only a road game at Maryland standing in its way for its first ACC championship game appearance since 2010. Incidentally enough, the Terps can play also spoiler this weekend against Clemson.
The Hokies nearly played spoiler against the ‘Noles Thursday. A bizarre illegal forward pass penalty in the end zone on FSU running back Devonta Freeman gave Virginia Tech a safety and the ball with seven minutes remaining. That led to a Cody Journell 21-yard field goal to give VT a 22-20 lead with 2:19 remaining. All the Hokies had to do was make one more stop, which they had been able to do most of the night. Florida State finished the game with -15 yards rushing, but seven of those came on a crucial James Wilder Jr. run on fourth down near midfield to move the chains on FSU’s final drive.
Barring an upset next week, the ACC Atlantic belongs to FSU. The Seminoles will likely meet either Miami or Duke (yes, we know) in the conference championship game. The Blue Devils and Hurricanes meet on the last regular season game of the season later this month.
Virginia Tech (4-6 overall, 2-4 ACC), meanwhile, will need to beat Boston College and Virginia just to get bowl eligible.