Shayon Green, Logan Thomas

Virginia Tech’s dominance in Miami opens door for all in ACC Coastal


Virginia Tech (7-3, 4-2 ACC) snapped their losing skid in a big way. After putting together their best effort of the season by blowing away Miami (7-2, 3-2 ACC) by a score of 42-24, the Hokies started to take control in the ACC Coastal division and could now be the team to beat to get to Charlotte to take on Florida State.

Or maybe Duke is the team to beat? Or maybe it is Georgia Tech? Or maybe it’s still Miami? At this point, nobody really knows for sure.

As it stands, a potential four-way tie in the ACC Coastal Division could make for a very complicated tiebreaker procedure at the end of the season, but there is still some time to sort it all out and perhaps let the games play out to make things a bit more clear before figuring out who gets the right to challenge the Seminoles in the ACC Championship Game. Miami, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Duke all have two losses in ACC play.

For the first time all season though, Virginia Tech truly looked like the team to beat in this messy division. The Hokies have struggled on offense throughout much of the season, so go figure that their best offensive performance of the season came in a constant down pour in Miami. Virginia Tech had a season high in total offensive yards and scored over 40 points for just the second time of the year. Logan Thomas had a masterful performance throwing the football, completing 24 of 30 pass attempts for 356 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Trey Edmunds had four rushing touchdowns, including three in the first half to capitalize on Miami’s special teams mistakes. Willie Byrn had his second 100 yard receiving game of the year. The Hokies defense frustrated Miami all night with the Hurricanes clearly suffering without the injured Duke Johnson, erratic play from quarterback Stephen Morris and a special teams unit that had a rough night. Miami may have also been in a bit of a slumber after getting a sleeper hold put on them a week ago by Florida State.

Of course, Virgina Tech was coming off two straight losses to Duke and Boston College.

Of the ACC Coastal teams still in the mix, Virginia Tech may have the most favorable schedule the rest of the way. The Hokies play Virginia and Maryland to close out the regular season while Georgia Tech gets plays at Clemson in their final ACC game next Thursday. Duke and Miami square off next week and the Blue Devils end the season with road games at Wake Forest and North Carolina. Miami has Virginia and Pittsburgh after playing Duke as well.

Things look good for Virginia Tech at this point, if they can just avoid a major letdown.

SEC, Big Ten and Pac-12 all have 5 teams in coaches top 25 poll

Johnny Jefferson, Micah Awe
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With multiple teams in the coach spill top 10 losing this week, there was bound to be some shaking up the rankings this week. The coaches poll still has Ohio State on top, followed by TCU, Michigan State and Baylor. Florida had the biggest jump in the rankings while Georgia had the biggest drop The coaches poll also welcomes some new additions this week.

The Florida Gators, fresh off a stomping of previous No. 3 Ole Miss (down to No. 13) moved up 11 spots in this week’s coaches poll. Florida is one of five SEC teams in this week’s coaches poll. The Big Ten has five as well. So does the Pac-12.

No. 23 Iowa, No. 24 Boise State and No. 25 Memphis make their debuts in the coaches poll this week, giving us our first glimpse on the national perception in the Group of Five race. I may have Boise State down a few pegs, but the coaches, or those who actually submit the votes, have the Broncos on top of the Group of Five pack. Memphis is right there as well, but not Toledo.

Here is this week’s coaches poll:

  1. Ohio State ( first place votes)
  2. TCU
  3. Michigan State
  4. Baylor
  5. LSU
  6. Clemson
  7. Utah
  8. Florida State
  9. Oklahoma
  10. Alabama
  11. Texas A&M
  12. Florida
  13. Ole Miss
  14. Northwestern
  15. Notre Dame
  16. Georgia
  17. USC
  18. Stanford
  19. Oklahoma State
  20. UCLA
  21. Michigan
  22. California
  23. Iowa
  24. Boise State
  25. Memphis

Brian Kelly defends decisions on two-point conversion attempts

Brian Kelly

Notre Dame fell two points shy of tying a road game at Clemson Saturday night, partly because the decision to go for two-point conversion on one early fourth-quarter touchdown backfired on the Irish. Down 12 points early in the fourth quarter, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly chose to go for two-points to cut the Clemson lead to 10 points, meaning Notre Dame would need a touchdown, extra point and a field goal to tie. The two-point conversion attempt failed, and the Irish trailed by 12, 21-9.

Had the Irish gone for the easier and more likely extra point, Notre Dame would have been down 11 points. That is still a bit of an uphill battle that would require a two-point conversion later on anyway, but it also meant Notre Dame had to score two touchdowns instead of a touchdown and a field goal for a shot at tying the game. Making things worse, Notre Dame burned a timeout after the touchdown before deciding which two-point conversion play to run.

Notre Dame’s execution of a late two-point conversion with the game on the line with under 10 seconds to play also came into question as the Irish looked to give freshman quarterback DeShone Kizer the call on a run-pass option. This was stuffed by Clemson as Kizer held on to the football. Kelly, after the game, defended his quarterback’s decision to try and run for the two points.

“We had fair numbers,” Kelly said. “He’s reading it at the line of scrimmage, if the numbers were fair, they were in zone coverage. It was the right call. He made the right call.”

Sometimes a player can make the right decision and still come up short. Perhaps that is exactly what happened in the rain at Clemson Saturday night. Kizer made the best possible decision in the heat of the moment, but Clemson came out on top with solid work up front on the line of scrimmage. Of course, as it turned out late in the game, Notre Dame would have only needed an extra point to tie Clemson in the final seconds after the Tigers tacked on a field goal to set up a seven-point deficit with an Irish extra point earlier. The Irish were forced to go for two because they chased the points earlier in the quarter. Hindsight might be 20/20, but Kelly is not looking back on that decision.

Kelly is hardly the only coach to make some questionable decisions under pressure this season, or this weekend. He is, however, another example of a coach being paid millions to put his program in the best position making some questionable calls that have come back to bite him. Maybe Notre Dame would have won in overtime. The Irish certainly had the momentum in their hands. Or maybe Clemson wins anyway. Who knows?