Sunday, November 20, 2011

On Wake's win, Clemson's fall from grace

Two quick thoughts on the week that was in ACC football:

--- Wake Forest's 31-10 blowout of Maryland was important to the Deacons' post-season plans on multiple levels.

Obviously Wake needed to win one more game to get to six wins and be bowl-eligible. They had lost three straight going into the Maryland game, and wanted no part of the stress of knowing they'd have to beat Vanderbilt with the post-season at stake.

There's also a side-benefit to the Deacons clinching a bowl against Maryland. It means the Deacons finish with a 5-3 ACC record, and that means they can't be leap-frogged by North Carolina in the conference's bowl pecking order.

According to Wake sports information director Steve Shutt. the ACC's rules work this way: A team with one fewer ACC victory can go to a more prestigious bowl, but not two fewer.

The Deacons finish with five wins. The Tar Heels are 2-5, so they can finish no better than 3-5 with a victory over Duke.

Considering the comparative size of the fan bases, it was quite possible a bowl would pick the Heels over the Deacons, given that choice.

It would be no shock if Wake ends up playing its bowl game in Charlotte.

-- Now, about those tail-spinning Clemson Tigers....

Think how close the Tigers are to a three-game losing streak, following an 8-0 start. Losses at Georgia Tech and N.C. State surround a three-point home victory over Wake. The Deacons led that game by 14 and it took a last-play field goal for Clemson to avoid overtime.

This reminds me of that famous line by boxer Mike Tyson. Some reporter mentioned a "plan'' Tyson's next opponent was conceiving, and Tyson smugly replied, "Everybody has a plan until they get hit.''

Clemson has been hit, and the plan seems dented. This was always a team carried by its offense. They're no longer playing with the turnover-free/ third-down converting efficiency of those first eight games.

Obviously injuries hurt them against the Wolfpack. They played without their superstar (freshman Sammy Watkins) and the starting left offensive tackle. But the ease with which a shaky N.C. State team pushed them around has to be rattling, entering Saturday's rivalry game at South Carolina, and then the ACC title game Dec. 3 in Charlotte.

Three weeks ago, the Tigers looked like a huge favorite to reach the BCS. Now it's far from so certain.

-- Rick Bonnell


Anonymous said...

The only way Wake plays in the bowl game here is if Virginia goes to one of the higher ones. There is 0 chance the Belk Bowl passes on UVa if they are available.

Anonymous said...

When's UNCheat's well-deserved 3-year bowl ban coming?

Anonymous said...

If NC State beats Maryland, which they should, then the Belk Bowl would take them over the Deacs for sure. Clemson's gag-job on Saturday hurt Wake's bowl quality greatly. Miami declining a bowl bid helps slightly.

Anonymous said...

"Everybody has a plan until they get hit" was originally attributed to Joe Louis. George Foreman also used a variation of the quote and Tyson's version was "everybody has a plan until they get hit in the mouth."