Tag:ACC Standings
Posted on: November 13, 2011 2:01 am
Edited on: November 13, 2011 2:28 am
 

ACC Winners and Losers: Week 11



Posted by Chip Patterson


A handy recap of who really won and who really lost that you won't find in the box score.

WINNER: Virginia Tech's offensive backfield

The Hokies moved into control of the ACC Coastal Division thanks to another set of outstanding offensive performances from sophomore quarterback Logan Thomas and running back David Wilson. Wilson's gaudy numbers have become standard-issue for Virginia Tech, but Thursday night's 175 yard outing cemented his status as a contender for ACC Player of the Year. Thomas added 70 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, a nice compliment to his three touchdown passes. Between Wilson's elusiveness and Thomas' strength running the ball, they form a dangerous duo that any defense struggles to stop. Virginia Tech hasn't clinched their fifth division title in seven years yet, they still have North Carolina and in-state rival Virginia left on the schedule. But with the way Thomas and Wilson have been performing recently, I like their chances to be in Charlotte for a rematch with Clemson on Dec. 3.

LOSER: Georgia Tech LB Jeremiah Attaochu

With a 26-21 lead late in the third quarter, Attaochu appeared to have Logan Thomas stopped in his tracks on third down. The Hokies were deep in their own territory, and the punt would have given the Yellow Jackets the ball with great field position as the final period approached. But as the talented linebacker struggled to bring the 6-foot-6 250+ pound quarterback to the ground, Attaochu made a serious mistake throwing a punch.

"I just had an overdose of adrenalin," Attaochu explained after the game. "When I made contact with him, I was mad he wouldn't go down."

The personal foul penalty kept the Virginia Tech drive alive, and it ended with a 12-yard Logan Thomas touchdown run to give the Hokies a 27-26 lead heading into the fourth quarter. The penalty was undoubtedly the turning point of the second half, after the Yellow Jackets had put together two dominating touchdown drives. The loss knocked Georgia Tech out of contention for the ACC Championship Game, one of the primary goals for this team after last season's disappointing 6-7 finish.

WINNER: Chandler Catanzaro

Clemson's defense followed Tajh Boyd's game tying touchdown pass to Jaron Brown by forcing Wake Forest into a three and out. The field position was ideal, but Boyd was only able to drive the Tigers down to the 13 before Dabo Swinney tapped kicker Chandler Catanzaro to kick the potential game-winning field goal with less than 90 seconds remaining. Catanzaro has been streaky over the last two seasons, but from 30 yards the kick was expected to be a routine make for the sophomore from Greenville, S.C.. Catanzaro missed the kick, sending shock through Death Valley as Clemson fans saw their status as ACC Atlantic frontrunners shaken for the moment. But the Tigers' defense once again answered, giving Catanzaro another shot to win the game and lock up the Atlantic Division title. This time from 43-yards out, Catanzaro was iced twice by Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe before splitting the upright as time expired, booking Clemson's ticket to the ACC Championship Game on Dec. 3 in Charlotte.

LOSER: Jimmy Newman

Wake Forest had Death Valley silenced for a moment in the third quarter on Saturday, after the Demon Deacons scored 21 points in a five minute period to take a 28-14 lead on the ninth-ranked Tigers. But while Chandler Catanzaro got his shot at redemption and hit the game-winning field goal, Wake Forest kicker Jimmy Newman has to walk away from a three point loss after missing two field goals, including one from 32 yards in the fourth quarter. There were plenty of other breakdowns - like the defense allowing Tajh Boyd to pick apart the secondary with receivers NOT named Sammy Watkins, or the offenses sudden inability to control the Clemson pass rush - but games this close come down to execution in routine areas like special teams. While still not bowl eligible, Wake Forest was a field goal away from taking the inside track towards their second ACC Championship Game appearance. After failing to pull the upset on Saturday, the Demon Deacons head home needing a win against either Maryland or Vanderbilt to make the postseason.

WINNER: Luke Kuechly

The man they call "Superman" in Chestnut Hill was just that on Saturday in Boston College's 14-10 victory over NC State. While the Eagles were getting no help from their offense in the second half (-2 yards of total offense), the defense stepped up against a relentless Wolfpack squad led by the gunslinging Mike Glennon. All-American linebacker Luke Kuechly recorded 18 tackles int he victory, his 32nd straight game with double digits in tackles.

Not only was Kuechly all over the field making plays, but he was stepping up when his team needed stops the most. Nine of his 18 tackles were recorded in the final 13 minutes of play, as Boston College fought off NC State in a scoreless fourth quarter. Kuechly entered the game as the nation's leading tackler, and his current total of 168 already has him closing in on last season's nation-leading total of 183. Boston College has suffered setbacks in nearly every aspect of the roster, but Kuechly has been the one consistent piece of Frank Spaziani's 2011 unit. How much longer either will last in Chestnut Hill is still unclear, but coaches and fans alike will enjoy every down Kuechly has left this season.

LOSER: Tom O'Brien

After listing the NC State head coach as a winner in Week 10, TOB walks away from Week 11 as one of the losers. O'Brien had all the momentum after winning the on-field and off-field war with in-state rival North Carolina. But Saturday's loss to his former team, Boston College, gives O'Brien naysayers plenty of ammo for the "hot seat" discussion. Not only is O'Brien winless on the road against his former employer, but the Wolfpack have not won an Atlantic Division road game since his arrival in Raleigh.

O'Brien's squads have often been right on the verge of bowl eligibility, but only reaching the postseason twice. For NC State to be bowl eligible this season, they now need to defeat both Clemson and Maryland at home in the next two weeks. If the Wolfpack had been able to win in Chestnut Hill on Saturday, next week's matchup with No. 9 Clemson would not be a must-win. O'Brien's record at NC State is exactly .500 after the loss, and his record against conference opponents is l6-22. The Wolfpack fans love that TOB is undefeated against rival North Carolina, but those wanting to cause a job security stir will have a stronger argument if the Wolfpack miss the postseason for the third time in O'Brien's five years.


WINNERS: Streaky Florida State

The 23-19 win over in-state rival Miami signaled both the end and continuation of streaks for the Seminoles. For the first time since 2005 the home team in the Miami-Florida State rivalry won, with the Seminoles claiming the last home victory six years ago in Tallahassee. But while that streak came to a halt, Florida State extended their current win streak to five games.

Ever since EJ Manuel returned to the starting lineup after suffering a shoulder injury against Oklahoma, the Seminoles have been a completely different team offensively. In the five-game stretch, the 'Noles are averaging 35.4 points per game, and the rotating running back position seems to have settled on freshman Devonta Freeman as the primary back for the future. Unfortunately, the Clemson loss earlier in the season has the Seminoles out of the ACC Atlantic Division race. The work put in now helps improve their bowl bid possibilities and builds for another shot at the ACC with many of these same players in 2012.

LOSER: Maryland's locker room

Things have gone from bad to worse for Maryland, who picked up their sixth straight loss - their eighth in nine games - in the 45-21 loss to Notre Dame at FedEx Field. After a uninspiring effort in their home finale at Byrd Stadium, Maryland donned their "Maryland Pride" uniforms for Saturday's neutral field contest with the Fighting Irish in the home of the Washington Redskins. On Friday, reports of dissension within the Terrapins locker room was confirmed by players - including kicker Nick Ferrara.

"At this point, it's not like two sides of the cafeteria - this side is buying in, this side is not," Ferrara told The Washington Post. "People are keeping it to themselves. No one knows who is going to go [transfer], who is going to stay, who is feeling which way."

The Terrapins suffered yet another setback in the loss to the Irish, with sophomore quarterback Danny O'Brien breaking a bone in "his upper arm" during the third quarter. The 2010 ACC Rookie of the Year has already been ruled out for the final two games of the season. O'Brien's absence leaves sophomore C.J. Brown as the only available scholarship quarterback. The Terps travel to Winston-Salem next week to face Wake Forest before wrapping up the season at NC State at the end of the month.

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Posted on: November 10, 2011 11:18 pm
Edited on: November 10, 2011 11:22 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Virginia Tech 37, Georgia Tech 26

Posted by Chip Patterson

VIRGINIA TECH WON. Thursday night's primetime showdown between Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech had the feel of an elimination game. For the last six years, the winner of the annual ACC Coastal showdown has gone on to represent the division in the ACC Championship Game. The road has now been cleared for the Hokies, after pulling away with a 37-26 victory in Atlanta on Thursday.

HOW VIRGINIA TECH WON: In a game between opponents that know each other as well as the Hokies and Yellow Jackets do, sometimes it just comes down to execution. The Hokies converted on more than half of their third downs, and both of their huge fourth down attempts to keep scoring drives alive when the Yellow Jackets had them stopped.

Virginia Tech was led by quarterback Logan Thomas, who threw for 209 yards through the air and added 76 yards on the ground for a combined five touchdown performance. David Wilson added yet another impressive outing to his growing ACC Player of the Year resume, with 23 carries for 169 yards. Georgia Tech committed only two penalties, but none were more deciding than the 15 yard personal foul on Jeremiah Attaochu for throwing a punch after sacking Logan Thomas. If the sack stands, Georgia Tech likely heads into the fourth quarter with the lead. Instead the Hokies marched down the field and took a 27-26 lead before the end of the third on a Thomas touchdown run.

WHEN VIRGINIA TECH WON: After the aforementioned Logan Thomas go-ahead touchdown, the Yellow Jackets were stuffed on 4th and 1 from their own 31. Paul Johnson has a tendency to pull the trigger on fourth down, but Tevin Washington's failed sneak resulted in the rare "four and out." The Hokies used almost four minutes of fourth quarter clock getting those 31 yards, finally scoring a touchdown on a pass from Thomas to defensive end-turned-tight end Chris Drager to extend Virginia Tech's lead to 34-26.

WHAT VIRGINIA TECH WON: A clear road to the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte. With the Georgia Tech win, Virginia is the only team that can stand between the Hokies and their fifth trip to the conference title game in the last seven years. The Hokies still need to face North Carolina next week before their annual meeting with the in-state Cavaliers, but remain a game up heading into the weekend.

WHAT GEORGIA TECH LOST: After the thrilling upset of undefeated Clemson and a week off to get healthy, the Yellow Jackets are already eliminated from the ACC Coastal race. Much of the blame can be placed on the loss to Virginia earlier in the season, but Thursday night's home loss to the Hokies sealed their fate.

THAT WAS CRAZY: Both teams boast strong running games, but the quarterbacks did all the work around the goal line on Thursday night. Logan Thomas and Tevin Washington combined all five of the game's rushing touchdowns, including quarterback sneaks from 1, 2, even 11 (yes, it was a sneak that went 11 yards) yards out. It was crazy.

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Posted on: November 7, 2011 6:15 pm
Edited on: November 7, 2011 6:19 pm
 

Clemson RB Ellington (ankle) expected to play

Posted by Chip Patterson

For Clemson fans, the fall from the rank of the undefeateds felt devastating. The Tigers winning ways had them positioned as an outside national title contender, but it all came crashing down in the loss to Georgia Tech. But with a week off to get healthy and re-focus, the Tigers now set their sights on an ACC Championship.

Getting healthy was an important part of their preparation for the season's home stretch, with two division contests left to wrap up the ACC Atlantic title. Offensive coordinator Chad Morris said Monday that running back Andre Ellington (ankle) and tight end Dwayne Allen (turf toe) are expected to be ready to go for Saturday's contest with Wake Forest. A win against the Demon Deacons would clinch the division title, and give the Tigers a berth to the ACC Championship Game.

CBSSports.com's Travis Sawchik notes that Ellington, who sat out Clemson's loss against Georgia Tech, has either missed or been severely limited in six games since last October. In those games the Tigers are 2-4.

It might be too early to label Ellington as "injury prone," but when two costly turnovers were committed by his backups against Georgia Tech it was clear his absence played a pivotal role in the game. In addition to being the most effective runner, Ellington is the best pass blocking running back on the roster. Having him on the field keeps Clemson's offense dynamic, forcing opposing defenses to respect all aspects of Chad Morris' high-powered attack.

If Clemson does wrap up the Atlantic Division this weekend, they will likely end up facing either Virginia Tech (who the Tigers defeated 23-3 in Blacksburg earlier this season) or Georgia Tech. The two Coastal Division contenders will square off on Thursday night in Atlanta, with the winner taking the driver's seat in the standings.

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Posted on: November 7, 2011 10:54 am
Edited on: November 7, 2011 10:56 am
 

Randy Edsall reminds Maryland fans of his history

Posted by Chip Patterson

After 2010's Maryland squad put together one of the biggest win-turnarounds in program history, the 2011 edition is dangerously close to making history in the opposite direction. The Terrapins closed out their home schedule with a 31-17 loss to Virginia on Saturday, a frustrating loss played before an announced attendance of 37,401.

With thirteen scholarship players no longer a part of the program, and the significant drop off from last year's 9-4 season, there is plenty of reason for concern within the Maryland fan base. First-year head coach Randy Edsall was brought in to change the culture of Maryland football, but the transition has been much rockier than many imagined. Edsall addressed some of those concerns on Sunday, offering a reminder that this is not his first time struggling with a coaching changeover.

"I've been through this before," Edsall said in a teleconference on Sunday. "I know how to handle it. I know what to do. There is no panic. It was like this the first year when we put the team together in Jacksonville. ... It's Connecticutall over again, 13 years ago. Jacksonville Jaguars all over again. It's going to Boston College when we were there. I've been through all of this. This isn't earth-shattering. It doesn't have me discouraged. I have a vision of what we're going to do and I know we're doing things the right way."

Athletic director Kevin Anderson brought Edsall in with hopes of a focus on getting things done "the right way." There have been reports of players not agreeing with some of the dress code and discipline policies instituted by the new head coach, and the inconsistent on-field performances do not offer much evidence that this team is unified behind the scenes.

The Terps have been forced to deal with several injuries to key players and changes in both the offensive and defensive scheme, but even with those set backs few people believed they would see Maryland tied for last place in the ACC in November.

Things won't get any easier down the stretch, either. The Terps face Notre Dame at FedEx Field on Saturday before finishing the season on the road against Wake Forest and NC State. Edsall could really use at least one more win to avoid finishing with a 2-10 record: identical to that dreadful 2009 Maryland season.

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Posted on: November 4, 2011 10:18 am
 

Under Armour CEO supports Randy Edsall

Posted by Chip Patterson

When he called Maryland his "dream job," the Terrapins fans had high hopes for the Randy Edsall era in College Park. But after an exhilarating season opening win against Miami, things have not gone as planned for the Terps.

Rookie of the Year Danny O'Brien has struggled to find his rhythm in the new offense, and now finds himself in a quarterback battle with the run-first freshman C.J. Brown. The defense has lost several key players to injury, most notably preseason All-ACC linebacker/safety Kenny Tate - who is done for the season with an undisclosed injury.

With 13 players with eligibility from the 2010 squad no longer on the team, and multiple reports of possible transfers, some fans are wondering if the 2-6 start can be blamed on the new leadership. Some fans may be doubting Edsall, but CBSSports.com's Dave Carey reports that one of the school's top boosters, Kevin Plank, has issued a vote of confidence for the first-year coach.

"Randy Edsall's a competitor, a fighter, and somebody whose foxhole I would stand in any day of the week," Plank said in a radio appearance on 105.7 The Fan in Baltimore. "There are a lot of kids in-state that are looking at the University of Maryland."

Plank, Founder and CEO of Under Armour, is one of the brains behind the re-branding of the Maryland football program. Along with Edsall and athletic director Kevin Anderson, the program has been trying to emphasize the school's presence as the premiere destination for football players in the state of Maryland. That "Maryland Pride" that Edsall references frequently can be seen in many of the uniform combinations and promotional tools - like the uniform inspired by the Maryland state flag pictured right.

Anderson brought Edsall in to change the culture at Maryland, and the former Connecticut head coach quickly put new dress code and strict discipline requirements in action. There was initially some discontent in the locker room, but team leaders like senior running back Davin Meggett stood tall behind Edsall at the beginning of the season.

But as Maryland prepares to face Virginia on Saturday, the Terps are coming to terms with the likely possibility of missing the postseason for only the second time in six years. They have not won another conference game since that opener against Miami and their only other victory was against Towson.

It appears Edsall has the support of the program's leadership, but the players and fans will feel much better going into 2012 if Maryland can show some signs of turnaround in the final four games of the season.

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Posted on: October 5, 2011 10:07 am
Edited on: October 5, 2011 10:10 am
 

Wake Forest preparing for Manuel and Trickett

Posted by Chip Patterson

In a matter of weeks, Florida State has gone from being a potential national title contender to hanging on the edge of the national rankings. A pair of losses to No. 3 Oklahoma and No. 8 Clemson left the Seminoles banged up and looking for answers heading into their bye week. Starting quarterback EJ Manuel is questionable for Saturday's contest with an upstart Wake Forest team, re-joining the team in practice after suffering a shoulder injury against the Sooners.

On Tuesday Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe told the media his team was preparing to face both Manuel and redshirt freshman Clint Trickett. Trickett led two scoring drives in the second half against Oklahoma to tie the game in the fourth quarter, and completed 24 of 38 passes for 336 yards and three touchdowns against Clemson.

"It's really hard because they've got two really talented quarterbacks and we're not sure which one we'll get," Grobe explained at his weekly press conference. "I think the Trickett kid has a great arm and is a very accurate thrower and more of a pocket guy. And Manuel is very athletic. He's driven us crazy with boot passes and play-action passes when we've played him."

Manuel said on Monday he expects to play against Wake Forest, but head coach Jimbo Fisher has insisted the junior quarterback is questionable. Despite the impressive performance of Trickett in Manuel's absence, it is hard to replicate the strength and athleticism Manuel provides under center. The game has become a must-win for the Seminoles, who cannot afford to drop to drop their second straight Atlantic Division showdown if they plan on making a return to the ACC Championship Game in December.

The Demon Deacons' defense is preparing for the game as if they'll see both quarterbacks. After a frustrating 1-7 showing in conference play in 2010, Wake Forest has been one of this year's surprise teams in the ACC. Sophomore quarterback Tanner Price has settled in and the offense has figured out how to best utilize a stable of talented playmakers led by Chris Givens and Josh Harris. The next two weeks will offer Jim Grobe's squad arguably their toughest stretch of the season, with the Seminoles and No. 21 Virginia Tech coming to visit BB&T Field. If the Demon Deacons can pull an upset in one of the next two contests, they will put themselves in a great position to be bowling in December.

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Posted on: October 2, 2011 12:29 am
 

What I learned from the ACC (Oct. 1)



Posted by Chip Patterson

1. Clemson is a contender, Virginia Tech is a pretender - The Tigers made ACC history on Saturday, being the first team to defeat three ranked opponents in consecutive weeks. Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech (well huh) have both accomplished the feat once in program history, but neither school was a member of the ACC at the time. Their win against one of the highest ranked team ended up being their most impressive, with Clemson holding Virginia Tech from the end zone at home for the first time since 1995. But as much attention as Chad Morris' offense has gotten under Tajh Boyd's direction, the Tigers had not gotten a performance like that from their defense yet this season. It all seems to be coming together for Clemson, and just at the right time. With the victory over Florida State, the Tigers are in the driver's seat for the Atlantic Division title. If they take care of business, they will find themselves back in the ACC Championship Game.

The Hokies, on the other hand, might not be back in the conference title game. The Coastal Division is much more difficult to project, but Georgia Tech has arguably replaced Virginia Tech as the frontrunner. The Yellow Jackets did allow a relentless N.C. State team to climb back into the contest twice, but you cannot expect any conference road game to be a breeze.

Frank Beamer's squad will have a chance to bounce back immediately, with a divisional showdown against Miami in Blacksburg. The Hurricanes' also have one conference loss, and some consistency issues of their own. A lot more to learn about the Coastal in the week ahead.

2. Georgia Tech is still very impressive, but not unstoppable - With N.C. State missing their leading rusher and severely depleted on defense, the Yellow Jackets were predicted to roll over the Wolfpack in Raleigh. But after jumping out to a quick 21-0 lead, N.C. State's defense clamped down on quarterback Tevin Washington. Middle linebacker Audie Cole directed the defense as they filled the gaps and cut the Georgia Tech lead to one touchdown in the third quarter. Georgia Tech then scored three more touchdowns in under three minutes of game time in the fourth quarter, which was followed by three more touchdowns from N.C. State. The entire period was sloppy on both sides, but the first comeback might provide some helpful insight for the rest of the conference.

3. Giovani Bernard is the real deal. North Carolina has not been known as a program that produces star running backs recently, but they may have one with redshirt freshman Giovani Bernard. Bernard continued his impressive rookie campaign in North Carolina's 35-20 win at East Carolina, picking up 146 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. Bernard's numbers on the season rank among the nation's best for freshmen, but they are already good enough to earn him a spot in program history. On Saturday Bernard became the first North Carolina running back to rush for 100+ yards since Pro Bowler Natrone Means did it in 1992. His seven touchdowns on the season already match the count for last year's team leader, Johnny White - now with the Buffalo Bills.

4. Florida State and Virginia Tech should not overlook Wake Forest. Nowhere close to putting either team on "upset alert," but Wake Forest has continued their play that is significantly improved from 2010. Both Florida State and Virginia Tech will travel to Winston-Salem to face Jim Grobe's squad at home in the next two weeks. Few teams returned more starters than the Demon Deacons, and some assumed that would lead to similar results. But Grobe has once again lived up his "player development" reputation, taking basically the same lineup that went 1-7 in ACC play and already doubling that win count in 2011. Hitting the meat of their schedule at 3-1, the Deacons will need to find four more victories on the schedule in order to return to the postseason for the first time since 2008.

Wake Forest's success has been due to noticeable improvement on both sides of the ball. The defense, particularly the back seven, is communicating better and swarming to the ball in space. Tanner Price finally is leading an offensive scheme that fits the personnel with Josh Harris, Chris Givens, and Michael Campanaro all emerging as dynamic playmakers. The one weakness Wake Forest has displayed has been the inability to hold a lead late in the game. It cost them the season opening win at Syracuse, and nearly got them in trouble against N.C. State and Saturday at Boston College. But as far as the visits from the Seminoles and Hokies go, I wouldn't imagine a quick Deacs lead would be in the cards anyway.

5. Miami has consistency issues. Miami's consistency issues aren't just game-to-game, they seem to be half-to-half and even quarter-to-quarter at times this season. The dominant performance against Ohio State is sandwiched between frustrating losses to Maryland and Kansas State, while the first 22 minutes of Saturday's matchup with Bethune-Cookman was vastly different to the 45-3 blowout in the final 30+ minutes of play.

You could put some of the blame on the shifting personnel or distractions from the NCAA investigation. You could look at the new coaching staff, as they try to implement a new culture on a roster that is loaded with talented upperclassmen. But whatever the issues are, the Hurricanes need to get them straightened out quickly. The ACC Coastal is now wide open, and despite the rocky 2-2 start the Canes can still salvage their season with strong conference play.

Unfortunately for Al Golden's staff, those tests are coming now. Miami travels to Virginia Tech and North Carolina in the next two weeks before hosting Georgia Tech on October 22 in the comfy confines of Sun Life Stadium. In the next month Miami's season will be defined. The time to tighten up is now.

6. Duke to bowl game? Three straight wins is a start. Okay, maybe a bit of a stretch there. But the Blue Devils have won three straight games since starting the season 0-2. Most importantly, those three victories have all been against FBS opponents. Duke has nothing but conference games left, so three wins is the magic number to make David Cutcliffe's squad bowl eligible for the first time since 1994. Virginia is winnable, but on the road. Wake Forest is looking less winnable, but will be played at home. Steal both of those and one upset victory against Florida State, Virginia Tech, Miami, Georgia Tech or North Carolina and the Blue Devils are golden. Doesn't sound probable, but they've at least go the momentum to make it seem possible.

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Posted on: October 1, 2011 9:29 pm
Edited on: October 1, 2011 11:41 pm
 

QUICK HITS: No. 13 Clemson 23, No. 11 VT 3



Posted by Chip Patterson

CLEMSON WON. The Tigers have stepped up to every challenge this season, and for the first time in school history have defeated three straight ranked opponents. The 23-3 victory over Virginia Tech came thanks to a dominating defensive performance and enough just enough big plays from Tajh Boyd and Chad Morris' offense. While freshman standout Sammy Watkins was mostly held in check by Virginia Tech's secondary, tight end Dwayne Allen was once again a reliable target - hauling in four catches for 75 yards and a touchdown to lead the Tigers.

HOW CLEMSON WON: As great as Clemson's offense has been in the last two weeks, the victory over Virginia Tech was in large part thanks to the defense. The Hokies were held to just 258 total yards of offense, and held touchdown-less for the first time since 2006. The Tigers pressured quarterback Logan Thomas relentlessly, forcing him out of the pocket and sacking him on four occasions. Andre Branch, in particular, was a monster in the second half preventing the Hokies from getting back into the game.

WHEN CLEMSON WON: Virginia Tech's first drive of the second half stalled at the Clemson 45 yard line. When punter Scott Demler tried to pin the Tigers deep in their own territory, he ended up with an embarrassing 11 yard punt that was downed at the 34. The next three plays ended Virginia Tech's evening. Tajh Boyd 27 yard pass to Brown, Ellington seven yard run, Boyd to tight end Dwayne Allen for a 32-yard touchdown. With the Hokies' offensive struggles, there was little hope for a two touchdown comeback in the second half.

WHAT CLEMSON FORCE WON: Validation. Before the season this set of games (Auburn, Florida State, Virginia Tech) was supposed to give us an idea of how good Clemson was going to be this season. Perhaps they would win two, and hopefully stay competitive in all three. The Tigers have proved any and all doubters wrong (for the time being) by knocking off

WHAT VIRGINIA TECH LOST: Respect. The defending ACC champions kicked off their season with a cushy non-conference schedule that posed little threat to their status. But the Hokies were exposed on Saturday night, particularly on the offensive end. Combined with Georgia Tech's fast start, Virginia Tech's performance might have removed them from consideration as Coastal Division favorites.

THAT WAS CRAZY: Virginia Tech's inability to find the end zone against the Tigers was rare. In fact, the last time the Hokies did not score a touchdown at home was against Cincinnati in 1995. Another crazy fact? Clemson becomes the first ACC team in league history to beat three straight ranked teams. Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech have done it, but neither were members at the time.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com