What we learned in the ACC: Week 4

Posted by ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich

Maryland reinforced what we already knew, Virginia had the week off and Duke beat up on NC Central like it was expected to. Florida State? Well, even the Noles can’t figure out who they are yet. The other games, though, were a little more revealing, and some teams learned lessons the hard way:

1. Virginia Tech is still King of the Coastal. Miami had a chance to unseat the defending conference champs and couldn’t do it. The Hokies were the ones who played like a top 10 team, not Miami. Now the Canes, Georgia Tech and North Carolina all have a division loss. The Hokies still have to play Georgia Tech and North Carolina, so that can change the hierarchy in that division, but Virginia Tech will hold the tiebreaker over Miami if it’s necessary in November. The Hokies have won three out of the past five ACC titles and can win another if they continue to play complete games like they did on Saturday against Miami.

2. The Big East was better than the ACC, if only for a day. At some point the Big East deserves credit, and there’s no better time than now. South Florida played with a purpose -- not to mention its backup quarterback -- and handed Florida State a humbling loss. Rutgers took advantage of Maryland’s mistakes in Byrd Stadium, giving the Big East a 2-1 record over the ACC this weekend. It was almost 3-0, but NC State put it together in the second half for a comeback win over Pitt.

3. Don’t quit on Boston College. Because the Eagles certainly won’t quit. You’d think we would have learned that by now. Who expected BC to rack up 398 yards after moving the ball for just 54 against Clemson? This is what BC does, though -- it plays smart, tough, blue-collar football for four quarters, and by beating Wake Forest it’s in the mix in the Atlantic Division. Dave Shinskie gave them the answer they had been looking for at quarterback, and as long he continues to progress each week, BC will be in every game.

4. NC State’s offense does work against BCS opponents. The three points scored against South Carolina and quiet performance from Russell Wilson in the season opener had many outside the program wondering if the Pack had regressed since the Papajohns.com bowl; if Wilson had gotten a step slower. They proved otherwise against a Pitt defense that was supposed to be the Panthers’ strength and one of the main reasons Pitt was considered a top team in the Big East.

5. North Carolina and Clemson need more than their defenses. And in UNC’s case, the defense could’ve used some help, too. Clemson’s offense again stalled in the red zone, and North Carolina’s offense looked more like it did at Connecticut. TCU’s defense stole the show in a 14-10 win over Clemson, but quarterback Kyle Parker came up short on two fourth-down attempts, and it wasn’t like the Tigers didn’t have second-half chances. In Atlanta, UNC’s defense was on the field for 42 minutes. Two thoughts: 1. Make a stop. 2. Sustain a drive. UNC had just 17 rushing yards. Both teams entered Saturday with defensive reputations, but it didn’t win them the game.