What we in the ACC learned: Week 14

Here’s a look at three lessons learned from Florida State’s 21-15 win over Georgia Tech in the Dr Pepper ACC championship game:

The replacements worked. Not only was standout defensive end Tank Carradine sidelined for the Noles’ defense, but linebacker Nick Moody suffered a concussion in the first quarter and left the game. After playing safety for most of the season, Karlos Williams stepped in for Moody and had a breakout game, including the game-winning interception. Mario Edwards Jr., a true freshman filling in for Carradine, had seven tackles and one for a loss. In a game in which FSU was held scoreless in the second half, the defense did its part to win the game, and it couldn’t have done it without the next man up.

Florida State can live up to expectations. The Seminoles were picked this summer to win the Atlantic Division, right? And win the ACC title, right? Granted, the expectations were higher than an ACC title this year, as the Seminoles began the season ranked No. 3 in the country, but in the end, Florida State landed exactly where many had predicted it would -- in the Discover Orange Bowl as ACC champ. It is FSU’s first ACC title since 2005. While the regular-season loss to NC State knocked FSU out of the hunt for the national title, neither that loss nor the loss to Florida last week kept the Noles from winning the ACC title.

The ACC avoided further embarrassment: With all due respect to Georgia Tech, if the Jackets would have won the ACC title, the conference would have been laughed right out of the Discover Orange Bowl. The ACC’s reputation already has taken plenty of hits this season, especially with the Coastal Division having two ineligible teams, but the league averted disaster by having its top-ranked team stay ranked and represent the league in Miami. Georgia Tech, meanwhile, will need its waiver. The Jackets played a respectable game against the No. 13 team in the country, but with the loss they dropped to 6-7 and will need the waiver the NCAA granted them in order to play in a bowl game this year.