Here's a look at the lessons learned in Week 7:
Turnovers rule. It was a rough weekend for ACC quarterbacks. FSU’s Christian Ponder accounted for all four of his team’s turnovers on three interceptions and one fumble. Duke’s Sean Renfree had six of the team’s seven turnovers on five interceptions and one fumble. There were eight total turnovers in Georgia Tech’s game, with Middle Tennessee accounting for six of them. Virginia’s Marc Verica had three interceptions, Maryland’s Danny O’Brien had three, and NC State had four turnovers, including three picks by Russell Wilson. It wasn’t pretty.
Florida State and Virginia Tech are the ACC’s lone unbeaten teams in conference play. That doesn’t mean, however, that they’ve got this thing locked up. The Seminoles should be thankful they escaped with a win against BC despite four turnovers. And Virginia Tech still has to play Georgia Tech, UNC and Miami -- three teams which are all still in the hunt for the Coastal Division title. FSU is the ACC’s first bowl-eligible team.
Maryland wasn’t as good as its 4-1 record indicated. Make that 4-2. The Terps weren’t able to get much going offensively in their 31-7 loss to Clemson, and so far they’ve struggled against decent competition. Clemson held Maryland to just 44 rushing yards and was able to neutralize top receiver Torrey Smith. They also had 10 penalties for 93 yards. It was only Maryland’s first ACC loss of the season, but it came against an Atlantic Division opponent, which could come back to haunt them.
NC State is not the best team in the state. North Carolina was able to beat East Carolina. The Wolfpack? Not so much. Wilson’s interception in overtime ruined any chance at a comeback, but it wouldn’t have gone into overtime if NC State’s defense had been able to make some stops and slow down Pirates quarterback Dominique Davis. Granted, UNC and NC State don’t play each other until Nov. 20, but the Tar Heels don’t have an ECU loss on their resume. Virginia Tech can claim a North Carolina state championship with a win over Duke this Saturday. The Hokies have wins over Wake Forest, ECU and NC State already.
Duke, Virginia, Boston College and Wake Forest are on the outside looking in. With three conference losses each, the best these programs should hope for this season is to play the role of spoiler. All of them have had significant problems that aren’t likely to be corrected in the second half of the season. It has to be particularly frustrating for BC, as the Eagles’ defense has been playing well enough to win.