Here’s a look at the lessons learned in Week 11:
The defending division champs won’t be defending much this year. The 2009 division winners, Georgia Tech and Clemson, both lost on Saturday, dropping them to four league losses each. Clemson is now left to watch Florida State, NC State and Maryland battle it out in the Atlantic Division while Georgia Tech likely passed the torch to Virginia Tech. Speaking of the Hokies …
Miami’s not done yet. The Hurricanes looked impressive in their win over Georgia Tech, and kept the Coastal Division race somewhat interesting heading into Saturday’s game against the Hokies. Even with a win on Saturday, though, Miami would need Virginia Tech to lose to Virginia in the season finale. It's possible, but unlikely. At the very least, Miami kept the possibility alive. Odds are Jacory Harris returns at quarterback if he’s healthy and cleared from a concussion he suffered at Virginia two weeks ago, but what’s working well for the Canes right now is their running game. Four different running backs scored against Georgia Tech and that will continue to help whoever is playing quarterback.
Maryland and NC State still control their own destiny. With their respective wins this past weekend, both programs can still win out and advance to Charlotte. They both have tough games this weekend, as Maryland hosts Florida State and NC State has to “travel” to rival North Carolina. If they both win, the season finale between NC State and Maryland will determine the winner. Florida State must win out and have NC State lose again in order to win the division.
Backup quarterbacks rule. FSU’s E.J. Manuel and Miami’s Stephen Morris both got the jobs done while their injured starters watched from the sidelines. Morris threw for 230 yards and a touchdown in the win over Georgia Tech. He completed 10 of 18 passes and didn’t have a turnover. Manuel scored FSU’s only touchdown of the game on an eight-yard run with 10:08 left to give the Seminoles a 13-10 lead. He completed 15 of 24 passes for 210 yards and ran for another 71 yards on 15 carries.
Duke and Virginia’s bowl hopes are over. They joined Wake Forest this week as the three programs in the ACC who can no longer mathematically reach that elusive six-win bowl eligibility mark. Four wins for Virginia in Mike London’s first season is still impressive, and the Cavaliers still have two games yet to play, against BC and Virginia Tech. Duke at least was able to salvage this season a bit by putting an end to its six-game losing streak in October, but it’s not going to get any easier with Georgia Tech and UNC still on the schedule. The consolation prize for both teams would be beating their rivals in the season finales.