There was only one game in the ACC this weekend, and it was the only game we needed to get the biggest answer of the season. Here’s a look at the lessons learned from Saturday’s Dr Pepper ACC championship game:
Clemson is clutch. It doesn’t matter that Clemson fell on its face against NC State. It’s no longer as painful to Clemson fans that the Tigers lost to rival South Carolina for the third straight time. And it’s irrelevant that Clemson lost to Georgia Tech on the road. Because when it mattered most -- earlier in the season against Virginia Tech, later in the waning minute against Wake Forest and finally on Saturday in the ACC championship game -- Clemson won when it needed to the most. The Tigers proved their October win over Virginia Tech wasn’t a fluke, and that they are indeed the best team in the ACC this year and will represent the league in the Discover Orange Bowl.
Virginia Tech is not the No. 5 team in the country. As much as Virginia Tech fans probably don’t want to hear it, Kirk Herbstreit was right. The Hokies made great progress during their seven-game winning streak and looked dominant in their regular-season win over Virginia, but they certainly didn’t look like a top-5 team in Saturday’s 38-10 loss to Clemson. It was the program’s worst margin of defeat since joining the ACC.
David Wilson isn’t happy. The ACC’s player of the year openly questioned the staff’s play calling following the loss to Clemson after he finished with just 11 carries. “When we run our plays into their blitzes,” he said, “it’s not going to work.” Wilson didn’t hesitate to say what was on his mind. Was it just frustration boiling over, or was it a sign that Wilson has one foot out the door already?
The bowl situation should be less complicated. With Clemson’s automatic invite to the Orange Bowl, the rest of the pieces should fit into place without much fanfare or surprise today. Virginia Tech should be heading to the Chick-fil-A Bowl, Florida State to the Champs Sports Bowl, NC State to the Belk Bowl and Virginia to the Music City Bowl. Had Clemson lost, there was some debate as to whether the Chick-fil-A Bowl would pit Clemson against Auburn again or invite Florida State for the second straight year. It looks like the Tigers made the decision easy. And the odds of Virginia Tech getting an at-large BCS bid after that performance? (smh.)