And then there were none – BCS National Title Game contenders, that is.
Florida State (5-1, 2-1), which entered Week 6 ranked No. 3 in the country, fell on the road to unranked North Carolina State (4-2, 1-1), 17-16, on Saturday night in Raleigh. The Seminoles took a 16-0 lead into halftime, only to watch it slip away as NC State scored the final 17 points of the game.
Mike Glennon threw for 259 yards and two touchdowns, the last score coming with 16 seconds remaining in regulation. His counterpart, E.J. Manuel, threw for one score and was neutralized on the ground, carrying eight times for -16 yards. The Wolfpack converted three of four fourth-down chances to help fuel the upset. They also overcame a 141-yard performance on the ground by FSU’s Chris Thompson.
The loss drastically alters the college football landscape. FSU is no longer a viable possibility for the title game, especially with its relatively soft schedule. The ‘Noles have just one game remaining against a ranked opponent, a Nov. 24 contest against No. 4 Florida. Plus, Florida State’s six possible opponents in the conference title game enter Week 7 unranked.
The Seminoles had to run the table to get to the championship game. They didn’t, so they’ll be looking at the Orange Bowl should they win out.
The loss also opened the conference title door for No. 15 Clemson (5-1, 2- 1). The Tigers won at home over reeling Georgia Tech (2-4, 1-3), 47-31. They totaled 601 yards of offense – 397 in the air by Tajh Boyd – in the victory.
If Clemson wins out and Florida State slips up against a conference team, the Tigers could find themselves playing in the conference championship game instead of the Seminoles.
Miami (4-2, 3-0) had a chance to make a name for itself in primetime against No. 9 Notre Dame. But the Irish routed the Hurricanes at Soldier Field, 41-3. Miami allowed 587 yards and 34 first downs. A two-possession game at halftime became a blowout following Notre Dame’s 21-point third quarter.
It wasn’t all bad for the conference’s hottest teams. Duke (5-1, 2-0) – yes, Duke – won its fourth straight game, 42-17, over Virginia (2-4, 0-2). Down 17-14 at the half, the Blue Devils scored 28 second-half points and blanked the Cavaliers over the final 30 minutes of play.
Duke’s Anthony Boone threw for 212 yards and four touchdowns, two to Conner Vernon. The Blue Devils forced two turnovers and won going away, despite being outgained in the game.
Their Tobacco Road counterparts, North Carolina (4-2, 1-1), won at home against Virginia Tech (3-3, 1-1), 48-34. The Tar Heels ran for four touchdowns and compiled 533 yards of offense to register their third straight win.
Virginia Tech, which opened the year as a conference favorite, has struggled in 2012. Logan Thomas threw for 354 yards and two scores and ran for another, but the Hokies mustered just 40 yards on the ground.
Just two other games involving ACC teams were played in Week 6: Boston College (1-4, 1-2) lost at Army, 34-31; Maryland (3-2, 1-0) won at home over Wake Forest (3-3, 1-3), 19-14.
Week 7 will see four conference games: Florida State tries to get back on track at home against Boston College; Duke heads on the road for a difficult test at Virginia Tech; North Carolina travels to Miami; and Maryland plays at Virginia.
Our play of the week comes from North Carolina State’s upset of Florida State. Mike Glennon finds Bryan Underwood on fourth-and-goal for the winning score with 16 seconds to play.