Teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Coastal Division are showing the gaps between the two divisions in the conference aren’t as wide as many thought.
While most of the attention the past week was focused on Atlantic Division rivals Clemson and Louisville, who are both ranked in the top 10, the Coastal could get some notoriety this week with three teams in the Top 25 for the first time since November 2011.
No. 10 Miami is in the top 10 for the first time in three years while No. 16 North Carolina returned to the rankings after its 37-35 win on a last-second field goal at No 23 Florida State. No. 25 Virginia Tech had the week off but is ranked for the first time since September of 2014.
“You look at the teams that are ranked along with Duke going on the road and beating Notre Dame last week and with what Pittsburgh has done the past couple seasons that’s a massive amount of competition coming down the road,” Miami coach Mark Richt said.
North Carolina (4-1, 2-0) had the biggest win of the weekend as it snapped Florida State’s 22-game home winning streak. The win also snapped the Tar Heels’ three-game losing streak to ranked teams and may be the defining moment of Larry Fedora’s tenure.
“To go on the road and beat the No. 12 team in the county with a 22 game home win streak? That’s pretty dang good,” Fedora said. “The 2016 team has done some good things.”
Quarterback Mitch Trubisky leads the nation in completion percentage (76.0) and has three straight 400-yard games. His favorite target is Ryan Switzer, who has 30 receptions the past two games.
“I’m feeling comfortable. It is all about getting in that rhythm, playing within the offense and really doing what is expected of me. I just have to take another step next week,” Trubisky said after Saturday’s game.
The Tar Heels’ road to repeating as division champion should be more defined the next two weeks. They host Virginia Tech (3-1, 1-0) on Saturday and then travel to Miami on Oct. 14.
After a 35-21 win over Georgia Tech in its conference opener, Miami is 4-0 for the sixth time since 2000 and is second in the nation in scoring defense after allowing only 44 points.
It is also the first time in six years that Miami, which was not ranked in the preseason poll, is the highest ranked team in the state of Florida.
Richt, who is in his first year at Miami, said during a teleconference on Sunday that he is not getting caught up in the rankings.
“My reaction is that if you win you stay there and if you lose you don’t,” he said. “It doesn’t really mean what we’re ranked. We’re trying to play the type of football that everyone will be proud of.”
Richt’s bigger concern this week is trying to end the Hurricanes’ six-game losing streak to Florida State and making contingency plans in case the effects of Hurricane Matthew would cause adjustments to practice.
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