Saturday was a study in contrasts in the ACC.

While Virginia paid tribute to its 3 slain teammates with a somber memorial service in Charlottesville, rival Virginia Tech honored the memory of Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr. and D’Sean Perry across the state in Lynchburg by playing a game that ended in a joyous celebration.

It was a day in which one divisional champion kept its slim Playoff hopes intact while the other saw its chances, along with its star quarterback’s realistic Heisman Trophy possibilities, come to an all-too-familiar end.

There were several close calls and a couple of blowouts. Streaks both ended and extended.

There’s a lot to digest as we approach final exam time for the 2022 season. So let’s take a look back and see what we learned in Week 12.

Boston College

There’s not much left to find out about an Eagles team that has been among the ACC’s biggest disappointments. Saturday’s 44-0 whitewash at the hands of Notre Dame was, however, a learning experience for young quarterback Emmett Morehead.

And not a happy one.

The redshirt freshman, who led last week’s comeback victory at NC State, was picked off 3 times – all by Benjamin Morrison – while going 9-of-22 for 117 yards. Morrison would lead the ACC in interceptions if the Irish were playing as a league member. He has 5 in 3 games against conference competition. The other 2 came against Clemson.

Morehead wasn’t the only BC player to learn what it’s like to face a big-boy opponent. Notre Dame outgained the Eagles 437-173, forced 5 turnovers and scored on its first 8 possessions in winning its 28th consecutive regular-season game against an ACC opponent.


The Tigers took care of business without having to break much of a sweat, beating a dreadful Miami team 40-10. They did it by holding the Hurricanes to less than 100 yards of total offense, going 14-of-19 on 3rd down and rolling up a 16-minute advantage in time of possession.

But while they easily extended their home winning streak to 40 straight and did nothing to hurt their top 10 status in the Playoff rankings, we learned that there is still a potential pothole: It’s DJ Uiagalelei’s continued trouble with turnovers.

The junior quarterback offset an encouraging performance in which he completed 22-of-34 passes for 227 yards and a touchdown by giving the ball away twice in the 2nd half – once on an interception and another on a fumble. Over his past 4 games, DJU has been picked off 4 times and lost 3 fumbles.


We learned that for as good a job as Mike Elko has done in Year 1 as the Blue Devils’ coach, he’s still a rookie learning as he goes along.

Saturday at Pittsburgh, his decision to attempt a 2-point conversion while trailing by 8 early in the 4th quarter likely cost his team a shot at overtime. In the process, he may have outcoached himself right out of a realistic chance at winning the ACC’s Coach of the Year award.

The fateful decision came after Riley Leonard hit a wide-open Jordan Moore for a 49-yard touchdown with 9:28 remaining to pull Duke to within 28-20. The 2-point play failed when Leonard overthrew a receiver in the end zone.

“In our mind, we were going to play that 4th quarter playing to win,” Elko said afterward. “You’re going to go for 2, down 14, when you get that touchdown there. With the wind conditions and how we were struggling to run the football, we didn’t think overtime was going to be our best way to win that football game.”

We’ll never know. Elko’s gamble came back to haunt him when Leonard connected with Jaylen Coleman for a 19-yard score on a 4th-down play with just under a minute left. Instead of kicking an extra point to tie the game and force overtime, the Blue Devils were forced to try for 2 again. Again, unsuccessfully.

Pitt then recovered the ensuing onside kick to end the Blue Devils’ comeback bid.

Florida State

The Seminoles continue to remind us just how far they’ve come over the past season. Sure, they’re supposed to dominate mid-major teams that come to Tallahassee for guarantee games. And they did, manhandling Louisiana to the tune of 49-17.

But remember, just last season Mike Norvell’s team was beaten by Jacksonville State in just such a situation.

This FSU team has now won 4 straight as it heads into Friday’s rivalry showdown with Florida and stands an outside shot at winning 10 games for the first time since 2016. Two coaches ago.

The Seminoles wasted little time establishing their superiority against the Ragin’ Cajuns. They scored 21 points in the 1st quarter, led 35-3 at halftime and coasted from there. They have outscored their past 4 opponents by a combined margin of 173-39. Although Trey Benson had his 100-yard rushing streak snapped at 3, as a team FSU produced 200 or more yards on the ground for the 6th straight game.

Georgia Tech

We learned that for whatever the reason, the Yellow Jackets have UNC’s number. For the 2nd straight year, they entered their annual meeting with the Tar Heels as a double-digit underdog and for the 2nd straight year, they won.

Though Saturday’s 20-17 win in Chapel Hill was much closer than last year’s 45-22 stunner in Atlanta, this one may have been the more improbable of the two victories.

Tech frustrated Heisman Trophy candidate Drake Maye all night, sacking him 6 times and holding him without a touchdown for the first time this year while shutting out the ACC’s highest-scoring offense for the entire 2nd half.

They also pulled it off with their 3rd- and 4th-string quarterbacks leading the offense. Zach Gibson and Clemson transfer Taisun Phommachanh combined to lead Tech to 21 unanswered points in a win that keeps it at least mathematically alive for bowl eligibility while strengthening interim coach Brent Key’s case for keeping the job on a permanent basis.

Key is now 4-3 after taking over for Geoff Collins with 2 wins against ranked opponents on the road.


The Cardinals are arguably the most improved team in the ACC and possibly even the country since the start of the season. Since starting the year with a blowout loss at Syracuse and an 0-3 ACC record that put coach Scott Satterfield squarely on the hot seat, Louisville has won 5 of its last 6. All of them have come by double-digit margins.

Two of those victories have come with a backup quarterback, including Saturday’s 25-10 victory against NC State.

While Brock Domann managed the game well while throwing for 153 yards, the star of the show was running back Jawhar Jordan. The sophomore rushed for 105 yards and a touchdown while adding a 98-yard kickoff return that broke a 3-3 tie late in the 1st half and gave the Cardinals momentum they carried through the rest of the game.


We learned that Jacurri Brown isn’t the cure for the Hurricanes’ ailing offense, after all. One week after a promising debut against Georgia Tech, the true freshman was in way over his head against a Clemson defense finally starting to live up to its hype.

Brown completed 6-of-13 passes for only 53 yards and an interception and was sacked in the end zone for a safety before being relieved by Jake Garcia. As a team, the Hurricanes managed only 8 total yards in the first half and 98 for the game. Their 1 touchdown in the game came on a 3-play, 10-yard drive after a Tigers fumble.

The preseason Coastal Division favorites are now 5-6 and will need to beat Pitt next week to earn bowl eligibility in Mario Cristobal’s first season back at his alma mater.

North Carolina

Laying an egg when favored to win by a touchdown or more is quickly becoming a Tar Heel tradition under Mack Brown. In 2020, it was a 31-28 loss to Florida State. Last season it was a 45-22 loss to Georgia Tech in Atlanta.

Now this.

Whether UNC got caught looking past the Yellow Jackets to Friday’s rivalry game against NC State and their ACC Championship showdown with Clemson or it finally ran out of luck after winning its first 6 games decided by a touchdown or less, Saturday’s result taught us that the Tar Heels weren’t really a contender for Playoff consideration.

We also learned that Drake Maye’s Heisman trophy campaign likely ended almost as soon as it got started this week.

The star quarterback was kept under constant duress by a Yellow Jackets pass rush that sacked him 6 times. He missed injured receiver Antoine Greene, whose absence allowed Tech to bracket All-American Josh Downs with double coverage all night. And yet, even when he did have time to throw, Maye wasn’t sharp.

He overthrew receivers, couldn’t convert in the red zone and threw his first interception in 197 pass attempts on the way to a season-low 202 yards and no touchdowns either through the air or on the ground.

NC State

If nothing else, we learned that Ben Finley is still a member of the Wolfpack. The younger brother of former star Ryan Finley, who made a splash as a true freshman in 2020, has been missing in action this year while spending most of the season running State’s scout team.

But with starter Devin Leary done for the year, freshman MJ Morris suffering from a leg injury and transfer Jack Chambers struggling yet again, coach Dave Doeren had no choice but to remove Finley from witness protection and put him into Saturday’s game at Louisville.

He didn’t perform badly, going 16-of-35 for 201 yards, a touchdown and an interception. That wasn’t nearly enough to prevent the Wolfpack from their 2nd straight loss, 1 that officially ended any hope of reaching their goal of a 10-win season.


We learned that despite having the best running back in the ACC and quarterback prone to bad decisions, coach Pat Narduzzi and offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti Jr. are determined to keep trying to throw the football.

It’s a tendency that, combined with several self-inflicted special teams mistakes, allowed Duke to hang around in a game that saw the Panthers waste several chances to put away the Blue Devils.

Israel Abanikanda averaged 6.6 yards per carry and rushed for 113 yards on 17 carries before leaving in the 2nd half with an injury. But instead of pounding away at a tiring defense and running clock with the lead, Pitt continued to throw. And Kedon Slovis continued to give Duke opportunities to rally by throwing a pair of interceptions. He finished the game 15-of-32 for 190 yards, a touchdown and those 2 picks.


The Orange’s 6-0 start is now a distant memory. With Saturday’s loss at Wake Forest, they’re in jeopardy of finishing the season with 6 straight losses, a development that could potentially put coach Dino Babers’ job back in jeopardy.

This latest defeat had a different twist than most of Syracuse’s recent setbacks. While quarterback Garrett Shrader looked like his old self again by going 17-of-31 for 324 yards and a touchdown while leading his team to 35 points after 2 straight games without a touchdown, it was the defense that let the Orange down.

The Deacons finished with 543 yards of offense, 331 of which came through the air. Syracuse came into the game ranked 2nd in the ACC in pass defense, allowing only 168 yards per game and 3rd in total defense at 313 per game.

Virginia Tech

The Hokies showed us how much class they have by the way they paid tribute to their grieving rival before the game. They wore all orange and dedicated their game against Liberty in honor of the 3 Virginia players killed in last week’s tragedy.

They then showed how much pride they have in themselves by battling back from a 2nd-half deficit to beat the Flames and snap their 7-game losing streak. Jalen Holston rushed for 99 yards and scored all 3 of his team’s touchdowns to cap a gritty effort that reversed Tech’s recent trend in close games.

The Hokies lost back-to-back 1-point decisions to NC State and Georgia Tech when they allowed late leads to slip away. This time, they were the team coming from behind to win by a single point, thanks to a defense that forced 2 turnovers and stopped Liberty on downs on its final 3 possessions.

Wake Forest

Sam Hartman ended a personal slump and a 3-game losing streak for his team by taking one final curtain call in front of his home fans. The redshirt junior, who has already announced that this will be his last season with the Deacons, threw for 331 yards and 4 touchdown passes to lead a 45-35 Senior Night win against Syracuse.

Three of his touchdowns went to AT Perry, who became his school’s all-time leader in scoring receptions with 27.

Hartman, meanwhile, increased his career touchdown total to 104 to move within 3 of the all-time ACC mark of 107 set by Clemson’s Tajh Boyd. He’ll have 2 more opportunities to break the record in next week’s regular-season finale against Duke and Wake’s upcoming bowl game.