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Everyone Feel a Little Better: FSU, N.C. State Both Lose, Terps Keep Up in ACC Atlantic Race

Okay, first things first: Maryland already controlled their own destiny, even post-Miami loss. Sure, they would've had to run the table to win the division, but the point is that they could've won regardless of any other team's action.

But if for nothing more than morale reasons, things got a whole lot better in the big picture this afternoon. The two teams they were tied with at the start of the day, Florida State and North Carolina State, both lost, and in ways not dissimilar to how the Terps fell to the Canes: blowing leads in the fourth quarter.

The Wolfpack lost by a point to a Clemson team that lost to Boston College last week, and it was a game that they arguably would've won had they had any semblance of offensive production. The Tigers turned the ball over three times and were outgained, but they limited Russell Wilson and N.C. State to just one touchdown. Clemson's offense was so bad that Kyle Parker was even benched for a drive, but hey: they won. The 'Pack still control their own destiny thanks to FSU's loss, but this does let Clemson get (ever so slightly) back into the picture.

Florida State's loss was even closer, as the Seminoles had a shot to win the game with a 41-yard field goal with less than 10 seconds to go that Dustin Hopkins pushed left. 

That means that the standings right now in the ACC Atlantic look like this (and yes, Maryland's still in a virtual three-way tie with N.C. State and FSU, with Clemson lurking and BC still not yet mathematically eliminated):

Atlantic Coast Conference Standings

(updated 11.5.2010 at 12:45 AM EDT)

Atlantic Division Conf Overall
Florida St. Seminoles 4 2 6 3
N.C. State Wolfpack 3 2 6 3
Maryland Terrapins 3 2 6 3
Clemson Tigers 3 3 5 4
Boston College Eagles 2 4 4 5
Wake Forest Demon Deacons 1 5 2 7

Now, let's look quickly at scenarios. There's a bajillion different potential outcomes, if you want to get really technical, but here's all you need to know if all you want to know about is Maryland (which, I'm guessing, is the case):

  • Maryland controls its own destiny. Beat UVA, N.C. State, and FSU, and the Terrapins are ACC Atlantic Champions. That may be doubtful, but it's the case. And it was the case this morning, too; in other words, this hasn't changed.
  • Maryland needs to beat UVA to truly "control their own destiny", but realistically they probably don't. If Maryland falls to UVA, they won't technically control their own destiny, because then what other teams do would come into play and it would get complicated. Essentially, if Maryland loses to UVA, Clemson wins their final two games (FSU, Wake), FSU loses their final two games (Clemson, MD), and N.C. State loses two more games (UNC, MD, Wake), Clemson wins the division. That's a lot of ifs, but if they happened, it wouldn't matter if MD beat FSU and N.C. State or not.
  • That said, the losses did give Maryland a little breathing room. After the loss today, Maryland needed to win out to win the division. Now, they can lose to UVA and still win the division as long as Clemson loses to FSU. It's not controlling your own destiny, but it's close.
  • Maryland needs to beat FSU and N.C. State. There's probably some scenario or other where that doesn't need to happen. And the odds of that scenario coming through are 10000:1 (it would almost certainly involve N.C. State losing to Wake Forest). So realistically, if Maryland doesn't beat FSU and N.C. State, they ain't winning a title.
Again, the easiest route: beat UVA, beat FSU, beat N.C. State. It's been that way for a week. But if nothing else, it's now obvious that Maryland didn't lose pace in the ACC race. And hey, if you didn't believe that Maryland could beat FSU at home, well, UNC (which nearly lost to William & Mary) can beat them on the road. Morale, baby.