• Yes, Virginia Tech did secure a spot in the ACC title game with a 17-14 win over Virginia, but we're going to start this take with a different ACC Coastal team: Georgia Tech.
In one of the most exhilarating games of this season, the 18th-ranked Yellow Jackets ventured between the hedges and knocked off No. 13 Georgia 45-42. Once again, I come away from a Georgia Tech game unbelievably impressed by first-year coach Paul Johnson.
When Georgia took a 28-12 lead into the half, any sensible viewer thought this game was over. Georgia's bigger. Georgia's faster. Georgia's stronger. Georgia's infinitely more talented. And Georgia hadn't lost to its archrival since 2000. Again, game over. But Johnson didn't see it that way.
Instead of panicking at the sight of a 16-point deficit, the Georgia Tech coach stuck with the game plan. Johnson's triple-option offense -- that offense that "couldn't possibly work in today's major college football" -- wreaked havoc on the Georgia's D in the final 30 minutes, producing TD runs of 60, 8, 23 and 54 yards. Most of the time, it seemed like the Dawgs knew exactly what play was coming, but they still couldn't stop it. How demoralizing. For the game, the Yellow Jackets racked up 410 yards ... on the ground! This comes nine days after Tech rushed for 472 yards against Miami. So, yes, the triple-option is back and better than ever.
But again, the story from this game (and the entire Georgia Tech season) is Johnson. Nobody expected the Yellow Jackets to eclipse three or four wins this season. They now have nine with a bowl game on the horizon. Johnson's a shoe-in for ACC Coach of the Year, and he deserves some serious consideration for the national hardware.
And don't you dare say this Georgia Tech team is a one-year wonder that took advantage of a mediocre ACC. These Yellow Jackets aren't going anywhere -- 16 of the 22 starters are underclassmen.
• OK, back to the ACC Coastal champion Hokies. As usual, Virginia Tech managed to prevail in spite of its offense. The Hokies accumulated a respectable a 392 yards of offense and Tyrod Taylor enjoyed his most productive game of the season, but Va. Tech's red-zone offense was unforgivably bad. Frank Beamer's team had drives of 14, 14 and 13 plays that yielded a grand total of zero points (thanks to a missed field goal, horrible interception and turnover on downs). When push came to shove, Bud Foster's defense made the game-sealing play, as Dorian Porch intercepted Marc Verica in the end zone with 2:15 remaining.
If Boston College takes care of business against Maryland, the Eagles will face Virginia Tech in the ACC title game for the second consecutive season. It will also be the fourth Eagles-Hokies game in two seasons.
• Did Dabo Swinney just earn a permanent post at Clemson? With a 31-14 win over rival South Carolina, the Tigers officially became bowl eligible and Swinney improved to 4-2 as interim coach since taking over for Tommy Bowden in mid-October. Clemson athletic director Terry Don Phillips is expected to interview Swinney for the job over the next couple days, and a 17-point victory over the Gamecocks is a pretty nice resumé item.
It's hard not to root for Swinney, with his excitable demeanor and obvious passion for the game. Considering Clemson began this season as a purported national title contender, a 7-5 regular season is undoubtedly a letdown, but Swinney prevented this season from spiraling into oblivion. It was very nice to see the bowl-bound Tigers carrying Swinney to his postgame handshake with Steve Spurrier.
• Kansas upset No. 12 Missouri 40-37, winning the game in thrilling fashion. With less than 30 seconds remaining, Jayhawks QB Todd Reesing avoided a Tigers blitz by side-stepping in the pocket and delivered a 26-yard touchdown pass to Kerry Meier. Reesing's pocket presence on the play was brilliant, but Meier's execution was every bit as impressive. Meier was running a simple cross route when he realized Missouri was blitzing. Knowing the Tigers had no safety support, Meier broke upfield behind the defense for the easy touchdown grab. Truly intelligent football. I guess that's the luxury of having a backup quarterback as your team's leader in receptions.
This loss certainly won't inspire much confidence in Missouri going into next week's Big 12 title game. If the Tigers can't slow down Kansas, how will they be able to stop the Big 12 South winner?
• N.C. State is bowl eligible, and boy, did the Wolfpack earn it. Tom O'Brien's squad started the year at 2-6, but they rolled off four straight wins over Duke, Wake Forest, North Carolina and today over Miami. Bravo, Mr. O'Brien.