Despite what happened in week one, UNC has a chance to rebound in week two. It’s a tough ask, but the Tar Heels get to play in one of the biggest ACC’s game this week when they host reigning Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson and Louisville. Besides UNC, there are some interesting games across the conference this weekend.
The ACC’s football slate in week two does not have the same marquee matchups that featured in the opening weekend. It would be hard to top a game between two top five teams, not even mentioning some of the other interesting games that highlighted the weekend.
There’s nothing quite on the level of Florida State-Alabama, this week, but there are some matchups that have a real chance to majorly affect how the 2017 season plays out.
#13 Auburn(1-0) at #5 Clemson (1-0)
Saturday, September 9 at 7:00 PM ET on ESPN
After both teams won easily against Group of Five teams in their respective openers, Clemson and Auburn meet in one of the biggest games of week two.
Kelly Bryant made a good start of his attempt to replace DeShaun Watson, throwing for 236 yards and a touchdowns, and running for 77 yards and another TD. The offense in general racked up over 600 yards against Kent State, with four different players running for over 50 yards. Meanwhile, Clemson’s defense held the Golden Flashes to just 120 total yards.
Auburn’s win over Georgia Southern was a similar story. They put up over 500 yards, while allowing just 78. Transfer quarterback Jarrett Stidham was unspectacular, but not bad. He did a little of everything, going 14-24 for 185 yards, one passing touchdown, a rushing touchdown, an interception, and a lost fumble. He didn’t need to be spectacular, however, as Auburn’s run game went for 351 yards. Both Kam Martin and Kerryon Johnson ran for 136 yards as Auburn cruised.
Neither team faced a real test in week one, so it’s difficult to read into this game based on what’s happened so far. Clemson comes in as a favorite, and probably deservedly so. They get the game at home, and do return some pieces from last year’s national championship team. If Bryant is the better quarterback in the game, Clemson seems to be the safe pick.
Pitt (1-0) at #4 Penn State (1-0)
Saturday, September 9 at 3:30 PM ET on ABC
Last year when these two teams met, Pitt came away with a win. At the time, that seemed like a perfectly normal result. The Panthers were favored in the game.
Flash forward to the end of the season, and that looks way different. Pitt stayed around the same level they did in that game, but Penn State caught fire down the stretch. They won 9 of their next 10, beat Ohio State, and eventually took down Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game. That loss to Pitt is probably what kept them out of the College Football Playoff last year.
One year later, things look different. Penn State comes in as a top five team, and deservedly so. Pitt is replacing a lot, and struggled in their opener against an FCS team. Youngstown State is a good FCS team, but you would still hope it doesn’t take overtime to put them away.
Pitt is up against it this time around. Not only are they the lesser team on paper, but they have to go on the road for this year’s meeting. It’s unlikely, but if the Panthers come away with the win again, it would be a pretty big victory for the conference this season.
#16 Miami (1-0) at Arkansas State (0-1)
The Hurricanes won easily in week one, beating Bethune-Cookman 41-13. New starting quarterback Malik Rosier threw for 217 yards and three touchdowns, while Mark Walton ran for 148 yards and two touchdowns. They went into halftime up 18, and the game was pretty much over from that point forward.
Despite giving up just 13 points, the defense allowed over 300 yards. If that doesn’t improve, that could be a bit of a problem against Arkansas State.
Arkansas State coach and former UNC assistant Blake Anderson missed some time in the lead up to the season, spending time away with his wife, who was battling cancer. (She is thankfully now cancer free.) Despite that, Arkansas State’s offense did not miss a beat in the opener. The Red Wolves’ offense went for 497 yards in a seven point loss to Nebraska in Lincoln. Quarterback Justice Hansen threw for 415 yards on 68 attempts. Arkansas State’s offense does not mess around.
Last season, Miami went on the road to play a Sun Belt team in what looked to be a tough test, when they took on Appalachian State in Boone. The Hurricanes ended up handling that one fairly easily. This game could end up being more of the same. However, playing Arkansas State on the road isn’t the easiest matchup a team will deal with this week.