After a year of being the dominant force in college football, the Atlantic Coast Conference had a chance to secure its position on top again with some marquee national matchups.
For the most part, the league fell flat on its face. Louisville and Virginia Tech were the league’s only winners in seven shots at Power Five opposition. Among the five losers, only Georgia Tech was able even to cover the spread.
Let’s fire up the “the ACC is the worst P-5 conference” hot take cannon!
- Clemson Tigers (won 56-3 against Kent State): Remember how we were worried about Clemson’s offense? Well, a 21-point first quarter outburst led by Deshaun Watson impersonator Taylor Kelly put those doubts to rest for now. Their top four rushers either averaged 10 yards an attempt or scored multiple TD’s. Fifteen (!) receivers caught passes. Oh, and their D was solid too.
With #13 Auburn (ESPN, 7pm) coming into town on Saturday, the league’s new (and recent) bellcow needs to have a big night.
2. Miami Hurricanes (beat Bethune-Cookman 41-13): The U did everything they needed to do— Malik Rosier was solid (17/28, 217, 3 TD), Mark Walton was excellent (16 carries, 148 yards, 2 TD), and the defense gave up a lot of yardage in garbage time.
The Canes visit former UNC OC Blake Anderson and Arkansas State in another weird Sun Belt road game. Let’s see if they hold up better than Appalachian State did last year.
3. Florida State Seminoles (lost to Alabama 24-7): Can J.J. Consentino or true freshman Bailey Hockman keep the offense upright? The Noles went toe-to-toe with Alabama until their special teams completely fell apart in the third quarter, and would still be #1 if Deondre Francois hadn’t broken his leg in garbage time. Sigh. Derwin James was everything the national media expected him to be, and the defense is still probably the league’s best. With their stable of running backs, Jimbo Fisher may want to go to the option.
HOW IS LOUISVILLE AT CAROLINA A NOONER AND LOUISIANA-MONROE AT FSU A 7PM GAME? I still hate the ACC’s TV deal.
4. Virginia Tech Hokies (won 31-24 vs. West Virginia): In the ACC’s lone win against a ranked opponent, Tech achieved almost perfect balance (234 yards rushing, 235 passing) on offense, and did just enough to stop WVU’s powerful attack. Inexperienced O exceeding expectations and a Bud Foster D is VERY dangerous in this year’s ACC.
The Hokies host Delaware this week (3:30, ACCN).
5. Louisville Cardinals (35-28 win vs. Purdue): Well, that was ugly. The Cardinals didn’t tip their hand too much against a massively overmatched Purdue, but sleepwalked through their opener. Lamar Jackson (485 yards) was just fine despite the controversial decision to move him under center some, and the defense was stout against the run.
All of that is to say...the ‘Ville opening -6 for Carolina (noon, ESPN) this week looks like easy money. If you have a lead on a sportsbook that still displays that number, drop me a line.
(?) 6. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (42-41 OT loss vs. Tennessee): That was painful. Butch Jones and the Vols came back late and won in double OT, trash canning the Yellow Jackets’ opener. TaQuon Marshall carried the ball 44 times for the Jackets, so yes, their B-back depth is lacking. The defense? Probably as good as its been under Paul Johnson since 2009, based on last night’s performance.
Tech gets Jacksonville State (12:30, ACCN), which this blogger did not realize was in Alabama.
(?) 7. Pitt Panthers (28-21 OT win vs. Youngstown State): This gets hairy in a hurry. Youngstown State was the FCS runner-up in 2016, but...they were the FCS runner-up. Pitt’s pass defense isn’t fixed, their pass rush was nonexistent, and their offense was extremely pedestrian on a play-by-play basis.
The Panthers travel to #5 Penn State on Saturday (3:30, ABC) and, I’m not anticipating a repeat of last year’s 42-39 win.
(?) 8. N.C. State Wolfpack (42-35 loss vs. South Carolina): The vaunted defense failed to show up until the fourth quarter, the offense ran 107 snaps, and they lost to South Carolina. The whole game felt very similar (minus the points) to UNC’s opener in 2015. Here’s hoping the Pack doesn’t reel off 11 straight wins in the aftermath.
State hosts Marshall (6, ACCN) this week.
9. Duke Blue Devils (60-7 win vs. N.C. Central): Did anyone watch this game? Duke cruised to a 47-0 halftime lead behind Daniel Jones being awesome (19/25, 213, 2 TD). From last week:
The Devils play host to Northwestern in a battle of programs that have been outpunching their weight classes this whole decade. Tickets on StubHub are as low as $3. Get yours now.
10. Boston College Eagles (23-20 win at Northern Illinois): This qualified as the most surprising ACC win of opening week, as the DUDES were beneficiaries of a crossbar doink by the Northern Illinois kicker as time expired. Jon Hilliman was completely shut down (2.3 yards per carry on 23 totes), and they were outgained.
They play host to Wake in the biggest ACC opener in years (1pm, ACCN).
11. North Carolina Tar Heels (35-30 home loss to Cal): The defense did a complete 180 from the last two years, as they contained the run and allowed 364 passing yards to a first-time college football player. Fun. The offense was extremely conservative and (in a complete 180 from last year) was more explosive on the ground than through the air, where...it appears we got spoiled.
The Heels host Louisville and need to win to avoid going 0-2 in front of the home crowd.
12. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (51-7 win vs. Presbyterian): Wake basically did to Presbyterian what Duke did to Central, and, like that game, it was watched by very few.
Wake/BC: the first to 10 wins!
13. Syracuse Orange (50-7 win vs. Central Connecticut State): Wash, rinse, repeat the Duke and Wake capsules. Eric Dungey is sneakily firmly in the upper tier of this generation of ACC QB’s after his 379-yard, 5 total TD performance, and Steve Ishmael is going to lead the ACC in receiving by a WIDE margin.
The Cuse looks to go to 2-0 as they welcome Middle Tennessee (3:30, ACCN), who is coming off a home loss to Vanderbilt.
14. Virginia Cavaliers (28-10 win vs. William & Mary): Yes, it was William & Mary, but the Cavaliers held them to 240 total yards. Kurt Benkert led the best UVA passing attack of the Bronco Mendenhall era.
They host Indiana (3:30, ACCN) in a game that registers as decently important for the purposes of helping the league save face from Week 1 against P5 foes. Indiana is the far superior team.
The rest of the P5
- Ohio State
- Penn State
- Maryland (won at Texas overreaction ranking)
- Minnesota (17-7 win over Buffalo in P.J. Fleck’s debut is super ‘meh’)
- Michigan State
Ranking these teams after 4 is an act of masochism. Michigan has a serious quarterback problem, but their defense is legit*. Everyone else held serve.
*- does shutting down Florida’s offense prove anything about a defense?
- Oklahoma State
- Kansas State
- West Virginia
- Iowa State
- Texas (still trash)
- Texas Tech
- Baylor (Liberty styled on them)
- California (ALL HAIL TO OUR BEAR OVERLORDS, WHO ARE LEAVING THE CONFERENCE TO JOIN THE AFC WEST, WHICH THEY WILL WIN)
- Oregon (77 points)
- UCLA (are they first half vs. Texas A&M, or is Josh Rosen going to win the Heisman?)
- Washington State (somehow, them shutting out an FCS team makes me feel worse about them)
- Arizona State
- Oregon State
2 through 9, the Pac-12 was the big winner of the season’s opening week.
- LSU (firmly #2 after that curbstomping of BYU)
- Mississippi State
- South Carolina
- Texas A&M
- Ole Miss
- Missouri (they gave up 43 points to Missouri State)