The bad news in Week 3 of college football was that the ACC lost out on two high-quality non-conference games, as Carolina missed out on UCF and State missed out on WVU.
The good news? Carolina missed out on UCF. Virginia Tech, who had their game with ECU cancelled, came out of the week looking like petulant babies. And, we got to focus more attention on the far reaches of the ACC— I’m not quite sure when the last time I watched a whole game featuring BC, Syracuse, or Wake was...but it’s been a while.
Without further ado:
Tidily beat Georgia Southern 38-7. Next: at Georgia Tech
The Tigers rolled, Trevor Lawrence put up a 98.4 QBR in his quest to unseat Kelly Bryant, and the only question is whether this team develops the fifth gear to make a two-score lead a four-score one, or whether they allow teams like Texas A&M to hang around.
Jumped all over Toledo, winning 49-24. Next: FIU
The Canes were really impressive in yet another weird G5 road game that they tend to play (working theory: drug front). Malik Rosier played his most efficient game in almost a year, and the defense racked up 13 TFLs in a game where many called for the upset.
This Miami team wins the Coastal going away. We’ll see if they can hold form.
3) Virginia Tech
Made asses of themselves in the wake of the ECU cancellation. Next: at Old Dominion
Oh, you thought you could just delete that? Nah. pic.twitter.com/OYDiJhHH8u— Joe Ovies (@joeovies) September 11, 2018
But no, let’s totally marginalize the lives of millions of people over a football game that you’d likely win by 5 touchdowns.
(Oh, and this is not the 10th-best team in the country by a long shot, Coaches’ Poll.)
4) Boston College....?
Won at Wake 41-34 on Thursday night. Next: at Purdue
Well, well, well. The Eagles, who under Steve Addazio have boasted stout defenses and repugnant offenses have officially flipped the script. They’re averaging over 570 yards per game behind A.J. Dillon and Anthony Brown— the former my pick for ACC Offensive POY. Oh, and Wyatt Ray leads the nation with 5 sacks opposite future NFL DE Will Allen, so everything is working for the “dudes”.
In a world with a bad Florida State team, the Eagles have a shot to hit 7-0 and pose a real threat in the Atlantic leading into a brutal stretch that sees them play the three teams ahead of them in these rankings in consecutive weeks, starting with Miami on October 26.
5) N.C. State
Game vs. West Virginia cancelled. Next: @ Marshall
You can take teams 5-10, drop them in a hat, shake up said hat, and put them in about any order— this is what I call the “incomplete resume” portion of the conference.
As it relates to State, they get the nod at 5 based on the most limited downside. They haven’t been overly impressive thus far, but haven’t had to be. Missing a healthy and potent West Virginia team probably benefits their value nationally, as they have a shot to get to 3-0 with home games against Virginia and a showdown against BC looming.
Beat Florida State 30-7. Next: UConn.
In my Syracuse preview, I mentioned my Dino Babers mancrush. It’s growing to unsafe levels.
Dino Babers gave an EPIC speech after Syracuse's win pic.twitter.com/P7XHNoUKUp— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) September 15, 2018
What do we learn from a 30-7 home win against a reeling FSU? Probably not much— this is a Syracuse team that gave up 42 points to Western Michigan just two weeks prior. They’ll get to 4-0 with UConn this week. They’re probably not the 6th-best team in the ACC, but we’ll give them the nod as long as Eric Dungey (who is averaging 92 yards per game rushing in addition to his passing exploits) stays healthy.
Beat Baylor 40-27. Next: NC Central.
Duke added another P5 win to its resume without Daniel Jones and Mark Fields, and doing so on the road with a first-time starter at QB in Quentin Harris is impressive enough.
They haven’t done anything remarkable yet, sitting at 50th in YPP on defense and 76th on offense, but the list of teams with two Power 5 road wins is comprised of...well, them.
Here’s your list of teams with multiple P5 wins, period:
- Oklahoma (UCLA is 0-3 with losses to Cincinnati and Fresno State)
- Ohio State (if Rutgers and Oregon State count)
- Notre Dame (home wins against Michigan and...Vandy)
- BYU (big fat Arizona caveat)
- LSU (with the nation’s strongest resume)
Beat Western Kentucky 20-17. Next: at UVA.
This is an uninspired pick here, mostly because its hard to glean anything from a team playing Alabama and needing to recover its fragile psyche. The offense has been bad behind Jawon Pass thus far, and the defense has improved from 2017.
Virginia represents an opportunity to pick up a conference win while continuing to lick the Week 1 wounds.
Beat Georgia Tech 24-19. Next: at UNC.
Speaking of licking wounds, Pitt did just that against Georgia Tech a week after a 45-point home loss to Penn State. Like Louisville, they boast a negative point differential on the season due to reckless scheduling— and like Louisville, they are a 5-8 win team we haven’t been able to fully ascertain yet.
The 1-2 punch of Qadree Ollison and Darrin Hall does look more like the James Connor-era Pitt offenses of yore than recent iterations.
10) Wake Forest
Lost to BC 41-34. Next: Notre Dame.
My gut tells me this is a couple of spots too low for the Demon Deacons, who gave BC all they could handle. But, a home loss in their only game of note (plus needing overtime to beat Tulane) has my sample size argument pushing them low.
After seeing Vanderbilt almost steal a game in South Bend, the Wake/Notre Dame game this Saturday could be fascinating. Sam Hartman has the weapons to beat the Irish if he can avoid turnovers.
11) Georgia Tech
Lost to Pitt 24-19. Next: Clemson.
There’s never a good time to play Clemson, but Tech really doesn’t need Clemson this week. A pair of close road losses have the Yellow Jackets reeling, which means questions about Paul Johnson’s future, which means they’ll acquit themselves well on Saturday in Atlanta.
Or, you know, they lose by 4 touchdowns.
Beat Ohio 45-31 in Nashville. Next: Louisville.
In the most uninteresting neutral-site game (Florence-related) ever played, the Hoos lit up the scoreboard for 38 points in the first half before holding on against a decent MAC team. Jordan Ellis has been very good thus far.
Fact of the matter is, though, I still don’t trust this UVA team. Their lofty ranking is merely a factor of the two teams below them:
13) Florida State
Lost to Syracuse 30-7. Next: Northern Illinois.
Its time to call a spade a spade here. They’re being outscored 54-10 in FBS play, and needed a fourth quarter comeback to beat Samford.
Having watched this game, the offensive line is a complete dumpster fire, negating their skill position talent. The defense is wearing out due to bad offense. Chemistry appears to be an issue.
If there’s hope for the Noles, its this: Willie Taggart has done more or less a complete teardown at his previous stops. With a 180-degree shift in philosophy on both sides of the ball, this project is going to take time. But one could look at their schedule and not see any wins the rest of the way.
14) North Carolina
Had its most positive result of the year, a cancellation of the UCF game. Next: Pitt.
In a hypothetical North Carolina/Florida State game, the Heels would have a chance. Carolina’s defensive line may force a few turnovers, and the offense would probably get to 10-14 points.
My gut, however, is that Cam Akers would be made to look a lot better than he has thus far, even if he took advantage of just one or two Carolina busts.
What we do know, however, is that this game would definitely set the NCAA record (36 as it currently stands) for penalties— on the strength of mostly procedural and dead ball varieties.