There was a lot of action this week, but only one really close game. The ACC picture is starting to clear up despite the ACC Coastal’s best efforts.
1 - #4 Clemson Tigers (9-0, 6-0)
The Tigers whooped Wofford this week with the stars leading the way. Travis Etienne had an insane 212 yards on just 9 carries with two touchdowns. Trevor Lawrence was 12/16 for 218 yards and 3 touchdowns. The backups got to take a lot of reps which is what you’d want out of a game against Wofford. This has not been a remotely exciting or fun season for the Tigers and the end looks only slightly more appealing. They head to NC State next Saturday for their next ritual slaughter.
Last Week: Win 59-14 vs. Wofford
Next Week: Saturday at 7:30 at NC State
2 - #23 Wake Forest Demon Deacons (7-1, 3-1)
The Demon Deacons just keep rolling. This week saw the return of quarterback Jamie Newman against NC State and he delivered again with 25/38 passing for 287 yards and three touchdowns. They had this one in the bag early starting off with a 31-7 lead in the second quarter. Defensively they shut down the Wolfpack passing game and forced three turnovers. The offense wasn’t as good as it usually is, but they didn’t make mistakes and that was more than enough for the win.
Next week they head to Blacksburg to face the resurgent Hokies. That is a game to watch.
Last Week: Win 44-10 vs. NC State
Next Week: Saturday at 3:30 at Virginia Tech
3 - Virginia Cavaliers (6-3, 4-2)
Virginia went to Chapel Hill in a massive game and came away with a win. This was not the game I expected at all. I thought it would be a defensive battle, but it turned into an exciting back-and-forth shootout in the second half. Bryce Perkins was unstoppable. He was 30/39 passing for 378 yards and 3 touchdowns as well as 24 carries for 112 yards. Outside of Perkins there wasn’t much going. UVA ran only 6 times with running backs for 26 yards. Keep going with what works I guess. The normally stout defense had a major off-game. UNC ran all over them and they gave up some huge plays in the passing game. A 4th-down stand at their own 6 yard line late in the game was nice though. They need the defense to turn it around if they want to win the Coastal.
This week they welcome Georgia Tech to Charlottesville. This is a game that the Cavaliers should win without much issue if they’re supposed to be a Coastal contender. They need to be careful of a letdown game.
Last Week: Win 38-31 at North Carolina
Next Week: Saturday at 12:30 vs. Georgia Tech
4 - Virginia Tech Hokies (5-3, 1-2)
The Hokies came so, so close to pulling off the upset in South Bend. They forced three turnovers and were opportunistic despite not being able to move the ball well. Their two touchdowns were on a fumble recovery and a 45-yard drive. Other than that the offense led by backup quarterback Quincy Patterson II struggled to mount anything. The defense really stepped up. Besides the turnovers they shut down Notre Dame on the ground. Ian Book had some success, but this was overall a fantastic effort by the defense. They just needed to hold for one more drive, but weren’t able to. They gave up two fourth down conversions on the final drive including a fourth and 10. They were one play away from winning, but couldn’t hang on. Still, they’re probably not too broken up about the loss. Being competitive with their backup QB isn’t the worst thing. Plus it doesn’t count as an ACC loss.
They still control their own destiny in the ACC, but they probably would have rather Virginia won instead of UNC, but it doesn’t matter too much. This week they face a tough matchup with Wake Forest coming to town. The defense needs to have another big game and hopefully Hendon Hooker returns to take the reins.
Last Week: Lose 21-20 at Notre Dame
Next Week: Saturday at 3:30 vs. Wake Forest
5 - Louisville Cardinals (5-3, 3-2)
Louisville enjoyed their second bye this week as they prepare for the home stretch. They start with a road tilt against the wildly inconsistent Miami Hurricanes. Who knows what Miami team will show up. Winning would guarantee a bowl berth in year 0.
Last Week: Bye
Next Week: Saturday at 3:30 at Miami
6 - Pittsburgh Panthers (6-3, 3-2)
Pitt didn’t exactly impress at Georgia Tech, but they got the job done with a 20-10 win. They turned the ball over three times early then had a punt blocked, but their defense buckled down and controlled the game with the help of a GT goal line fumble. The offense was mediocre this game which is the norm at this point. Kenny Pickett was 25-34 for 208 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. The running game was better with AJ Davis and Vincent Davis combined for 142 yards. The offense was moving early, but fell apart later. With this defense though, they always have a chance in the ACC.
They now get a bye week to prepare for possibly the biggest game of their season, home vs. UNC.
Last Week: Win 20-10 at Georgia Tech
Next Week: Bye
7 - Miami Hurricanes (5-4, 3-3)
The Hurricanes looked in serious trouble when they lost at home to Georgia Tech two weeks ago. But then they got back-to-back road wins against Pitt and FSU. This rivalry win was extra sweet. Their defense shut down the Seminoles and Jarren Williams made plenty enough plays to win. Their much maligned offensive line gave up only two sacks while their talented defense racked up nine of their own. What a day for the Hurricanes. Williams was 21-37 for 313 yards and two touchdowns. He had a little bit more time in the pocket today and he took advantage spreading the ball around nicely. This is what Miami should have looked like all year.
A win against Louisville this week and this year looks salvageable for them.
Last Week: Win 27-10 at Florida State
Next Week: Saturday at 3:30 vs. Louisville
8 - North Carolina Tar Heels (4-5, 3-3)
That was a tough loss at home for the Heels. They went into the game as possible ACC Championship participants and left a possible non-bowl team. Once again a UNC game went down to the wire and once again they end up on the wrong side of it. The offense wasn’t to blame here. The run game had little issue with Javonte Williams and Michael Carter combining for 185 yards on 30 carries. Sam Howell was hit or miss with 353 yards on just 15-29 passing. He had 5 30-yard passes. Dynami Brown caught three of those on the way to 6 catches for 202 yards and three touchdowns. The fourth down failure at the UVA 6 yard line in the fourth quarter was a back breaker.
This one was all on the defense. UVA is as one-dimensional as they come, but they just couldn’t stop Bryce Perkins either through the air or on the ground. They need to step it up.
They get a much needed break before heading to Pitt in two weeks.
Last Week: Lose 38-31 vs. Virginia
Next Week: Bye
9 - Duke Blue Devils (4-4, 2-3)
Duke really needed this bye week. They have lost three of their last four and are basically out of the Coastal race. Now they are also looking at a tough road to a bowl game. It starts this week with a home game against Notre Dame.
Last Week: Bye
Next Week: Saturday at 7:30 vs. Notre Dame
10 - Boston College Eagles (5-4, 3-3)
I gotta give credit to Steve Addazio’s squad. I had left them for dead earlier this year and then again when Anthony Brown got hurt. Instead they have improved and beaten the teams they needed to beat. This week they blew apart Syracuse with their run game. They had over 310 yards rushing in the first half and finished with 496 yards on the ground, an NCAA record against an FBS opponent. AJ Dillon had 35 rushes for 242 yards and David Bailey added 172 yards on 16 rushes. When Syracuse sold out to stop the run Dennis Grosel made them pay with 8-10 passing for 195 yards. The defense wasn’t dominant, but they didn’t need to be. They will need to be better if BC wants to go to a bowl. The Eagles face Florida State this week and still have Notre Dame and Pitt on the schedule. They will need an upset to go bowling.
Last Week: Win 58-27 at Syracuse
Next Week: Saturday at noon vs. Florida State
11 - Florida State Seminoles (4-5, 3-4)
That was an embarrassing loss for FSU. The offensive line was atrocious last year, but looked a little bit better this year. This game they reverted to last year’s form. They allowed nine sacks and Cam Akers was getting hit behind the line on nearly every single play. Alex Hornibrook got the start and couldn’t deal with the pressure. He only had 135 yards passing on 17/24 passing and an interception. Miami’s offensive line has been a disaster this year, but Florida State was entirely unable to take advantage. They only got two sacks. They held Miami’s run game, but that was just about it.
While I was writing this article Willie Taggart was fired. His tenure was a disaster, but it’s crazy that he didn’t even get two full seasons. We’ll see how they play with a new coach.
Florida State may not make a bowl for the second year in a row. They really need to win at Boston College this week to make it happen.
Last Week: Lose 27-10 vs. Miami
Next Week: Saturday at noon at Boston College
12 - Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (2-6, 1-4)
That was a frustrating loss for the Yellow Jackets. The offense was unable to move the ball and take advantage of the defense’s turnovers. When they finally move the ball a little bit they fumble at the goal line. We’re in week 10 and Collins and co haven’t decided on a quarterback yet. Might we see Jordan Yates? We now get Virginia in a potential let down spot. Let’s get the big win.
Last Week: Lose 20-10 vs. Pitt
Next Week: Saturday at 12:30 at Virginia
13 - North Carolina State Wolfpack (4-4, 1-3)
NC State was done early against Wake Forest. They gave up a touchdown on Wake’s first drive. Then, they fumbled the kickoff at the 5 yard line letting Wake get another quick touchdown. Then they threw a pick and Wake scored another touchdown off of that turnover. Down 21-0 in the first quarter and the game was over. Everything after that felt like the teams were just going through the motions. Devin Leary threw 45 times, but only had 149 yards and two picks. They ran somewhat effectively, but that was largely because they were so far behind the entire game.
The good news for NC State is that they still have a shot at a bowl. They have Clemson this week, but after that they have three winnable games and they need to win two. I don’t think they get it, but it’s possible.
Last Week: Lose 44-10 at Wake Forest
Next Week: Saturday at 7:30 vs. Clemson
14 - Syracuse Orange (3-6, 0-5)
Syracuse’s defense was absolutely dominated. Just utterly outmanned by Boston College’s offensive line. They gave up 496 yards rushing. 496 yards. Think about that. That’s absurd. They were at home too! Just an utterly horrific performance from this team. Syracuse fired their DC Sunday morning and I cannot blame them. On the bright side, the offense was alright. Tommy DeVito had maybe his best game of the season with 25-36 for 289 yards and 3 touchdowns. Trishton Jackson had 8 receptions for 148 yards and two touchdowns. But come on, 496 yards!!!! They really earned the last place spot tonight.
This week they get a merciful, merciful bye to figure things out.
Last Week: Lose 58-27 vs. BC
Next Week: Bye