ACC Review and Power Rankings will normally run on Sundays but a couple of members and a one-season stand wanted to drag ACC moments on an all weekend binder. It was a mixed bag of results for the non-conference games and a black eye for UNC in the one conference matchup.
The Tar Heels were the favorite to bring stability to the unpredictable Coastal but too much was gone from the offense for Heisman hopeful Sam Howell to continue last year’s dominance. The offensive line was supposed to be a strength with all its experience returning but instead just looked like fine-aged swiss cheese. It was a great performance by the Hokies and QB Braxton Burmeister. This was a hot-seat year for Coach Fuente and he may have bought himself some grace for a time with this win. It’s early but they appear poised to make a run for the division this year.
Elsewhere the Coastal struggled to make any noise other than nails on a chalkboard this weekend. Duke was up first and let Charlotte get an early lead on them. Duke climbed back to take the lead late but blew it in the waning seconds allowing the 49ers to seal the win. In case you’ve been hiding, which might be a good idea, Georgia Tech did the exact same thing with Northern Illinois. Really, just change Duke and Charlotte with Georgia Tech and NIU and you get the same results. Miami shouldn’t be criticized too hard as they got the joy of playing Alabama but it wasn’t even a game after the first drive. Miami quarterback King once again ran for his life and had little time to make anything happen. Miami may have some talent but still isn’t anywhere near a top contender. Pitt and UVA both claimed blowout wins against competition it was supposed to beat, so good on them for doing their job.
The Atlantic had a solid weekend overall with Boston College, NC State, Syracuse, and Wake all taking care of business and winning handily in warm-up games. Ah, but the mighty Tigers of Clemson dropped their first season opener since 2014 which also happened to be Georgia. It was a dull affair of two dominant defenses dominating as both offenses struggled to find their next big playmakers. The lone touchdown was a 76-yard pick-six by Uga. FSU gave Notre Dame all it could handle into overtime on Sunday night. It was also good to see UCF transfer McKenzie Milton perform well in some action after several years of rehab on his leg. Louisville gave no fight to an Ole Miss team that didn’t even have Lane Kiffin on the sideline. The Cardinals have been a bit disappointing after a decent first year under Scott Satterfield.
- Clemson - Imagine not scoring a single touchdown and still being the best team in the conference after week one. That happens when you don’t let Georgia score on offense either. It was a close loss between two playoff contenders and while Clemson appears more vulnerable than in the past it won’t face another defense like that.
- North Carolina State - The Wolfpack took USF to task by shutting them out and hanging 45 points and 525 yards. Carter-Finley Stadium was electric for Thursday night and could be a good home field this season. It seems NC State is always on the cusp of taking that next step and this might be the year they do it.
- Florida State - This may feel like a leap for a team that lost but Notre Dame is no scrub and FSU of old could be seen in the performance. It may be a year or two away but with apologies to Miami, the Seminoles might be back.
- Virginia Tech - Fourth could be a sleight to the Hokies after beating a top ten UNC team but preseason hype had a lot to do with that. UNC hardly looked worthy of the Top 25. Still, Virginia Tech got an early lead in the Coastal and looks better than they have the past few years. MTSU shouldn’t be a problem next week.
- Boston College - Phil Jurkovec has developed into a more than capable QB for the Eagles and that’s just what they need behind those nasty linemen they always seem to find. Colgate may not be the best but holding anyone under 200 yards is a good day on defense. With a manageable schedule, this is a team to watch.
- Miami - It’s hard to gauge where Miami stands after its shellacking to the Crimson Tide. They get App State next week and that is a solid program that will be a good test on where the Canes stand.
- Pittsburgh - UMass is probably one of the lower teams of the 130 FBS teams but Pitt has a lot of returning experience and plenty of players saw action in this game. Pitt rushed for 223 yards but their leader, Rodney Hammond, account for 45. QB Kenny Pickett played a clean game as well and that always bodes well for the stingy Pitt defense.
- North Carolina - Nothing looked good for the Tar Heels as both the defensive and offensive lines got shoved around. QB Sam Howell racked up some yards but three drives ended in interceptions. The defense couldn’t keep the Hokies at bay with short fields as Braxton Bruneister did all the damage.
- Wake Forest - Coach Dave Clawson has kept the Demon Deacons a consistent program that doesn’t shoot itself in the foot. Christian Beal-Smith is a dangerous weapon at running back and punched in two touchdowns this week. QB Hartman only threw for 188 yards but did find the end zone three times and no INTs.
- Virginia - A solid win for Virginia but William and Mary hasn’t had a winning record in the FCS since 2015. It’s hard to gauge where they stand but Illinois could be a good indication after they dropped one to UTSA this weekend.
- Syracuse - Dino Babers is just holding with this team and while they did beat Ohio the Bobcats were still able to move the ball quite well. QB Tommy Devito won’t win any games for Syracuse as all the offense was generated from the rushing game. That might be best to avoid turnovers if it can.
- Georgia Tech - Amazing I don’t put them last after losing to a MAC team that went 0-6 last year. It’s a game of inches between the last spots but Georgia Tech at least has some playmakers in a few key positions and Yates looked good at QB when he got time. Gibbs is still a top running back so maybe if the coaches can get it together there is some hope left before entering the murderer’s row schedule.
- Louisville - You know you have some problems when you can’t even slow down a team whose offensive mind is sitting two states away because of Covid. Ole Miss is actually a pretty good team but Louisville didn’t look like they even needed to be on the same field. They’ll compete with Syracuse for the basement of the Atlantic division.
- Duke - It has been a good run for Coach Cutcliffe but all good things come to an end and it appears to be that time for Duke. Charlotte looked comfortable handling Duke. Even the worst of the ACC seems to be head and shoulders above Duke with talent level. They’ll find a win here or there but the depths of the Coastal are ready to welcome them home.