We finally got to see the “ACC Title Game Preview” we’ve heard so much about over the offseason as Florida State traveled to Death Valley to take on Clemson. We were not disappointed. For nearly a decade a term synonymous with ACC performance has laid dormant in Lower Carolina, but we were treated to its glorious return, Clemsoning is back!
The Tigers seemed to have Florida State on the ropes late in the third quarter. Driving to midfield, Cade Klubnik dropped back to scan for a pass but was instantly greeted by FSU linebacker Kalen Deloach. Deloach would plaster Klubnik forcing a fumble which Deloach would recover and return for a touchdown. Instead of a chance to increase the lead to two possessions, the game would be tied at the start of the 4th 24-24.
Clemson was given the opportunity to win with a short 24-yard field goal with just over a minute left to play. It was a Hollywood script just made for this game as kicker Jonathan Weitz had retired from football and was called by Dabo the previous week to rejoin Clemson. Except he missed the easiest layup and Clemson would fall flat in overtime to claim an 0-2 start to their ACC record.
A few teams closed out their out-of-conference slate and most looked great doing it. Duke and Miami both beat their G5 cupcakes, UConn and Temple, 41-7. Syracuse got a scare from Army early but managed to get enough offense to escape with a 29-16 victory. Then there were our friends at Virginia Tech...who are not having a great time so far. The Hokies traveled to take on the Thundering Herd of Marshall and got slapped 24-17.
The rest of the matchups got us going into ACC play as we begin to truly sort out the whose who of the bunch. In our midweek matchup of NC State vs Virginia, the Cavaliers made a valiant effort to come back and tie this game up with 36 seconds remaining on the clock, but a penalty got NC State into range for a game-winning field goal.
Louisville torched Boston College 56-28 and you can’t even say the game was that close. Jack Plummer tossed 5 touchdowns through the air for Louisville. North Carolina let Pitt hang around early before taking off late in the second to thump them 41-24. Finally, our Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets picked up their first ACC win of the year in Winston-Salem against Wake Forest. The defense showed out with 8 sacks and 5 turnovers to stifle the scoring from an offense that could still move the ball at times.
Last Week's Rankings:
- Florida State
- North Carolina
- Wake Forest
- North Carolina State
- Georgia Tech
- Boston College
- Virginia Tech
Week 4 Rankings
- Florida State - The Seminoles are starting to roll and have earned a rest this week after a comeback win over Clemson on the road. They’ll face Virginia Tech and Syracuse after their bye which should be manageable games. There doesn’t appear to be a defense left on the schedule that can slow down QB Jordan Travis. Duke and Miami are the two most likely upset candidates left on the ACC slate.
- North Carolina - QB Drake Maye proved to be ambidextrous this week as he swapped throwing arms for his lone TD pass of the game as he was being drugged down by a defender. The Tar Heels have of the more impressive 4-0 resumes thus far and don’t appear to have many roadblocks before them. The showdown with rival Duke could determine a spot in the ACC Title Game.
- Duke - Right on the Tar Heels of UNC is Duke coming in with their own 4-0 record with a signature win over Clemson from week one. QB Riley Leonard continues to carry the offense both through the air and on the ground. The defense has played well this season but they host College Gameday and the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame next week. It’ll be their toughest test, but a win could have them sitting above FSU next week.
- Louisville - Tied at the top with a 2-0 conference record are the Louisville Cardinals. Coach Jeff Brohm is proving his offense once again as his team is 5th in the nation in yards per game. They will travel to take on NC State for a Friday matchup. NC State has been sluggish for their part on offense and I expect to see another big Louisville win.
- Miami - Coach Mario Cristobal was hired last year to bring a resurgence to the Miami offense that has sputtered for a few years. It seems his schemes have finally clicked this year as QB Tyler Van Dyke leads the conference in QBR and by quite a lot. They have a solid win against Texas A&M but haven’t truly been challenged outside of that. They will have a bye week before taking on the second-highest-rated QB in the ACC, Haynes King of Georgia Tech.
- Syracuse - Offensive production for the Orange has been steadily declining as their competition has picked up each week. Clemson may be down, but their defense is still tops in the ACC and they come to town next. QB Garrett Shrader has been good because he has been their only consistent production. Give Syracuse credit for the 4-0 start but their offense isn’t balanced enough to maintain wins in ACC play.
- North Carolina State - The Wolfpack nearly fell victim to a struggling Virginia team this week. The offense did find a big playmaker at wideout in Kevin Concepcion this week who nabbed 2 touchdowns on 6 catches for 116 yards. They’ll need to find a few more if they want to stay competitive against an ACC slate that features some very good offensive teams.
- Georgia Tech - Vegas opened this game with Wake a touchdown favorite over Georgia Tech, but the sharks had the right idea when the line quickly shifted to 3.5 in a few days. Georgia Tech’s defense had been absent in previous weeks when it came to creating havoc in the backfield. They made up for that with 8 sacks and 5 turnovers against Wake Forest who has had some success moving the ball, but careless with it as well. Coach Brent Key will still have some things to clean up and Bowling Green will provide a chance for that.
- Clemson - The Paper Tigers are 2-2 overall and 0-2 in conference play. RB Will Shipley is still an absolute beast, but the coaches don’t seem to realize this and would rather throw passes with inches to go in OT instead of using the one who got you to the line to gain in the first place. Clemson will certainly pick up some better wins and Syracuse could be that next win coming up, but for now, wins over Charleston Southern and FAU aren’t going to cut it.
- Wake Forest - It has been a precarious 4-0 start for Wake and against Georgia Tech the holes came to light. Turnovers, bad protection, and Mitch Griffis holding on to the ball too long let things get out of hand. The Demon Deacons had a chance late to tie it up, but Georgia Tech committed 147 yards worth of penalties to get them in that position. Still, instead of tying the game, Mitch Griffis stared down an outside receiver that was easily read for a pick. Coach Dave Clawson will need to use this bye week to fix the offense if they want to score on Clemson in two weeks.
- Pittsburgh - For a little while it felt like Pitt could get things together and come out with an upset against a UNC team known for blowing a game it should win. UNC’s Tayvon Holloway delivered a targeting hit on Pitt QB Phil Jurkovec that left him out for the rest of the game. Christian Vellieux replaced Jurkovec in the 2nd half but only delivered two interceptions into the hands of UNC. Pitt’s only momentum in the second half was a 100-yard kickoff return. Pitt is going to need Jurkovec back soon or a bowl season might be over already.
- Virginia - Despite being winless, the Cavaliers have at least shown some fight in their losing efforts. QB Anthony Calandrea has shown some flashes and the secondary has done a serviceable job at times. They travel to Boston College next and could get a win before getting an FCS matchup the following week.
- Boston College - It appears the effort against FSU two weeks ago was just a flash in the pan. The Eagles were run over by Louisville before halftime. Don’t let the 28 points by BC fool you, because the defense never allowed them a chance in this game. They may squeeze one or two more wins out of their schedule, but this is going to be a very disappointing season.
- Virginia Tech - The Hokies were without starting QB Grant Wells and the offense sputtered through the air and had to rely on the running game. Unfortunately for the Hokies, it was Marshall’s rushing attack that was the highlight of the day. RB Rasheen Ali posted 174 yards and two touchdowns on the ground for Marshall. Pitt and VT may be a struggle to watch next week if neither have their QBs back.