The opening week of college football is the best time of the year. Not just because our favorite sport is back on a 3-day weekend full of grilling and gatherings, but because we are once again reminded that expectations are a fickle thing and disappointment abounds in the coming months. Yes that Summer anticipation of a clean slate was quickly wiped away for some teams who now stare into the abyss of a long dark season. In the ACC that team was a playoff-aspiring Clemson who managed to get run off the field by Duke in a primetime Monday matchup.
It wasn't all doom and gloom for the conference as the flirtatious Florida State Seminoles attempted to court the SEC by slapping one of their proposed favorites in LSU up and down the field. QB Jordan Travis proved to be every bit of the hype he received this offseason and the defense looks to make sure opposing offenses don’t give Travis any trouble on his way to a Heisman nomination.
In the early week games, Wake Forest handled business against Elon without Sam Hartman at the helm. The defense did get a little slack after the half and let Elon hang some points on the board. NC State went up to UConn where they struggled to pull a win from the Huskies. They got it done but their fans can’t be too happy with the performance.
Georgia Tech and Louisville had a back-and-forth contest where the Yellow Jackets took a 28-13 lead into halftime before allowing Louisville to score 26 unanswered points with a final of 39-34 in favor of Louisville. It was a tough loss to swallow for the Jackets but there we positives to be taken and it appears the fans can look forward to a competent team this season. The Miami Hurricanes won the battle of naming rights against Miami (OH) in a nice defensive effort where they allowed only 3 points.
Syracuse and Pittsburgh took care of their FCS foes in convincing fashion with plenty of points and only seven or zero points allowed. Boston College tried to claw its way back from trailing to NIU but lost in overtime. Virginia Tech has struggled with Old Dominion before but after a tight game early QB Grant Wells pushed his offense to pull away and give them a comfortable win. Virginia faced a tough test against Tennessee and was severely outmanned and took a 49-13 loss in Knoxville.
North Carolina wouldn’t let the ACC be outdone by the SEC this week. To assist FSU in their thrashing of LSU the Tar Heels would hang 31 points on South Carolina and remind the Gamecocks that they were in fact beneath North Carolina on the field and in geography.
All in all, it was a positive week for the ACC. Sure, one of its favorites, Clemson, took a heavy blow to Duke but that just means we are a deep and crowded conference, right? They went 2-1 against the SEC and outside of Boston College everyone took care of business against winnable non-con opponents.
So I have to shake some things up this week as I was way off base on where I started some of these teams:
- Florida State
- North Carolina
- North Carolina State
- Georgia Tech
- Wake Forest
- Boston College
- Virginia Tech
Week 1 Rankings
- Florida State - You can’t even debate this one anymore after their performance against LSU. The Tigers are not a bad team and the Seminoles beat them convincingly. Jordan Travis worked his magic with 342 yards passing and 4 touchdowns through the air and one on the ground. LSU took a lead in the middle of the second quarter but they were kept out of the endzone until a trash touchdown with less than one minute remaining in the game. FSU gets Southern Miss next week so don’t expect this team to move from its perch.
- North Carolina - Drake Maye is a known commodity and he performed as expected. The question is how would his supporting cast perform. Turns out they look pretty darn good after one game. The defense which was a huge issue last year got to QB Spencer Rattler for 9 sacks. The secondary did allow some yardage but never let the Gamecocks catch a pass in the endzone.
- Duke - This may not be where the Blue Devils finish this season but the 21-point win over Clemson is still the next most impressive win of the opening week. Let’s be clear that Clemson looked really bad but until we see more here Duke remains. Duke used its ground game to pull away late and the defensive front gave Clemson fits all night. Duke has a pretty manageable schedule and should get to their Notre Dame matchup 4-0.
- Pittsburgh - It’s hard to gauge where Pitt should truly stand among the middle tier after a decent gamer against FCS Wofford. The offense didn’t light it up but I also trust them to field a competent defense every year. We will know more after they take in Cincinnati next week.
- Louisville - It was not looking good for the Cardinals at halftime. It looked to be a route by the Yellow Jackets who lit the scoreboard up with 28 points in the second quarter. Give credit to Louisville for coming out composed and taking back a win to get the Jeff Brohm era started off right.
- Miami - The question during the offseason was if Miami could get their offense playing at a high level again to match their talent. They did a pretty good job but the defense looks like the strength so far against a mismatched Miami (OH) team. Texas A&M rolls into town this week and both teams will look to score more from last year. We will know if Miami is for real again.
- Syracuse - The Orange have a lame-duck schedule for the early season slate so it will be harder to figure where they sit among those who have played tougher competition. Yet they took care of business and pitched a shutout for week one. Western Michigan is next and should keep the Orange undefeated.
- Wake Forest - The Demon Deacons faced FCS Elon and ran away from them early before letting them score 17 points in the second half. The offense hummed along as usual even with Sam Hartman gone to Notre Dame. Vanderbilt should be a fun game next week as long as they don’t wear any similar color combinations.
- North Carolina State - We knew the Wolfpack lost some key pieces this year but the win over UConn wasn’t all that inspiring. New QB Brennan Armstrong only threw for 155 yards but did score two touchdowns with the run. He didn’t seem to have any help though and the defense needs to keep things in check against teams that can air it out.
- Georgia Tech - The Yellow Jackets are the highest-rated team with a loss this week. It was quite possible that they could have beat Louisville and gotten off to a good start toward bowl eligibility. While they weren’t able to capitalize on their lead there is evidence this team isn’t an easy win anymore. If they can go into the next week and work on the offensive and defensive fronts they could be a tough out.
- Clemson - If you don’t think it is fair this team fell this far then I will assume you didn’t watch this game. The offense just looks downright bad. Clemson has what should be one of the best rushers in Will Shipley but the poor guy is about all they have. The 7 points Clemson did manage to score was due to a muffed punt by Duke within the red zone that gave Clemson an easy score. Ball security was a major issue and the rush defense could not contain Riley Leonard when he scrambled out of the pocket. Clemson easily has another three losses with FSU, Notre Dame, and UNC if they field this type of performance again.
- Virginia Tech - Are you kidding? The Hokies won! Why are they ranked so low? Well the team they beat, Old Dominion, is now on a 7-game losing streak going back to last year. The Monarchs gave them three turnovers and it remained a one-possession game until late in the third. Kudos to the Hokies for not losing to Old Dominion but it also didn’t move the needle either. Purdue is a better barometer next week.
- Virginia - The Hoos were never really in this one, but they were playing one of the better teams in the nation on the road. The offensive line still looks bad but they will have a chance to work on that against James Maddison next week. They will need that win as there are few on this schedule.
- Boston College - The Eagles' former QB Phil Jurkovec got tired of being abused and transferred over to Pitt this season. In his stead, Thomas Castellanos assumed the mantle of whipping boy behind the worst line in the ACC. He was only sacked once but nothing got going for either the ground or passing game as BC only put up 314 yards and held the ball for 23 minutes. Without some quick improvement, Holy Cross appears to be the only favorable game for Boston College this season.