Now that we've reached conference play, a lot of our future opponents are playing eachother and will soon start playing teams we've already played, which will give us a much better understanding of what we're up against. In the immediate future, Central Michigan is coming off an embarrassing loss, which means they'll either be deflated when they come into Blacksburg or motivated to shake off the memory of that bad result.
Around the league, the Hoos got exposed, UNC is developing a run game, Jacory Harris is still throwing picks and Wake Forest might wind up starting you at quarterback when they come to town in two weeks.
Sept. 6 vs. Boise State (4-0, 1-0 WAC)
Week 5: Boise State 59, New Mexico State 0
Week 6: vs. Toledo
Sept. 11 vs. James Madison (3-1, 0-1 CAA)
Week 5: Delaware 13, James Madison 10
Week 6: at Towson
JMU Sports: Duke D remains tough
Sept. 18 vs. East Carolina (2-2, 2-0 CUSA)
Week 5: North Carolina 42, East Carolina 17
Week 6: at Southern Miss
Paint It Purple: Davis INT changed game
Sept. 25 at Boston College (2-2, 0-1 ACC)
Week 5: Notre Dame 31, Boston College 13
Week 6: at NC State
Oct. 9 vs. Central Michigan (2-3, 1-2 MAC)
Week 5: Ball State 31, Central Michigan 17
Week 6: at Virginia Tech
Sandwiched between games against BCS opponents Northwestern and Virginia Tech came a home game against Ball State. The Cardinals came into Mount Pleasant after going 2-10 in 2009 and sporting a 2010 record of 1-3, including three consecutive losses against Liberty, Purdue and Iowa.
The game should have been a cake-walk for the 2-2 Chips who nearly knocked off Northwestern the previous week, right? Wrong.
Central Michigan collapsed against BSU, giving up six sacks and turning the ball over four times on its way to a 28-3 deficit after the third quarter. The Cardinals also racked up over 300 yards rushing and held CMU to under three yards per carry.
A positive for the Chips was holding BSU to 2-for-12 on third down. Was this a case of team coming off a tough loss and looking ahead to another chance at a BCS opponent or was it indicative of serious questions for the CMU offensive line and run defense? I think the answer is somewhere in between.
Oct. 16 vs. Wake Forest (2-3, 1-2 ACC)
Week 5: Georgia Tech 24, Wake Forest 20
Week 6: vs. Navy
Wake Forest held down the Yellow Jackets' option attack only to see Joshua Nesbitt march Georgia Tech down the field for a game-winning touchdown with 15 seconds to play.
It was a solid performance from the Deacon defense, but the offense struggled without quarterback Tanner Price, who missed the game with an injury. Wake wound up using three QBs against the Jackets: Skylar Jones, Ted Stachitas and Brandon Cross.
Neither was particularly effective as the Wake offense was held to 4.1 yards per play against a Jacket defense that allowed over six yards per play against UNC and NC State. What to expect against the Hokies will depend on which quarterbacks are healthy after the Deacons face Navy this week.
Blogger So Dear: QBs banged up
Oct. 23 vs. Duke (1-4, 0-2 ACC)
Week 5: Maryland 21, Duke 16
Week 6: Bye (Oct. 16 vs. Miami)
Duke held a 9-7 lead at halftime, but threw two interceptions in Maryland territory and gave up a punt return for touchdown in a tough loss at Maryland. The Blue Devils lost despite out-gaining Maryland by over 100 yards and holding Da'Rel Sc'ott and Davin Meggett to under four yards per carry each.
Duke was simply unable to finish drives in the first half, settling for three field goals in its first three drives, including two that reached the red zone and one that reached the Maryland two-yard line. Duke QB Sean Renfree also threw an interception in the end zone.
The Blue Devils continue to improve, but are still learning how to finish football games. They are also susceptible to big plays, giving up an 84-yard put return TD and a 71-yard TD pass in the second half. The pass accounted for 71 or Maryland's 170 yards passing on the night.
Nov. 4 vs. Georgia Tech (3-2, 2-1 ACC)
Week 5: Georgia tech 24, Wake Forest 20
Week 6: vs. Virginia
Georgia Tech's offense woke up in the fourth quarter, just in time to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and move the Jackets to 2-1 in ACC play.
The final drive, a 12-play, 69-yard drive that took only two minutes, felt like it would inevitably get the Jackets into the end zone. After being held to six yards in three third-quarter drives, Georgia Tech racked up 18 points on its three fourth-quarter drives.
On defense, the Jackets didn't see a lot of passing from the Wake Forest offense and held its spread option rushing attack to 3.7 yards per play. Josh Adams ran for 101 yards against Georgia Tech: 57 on one carry and 44 on the other 19 (2.3 ypc). To me, it seemed like only a matter of time before the Jacket offense woke up and it finally did.
If the Hokies are able to hold the Jacket run game through three quarters like Wake Forest and NC State did, it has to score points like the Pack did and not be anemic on offense like Wake was Saturday, although the Deacs were down to their fourth quarterback.
Nov. 13 at North Carolina (2-2, 0-1 ACC)
Week 5: North Carolina 42, East Carolina 17
Week 6: vs. Clemson
UNC trailed 17-14 early in the second half, but got three rushing touchdowns from Shaun Draughn to beat ECU. Draughn and Johnny White both ran roughshod over the ECU defense. Draughn finished with 137 yards on 27 carries and White had 140 yards on 16 carries.
We know how porous the Pirate defense is from our meeting with them, but Tar Heel offense does appear to be improving. T.J. Yates had another solid game, throwing for 181 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. The key to beating the Heels will be stopping the ground game and forcing Yates to beat you. He hasn't LOST a game for UNC yet, but he also hasn't single-handedly WON a game for them, although you should count the LSU game as a huge positive for him.
The Tar Heel defense, which benefited from three Dominique Davis interceptions, held the ECU Air Raid to just over five yards per play. Like the Hokies, the Heels gave up some long drives early and then dominated. Injuries and suspensions may have decimated the front seven, but these guys still have a great defensive backfield.
Nov. 20 at Miami (3-1, 1-0 ACC)
Week 5: Miami 30, Clemson 21
Week 6: vs. Florida State
Miami overcame two first-half interceptions by Jacory Harris by forcing six turnovers of its own in a big road win in conference play.
Jacory Harris continued to be Jekyll and Hyde on the road, completing under 40 percent of his passes (13-for-33) with two interceptions, but also threw four touchdown passes, all in the first half, to lead the Canes. Damien Berry added 101 yards rushing on 24 carries to help hold the second-half lead.
Miami's defense, in addition to the six turnovers, held Clemson to only 4.3 yards per play. The Canes have a fearsome defensive that has helped compensate for Harris' struggles, especially against the run. The Tigers saw 71 of their 162 rushing yards come on one play.
It is tough to sustain drives against the Miami defense, meaning you have to force turnovers and convert on them when you play the Canes.
Eye of the Hurricane: O-line struggles against CU front seven
Canespace: Defense comes up with eight TFLs
All Canes: Win a turning point for Miami
Shakin the Southland: First half was one of Tigers' worst
Block-C: Receivers accountable, not just Parker
Nov. 27 vs. Virginia (2-2, 0-1 ACC)
Week 5: Florida State 34, Virginia 14
Week 6: at Georgia Tech
After a solid performance against USC and a win over VMI, the Hoos were brought down to earth by FSU, which led 34-7 after three quarters. UVa gained 134 of its 304 yards in the fourth quarter after the game was no longer in doubt.
The Hoos' first six drives resulted in punts and five of them were of four plays or less. FSU held the Hoos to one yard per carry, sacked UVa quarterbacks Marc Verica and Ross Metheny six times and held UVa to 3-for-13 on third-down conversions.
The UVa defense gave up 428 yards, including 256 on the ground at 6.1 yards per carry. It was a pretty dominating effort for the Noles, who scored on five of their six first-half drives.