1. Clemson Tigers: For the third game in a row Dabo Swinney has elected to rotate Trevor Lawrence and Kelly Bryant at the QB position. Saturday’s star player, for the Tigers, was Travis Etienne who racked up 162 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries. Adam Choice and Tavien Feaster combined for 81 yards and two TDs, and the Tigers ended up gouging the Georgia Southern Eagles for 309 rushing yards on their way to a 38-7 victory. Clemson’s offense was a bit sloppy with the ball. Lawrence and Bryant both threw interceptions and Choice lost a fumble. Lawrence’s pick set the table for Georgia Southern’s only score. Saturday the Tigers start their conference schedule when they visit the vulnerable Yellow Jackets.
2. Boston College Eagles: Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, the Boston College Eagles are here. Wake Forest put up a valiant resistance, and there were multiple lead changes into the third quarter, but the domination of the BC offense was on full tilt during the second half. Anthony Brown had a career day going 16/25 for 304 yards and five touchdowns. AJ Dillon carried the ball 33 times, earning a 5.6-yard average per carry, 185 yards, and a TD. Wake’s offense was no slouch, but the BC defense never backed down and provided four QB sacks, six QB hurries, seven tackles for loss, nine passes defended, and two interceptions. We’ve seen BC put up great performances against lesser competition, but with their 41-34 assertion over WF they have shown they are the team most likely to challenge Clemson for the Atlantic crown. Next week the Eagles will face the Purdue Boilermakers.
3. Syracuse Orange: Hold on a second, let me check… yes, here it is. “In fact, I think Syracuse might just beat the brakes off Florida State.” – Me, ACC Rankings Week Two article. That is exactly how that went down. The Orange dismissed the Seminoles 30-7, and it wasn’t as close as the score indicated. Syracuse QB Eric Dungey was banged up and in and out of play after halftime, but Tommy DeVito showed up nicely in his place going 11/16 for 144 yards and throwing the Orange’s only passing TD. The Syracuse offense did what needed to be done to win, dominating time of possession 36:53 – 23:07. The Orange defense really won the game, holding the Seminoles to 240 total yards and only allowing Cam Akers 52 yards on ten carries. A 5.2-yard average is respectable, but FSU was behind for the entire game and leaned on a passing game, which simply didn’t deliver, to catch up. Next week the Orange host the UConn Huskies whose singular victory is against FCS foe Rhode Island. Syracuse cannot be slouches. The Huskies arguably had the hardest first two games of the regular season, facing then No. 21 UCF and then No. 20 BSU. UCONN is a bit of a wildcard, but their defense has allowed 49+ points in all games. Syracuse should eat them up and be 4-0 heading into their week five game against Clemson.
5. Wake Forest Demon Deacons: Wake’s inexperience on offense showed itself and the BC defense was able to do enough in the second half to put the game out reach. Regardless, Wake Forest was no slouch and both teams had this match circled long before the season started. Even though they snagged the L the Demon Deacons had two 100+ yard rushers in Matt Colburn and Cade Carney. Freshmen QB, Sam Hartman, was hit and harried all night long, and the game was placed on his shoulders. Hartman threw 45 times, completing only 20 passes for 214 yards and two TDs and two INTs. In total the Deacons had three turnovers two of which were turned around for Eagle’s TDs. I am not a mathematician, but it was a one score loss… Wake Forest did lose, but you’d be foolish to sleep on these young men. Next week the Demon Deacons host the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, who better show up ready to play, or Wake Forest might ruin their 3-0 start before the Hokies can.
6. Louisville Cardinals: Louisville squeaked by Western Kentucky, 20-17, to earn their first FBS win of the season. The Cardinals started off slow. Really, really, slow… Two missed field goals, including one to tie the game, by the Hilltoppers helped. Louisville didn’t take the lead until the five-minute mark in the fourth quarter. Malik Cunningham again was the best part of the offense, but that offense still only managed 292 yards. They came away with the win, but the Cardinals do not look particularly imposing. Their match against UVA next week may determine which one of those programs is able to become bowl eligible.
7. Florida State Seminoles: Things I don’t want to hear about anymore: The Gulf Coast Offense and the Turnover Backpack. Against FBS (and conference) competition the Seminoles have managed 567 total offensive yards (opponents: 760), 10 whole points, a time of possession deficit of 70:45 to 49:15 and have suffered six turnovers while generating… ZERO. The only positive is that the FSU defense looks okay, but it has consistently been put in bad situations and is exhausted because the offense cannot stay on the field. The Seminole offensive line looks junior varsity. There seems to be only quit on the offense. Challenging for the Atlantic is already out of the question, but really a bowl game seems to be insurmountable at this point. At this level of play only Louisville and N.C. State seem like possible wins. Well, maybe next week… against the MAC’s Northern Illinois Huskies, but at this point I don’t care what the FPI says. FSU better figure some stuff out before the Huskies show up, because this Willie Taggart led offense seems incapable of defeating FBS competition. Look at FSU’s remaining slate… NIU, LOU, No. 21 MIA, WAKE, No. 3 CLEM, NCST, No. 8 ND, No. 23 BC, and FLA. At their current execution level there isn’t even close to five wins in there. Do not be surprised if the FSU boosters are fed up with Taggart by season’s end, or sooner. If FSU manages to go 1-6 he could go by midseason.
2. Duke Blue Devils: David Cutcliffe demonstrated why he is not to be taken lightly as the Blue Devils cruised to a 40-27 victory over the Baylor Bears. Quentin Harris filled in nicely for the injured Daniel Jones to the tune of 174 yards passing, three passing TDs, and 83 yards rushing. The Blue Devil defense did a nice job slowing down the Bear’s strength, which is their passing attack, allowing only 270 yards and one TD in the air. The Coastal Division is a bit weak, and while some may argue that Miami deserves this spot, the body of Duke’s work, this season, places them definitively here. The only thing that stops them from being rated in the top spot of the Coastal is my genuine belief that the Hokies would (and will in a few weeks) defeat Duke.
3. Miami-Florida Hurricanes: The Hurricanes defeated the Toledo Rockets, 49-24. QB Malik Rosier was an offensive showcase going 13/23 for 205 yards and two TDs in the air, while adding three TDs and 80 yards over ten rushing attempts. Next week Miami rolled the FIU Panthers.
4. Pittsburgh Panthers: The Panthers were able to recover from their embarrassment last week at the hands of PSU. They led for the entire game and defeated GT 24-19 in a match that wasn’t as close as the score implies. Next week Pitt opens their ACC slate against North Carolina.
5. Virginia Cavaliers: The Hoos game against the Ohio Bobcats was a tale of two halves. UVA scored five touchdowns and a field goal in the first half, but only one TD in the second half. The performance in the first two quarters was enough to carry them past Ohio, 45-31. QB Bryce Perkins had his best game yet going 25/30 for 379 yards and three TDs. He finally found some help on the offense in RB Jordan Ellis. Ellis carried 19 times for 171 yards and three TDs. The Cavaliers looked good on offense but did seem to show some weakness in the secondary, particularly in the second half which saw two long passes for TDs. Next week, against Louisville, we can get a slightly better idea of how competitive this team really is.
6. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: At this point I think it is a bit premature to say that Paul Johnson’s seat is hot. Losing back to back games isn’t ideal, but USF is not a bad football team and Pitt is better than their loss to Penn State implies. If they can limit their mistakes GT should find themselves competitive, but they do have one of the hardest schedules in the ACC. Next week they host Clemson.
7. North Carolina Tar Heels: UNC was idle this week after their game against No. 18 UCF was canceled due to the potential effects of Hurricane Florence.
Overall Conference Rankings
1. (No. 3 AP / No. 2 Coaches) Clemson Tigers (3-0) – Static
2. (No. 13 / No. 10) Virginia Tech Hokies (2-0) – Static
3. (No. 23 / No. 25) Boston College Eagles (3-0) – Static
4. Duke Blue Devils (3-0) – Static
5. (No. 21 / No. 20) Miami-Florida Hurricanes – Up One
6. Syracuse Orange (3-0) – Up Two
7. N.C. State Wolfpack (2-0) – Down Two
8. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (2-1) – Down One
9. Pittsburgh Panthers (2-1) – Up Three
10. Virginia Cavaliers (2-1) – Up Four
11. Louisville Cardinals (2-1) – Up One
12. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (1-2) – Down Three
13. Florida State Seminoles (1-2) – Down Three
14. North Carolina Tar Heels (0-2) – Static