You guys! I am back home, just in time for the... rest of the season! Though, while I was away, I did have the opportunity to watch VT dominate FSU! Anyway, sorry these rankings are a bit later than normal! Let’s get to it!
1. Clemson Tigers: The Tigers opened their season with an easy warm-up game against the Furman Paladins. No. 1 overall recruit and future Pantene Pro-V spokesperson, Trevor Lawrence, made his CFB debut, tossing three touchdowns during Clemson’s journey to a 44-7 win. The most interesting thing to come out of the game seems to be the three fumbles that the Tigers committed. Only one was lost to Furman, but I was a bit surprised to see that statistic. Certainly, the Tigers didn’t bring the full compliment of their capability to the field, but tomorrow they should experience a bit more of a challenge against the Texas A&M Aggies, fresh off their 55-7 victory over the… Northwestern State Demons! Jimbo Fisher is certainly familiar with losing to Clemson and I expect he will suffer the same at his new SEC gig.
2. Boston College Eagles: The UMASS Minutemen aren’t exactly a powerhouse, but at least BC had the decency to schedule an FBS squad to open their season. More importantly, the Eagles defeated UMASS in a manner one would expect from a decent Power Five team, crushing them, 55-21. BC signal caller Anthony Brown had a banner day throwing four TDs, 279 yards, and a 15/21 (0.71) completion percentage. AJ Dillon did not score a TD, but he did have over 125 total yards and continued to demonstrate the promise he showed during the last half of the 2017 season. BC seems to have shaken off the offensive woes they’ve suffered over the last few years. Assuming Brown and Dillon avoid significant injury, the Eagles could have a pretty dangerous offensive duo. Boston College will look to improve to 2-0 for the first time since 2015 when Holy Cross comes a calling Saturday afternoon.
3. Florida State Seminoles: Oof! The Willie Taggart era got off to a rough start when the ‘Noles were soundly licked by the Hokies, at home, in full view of a national television audience. There are a lot of questions surrounding FSU after the 3-24 loss. The eyeball test indicates that the ailments on the Florida State offensive line continues. Five sacks and 14 TFLs are not statistics that any o-line would boast about. Is the young Hokie defense that good or is the Seminole offense that bad? FSU had a few big plays, the largest of which was Cam Akers 85-yard run in the second half, but they were never able to capitalize on such flashes. Additionally, if you take away Akers’ run, as a team, FSU only generated nine more rushing yards. Deondre Francois’ return to the field did not result in the heroic fanfare the FSU faithful thought it would be, resulting in zero TDs thrown, three INTS, and three PDs. Life gets easier for Taggart and Co. when they host Samford.
4. N.C. State Wolfpack: NCST struggled to run against the JMU Dukes, generating only 83 yards on 29 attempts. James Madison is consistently one of the best FCS schools in the nation and at the time of play ranked No. 2, but the Wolfpack struggling so does not bode well for them. NCST might have their hands full next week when the Georgia State Panthers, the winners of the 2017 Autonation Cure Bowl, visit the ‘Pack.
5. Wake Forest Demon Deacons: The departure of QB Wofford was certainly going to impact a WF offense that seemed to find itself in 2017, and that reality came to bear during the Deacons’ 23-17 overtime win over the Tulane Green Wave. A missed Field Goal and three turnovers, including a red-zone interception, did not help WF’s scoring struggles. Though they only scored 23 points, the Demon Deacons still generated 548 total yards. Wake will have a chance to get their affairs in order against the Towson Tigers, but the week three matchup against divisional rival BC looms in the background.
6. Syracuse Orange: The Orange opened their season with a win for the first time since… well, since last year when they defeated Central Connecticut. This time though they defeated an FBS opponent, something they only managed to do three times during the 2017 effort. Eric Dungey continued to show how valuable he is to the team, accounting for three TDs and 384 yards of the Orange’s 560 offensive yards, including 200 on the ground! Syracuse held on to win, but their defense looked vulnerable, allowing 621 yards to Western Michigan. WMU receiver, D’Wayne Eskridge had a career day, gouging the Orange for 240 yards and two TDs. Syracuse must deal with Wagner tomorrow and should improve to 2-0.
7. Louisville Cardinals: Louisville had the pleasure of opening against the No. 1 team in the country and the Alabama Crimson Tide soundly defeated the Lamar Jackson-less Cardinals, 14-51. The Cards’ running attack was absolutely stonewalled by the Alabama defense, and only generated 16 whole yards on 26 attempts. The Cardinals were dominated in every facet of the game, allowing a special teams score, being outgained 519 – 268, and a 45-yard pick-6. It’s not all bad though, tomorrow Lou will probably defeat the Indiana State Sycamores!
1. Virginia Tech Hokies: How about that?! The Hokies gained the lead on their opening drive and never ceded the advantage. The young defense looked quick to react and never quit, even after big plays from FSU put them at a disadvantage. The Hokie offense looked rather vanilla, but that could be due to the dominating performance of the defense. Why open the play book up if you don’t need to? The rushing attack seemed to be generating an early advantage, and DeShawn McClease averaged 5.9 yards of real estate during his 13 carriers, earning 77 total yards. Eric Kumah led the WRs with 86 yards and a TD over four receptions with a long of 49 yards! The Hokies may not have looked lethal on offense, but they protected the ball, suffering zero turnovers, though there were a few close calls. Opening the season with a resounding away-game conference win puts the Gobbler’s in early control of the Coastal.
2. Pittsburgh Panthers: As is tradition, things are muddy in the middle of the division. Pitt beat the Albany Great Danes, 33-7… yawn… It’s hard to see what kind of team Pitt is after such a match, though they did lay it down on the ground, rushing for 238 total team yards. Saturday night we should get a much better indication of who the Panthers are when they host the Penn State Nittany Lions. PSU needed more time than regulation to put away the pesky Appalachian State Mountaineers. Could Pitt make a statement tomorrow?
3. Miami-Florida Hurricanes: Oh look… the Hurricanes seem to be over-rated. LSU socked the Hurricanes, in the mouth, 17-33. Until the fourth quarter Miami was down 3-33. Two turnovers, including an interception returned for a TD, and an inability to stop LSU RB, Nick Brossette, laid the groundwork for the loss. The Hurricanes looked completely out of sorts and not at all the Coastal Champions they were for the majority of 2017. They did however look like the team that was upset by Pitt late last season. Lest it be overlooked… the ‘Canes have dropped four straight games. Pitt, Clemson, Wisconsin, and now LSU have taken Miami down, in order. Their next three games are a collection of cupcakes and then UNC. They should have no problem rolling into their game against FSU 4-1. Of course, they barely escaped the Tar Heels last year.
4. Duke Blue Devils: Of the Coastal teams that won, besides VT, Duke was the only team to face a 2017 bowl team… or a team in the FBS, period. Good look for the conference. Anyway, the Blue Devils avenged the close loss they suffered when visiting West Point during 2017. Duke’s 34-14 win was largely facilitated by a run game that saw the Blue Devils average 5.3 yards per carry, on the way to 184 total yards and three TDs. Duke absolutely dominated time of possession, 36:06 – 23:54. Next week the Blue Devils visit Northwestern, a team that would love to avenge the trouncing they suffered at the hands of Duke last season.
5. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: Hey, look at that! The triple option works against… Alcorn State. GT laid down 439 yards rushing, averaging 8.1 yards a carry, and scoring four TDs. The Jackets shut out the Braves, 44-0. Saturday GT will visit the South Florida Bulls, looking for an FBS win to match their FCS win.
6. Virginia Cavaliers: The Cavaliers avenged their 2016 season opening loss to the Richmond Spiders by defeating them on Saturday, 42-13. Bryce Perkins steps in at QB for the graduated Kurt Benkert. Perkins let his presence be known in the air and the ground, throwing for two TDs and rushing for 108 yards and two TDs. But, it was RB Jordan Ellis who led the team on the ground, rushing for 146 yards, averaging 7.3 yards per carry, and scoring two TDs of his own. The margin of victory is the largest since the Hoos’ 2014 45-13 win over Kent State. Last year the Cavaliers opened with a win over an FCS squad before losing to Indiana in the second week. Tomorrow UVA will face… Indiana! Will history repeat itself?
7. North Carolina Tar Heels: A solid second half performance that found UNC hold California to only seven points was not enough to overcome the Heels’ scoreless first half. Tar Heels QB, Nathan Elliott, threw four INTs, which certainly didn’t set them up for success. UNC will be fighting an uphill battle to be bowl eligible, and that continues tomorrow when they travel to Greenville to face the East Carolina Pirates.
Overall Conference Rankings
1. (No. 2 AP / No. 2 Coaches) Clemson Tigers (1-0) – Static
2. (No. 12 / No. 14) Virginia Tech Hokies (1-0) – Up One
3. Boston College Eagles (1-0) – Up Two
4. Pittsburgh Panthers (1-0) – Up Four
5. (No. 22 / No. 21) Miami-Florida Hurricanes (0-1) – Down Three
6. Florida State Seminoles (0-1) – Down Two
7. Duke Blue Devils (1-0) – Up Two
8. N.C. State Wolfpack (1-0) – Down Two
9. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (1-0) – Up Two
10. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (1-0) – Down Three
11. Syracuse Orange (1-0) – Up Two
12. Virginia Cavaliers (1-0) – Up Two
13. Louisville Cardinals (0-1) – Down Three
14. North Carolina Tar Heels (0-1) – Down Two