1. Clemson Tigers: QB, DJ Uiagalelei, looked improved from last year, but the performance was still not up to the standard of quarterback play the Tigers have come to expect. The Clemson defense and special teams continuously set the offense up for success, including two blocked punts. The Clemson offense was slow to start and struggled to get a rushing attack established only averaging 3.2 yards per carry on 40 attempts. The Clemson defensive line looked dominate again, leading the smothering of the Yellow Jackets’ offense and holding them to 237 total yards, and only converting 2-16 on third down. Highly touted true freshman QB, Cade Klubnik, took the field for a series, after the game was put away, and drove down the field, completing four of six attempts for 50-yards and a TD pass. Clemson isn’t up here in the top spot because they were particularly awesome, but NCST was particularly bad. Next week Clemson has their home opener against the Furman Paladins.
2. NC State Wolfpack: NCST narrowly avoided being defeated by the East Carolina Pirates. ECU has always played the ACC hard, but I did not expect their defense to so effectively stall a Wolfpack offense loaded with experience and talent. NC State did not win this game on merit. Twice the Pirates were positioned to tie or win this game, but a missed PAT and field goal let NCST escape Greenville with a win. Next week, QB Devin Leary, and the rest of the offense, have a get-well game against Charleston Southern.
3. Wake Forest Demon Deacons: Last year’s star QB, Sam Hartman, is out indefinitely with a “non-football related” medical situation, and Mitch Griffis has stepped up to lead the potent Deacons offense. Granted it was against FCS foe, VMI, but the WF offense looked like last year’s unit. Griffis tossed three touchdowns and spread the ball around nicely with nine Wake players recording a reception. Christian Turner and Justice Ellison both had solid performances on the ground, combining for 180 yards and Turner adding two TDs. Next week Wake Forest travels to face a 2-0 Vanderbilt team and we should have a better understanding of if, and how, the Demon Deacons defense has improved and how the offense does against a P5 foe.
4. Florida State Seminoles: FSU opened the season with a warm-up match, defeating Duquesne, 47-7. What really stood out was this past Sunday night’s game against LSU, in Baton Rouge, where the Seminoles handed new head coach, Brian Kelly, a loss for his Tigers’ debut. QB Jordan Travis, and the FSU offense were able to win the possession game, holding the ball for 34:06 to LSU’s 25:54 and the defense won the turnover battle recovering two fumbles. The game ended in dramatic fashion when the Tigers looked to tie it up, after trailing since the second quarter. LSU drove 99-yards down the field and scored a TD as regulation expired only to have the PAT blocked by FSU! The Seminoles head to Louisville next but have this weekend off.
5. Syracuse Orange: Um… I think I can safely speak for all of college football fandom when I say, “What?!” We already know Sean Tucker is an absolute beast, and he dominated the field, leading the team in both receiving and rushing yards. He had 184-yards total and two TDs. Garrett Shrader looked completely different than he did last season, completing 18 of 25 passes, for 236 yards and two TDs. On top of that he rushed for 94-yards and a TD. The defense played no small part in the win, shutting down Louisville QB, Malik Cunningham, in the air and on the ground, while collecting three total turnovers. This is the surprise performance of the week. Next, the Orange have their first away game against UCONN.
6. Boston College Eagles: At least BC had the decency to lose a close game against a P5 opponent. Rutgers stonewalled Eagles’ RB, Pat Garwo III, holding him to a paltry 25-yards on 14 attempts, of which 20-yards came on one play. I did not see that coming. QB, Phil Jurkovec, tossed two costly interceptions. The first the Scarlet Knights turned into a TD and the second halted what had been a nice drive by the Eagles and saved Rutgers while BC was deep in their territory. Zay Flowers looked like an all-star, catching 10 passes for 117-yards and two touchdowns. Next weekend BC travels to Blacksburg to face VT in a battle of the beaten.
7. Louisville Cardinals: If you had told me that Malik Cunningham was going to be shut down and outdueled by Syracuse’s Garrett Shrader, I would have said you were a crazy person. But that is exactly what happened. The Louisville defense looked completely overwhelmed and the combination of a scrambling Shrader and dominate Tucker was too much to handle. Louisville has a lot to ponder before playing UCF Friday night.
1. Miami Hurricanes: Miami did was good P5 teams do to FCS foes, and completely dominated the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats, winning 70-13. Hurricanes QB, Tyler Van Dyke, completed 13 of 16 passes for 193 yards and two TDs before sitting and letting Jake Garcia get some time under center. Miami didn’t really need to depend on QB talent as they ruled the field with a rushing attack that earned the team 305 yards and seven touchdowns. This weekend Miami faces the Southern Miss Golden Eagles, but a meeting with Texas A&M looms ahead, two weeks from now.
2. Pittsburgh Panthers: Pitt won a hard-fought game against a West Virginia Mountaineers team that shut down the Panthers’ rushing attack, holding them to 76-yards on 39 carries, but allowing three rushing TDs. Pitt QB, Kedon Slovis, passed for 308 yards and a TD and did enough with passing attack to beat WVU. It was a solid win for Pitt against a West Virginia team that looked poised and dangerous. This Saturday Pitt has another big out of conference test when they face the Tennessee Volunteers.
3. North Carolina Tar Heels: Yeah, they won, but like their in-state rival Wolfpack, they got lucky. I get it, a win is a win, but man… the Appalachian State Mountaineers hung 61-points and 649 total yards on a Tar Heel defense that was supposed to be improved under new DC, Gene Chizik. App State QB, Chase Brice, passed for 361 yards and six TDs! Nate Noel, the Mountaineer lead RB, ran for 116 yards on 14 carries (8.3 YPC) and two TDs! Maybe Appalachian State’s offense is that good, but also… UNC’s defense isn’t very good. The offense and special teams did looks good though. UNC QB, Drake Maye, threw for 253 yards and four TDs while also rushing for 76 yards and another score. Georgia State comes visiting Chapel Hill this weekend.
4. Virginia Cavaliers: It wasn’t super sexy, but the 34-17 win over the Richmond Spiders was a nice home-opening win for new head coach, Tony Elliott. Brennan Armstrong and the WR corps still look strong, but Perris Jones and his 104 yards on the ground might mean the Hoos finally have a RB that can produce. The Cavaliers travel to face the Fighting Illini this weekend.
5. Duke Blue Devils: Strong start for Duke to shut out an FBS school to start the season! Defeating the Temple Owls, 30-0, was a welcome shift from last season that saw the Blue Devils struggle against almost all FBS competition. QB, Riley Leonard, threw 24-30 for 328 yards, two TDs, and no picks. Leonard also led the team on the deck with 64 yards over 11 carries. Next up Duke faces Northwestern.
6. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: GT played better against Clemson than the final score of 41-10 indicates. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that the Tigers really put the Yellow Jackets to bed. In particular, the Georgia Tech defense did a nice job shutting down the Clemson offense for almost three quarters. Offensively the Yellow Jackets had flashes of good play, but it is tough to cage when facing a defense that is, traditionally, so dominate. GT next hosts Western Carolina.
7. Virginia Tech Hokies: Well, there is a glut of postmortem to be had from we here at Gobbler Country, but suffice to say, no team can turn the ball over five times and earn 15 penalties and expect to win. Grant Wells will be on a short leash next week against Boston College and the entire team needs to get those penalties under control. The Hokies still have not won in Norfolk. Considering they are the only ACC team to lose to a non-Power Five opponent and they did it in such a sloppy way, they have fully earned a place in the bottom of the Coastal. Let’s hope Coach Pry can get the team re-focused and motivated and that the fans understand how this may be an even bigger rebuild process than expected. Depth and inexperience will be an issue all season.
1. (No. 5 AP / No. 4 Coaches) Clemson Tigers (1-0)
2. (No. 18 / No. 13) NC State Wolfpack (1-0)
3. (No. 15 / No. 16) Miami Hurricanes (1-0)
4. (No. 23 / No. 21) Wake Forest Demon Deacons (1-0)
5. (No. 17 / No. 14) Pittsburgh Panthers (1-0)
6. Florida State Seminoles (2-0)
7. Syracuse Orange (1-0)
8. North Carolina Tar Heels (2-0)
9. Virginia Cavaliers (1-0)
10. Duke Blue Devils (1-0)
11. Boston College Eagles (0-1)
12. Louisville Cardinals (0-1)
13. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (0-1)
14. Virginia Tech Hokies (0-1)