It wasn't a particularly impressive week for the ACC -- Boston College got drubbed by a Conference USA team (albeit a good one), Virginia Tech struggled against another one (albeit a solid one), and Clemson tried for a while to lose to Wofford. But in comparison to the Big Ten and Big East, this wasn't so bad.
Wake Forest (Proj. Scoring Margin: -15.5 | Actual Scoring Margin: +7 | Diff: +22.5)
So it appears Wake Forest may be a bit salty this year. They almost took out Syracuse on the road last week (granted, Syracuse also flirted with losing to Rhode Island this week, but work with me here), and they just drubbed a faltering N.C. State team this week. The scripted plays worked: in their first three drives, the Deacs gained 227 yards (8.4 per play) before fading a bit (211 yards in 4.9 per play the rest of the way), and they bolted to a 27-6 lead before the Wolfpack actually began to move the ball. Tanner Price averaged a healthy 7.4 yards per pass attempt, and the trio of Chris Givens, Danny Dembry and Michael Campanaro combined for 17 catches and 300 yards. This game may end up saying more about N.C. State than Wake, but we'll see.
Georgia Tech (Proj. Scoring Margin: +18.3 | Actual Scoring Margin: +28 | Diff: +9.7)
Two more long passes for Georgia Tech! Tevin Washington completed a 71-yarder to Stephen Hill and a 73-yarder to Tony Zenon and averaged 21.2 yards per pass attempt overall. Meanwhile, Tech running backs gained 285 yards on 40 carries (7.1) as the Ramblin' Wreck sprinted to a 28-0 lead before Middle Tennessee could get going. The Blue Raiders did gain 342 yards (5.3 per play), but after their first four drives went Punt-MFG-INT-Fumble, they were dead. Tech managed only one tackle for loss, but end Izaan Cross (three tackles, two PBUs and a forced fumble) had a nice game.
Just About Right
Duke (Proj. Scoring Margin: -26.2 | Actual Scoring Margin: -30 | Diff: -3.8)
Two stats tell you everything you need to know about Duke's 44-14 loss to Stanford. 1) Stanford has Andrew Luck, and Duke doesn't. (Is that a stat? It is now.) 2) Eleven Cardinal players had at least 0.5 TFL, while one Blue Devil managed that feat (Kenny Anunike with two). Even if Luck was only excellent and not transcendent (9.5 yards per pass attempt, but with a pick six and two sacks), Stanford was always moving forward. Duke's Conner Vernon had six catches and 98 yards over eight targets, but the rest of the Blue Devils only generated 81 yards in 19 passes, and quarterback Sean Renfree was sacked five times.
Virginia (Proj. Scoring Margin: +8.3 | Actual Scoring Margin: +3 | Diff: -5.3)
Last September, I tried as hard as I could to talk myself into Virginia, and I almost succeeded. This year, despite the fact that they've only beaten William & Mary and Indiana (who might be worse than W&M), I find myself doing the same despite my better interests. Maybe it's just because their kicker is named Robert Randolph. He booted four field goals in the Cavs' 34-31 win over Indiana, shredding some killer slide guitar in the process. In all, UVa outgained Indiana, 360-319, and the Hoos won because of Randolph and a good pass rush (three sacks). They controlled the ball despite both not really going anywhere (Perry Jones and Michael Rocco combined to average 3.5 yards over 33 carries) and committing four turnovers worth 16.6 EqPts (Indiana had three turnovers of their own, worth 14.8).
North Carolina (Proj. Scoring Margin: +11.3 | Actual Scoring Margin: +2 | Diff: -9.3)
Every time I flipped over to this game, I saw the UNC defense roughing up Rutgers quarterback Chas Dodd (four sacks) and shutting down the RU running game (DeAntwan Williams led the Scarlet Knights with 15 rushing yards on nine carries), and I wondered how this game was possibly close (UNC won, 24-22). The answer: the Heels were incredibly all-or-nothing on offense. Their three touchdown drives generated 200 yards over just 14 plays (14.3 per play). Their other nine drives: 41 plays, 205 yards (5.0), and FIVE turnovers. Brynn Renner continues an odd streak; he went 22-for-23 with a pick last week, meaning no passes hit the ground. This week, only three of his 26 passes did, as he went 20-for-26, but with three interceptions. Throw in a pair of lost fumbles and a nice game from Rutgers' Khaseem Greene (12.0 tackles, two TFL, and a forced fumble), and you start to put the pieces together.
Virginia Tech (Proj. Scoring Margin: +24.4 | Actual Scoring Margin: +7 | Diff: -17.4)
East Carolina led South Carolina for a large portion of their first game before falling, and they very much kept Virginia Tech within reach this week VT 17, ECU 10). They are playing at a Top 30 level, but this was still a disappointing effort from the Hokies. Their two scoring drives generated 167 yards over 21 plays (7.9 per play), but they couldn't establish a rhythm. Their nine non-scoring drives generated just 138 yards over 48 plays (2.9). David Thomas rushed for 138 yards over 26 carries (5.3) because that's what he does, but quarterback Logan Thomas was dreadful. He did rush for 66 yards (6.0), but he completed just eight of 20 passes for 91 yards (4.6 per pass). On the other hand, however, Tech held a pretty potent, airraidy ECU offense to just 112 yards a week after ECU passed all over S.C.
N.C. State (Proj. Scoring Margin: +15.5 | Actual Scoring Margin: -7 | Diff: -22.5)
As mentioned above, Wake might be salty ... or N.C. State might just be bad. Quarterback (and Russell Wilson replacement) Mike Glennon threw for 315 yards (58% completion rate, 7.7 yards per attempt, 3 TD, 1 INT), but he and the Wolfpack offense just didn't have enough to catch up after the defense got torched early on.
Boston College (Proj. Scoring Margin: -2.8 | Actual Scoring Margin: -27 | Diff: -24.2)
Woof. The Boston College offense is just lost without running back Montel Harris. The Eagles lost 30-3 to Central Florida, and though it wasn't as bad as the score would suggest -- it was 9-3 heading into the fourth quarter -- the offense just never had a chance. Including sacks, quarterback Chase Rettig (10-for-23, 70 yards, 2 INT, 3 sacks) averaged a horrendous 2.2 yards per pass attempt, and B.C. was outgained by 100 yards (and outscored 21-0) in the fourth quarter. UCF might have an "SEC defense playing in Conference USA," but this offense is completely and totally feckless right now.
Played an FCS Opponent
Wofford is exactly the type of FCS opponent you do not want to schedule -- their shotgun veer offense is something Clemson won't see the rest of the year, and it completely confounded the Tigers, especially early, in CU's 35-27 win. They rushed 57 times and passed just eight, and they had enough success (including completions of 66 and 61 yards) that CU wasn't able to take the lead until just 23 minutes remained in the game. Credit where it is due: WU's fourth quarter possessions went INT-Punt-Downs, and CU had more than enough offense to win the game. Andre Ellington is awesome; he rushed for 165 yards on 22 carries, including a 74-yard touchdown run moments after a jarring 66-yard Wofford touchdown pass. Still, Clemson managed only three tackles for loss, and CU quarterback Tajh Boyd was sacked four times (12% sack rate). The Tigers are not fending off the stereotype very well, but they're 2-0, and if they win the next two games (versus Auburn and Florida State, both at home), we'll forget all about this near miss.
Score: Florida State 62, Charleston Southern 10.
Yards: Florida State 647, Charleston Southern 84
Yards Per Play: Florida State 8.2, Charleston Southern 1.9.
I just don't know what to add to this description that tells you more than that. CSU is a bottom-tier FCS team, and Florida State could have scored 100 if they wanted to.