Virginia Tech travels to face #8 Ohio State. (Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports)
One week of ACC play is behind us, and, despite what some networks want to tell you, we know very little about what to expect thus far. The conference went 10-4 in week one, and, if pressed, we can probably say we’ve learned three things:
Virginia now has a ten-game losing streak, going back to last year. As many reasons as fans of the ‘Hoos have to be encouraged after week one, this doesn’t look good for Mike London, and especially not for pedestrian offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild.
Louisville’s Corvin Lamb is ridiculously fast. The ACC’s Co-Specialist of the Week had a 97-yard kickoff return that might have been the quickest run made by someone not in a West Virginia uniform last weekend.
Considering the slate of games ahead, we will likely have even fewer answers after Saturday night. We will have two teams with 0-1 records in the conference after the week, as Friday night’s Pitt-Boston College matchup will carry the league banner.
I mentioned last week that a new feature would be debuting in this week’s edition, and I’m proud to unveil it here. One of the most educated scribes on high school football in South Carolina (among other things), Bret McCormick, publishes an under-140-characters Twitter-sized preview of the high school games in his area each week. Inspired by that — and Dabo Swinney’s “So, you can print that, tweet that, whatever.” quote about the contempt-laden Clemson-South Carolina rivalry — we’ll be rolling out the “Print that, tweet that, whatever” feature to sum up each game in 140 characters or fewer. I look forward to your feedback, and hope that you’ll at least make the obscenities creative. Now, then…on to our trivia question!
ACC Trivia, Week 2 (answer at the end of the column): One ACC school suffered the largest defeat in their history to an opponent they face this week. Which team won the game, what was the score and in what year did the game occur?
Top of the Ratings
Virginia Tech (1-0, 0-0 ACC) at #8 Ohio State (1-0, 0-0 Big Ten) 8:00pm ET, ESPN
Last week’s episode: Virginia Tech 34, William & Mary 9; Ohio State 34, Navy 17
Program guide: It would be tough for the Hokies to ask for a better debut from quarterback Michael Brewer. The Texas Tech transfer completed 23-of-30 passes against the Tribe last week, throwing for 251 yards and two touchdowns against a lone interception. Receiver Isaiah Ford caught one of those touchdowns, with running back Shai McKenzie carrying nine times for 106 yards and a score.
Even better for the Hokies was their defensive effort, though. Tech held William & Mary to just 1-for-12 on third down, effectively stalling Tribe drives before they ever really had the chance to evolve. W&M averaged just shy of four yards per play on offense, with just 9-of-23 passes finding their intended receivers. Star William & Mary defensive lineman Mike Reilly was also mostly neutralized, an important development for the Tech offensive line.
Ohio State will face a completely different opponent than the one against whom they gained their first-week victory. Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds attempted just four passes against the Buckeyes, completing two for 20 yards. Therefore, we still really have no idea about Urban Meyer’s pass defense. Navy ran 67 times for 390 yards, though, and that number has to be concerning to Buckeye fans.
Quarterback J.T. Barrett, who took over for the injured Braxton Miller, mostly passed his first test. Barrett completed 12-of-15 passes for 226 yards and two scores in the game, throwing just one rip. Barrett’s efficiency and game management will be absolutely vital to the Buckeyes in this one. Barrett also led OSU in rushing, carrying nine times for 50 yards. The combined 25 carries for 142 yards from the Buckeye rushing group needs to be improved upon, and sustained drives will likely tell the tale against a stout Hokie defense.
Tweet that, print that, whatever: The defenses are likely to dictate the tempo here. The Buckeyes need to neutralize Brewer. Tough to win on the road in the Horseshoe.
Pitt (1-0, 0-0 ACC) at Boston College (1-0, 0-0 ACC)
7:00pm ET (Friday), ESPN
Running with the Panthers: Panther running back James Conner rumbled for four touchdowns last week, finishing with 153 yards on the ground. His team carried for 409 yards in a lopsided victory over Delaware, and though it was not the team’s highest single-game rushing outing — that came against Army in 1975, when Pitt rushed for 530 yards — it was good enough for sixth-best among FBS teams last week. Only Air Force, Nebraska, Indiana, Northern Illinois and New Mexico gained greater rushing totals.
A significant difference: BC carried 61 times for 338 yards in a season-opening victory against UMass. The Minutemen managed just 55 yards on 22 carries. Though BC comfortably led for most of the game, this bears mention. Quarterback Tyler Murphy paced the Eagles, rushing 13 times for 118 yards and a score.
Familiar foes: As everyone is likely aware, these two schools used to participate in the Big East Conference. Boston College won seven of the 12 games played between the two in that conference. When BC left for the ACC in 2005, the series between the two stopped, and has not resumed since.
Print that, tweet that, whatever: This should be a physical effort between two run-oriented teams. Look for a return to Big East-style football.
South Carolina State (1-0, 0-0 MEAC) at #23 Clemson (0-1, 0-0 ACC)
12:30pm ET, ACC Network
A lopsided history: Two meetings between the teams have resulted in a 106-13 combined margin of victory for Clemson. One of those meetings came last year, a 52-13 victory in which Cole Stoudt set the career single-game passing percentage record (95 percent) for the Tigers. Stoudt completed 19-of-20 passes for 143 yards and three scores in relief of Tajh Boyd.
A quick rebound: Last year’s loss to Clemson got South Carolina State off to an 0-2 start. Both of those losses came against ranked teams — #25 (FCS) Coastal Carolina defeated the Bulldogs 27-20 to start the season at SCSU’s Oliver C. Dawson Stadium, with Clemson having the #4 ranking at the time of their victory. Buddy Pough’s club would go on to finish second in the MEAC in 2013, with their only other losses coming to 14th-ranked (FCS) Bethune-Cookman and a home loss to Furman in the first round of the FCS playoffs.
Unblemished: Clemson has played FCS opponents 28 times, with all 28 of those games ending in Tiger victories. The closest margin against an FCS team came in a 35-27 win over fellow Upstate South Carolina school Wofford in 2011.
Print that, tweet that, whatever: SC State is a playoff-level FCS club that will likely require a perfect effort to win. The odds seem long against an angry Clemson squad.
Richmond (1-0, 0-0 Colonial) at Virginia (0-1, 0-0 ACC)
3:30pm ET, ESPN3
Quarterbacks, quarterbacks and more quarterbacks (UVa): Virginia has suffered through quarterback instability for quite a while now, especially after their opening-week loss to UCLA, but Cavaliers head coach Mike London insists all is well. Doug Doughty of the Roanoke (VA) Times reports that there is not a problem under center for the ‘Hoos. “We don’t have a quarterback controversy,” said London in the piece.” There’s not a quarterback issue with us.” Backup Matt Johns entered the game in relief of Greyson Lambert (16-for-23, 112 yards, 2 INT) and sparked the Virginia offense, completing 13-of-22 passes for 154 yards and two scores. Both quarterbacks will likely play on Saturday.
Quarterbacks, quarterbacks and more quarterbacks (Richmond): The Spiders have their own quarterback platoon, with Michael Strauss and Mike Rocco alternating taking the snaps. Both quarterbacks played under London at Virginia before transferring to Richmond. The pair join former Virginia passers Ross Metheny (formerly of South Alabama) and Phillip Sims (now starting at Winston-Salem State) as quarterbacks who have departed the London-led program. Strauss completed 17-of-23 passes for 259 yards and three touchdowns in a 55-10 Richmond victory over Morehead State last week, with Rocco finding the mark on 9-of-13 passes for 117 yards and a touchdown in relief.
Common threads: London played at Richmond and won a national championship there in 2008. He took his squad to another playoff appearance before making the short drive west on Interstate 64 to take over at Virginia. Richmond coach Danny Rocco was an assistant at Virginia prior to leaving to take over at Liberty, then Richmond. Spider coaches Bob Trott, Levern Belin, Bill Polin, Fontel Mines and Byron Thweatt all played or coached at Virginia. Virginia offensive line coach Scott Wachenheim coached at Liberty under Rocco.
Print that, tweet that, whatever: Can Virginia’s current quarterbacks outperform their former quarterbacks? The Cavs hope for a second-consecutive solid defensive effort.
Georgia Tech (1-0, 0-0 ACC) at Tulane (0-1, 0-1 AAC) 4:00pm ET, ESPNews
A different look: After facing run-heavy Wofford last week (two Terrier quarterbacks combined to complete just 7-of-13 passes for 55 yards), the Jackets get a little more of an aerial test against the Green Wave. Tulane lost a 38-31 offensive shootout to Tulsa last week. However…
High tide: The Yellow Jackets were outrushed last week, as Wofford outgained Tech 271-226 on the ground. Tulane rushed for 254 yards in their week one outing, averaging nearly 8.5 yards per carry. Freshman running back Sherman Badie toted the rock 15 times for 215 yards and a score against the Golden Hurricane.
Be our guest: Paul Johnson’s club will open Tulane’s new on-campus facility, Yulman Stadium. The stadium will seat 30,000 fans, and cost $75 million to build. The school previously played its home games at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.
Print that, tweet that, whatever: Curtis Johnson has his Tulane club on the rise, coming off a 2013 bowl appearance. Quarterback Justin Thomas must be contained for Tech.
Old Dominion (1-0, 0-0 C-USA) at NC State (1-0, 0-0 ACC)
6:00pm ET, ESPN3
First time for everything: Old Dominion has never claimed a victory against an ACC team. Maryland, Pitt and North Carolina defeated the Monarchs last season, all on their respective home fields.
Taylor can throw: ODU quarterback Taylor Heinicke won the Walter Payton Award (most outstanding player in the FCS) in 2012. Heinicke threw for greater than 4,000 yards last year, adding 33 touchdowns to his career total. Those touchdowns placed him alongside 17 other NCAA quarterbacks to throw for greater than 100 career scores. He also joins 17 other NCAA passers to eclipse 10,000 career yards through the air and 1,000 on the ground.
Conquering Conference USA: The Wolfpack have won four of their last six outings against C-USA teams, with both losses coming to regional rival East Carolina. One of those losses came last year, with the ‘Pack falling in a 42-28 decision. NCSU also defeated C-USA member Louisiana Tech last season.
Print that, tweet that, whatever: ODU is a double-digit dog at Carter-Finley, and will need to outgun Dave Doeren’s team to get their first-ever victory against an ACC foe.
Gardner-Webb (0-1, 0-0 Big South) at Wake Forest (0-1, 0-0 ACC) 6:30pm ET, ESPN3
Trying for two: This game will be Gardner-Webb’s 11th outing against an FBS opponent. The Runnin’ Bulldogs’ only victory against such a foe came at Akron four years ago, defeating the Zips in overtime, 38-35.
No runnin’ against the Bulldogs: Illustrious Gardner-Webb sports information director Marc Rabb points out that GWU has allowed fewer than 150 yards rushing in each of their last six games. Wake Forest ranks third-from-last nationally in rushing yards after one game, carrying 27 times for minus-three yards in a loss to ULM last week.
Renewing pleasantries: Wake Forest has played Gardner-Webb only once in the schools’ history. The Demon Deacons won that 2011 contest 48-5 in Winston-Salem.
Print that, tweet that, whatever: GWU needs wideout Kenny Cook at full strength to pair with running back Juanne Blount. This might be a closer game than you’d think.
Duke (1-0, 0-0 ACC) at Troy (0-1, 0-0 Sun Belt) 7:00pm ET, ESPN3
Which will fall?: Duke has not lost a road game (not played at a neutral site) since Georgia Tech handed them an 18-point defeat in November of 2012. Troy coach Larry Blakeney has a career .831 winning percentage in home games. Troy is 22-1 in 23 season-opening home games under Blakeney.
Two-quarterback system, version 2.0: Despite Brandon Connette’s departure from Duke due to transfer, Blue Devil quarterback Anthony Boone has a partner in leading his club’s offense. Backup Thomas Sirk rushed for 54 yards and two scores last week, along with completing 71 percent of his passes.
Evening the margins: Troy was outrushed by a nearly five-to-one margin in a 48-10 loss to UAB last week. The Blazers rushed for 338 yards last week, while Duke ran for 275 in a victory over Elon.
Print that, tweet that, whatever: Duke looks to go 2-0 all-time against the Trojans. These schools’ fortunes have reversed. Troy likely finds tough sledding on Saturday.
Murray State (1-0, 0-0 OVC) at #25 Louisville (1-0, 1-0 ACC) 7:00pm ET, ESPN3
Runnin’ Redbird: Louisville running back Dominique Brown — small sample size aside — leads the nation in carries (33), and is a top-20 back in rushing yards. Brown carried for 143 yards — second-best among ACC backs — and a touchdown.
Transfer taking the reins: South Alabama transfer CJ Bennett threw for five scores in a 73-26 season-opening victory for Murray over Union. Bennett went 13-of-22 for 167 yards before being replaced once the game was clearly in hand.
Remember 2011?: The two schools last played in that year, with Louisville claiming a hard-fought 21-9 victory. A quarterback with whom the nation would become quite familiar attempted just one pass in that contest. That quarterback was current Viking Teddy Bridgewater, who threw that lone incomplete pass in relief of starter Will Stein.
Tweet that, print that, whatever: With due respect to our great friend Neal Bradley, this looks to be a tough one for the Racers.
Florida A&M (0-1, 0-0 MEAC) at Miami (0-1, 0-1 ACC) 7:00pm ET, ESPN3
Running it up on the Rattlers: Miami has scored fewer than 38 points against Florida A&M just once in the nine games in which they have played. The Hurricanes scored 13 points in that game — a 16-13 loss to the Rattlers in 1979.
Falling on hard times: These two teams last played in 2010. Miami won that game 45-0. FAMU has gone just 14-21 in the seasons following that last contest.
Movin’ on up: Miami falls outside the national top 100 in three categories after one week. Miami ranks 104th in scoring offense, 106th in rushing offense and 111th in total offense. These numbers should all improve when facing an FCS opponent.
Print that, tweet that, whatever: Miami owns eight consecutive wins against FAMU. It would be a stunner if they didn’t pick up a ninth.
The Citadel (0-1, 0-0 SoCon) at #1 Florida State (1-0, 0-0 ACC) 7:30pm ET, RSN
You’re grounded: The Citadel is known for focusing on the run. However, quarterback Aaron Miller completed just 1-of-8 passes last week for 19 yards. This gave him a quarterback rating of 32.5. Of The Citadel’s 22 first downs, just one came through the air.
Strange statistic: Though Florida State has handled The Citadel in five of the six outings between the schools, this was not the case on one occasion. The Bulldogs and Seminoles played to a scoreless tie in 1960. This was the only game played outside Tallahassee between the two, taking place at Johnson Hagood Stadium in Charleston.
Enjoying an advantage: Forget going undefeated last season. The Seminoles never trailed in a game. In fact, the Seminoles have not trailed since Boston College enjoyed a 17-10 advantage in the second quarter of a 2013 game between the two.
Tweet that, print that, whatever: Don’t expect that streak of leading to end this weekend. A team that can’t throw likely needing to throw is a recipe for disaster.
San Diego State (1-0, 0-0 MWC) at #21 North Carolina (1-0, 0-0 ACC) 8:00pm ET, ESPNews
Running Back U: Starting with Marshall Faulk (and others) and continuing all the way through Ronnie Hillman and Adam Muema, San Diego State has developed a nice niche for developing running backs. They look to have another one, as sophomore Donnel Pumphrey carried 19 times for 111 yards and two scores in last week’s victory against Northern Arizona.
An unusual look: North Carolina will go for the Tar Pit Stripe Out look for this contest. North Carolina coach Larry Fedora said of the look in a release, “We wanted to create an event and an environment that continues to connect our team to The Tar
Pit – the name for the student section – and also incorporates the entire stadium. Carolina Blue is our school color but we want to incorporate the black tar from the Tar Heel foot logo and build on the success of last year’s Zero Dark Thursday game.”
Try #10 against the ACC: San Diego State will face off against an ACC team for the tenth time. They have just three wins against current ACC schools, with two victories against Florida State and one against Miami. That one win against Miami is unfortunately overshadowed by five losses against the Hurricanes.
Print that, tweet that, whatever: Though this game is in Chapel Hill, expect a reasonably close contest. Rocky Long’s defenses are always ferocious.
Trivia answer: I asked earlier: One ACC school suffered the largest defeat in their history to an opponent they face this week. Which team won the game, what was the score and in what year did the game occur?
Murray State defeated Louisville by a 105-0 score on October 8, 1932. The last four times the schools have played, Louisville has won by an average score of 49-7.