Clear Your Schedule – ACC 2015, Week 2

By Brian Wilmer -

So hey, that was a fun week, wasn’t it? We’re through one week of ACC football, and we should only have a few more of these weeks where just about everyone in the conference plays someone who’s not in the conference. With 11 days down, it’s about time to start taking inventory. Let’s look back at that week in a newly-renamed feature we’ll call…

These Things We Know

  • The Tar Heels are — for now — in trouble: It looked as though North Carolina was in good shape to claim victory over an uninspiring South Carolina club in Charlotte. However, three interceptions and an inexplicable collapse later, Larry Fedora’s club is 0-1. Elijah Hood gashed the Gamecocks for 138 yards on 12 carries, but was noticeable in his absence late in the game. Fedora needs to identify his stars and rely on them.
  • Injuries are — again — rearing their ugly proverbial heads: We’ll address each of these injuries later in this space, but it seems amazing to consider that three teams are now without star players. Pitt running back James Conner, Clemson receiver Mike Williams and Syracuse quarterback Terrel Hunt all suffered definite or likely season-ending injuries in Week One. It is uncommon to see a team’s depth so harshly stretched this early, and all three stories bear watching.
  • Virginia is — not surprisingly — again behind the 8-ball: Cavaliers coach Mike London is 23-39 in his time at the head post in Charlottesville, having won just 11 of his team’s 40 ACC games. London’s team again got throttled last week, this time by UCLA and freshman quarterback Josh Rosen. There is very little respite ahead for the ‘Hoos, with a visit from FCS William & Mary sandwiched around seemingly insurmountable home contests against Notre Dame and Boise State. London is widely regarded as a great recruiter and nice guy, but how much more time that can buy him in his regime is yet to be seen.

With all of this said, we have another full slate of conference games to break down for Week Two. Before we do, though…it’s trivia time!

ACC Trivia, Week 2 (answer at the end of the column): Virginia lost their first home season-opener in the last five last year. Prior to that game, to whom did Virginia lose their home last season-opener?

Keyword Search (all times Eastern and rankings AP)

Miami (FL) (1-0) @ Florida Atlantic (0-1)
8:00pm (Friday) | FOX Sports 1

  • If you’ve gotta take a road trip…: In a season in which the Hurricanes’ schedule takes them to several states — including a season-wrapping game at Pittsburgh — this is a virtual home game for Miami. “The U” needs just a one-hour bus ride from Coral Gables to Boca Raton for Friday night’s contest. The schools have played just once, the other side of a (thus far) home-and-home in which Miami clipped FAU 34-6 in 2013.
  • Chewing up grass: Florida Atlantic established the run early and often in last week’s 47-44, overtime loss to Tulsa. The Owls rushed 61 times for 300 yards in the game, paced by Greg Howell’s 22 carries for 138 yards and two scores. Miami finished fifth in the ACC in rush defense in 2014, surrendering just greater than 137 yards per game.
  • Down, but not out: The Miami Herald reports that two ‘Canes receivers (Braxton Berrios and Stacy Coley) suffered injuries in Miami’s season-opening, 45-0 victory over Bethune-Cookman. Coley managed just two grabs for 11 yards against BCU; however, Rashawn Scott hauled in six passes for 100 yards and a score. Both Coley and Berrios are listed on the 2-deep for this week, with Scott, Coley and Herb Waters slated to start.

Print that, tweet that, whatever: Florida Atlantic’s time is coming, but it’s not yet here. Miami, meanwhile, is looking ahead to Nebraska’s visit next week.

South Florida (1-0) @ #10 Florida State (1-0)
11:30am | ESPN

  • Running of the Bulls?: USF head coach Willie Taggart came to Tampa from Western Kentucky with the reputation of being a great offensive mind. After his club slogged to a ninth-best (among conference teams) 304.7 yards per game of total offense in 2014, the Bulls unloaded on Florida A&M in Week 1. South Florida carried 46 times for 275 yards and four scores, while throwing for 281 yards and three additional scores in a 51-3 victory. USF’s sports information department notes that those 556 yards are the seventh-best single-game performance in school history.
  • Gracious hosts: Though USF and Florida State have played just twice, the series holds an interesting distinction. Both teams have won at each other’s respective facilities. The Bulls “announced” themselves on the national stage for one of the first times with a 17-7 victory in Tallahassee in 2009, while Florida State returned the favor with a 30-17 decision over USF in Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium in 2012.
  • Not-so-gracious hosts: The Seminoles boast 15 consecutive wins at Bobby Bowden Field at Doak Campbell Stadium. The last loss? Florida claimed an 11-point victory against the ‘Noles in 2012’s final home contest — Jimbo Fisher’s only loss to an in-state opponent since taking over the program.

Print that, tweet that, whatever: This should be a fun one to watch, especially with USF’s upgraded offense. I’m not sure they can get past Everett Golson’s club, though.

Houston (1-0) @ Louisville (0-1)
Noon | ESPN3

  • A new era: Former Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman took the reigns at Houston this past offseason, and the already-potent Cougar offense did not disappoint in their season-opener against Tennessee Tech last week. The UH rushing game accounted for 272 yards, with 355 additional yards coming through the air. Quarterback Greg Ward, Jr. tallied 107 of those rushing yards, along with completing 21-of-28 passes.
  • An incredible streak: Houston was last shut out September 23, 2000, in a 48-0 loss at Texas. The Cougars have gone 186 games — or nearly 5,500 days — without putting a bagel on the scoreboard.
  • A lopsided history: Louisville leads the series, having won eight of the 15 contests between the two. Houston won six of the first eight, with Louisville having won six of the last seven. The Cougars’ last victory was a 27-10 final in 2002, with Louisville having outscored Houston 151-85 over the last three.

Print that, tweet that, whatever: If you like offense, this is your game. A Houston victory would create quite the grumbling in Bobby Petrino’s direction.

Appalachian State (1-0) @ #12 Clemson (1-0)
12:30pm | ESPN3

  • Busting rank: This will be the fifth game in the series between the Mountaineers and Tigers, and Clemson has taken up residence in the Top 25 for each of the previous matchups. App has never faced a ranked team since transitioning away from FCS power to Sun Belt member prior to last season, and has won just once in 12 tries against ranked foes. I wonder when that was…oh yeah, now I remember.
  • A total improvement: Appalachian quarterback Taylor Lamb had a solid day’s work last week against Howard. Lamb compiled 250 yards of total offense in the contest, throwing for 209 yards and three scores. The sophomore finished sixth in the Sun Belt last season in total offense, averaging 238.7 yards per game. Last week’s 250 came in one half and the first series of the second half.
  • A devastating loss: Clemson revealed that wideout Mike Williams could potentially miss the season with a small neck fracture. Williams snagged 57 passes for 1030 yards and six scores last season. Freshman Ray-Ray McCloud (eight catches, 80 yards last week) and sophomore Artavis Scott (six catches, 75 yards, TD) will be heavily relied upon in Williams’ absence. Veteran wideouts Germone Hopper and Charone Peake will also get a significant amount of targets.

Print that, tweet that, whatever: Clemson has a short week before a Thursday night game at Louisville. They could use a big win against a fellow spread offense.

Wake Forest (1-0) @ Syracuse (1-0)
12:30pm | ACC Network (regional)/ESPN3

  • Fun with small sample sizes: Everyone is — or should be — aware of Wake Forest’s offensive struggles in 2014. After game one — again, let it be emphasized, game one — the Deacons rank second in the conference following their 591-yard output against FCS-level Elon. Sophomore quarterback John Wolford completed 20-of-27 passes for 323 yards and three scores last week. Speaking of quarterbacks…
  • The Orange is breaking in a new quarterback…again: Witness the story of Eric Dungey, the true freshman quarterback for Syracuse. Dungey takes over under center for the injured Terrel Hunt, who will miss a large portion of a second consecutive season due to injury. Freshman AJ Long took over for Syracuse last season, completing 89-of-165 passes for 935 yards, four scores and eight rips. Dungey connected on 10-of-17 passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns in a victory over Rhode Island last week.
  • Thank goodness for small mercies: Deacon running back Matt Colburn should see a decent amount of time against the Orange, but he is more known for what took place off the field before his freshman year. Colburn was set to go to Louisville after being named Mr. Football at South Carolina’s Dutch Fork High School; however, the Cardinals — and head coach Bobby Petrino — pulled his offer two days before National Signing Day. Colburn rushed 12 times for 38 yards and a score last week against the Phoenix.

Print that, tweet that, whatever: Of all the possible matchups to open the conference slate, this is the one to do so? Get your #goacc hashtags ready.

Howard (0-1) @ Boston College (1-0)
1:00pm | ESPN3

Info button: Howard had a tough outing in their opener, getting blanked by Appalachian State 49-0 in Boone. The Bison managed just 172 yards of total offense against the Mountaineers. Howard has earned one FCS playoff appearance (1993), and finished seventh in the MEAC in 2014.

Starring:
QB Kalen Johnson (12-for-21, 119 yards, INT)
WR Aquarius Freeman (five catches, 48 yards)
P John Fleck (eight punts, 45.5-yard average, 83-yard long)

Print that, tweet that, whatever: BC had a tough first game against FCS Maine, but the Eagles should cruise to 2-0 in this one.

Tulane (0-1) @ #16 Georgia Tech (1-0)
3:30pm | ESPN3

  • Familiar, but unfamiliar: The Green Wave and Yellow Jackets have played quite a bit in their collective histories, as they were conference mates in three separate leagues. However, Tulane has won just 13 times in the 49 meetings, with Georgia Tech taking a 38-21 victory in last season’s outing in New Orleans. Prior to that game, the schools had gone 32 years without playing, and Tulane has gone nearly 34 years without a victory in the series.
  • Defensive lapses: The Green Wave struggled to stop an ACC opponent in their first game, falling 37-7 to Duke in New Orleans last week. The Blue Devils hung 530 yards of total offense on Tulane, converting on a nearly unconscionable 10-of-19 third-down attempts. To make matters worse, Tulane rushed for just 25 yards and completed only 2-of-14 third downs of their own.
  • Streak appears safe: The Yellow Jackets have rushed for 200 yards or greater in 15 consecutive games, and the odds of making it a 16th look pretty good in Atlanta. Duke toted the rock for 206 yards last week (down from their 256 in last year’s game), and Georgia Tech ran for 344 yards in last year’s outing against Tulane. The last opponent to hold Georgia Tech under 200 yards rushing was Ole Miss (151 yards) in the 2013 Music City Bowl.

Print that, tweet that, whatever: Tulane looks likely to start the season in the basement of the ACC. The problem? They’re part of the American, not the ACC.

#11 Notre Dame (1-0) @ Virginia (0-1)
3:30pm | ABC

  • Controlling the air traffic: For all the talk we heard about how pivotal a year this was for the Cavaliers and the fact that UCLA’s Josh Rosen is a true freshman, the ‘Hoos gave up 351 yards through the air (on 28-for-37 passing) and three touchdowns. Their “reward” — such as it is — is an assignment against Notre Dame’s Malik Zaire. Zaire “only” went 19-for-22 for 313 yards and three scores in a 38-3 dismantling of Texas last week. Good luck.
  • Sweet Virginia breeze: Until the opening kickoff Saturday afternoon, Notre Dame will have never taken the field at any college or university in Virginia. Further, the Irish and Cavaliers have faced off just once in the schools’ history. Notre Dame pummeled the ‘Hoos 36-13 at the Kickoff Classic (East Rutherford, N.J.) 26 years ago. Notre Dame shut out the Cavaliers in the first half, with Virginia outscoring the Irish 13-3 in the second stanza.
  • Starting on the right foot: Virginia lost their first season opener in the last five last week. The Cavaliers have won 90 of their 125 home openers in program history.

Print that, tweet that, whatever: It wouldn’t matter if this were played in South Bend, Charlottesville, or on the moon. The Irish should win this one…big.

Furman (0-1) @ Virginia Tech (0-1)
3:30 | ESPN3

Info button: Furman enters this contest coming off a loss to one of their Palmetto State brethren, as then-number five (FCS) Coastal Carolina defeated the Paladins 35-32. Furman actually outgained the Chanticleers 525-488, though two costly turnovers burned the purple-clad home team. Coastal running back DeAngelo Henderson also played a role, rushing 15 times for 95 yards and a score, along with seven grabs for 129 yards. The Paladins and Hokies have played five times — all Hokie wins — but have played just once in the last 68 years, a 24-7 Hokie victory in 2008.

Starring:
QB Reese Hannon (27-41, 365 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT)
RB Ernie Cain (7 carries, 61 yards, 3 TD)
WR Jordan Snellings (6 catches, 88 yards, TD)

Print that, tweet that, whatever: Furman struggled to an injury-riddled 3-9 season last year, but is loaded with veteran leaders. Can Tech effectively pass without Brewer?

NC Central (1-0) @ Duke (1-0)
6:00pm | ESPN3

Info button: Much like their fellow MEAC school NC A&T (see below), the Eagles hammered an opponent from the CIAA (D2) in a 72-0 defeat of Saint Augustine’s in Durham last week. This was the Eagles’ first shutout in five years. Jerry Mack’s offense compiled 447 yards against the Falcons, adding touchdowns on a punt return and a kick return. NCCU has played just five FBS opponents since moving to the FCS in 2007 (three of those being Duke), allowing 45 points or greater in each of those games.

Starring:
QB Malcolm Bell (13-for-20, 163 yards, TD; 7 carries, 25 yards)
CB/KR Mike Jones (145 all-purpose yards)
LB Reggie Hunter (7 tackles, 2.5 for loss)

Print that, tweet that, whatever: The Eagles want all eyes in Durham on the maroon and gray. Duke looked as impressive as ever in throttling Tulane in New Orleans.

NC A&T (1-0) @ North Carolina (0-1)
6:00pm | ESPN3

Info button: The Aggies play their second consecutive Triangle-area team, having waxed D2 opponent Shaw 61-7 in their season-opener. Rod Broadway’s defense suffocated Shaw to the tune of just five first downs and 44 rushing yards on 30 carries. The Aggies outgained the Bears 413-81. A&T last played an FBS opponent in 2006, a 41-point decision against Louisiana-Lafayette. Broadway is a 1977 graduate of North Carolina.

Starring:
RB Tarik Cohen (21 carries, 106 yards, 2 TD)
WR Denzel Keyes (6 catches, 119 yards, 2 TD)
WR/KR Caleb Gabriel (3 catches, 32 yards, TD; 130 all-purpose yards, KR TD)

Print that, tweet that, whatever: The tradition of success is back with a vengeance in Greensboro. The Heels will look to fight out of a corner from last week’s loss.

Eastern Kentucky (1-0) @ NC State (1-0)
6:00pm | ESPN3

Info button: The Colonels enter this one ranked 19th in the nation among FCS teams. Eastern Kentucky clubbed Valparaiso 52-10 in Week 1, holding the Crusaders to a mere 220 yards of total offense. Dean Hood’s club is projected to finish second in the Ohio Valley Conference. EKU is also second all-time in FCS playoff appearances (21), trailing only Montana (23).

Starring:
QB Bennie Coney (11-for-20, 153 yards, 2 TD)
WR Jeff Glover (5 receptions, 95 yards, 2 TD)
CB Stanley Absanon (56-yard INT return for TD; 2 KR, 80 yards)

Print that, tweet that, whatever: NCSU racked up 450 yards of total offense last week, but allowed 305 to Troy. EKU might even outperform the Trojans on defense.

Pittsburgh (1-0) @ Akron (0-1)
6:00pm | ESPN3

  • No Conner…no problem?: It seems almost folly to say that losing the reigning Conference Player of the Year would hardly cause a ripple within a team, but Pittsburgh can almost make that claim. Running back James Conner suffered a season-ending injury against Youngstown State, but freshman Qadree Ollison more than ably stepped in. Ollison carried 16 times for 207 yards in Conner’s stead last week, and appears poised to take the reins for the Panthers.
  • A famous father: Akron’s Jerome Lane had three grabs for 57 yards in last week’s loss to Oklahoma. If the name sounds familiar, it should. His dad (of the same name) is one of the more famous athletes in Pittsburgh lore, and one of his athletic exploits as a Panther inspired a catch phrase for the better part of a decade.
  • Going for two: After taking the first two games in the series — including one in 1900 — the Panthers found themselves on the losing end last year against the Zips, falling 21-10 at Heinz Field. Though the Zips have won consecutive games against ACC teams — Akron defeated NC State 20-17 on September 9, 2006 — this is the first time Terry Bowden’s team has hosted an ACC school.

Print that, tweet that, whatever: Losing your leader is a heck of a way for a new coach like Pat Narduzzi to start his career. Watch to see how the Panthers respond.

Trivia answer: I asked earlier: Virginia lost their first season-opener in the last five last year. Prior to that game, to whom did Virginia lose their last home season-opener?

FCS opponent William & Mary defeated the Cavaliers 26-14 at Scott Stadium on September 5, 2009. The loss was the first of Al Groh’s final season as Virginia’s coach.

  1. Josh
    September 11, 2015 at 2:15 pm

    Did Virginia not lose to UCLA last season?

    • Brian Wilmer
      September 11, 2015 at 3:56 pm

      They did — I poorly worded the question. “Right church, wrong pew,” as they say here in the Southeast. :)

      The question has been reworded. :)

  2. jerry wilmer
    September 11, 2015 at 3:45 pm

    Outstanding breakdowns.Barring unforeseen circumstances,there could be some butt whippins on the schedule tomorrow.

  3. Eric Taylor
    September 11, 2015 at 5:01 pm

    Why do you hate Mississippi State so bad? Is it the cowbell? Are you jealous? I’m telling, Pawww…. PAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWL!!!!!

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