Clear Your Schedule – ACC 2015, Week 5

By Brian Wilmer -

It’s Week 5 in the ACC, and what better way to celebrate than with…five ACC matchups? Two games will involve members of the always-wacky Coastal Division, with the chance to start our favorite condition, Coastal Chaos. Of course, as we mentioned here last week, the loser of Duke-Georgia Tech (which, as you know, was Georgia Tech this year) has won that division both of the last two years.

We have a Thursday night game, a visit from Gameday and teams looking to continue seven and six-game winning streaks, respectively. It’s time for another wild week, but before we break down this week, it’s time to look at last week.

This thing I know: In putting together last week’s piece, I used a word that made sense to me. Unfortunately, of the two-plus thousand words I used, the focus of several people went right to that one word. Someone mentioned it, I briefly responded, and all hell broke loose from there.

Let me say this: We won’t always agree here. Agreement is not required. In fact, it’s probably more fun if we have some playful back-and-forth on things.

However, the challenge to all of you is to — not just here, but in our other features on this site — raise your game a bit. It’s easy to get personal and insult people. That shouldn’t be how we operate here, though. There are plenty of talk shows and message boards if you feel the need to go that route.

Now, on to trivia…

ACC Trivia, Week 5 (answer at the end of the column): Duke football voice Bob Harris hit the air for his 450th consecutive football play-by-play broadcast in last week’s 34-20 Blue Devil victory over Georgia Tech. Which school was Duke’s opponent for the first game of that streak?

Keyword Search (all times Eastern and rankings AP)

Miami (3-0, 0-0 ACC) at Cincinnati (2-2, 0-2 AAC)
7:30pm (Thursday) | ESPN

  • Kiel over?: Tommy Tuberville announced Monday that redshirt freshman Hayden Moore would get the start under center for Cincinnati on Thursday night, in place of junior Gunner Kiel. Kiel suffered an “upper-body injury” against Memphis last weekend, leading Moore to come on and compile 557 passing yards — a school record — and four touchdowns in relief. Moore completed 31-of-53 passes in the game. Kiel, meanwhile, is 70-for-111 for 868 yards, adding five scores and five picks. Kiel will reportedly miss the game.
  • Declawed: Cincinnati has experienced a number of challenges on defense this year; so much so that the Bearcats hung 752 yards of total offense on Memphis last week and still lost. Cincinnati ranks 73rd or lower in every major defensive measure, including 98th in scoring defense (32.5 points per game). Miami has plastered greater than 500 yards on each of their last two opponents (526 against Florida Atlantic, 511 against Nebraska), and has scored 45, 44 and 36 points in their three contests.
  • Give it away, give it away, give it away now: Turnovers are so often the key to any football game, from middle school to the pros, but they loom especially large in this one. The ‘Canes are plus-eight on the season in turnover margin — buoyed by a plus-five effort against Florida Atlantic — and trail only West Virginia (plus-nine) in the category. Cincinnati, on the other hand, ranks dead last in the category, running up a minus-2.5 margin. The Bearcats have posted a negative turnover margin in every game this season.

Print that, tweet that, whatever: Cynical fans wait for Miami’s “trap” game every year. With a trip to Doak Campbell next, this couldn’t be that game…could it?

Pitt (2-1, 0-0 ACC) at Virginia Tech (2-2, 0-0 ACC)
Noon | RSN

  • This time it counts: Now that Virginia Tech has moved past playing their “exhibition” games, they can focus on the Panthers. The Hokies have won eight of the 14 meetings between the schools, but can claim just one victory since the end of the 2000 season. Pittsburgh defeated Tech in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2012 and 2014, with Beamer’s squad taking a 19-9 decision in Blacksburg in 2013.
  • A new leader: Chad Voytik called the signals for that Panther victory in 2014, rushing for nearly 120 yards. He will find himself a reserve in Blacksburg on Saturday, backing up Tennessee transfer Nate Peterman. Peterman is 34-of-51 on the season, throwing for 428 yards and three trips each to the touchdown and interception columns. The redshirt junior saw limited time as a Volunteer, completing 20 of his 43 passes for 94 yards.
  • Milestone watch: Pittsburgh junior receiver Tyler Boyd finds himself just 18 catches away from pulling even with former Panther and current Dallas Cowboy wideout Devin Street for the school’s career receptions record (202). Boyd is also exactly 400 yards behind long-time pro Antonio Bryant for the career yardage record. Bryant leads with 3,061 yards, while Boyd ranks sixth with 2,661. Boyd has eight grabs for 106 yards and a touchdown in two career games against the Hokies.

Print that, tweet that, whatever: Virginia Tech looked a lot better situated for a win here before learning Kendall Fuller will miss the rest of the season after knee surgery.

Louisville (1-3, 0-1 ACC) at NC State (4-0, 0-0 ACC)
12:30pm | ACC Network

  • Decision made?: Louisville has experienced relative uncertainty at the quarterback position, but that may be about to end. Freshman Lamar Jackson bolted for 184 rushing yards in a 45-3 dismantling of Samford last week, the third highest total for an ACC quarterback in league history. The Florida native also completed 15-of-22 passes for 212 yards, adding a touchdown and a pick. His 396 total yards represent the highest total for a freshman in Louisville program history. Jackson and Reggie Bonnafon are listed as the top two names on the 2-deep this week, indicating coach Bobby Petrino’s likely move toward his more mobile passers.
  • Proficient passer: Speaking of successful quarterbacks, witness the case of NC State’s Jacoby Brissett. Brissett is completing passes at a blistering rate of nearly 78 percent, which leads the nation. Just five of the senior’s 23 attempts found the turf in a 50-point victory over South Alabama last week. Louisville ranks third-from-last (behind Virginia and Syracuse) in opposing quarterback completion percentage among ACC schools, allowing 62.1 percent of attempts against them to be completed.
  • Top ten: A large part of NC State’s success can be attributed to their presence in national statistical top ten lists. The ‘Pack hold that distinction in four categories: scoring offense (46.3, 9th), scoring defense (12 ppg, 8th), rushing defense (49.5 ypg, 3rd) and total defense (205.8 ypg, 3rd). Just one opponent — UCF in last year’s bowl game — has scored greater than 21 points against NC State during their seven-game winning streak.

Print that, tweet that, whatever: After a slow start, Doeren has the ‘Pack rolling. A 5-0 start with a trip to Blacksburg on deck would be just what the doctor ordered.

#11 Florida State (3-0, 1-0 ACC) at Wake Forest (2-2, 0-0 ACC)
3:30pm | ESPN

  • Three years: Florida State hasn’t lost a road ACC game since October 6, 2012. That game was also in North Carolina, as the Seminoles fell 17-16 to NC State in Raleigh. FSU has swatted away 12 consecutive road opponents since that night.
  • In the land of totally unexpected stats: If you had the leader in passing offense, attempts per game, pass completions and passing yards through four games as Wake Forest, congratulations. You and all none of those who also made that pick can share the winnings. Those numbers will get quite the test against the Seminoles. Florida State ranks fourth among FBS teams in pass defense, allowing just over 116 yards per game. Just one opponent in the last seven games has thrown for greater than 200 yards against the ‘Noles (Oregon in last year’s CFB playoff).
  • Tough times: Wake Forest last won an ACC opener in 2012, when the Deacs clipped North Carolina 28-27. Wake is 4-6 against Florida State in their last 10 outings; however, they had won just two of the previous 23 before 2005. The last Wake win over FSU came in 2011 (35-30); since that win, FSU has won the three most recent outings by a combined score of 154-6.

Print that, tweet that, whatever: Wake Forest’s string of winless ACC openers will stretch to three. The Deacs have some athletes, but not nearly enough to hang here.

North Carolina (3-1, 0-0 ACC) at Georgia Tech (2-2, 0-1 ACC)
3:30pm | ESPNU

  • Unsettled?: Tar Heel coach Larry Fedora pulled quarterback Marquise Williams on Saturday, in favor of backup Mitch Trubisky. This launched all kinds of conspiracy theories about whether or not there would be a quarterback controversy. Fedora addressed the issue in the weekly coaches teleconference, saying, “Marquise Williams is our starter. Yes, I’ve talked to him. He knows why I did what I did on Saturday. That’s where we’re at. He’s our starter going into this game. There’s not a whole lot to talk about.” Williams went 6-for-12 for 65 yards in a 41-14 victory for the Heels over Delaware on Saturday. Trubisky completed 17-of-20 throws for 312 yards and four scores. The sophomore backup has misfired on just five of his 29 passes this season, throwing for 363 yards and five touchdowns.
  • Chewing up yards: The Jackets’ sixth-ranked rushing offense will look to tee off on the Tar Heels this weekend. Georgia Tech had their lowest rushing output — 173 yards — since their 2013 bowl game against Ole Miss in last week’s loss to Duke. The Tar Heels, meanwhile, have surrendered 227 yards or greater to all three of their FBS opponents this season, with Carolina foes averaging 5.03 yards per carry. The Heels allow more rushing attempts than any other ACC team, and find themselves last in the league (113th nationally) in rush defense.
  • Third is the word: Third-down conversions have been key for Carolina this season. UNC ranks fourth nationally in such conversions, moving the chains 55.1 percent of the time on third down. Georgia Tech, on the other hand, has seen their share of struggles on the pre-punt down, making good on just 34.7 percent of their chances. Only Miami (23.7 percent) ranks lower among ACC clubs. The Jackets are just 8-of-34 on third down (23.5 percent) in their losses at Notre Dame and Duke.

Print that, tweet that, whatever: Carolina started slow and has heated up. Tech started fast and has cooled off. The Jackets can ill afford to start the conference slate 0-2.

Boston College (3-1, 0-1 ACC) at Duke (3-1, 1-0 ACC)
3:30pm | RSN

  • Protecting the nest: BC’s defensive numbers through the first four games have, quite frankly, been ridiculous, and some of them bear mention here. The Eagles have surrendered just four touchdowns in four games, and just one field goal. BC leads the nation in total defense (118 yards per game), passing defense (72) and first downs allowed (35). The Eagles’ sports information department also notes the crazy statistic that 84.4 percent of opponents’ drives have not even crossed the 50, which, as one might imagine, leads all FBS teams. Michigan is the closest team to BC in total defense, some 85 yards away.
  • Terrific twenty: Duke’s 20 victories in their last 24 regular-season contests (since 2013) are bettered only by five schools: Florida State (24), Ohio State (23), Baylor/Michigan State (22) and Alabama (21). To put some perspective around David Cutcliffe’s success in renovating the Duke program, note that Cutcliffe was 23-45 in his time at Duke before this stretch began.
  • Throwing troubles: One of the keys to this game may be whether or not Boston College has to pass their way out of an early deficit. Not only have they not shown the propensity to do so — they have only attempted 44 throws in their last three games and are last in the league in passing offense — Duke has allowed completions in just 28 of opponents’ last 74 pass attempts. Only Clemson (43.2 percent) and — interestingly enough, Boston College (44.4) — have better opponent passing percentages than the Blue Devils.

Print that, tweet that, whatever: Duke can prove they’re on the conference and national stages to stay. BC can prove they’re for real. This should be a fun one.

#6 Notre Dame (4-0) at #12 Clemson (3-0, 1-0 ACC)
8:00pm | ABC

  • Get up, it’s Gameday: This game will mark Clemson’s fourth time hosting the ESPN Gameday crew near the shores of Lake Hartwell. The Tigers will have appeared on Gameday nine times after Saturday. This game also marks an interesting passage of time. Notre Dame hosted the first-ever ESPN Gameday outside the Bristol studios on November 13, 1993. The Irish won that game 31-24. This will be Notre Dame’s 26th Gameday appearance.
  • This seems…familiar: Notre Dame’s only visit to Clemson came nearly 38 years ago. Both teams were also ranked in the top 15 on November 12, 1977, when the Irish scored 14 fourth-quarter points to clip Clemson, 21-17. The Irish quarterback that day was a name many would come to know — Joe Montana. Montana was held to 9-of-21 passing for 172 yards, though the future 49er and Chief lodged a touchdown run and a touchdown pass to secure the win for his club. Clemson returned the favor with a 16-10 win in South Bend two years later. An interesting note: Clemson SID extraordinaire Tim Bourret mentions that the 1977 Irish visit to Clemson came 1977 weeks ago.
  • Rush week: Without quarterback Malik Zaire, the Irish have been able to feature their steady run game. Lead back C.J. Prosise will be aiming for his fourth straight 100-yard effort, while fellow rusher Josh Adams carried 13 times for 133 yards in last week’s 62-27 thrashing of UMass. Clemson ranks 30th in the FBS in rush defense. The Tigers have also limited opposing rushing attacks to fewer than 125 yards in five of their last eight contests, including Louisville’s 19 yards last week. The Tigers have not allowed two hundred-yard rushers in the same game since Georgia Tech’s Orwin Smith and Tevin Washington combined for the feat on October 6, 2012.

Print that, tweet that, whatever: Does the Notre Dame that squeaked out a win over Virginia show up, or the one that stomped UMass last week? Can Clemson avoid Clemsoning?

Trivia answer: I asked earlier: Duke football voice Bob Harris hit the air for his 450th consecutive football play-by-play broadcast in last week’s 34-20 Blue Devil victory over Georgia Tech. Which school was Duke’s opponent for the first game of that streak?

Duke defeated Tennessee 21-18 on September 11, 1976.

“It was a really good game,” Harris said in an interview with goduke.com. “With a couple of minutes to go, Tennessee’s down 21-18, they’re moving down the field and I remember saying ‘Run clock, run!’ And everybody listening thought that I wanted it to get over so that Duke would win. What I didn’t say on the air was that in my excitement, I had not been to the bathroom since noon.”

  1. Nick
    September 30, 2015 at 5:14 pm

    So losing to a Top 10 Notre Dame team would be considered Clemsoning? My how the term has changed.

    • Brian Wilmer
      September 30, 2015 at 5:22 pm

      Not losing _specifically_, but losing in a really unbelievable (likely self-inflicted) manner would probably be considered Clemsoning.

    • Josh
      October 1, 2015 at 9:06 am

      This term needs to die. 90% of the college football programs lose a game or so every season, including mighty Alabama and trendy Oregon. Clemson gets so much flack for this and I just don’t get it.

    • Brian Wilmer
      October 1, 2015 at 11:16 am

      I can’t really disagree that the term needs to die. Being in South Carolina, I hear it far more than most. :) (FWIW, I think Clemson wins this game.)

  2. jerry wilmer
    September 30, 2015 at 7:13 pm

    Very strong game details.I am curious as to what started the ‘firestorm’ last week.Btw,I will stick the old ;neck’ out,and pick the Tigers.Go Orange!

  3. Steve
    October 2, 2015 at 3:18 pm

    Hey, TRUE Irish man here (as in born & living in Ireland!!). I’ve never been to the States, no US relatives, and don’t follow Notre Dame (you get the picture!). NFL fan on and off for 30 years, but only started watching college a couple of years ago. Love this site and your articles in particular Brian, and I use it every week now to help pick out games to watch. Your detailed write-ups get me up to speed before game day, so a massive THANKS! ;-)

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