Another week, another huge ACC win. Regardless of where Clemson, Miami or FSU end their seasons, the fact is this league has already made some big strides as college football moves from the BCS to the playoff system. Admittedly still top heavy, Virginia Tech followed up its better-than-expected game against Alabama with a romp to move to 1-1. Duke and Maryland continue to show growth as both are now 2-0. NC State also got to 2-0 in a tight affair and the Dave Doeren era seems to be much more entertaining than the way the Tom O’Brien one ended. Boston College also held serve against Wake Forest in an early league game. That win improved the Eagles’ record to 2-0. The culture Steve Addazio is establishing is really beginning to come into focus. Boston College will be a well-coached team for as long as he is there and if the talent improves even a hair, the Eagles could pester ACC foes for years. North Carolina bounced back after a tough week and Virginia fell to 1-1 as was to be expected in a tough game against Oregon. All in all, ACC fans should be thrilled about the league showing some life after several dismal years.
Hopefully this isn’t your first time checking out our stock report, but if it is, the above chart is the power rankings of the league. The buying/holding/selling stock in a team is relative to preseason expectations, making a better bowl, or surprising the league and competing for a division title. Just because I’m buying a lot of stock in a team doesn’t mean I think they are better than the first place team. Now that we are all in sync, let’s get after it!
Clemson – The Tigers avoided any whispers of a hangover by jumping out to a huge first-half lead against FCS South Carolina State. They open league play at undefeated NC State on the 19th (a Thursday night game) Having the extended time should remove any chance of Clemmy “pulling a Clemson.” After that, it should be a straight run to the FSU game with an undefeated mark. After the Noles? Only USC and the ACC title game stand in their way of a national title appearance. The only team that can derail the Tigers are the Tigers. Week two grade: A
Duke – Blue Devil bowl watch: just four games to go! I really liked how after starter Anthony Boone went down the plucky Duke team found a way to win on the road against an equally plucky Memphis team. Loved the D holding them to under 100 rushing yards. The next four are all at home and even a split puts them in good shape since they still have Virginia, Wake and NC State at home. The push for two straight bowls is in full swing – even if no one realizes it but me. Week two grade: A
Florida State – Idle
Miami – This experienced club leaned on that know-how to find a way to beat Florida in a very interesting game. The league slate does them no favors, so if the Canes end up making the ACC title game, and win their first conference championship since their Big East crown a decade ago, they will have earned it. He didn’t do enough to be the ACC offensive MVP so I’ll use this space to congratulate Stephen Morris on a gritty game against a tough defense. His QBR, yards and completion percentage were far from school records, but he did do a relatively good job of playing turnover free, compared to the Gators, and the two touchdown strikes were huge. Week two grade: A
Georgia Tech – Idle
Maryland – The Terps haven’t played the best talent yet, but considering the expectations, 2-0 is nothing to scoff at. As for finding a bowl, they have dreadful Connecticut next. Virginia and BC come to College Park and they travel to Wake. Pick up another win or two in the other games and it’s not just a bowl for the Terps, but a decent one at that. The stellar play of C.J. Brown at quarterback has jumpstarted this team early. His percentage and yards are way up, and he has five TDs to zero INTs on the season. Brown is also dazzling with his feet, carrying the ball 15 times for an average of nine yards per carry and four touchdowns. That is enough to freeze defenses. Did I also mention he is from Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania? Awesome name alert! If that community were in Maine it would most certainly be the location of a Stephen King novel. I can see it now…a gigantic sinkhole threatens the quaint bed and breakfast town of Cranberry Township. As a team, this has been one of the feel good improvement stories of the young season. Week two grade: A
North Carolina – That performance against Middle Tennessee State was more like what we expected. Still, for a team many expected to sniff the ACC title game, the Heels have room for improvements and that is why I am still holding on them. The rushing game hasn’t clicked yet and the defense gave up over 400 yards. A huge game looms in two weeks in Atlanta against the Ramblin’ Wreck. Week two grade: B
NC State – To quote Indiana Jones’ dad, “You can’t get much closer than that!” NC State hit a field goal with under a minute to go to win 23-21 against FCS Richmond. Sloppy play was to blame for the close call. NC State outgained the Spiders (love that name, stunned more schools don’t have it), but a lot of that was undone by four turnovers and 10 penalties. The Wolfpack has until the 19th to unlock the Clemson riddle. I am also curious to see how Pete Thomas can grow knowing that opening day starter Brandon Mitchell’s foot surgery will sideline him for a while longer. I thought he played pretty well after coming off the bench and was pretty good outside the INTs against Richmond. Week two grade: D+
Pittsburgh – Idle
Virginia Tech – Sure they won 45-3, but Logan Thomas continues to prove his chief doubter (me) right with yet another garbage game. His stat line against Western Carolina was 17-for-31, 200 yards, 6.5 avg, 1 TD and 2 INTs. Again, that was against Western Carolina. Between a joke of a schedule, a solid defense and a nice running game, the Hokies may just succeed in spite of him. Week two grade: A
Boston College – Sure it was a nice win against by far the worst team in the league and the Eagles are 2-0, but the passing game was brutal and I’m not sure Andre Williams’ rushing for 204 yards on 35 carries is exactly sustainable. They do have two cupcakes and some winnable games left, including next week against USC (hey, when you stink as bad the Trojans do, you have to call it like you see it), so they could possibly eke out a bowl. Crazier things have happened. Week two grade: B
Syracuse – Obviously this was going to be a rebuilding year, so let’s measure them in small increments for this column while not ignoring the big picture. They have Wagner and Tulane next and a relatively good shot at evening their record to 2-2 before the Clemson tilt. They get Wake, BC and Pitt at home, so they’ll have the opportunity to snag a few league wins. This season was always going to be about building talent and installing a new system after Doug Marrone left. They are trying to create an identity with a bare cupboard. Give ‘em time, Orange fans, give ‘em time. Week two grade: D-
Virginia – Yikes that was brutal. I know it was Oregon, but they got shut out in the second half when UO started to pull the starters. This is one of those weeks you just have to move on from. The Cavs get VMI next, aka a nice cupcake with extra frosting before league play. The feeling I can’t shake though is how lucky they were to slip by BYU. This club really should be winless right now. Unless that whole “better lucky than good” vibe sustains your for a whole season, this year’s Cavs team will surely be another Mike London dud. Week two grade: Duck Ate the Assignment…See me after class
Wake Forest – Here’s how you sum up Wake’s season: They are trying to implement an option-attack without having one last year, or having a full recruiting period (in and off season) to get the talent to fit the system. Umm, no thank you. Week two grade: F
Buy These Kids Dinner (if the NCAA allowed it)
C.J. Brown (QB, Maryland) – All due respect to BC’s Andre Williams, who was a man’s man on the field against Wake, but I’m going with my man Brown. He was 14/22, 275 yards, 12.5 avg, two TD, zero INT and 95.3 QBR to go along with four carries, 30 yards and two more scores. All the while he was playing, he knew that his cousin’s home was being threatened by the Cranberry Township sinkhole. What composure.
Denzel Perryman (LB, Miami) – Sure, some of his teammates had the turnovers, but Perryman was like the grinder boxer, slowly putting Florida into submission. He had 13 tackles, a whopping nine of them solo. The fumble he forced came on UF’s first possession and directly led to 7seven points for Miami. He also got a QB hit for extra measure.
Duke / Memphis punting duel – A rare double dip and an award to a guy not even in the league! This is rare my friend. First Duke’s nomination: Will Monday booted five kicks for 248 yards, 49.6 avg, one TB, one inside the 20 and a long of 66. Okay, okay, nice round of applause. Your rebuttal Memphis? Tom Hornsey blasted seven kicks for 319 yards, 45.6 avg, zero TB, four inside the 20 and a long of 79. SEVENTY NINE YARDS!! For you naysayers that thought Duke rushed all 11 for the block, the clip is on youtube. There is a Blue Devil back there. He just wasn’t back there enough.
Dunce of the Week
The Duke punt returner, Jamison Crowder. How dare you not foresee the 80-yard punt! You need to be sound in the “getting your butt all the way back because the opposition has an insane punter” game. How many times do we need to go over that?