Around the ACC: September 8, 2011

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The ACC went 7-3 against non-conference opponents in the opening weekend of
the season. However, none of the wins came against teams from BCS conferences.
In fact, the ACC went 0-2 against such teams and lost to an FCS team, too.

Here’s a quick recap of the scores from the opening weekend.

Georgia Tech 63, Western Carolina 21
Syracuse 36, Wake Forest 29 (OT)
Northwestern 24, Boston College 17
Virginia Tech 66, Appalachian State 13
Clemson 43, Troy 19
Florida State 34, ULM 0
UNC 42, JMU 10
NC State 43, Liberty 21
Virginia 40, William & Mary 3
Richmond 23, Duke 21
Maryland 32, Miami 24

Basically, nothing much happened in the ACC over the weekend, except for that
matchup in College Park on Monday night.

Miami Checks Out of the ACC Race Early

Miami lost at Maryland 32-24 on Monday night. Does that means the Canes are
out of the ACC Coastal Division race? Not technically. However, Miami has road
games remaining at Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Florida State, three of the
four most talented teams in the ACC (along with the Canes). Miami will likely
drop at least one of those games, so it’s tough to picture them going any better
than 6-2 in conference play.

If they lose at Virginia Tech on October 8, not only can they finish no
better than 6-2 in the league, but they’ll also lose the tiebreaker to the
Hokies. Miami really needed to win that game on Monday night. They can thank the
eight players who sat home on suspension for the loss. Those guys should be
apologizing to the Miami fan base right now, because they cost their program a
big win.

The Canes were the big reason for ACC expansion back in 2003. They have never
won an ACC Championship, and they’ve never played in an ACC Championship Game.
They played in the de facto Championship Game against Virginia Tech in 2004,
when there were just 11 teams in the league, but they’ve never won the Coastal
Division.

Clemson Defense Struggles

The Clemson defense is generally good, but they struggled against Troy on
Saturday. This was a close game for most of the afternoon, until the Tigers
scored three unanswered touchdowns over the last 11 minutes of the game to win
43-19. It was a 22-19 game early in the fourth quarter, and Clemson fans were
sweating.

The Tiger defense didn’t play particularly well against Troy, the perennial
Sun Belt power. The Trojans put up 423 yards of total offense, averaged 4.6
yards per carry, and quarterback Corey Robinson was 24-of-42 for 258 yards, with
a touchdown and an interception. The Clemson defense had just three tackles for
loss, one coming on a sack by true freshman linebacker Stephone Anthony, a major
VT recruiting target last year.

It’s still very early in the season, and Clemson should easily beat Wofford
this weekend. However, after the Terriers, they play a schedule that looks like
this: vs. Auburn, vs. Florida State, at Virginia Tech, vs. Boston College, at
Maryland, vs. UNC, and at Georgia Tech. The Tigers then get a break with Wake
Forest before closing the season with two road games against NC State and South
Carolina.

If that’s not the toughest schedule in the ACC, then I don’t know what is.
Clemson better hope their defense shows improvement soon, or they are staring an
0-2 start in the ACC right in the face.

ACC Rolls 1-AA Teams … except Duke

66-13. 40-3. 43-21. 42-10. 63-21. Those were the scores of the ACC’s wins
over 1-AA opponents this past weekend. The ACC’s margin of victory in those
games was an average of 37.2 points per game.

Most were against good 1-AA competition as well. Virginia Tech beat down #2
Appalachian State 66-13, while Virginia easily handled #3 William & Mary
40-3. Liberty (lost 43-21 to NC State) and James Madison (lost 42-10 at UNC)
were also ranked in the top 25 in the 1-AA polls.

Duke is a different story, as the Blue Devils had their season opener spoiled
by Richmond 23-21 on Saturday night. Richmond now owns Wallace Wade Stadium,
going 3-0 there since 2006. In 2006, the Spiders knocked off Duke 13-0, and beat
them again in 2009 by a score of 24-16.

David Cutliffe is a good football coach, but in this modern era of college
football, Duke is an impossible job.

A Look Ahead

The upcoming week of ACC football looks like this:

ACC
Weekend Games
Game Time TV
Rutgers at UNC 12:30pm ACC Network
NC State at Wake 3:30pm RSN
Stanford at Duke 3:30pm ESPNU
Virginia Tech at ECU 3:30pm FSN
Wofford at Clemson 3:30pm ESPN3.com
Charleston Southern at FSU 6pm ESPN3.com
Georgia Tech at Middle TN 7pm ESPN3.com
Virginia at Indiana 7pm Big Ten Network
Boston College at UCF 8pm CBSSN

North Carolina, Duke and Virginia have a chance to get non-conference wins
against BCS conference programs. UNC shouldn’t have a problem beating Rutgers,
and Virginia should be able to beat a team that lost to Ball State last week.
(The Hoos hammered in Indiana 47-7 in 2009, Al Groh’s last year.) The only
question about the Duke-Stanford game is when will Stanford send in their second
team?

Clemson, Florida State and Georgia Tech all play uninteresting games against
opponents that appear to be overmatched. The Georgia Tech-MTSU game could be
interesting however, as the Blue Raiders nearly beat Purdue last week, and
they’ve been to two consecutive bowl games.

The most interesting games of the weekend in the ACC are Rutgers at UNC, NC
State at Wake Forest, Virginia Tech at East Carolina and Boston College at
Central Florida.

BC lost to Northwestern last weekend, and now they have to travel to Orlando
for a night game against a UCF team that beat Charleston Southern 62-0 last
weekend. UCF is favored by 7.5 points, and it would not be surprising at all to
see them knock off the Eagles.

This is going to be the last boring week of ACC football. On September 17,
the real action gets started with Clemson hosting Auburn, Maryland hosting West
Virginia, Miami hosting Ohio State and Florida State hosting Oklahoma. Note that
the ACC is home for all of those games, and they’ll have a chance to pick up
some big wins.

Weekend picks

It doesn’t take a genius to pick most of those games.

UNC over Rutgers
NC State over Wake
Stanford over Duke
VT over ECU
Clemson over Wofford
FSU over Charleston Southern
Georgia Tech over Middle Tennessee State
Virginia over Indiana
Central Florida over Boston College

From a competitive standpoint, that BC-UCF game could be the most
entertaining of the weekend.

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