Week 2 was not real kind to a few of the teams in the ACC. The big, hyped games turned out bad for Florida State and Miami, and the two “easy wins” added insult to injury to Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. Does that mean the ACC is a weaker football conference? Hardly. The season just started and, sure, there have been some surprises, but like the old tortoise and the hare, it ain’t how fast ya start it all comes down to whose there at the finish line first. We’ll see who’s there come December! So much for those smart preseason pickers, let’s get to what happened in Week 2 to the ACC:
ACC Atlantic Division
Wake Forest 54, Duke 48
The first ACC battle of the 2010 season pitted the Devils versus the Deacons, and it was a fight to the finish. The Demon Deacons are making it a habit of scoring 50 points or more trying to create a statement of how things will be run in a post-Riley Skinner offense. In Week 1, the Deacons put up 53, but in Week 2 it took all 54 points to stay on top of a pesky group of Blue Devils. The “pass-happy” offense of coach David Cutcliffe makes Duke anything but a football team to laugh at anymore. Once thought of as a “gimme” game on the schedule, the Blue Devils can man-up with just about any team now.
It was a scoring free-for-all with Duke eventually tying the game at 35-35 at the half. Wake Forest managed to sneak a three-point lead through three quarters and had to hold off a late charging group of Blue Devils down the stretch after taking a 54-41 lead with just under three minutes to play. Let’s see if the Deacons can keep that 50 point production going for three weeks in a row when they travel cross country for a huge game with the No. 19 ranked Stanford Cardinals. And, it won’t get any easier for the Blue Devils, they get to play pitch, catch, and run with No. 1 Alabama!
Clemson 58, Presbyterian 21
The Presbyterian Blue Hose might have seen enough of ACC football teams in just the first two weeks of the season. Wake Forest and Clemson both hung 50+ points on The Hose and both played just about everybody on the roster. Clemson’s Kyle Parker didn’t play much, but he didn’t need to, yet he did hit 6-of-9 passes for 114 yards and 2 TDs. It’s best he got to sit most of this one out against the Blue Hose before facing another group of tough Tiger defenders on The Plains at Auburn.
The Tigers scored early, often, and continuously on PC until about mid-way of the third period. Reserve quarterback Tajh Boyd added two TD passes and Donny McElveen flipped a one-yarder to Kasey Nobles to close out the Tiger rampage. Clemson racked up 414 yards of total offense – 212 by ground and 202 by air. Most of the ground work was done by Roderick McDowell and Daniel Barnes, with Boyd adding a few. Defensively, Clemson is pretty strong, as usual, but the real test of this defense and this team is yet to come. The going gets tougher so its time for the tough to get going when The Tigers face The Tigers in Auburn – Clemson versus No. 15/16 Auburn Saturday. Oughta be a good one.
Oklahoma 47, Florida State 17
It was a bad day at Black Rock (Norman) for the Seminoles. Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher got a harsh welcome to the real world of major college football when formerly No. 10 Oklahoma sent the formerly No. 17 Seminoles home without their headdress feathers. The game looked to be close until, say the end of the first quarter, but from there on out it was covered wagons and Sooners running over, around, through, and above the Seminoles. OU made it look too easy on every possession of the first half.
Coach Bob Stoops didn’t take it very easy on his little brother’s new defense. OU quarterback Landry Jones was near-perfect passing for 380 yards and 4 TDs. There was no need to circle the wagons in Norman because the FSU Seminoles brought a knife to a gun fight and FSU senior quarterback Christian Ponder suffered through one of his worst days, going 11-of-28 for 113 yards, no touchdowns, and two interceptions. Florida State will have to rally the tribe ‘cause this week the passing Mormons come to the friendly confines of the Tallahassee Seminole village for a late afternoon encounter. It won’t be like playing Samford when BYU hits town – but, it won’t be like playing OU at Norman, either.
Boston College 26, Kent State 13
Week 1 it was Weber State, Week 2 it was Kent State, and this week it’ll be some time off before starting the ACC part of the schedule. The Boston College offense found it pretty tough going against a fair Kent State defense. It was not all wine and roses for the Eagles in the first half – they barely took a 6-3 lead in at the half and it took two Nate Freese field goals to do that, the last coming on the final play of the half.
The BC offense got a little talkin’ to at halftime and came out with Dave Shinskie flinging touchdown passes. Shinskie hit Bobby Swigert for a 23 yarder, then Clyde Lee for a 31 yarder, and Freese ended the scoring with two field goals in the fourth quarter. Kent State managed a late TD to make the score better, but it still didn’t look that good for BC. The Eagles have a week off to get ready for the real conference action. The warm-up games are over, and in two weeks it will be time to play some real football because Virginia Tech comes to town and it will be another ACC powerhouse barn-burner for sure. It will be interesting to see BC linebacker Mark Herzlich face off against VT quarterback Tyrod Taylor – a good match-up - ‘cause VT ain’t no Weber or Kent State – just ask James Madison.
North Carolina State 28, Central Florida 21
North Carolina State ventured down to Florida and racked up a 21-7 lead at the half before finding out that the Knights of Central Florida do know how to play football and how to come from behind. It took five Central Florida turnovers to help the Wolfpack put this one away. State’s talented quarterback Russell Wilson was not at his best, throwing for only 105 yards and one touchdown and completing a mere 10-of-30. The Wolfpack defense saved the day by picking off three passes and forcing and recovering two fumbles. Central Florida posted 308 yards of total offense, but the turnovers made the difference. The only score the Knights could muster in the first half was a 93 yard kick-off return for the TD immediately after N. C. State’s Mustafa Greene scored on a 21 yard run for a 21-0 lead.
Greene’s touchdown run was the last scoring offense the Wolfpack put together. Their final points came on a 43-yard interception return for the TD by C. J. Wilson late in the third quarter. The N. C. State defense allowed the Knights to tally two fourth quarter drives for touchdowns to make it a close one at the end, but the Wolfpack held off the charge and held on to a 28-21 win. This week, the N. C. State Wolfpack will host a talented Cincinnati team for a prime-time ESPN Thursday night game and then they have a few days off to prepare for the option before visiting Georgia Tech in Atlanta for their first ACC game of the season on Saturday, September 25th.
Maryland – 62, Morgan State 13
The Maryland Terrapins simply crushed Morgan State, no other way to put it. The close upset win over Navy has sparked new life into Coach Ralph Friedgen’s young Terps. They’ll find out just how good they are come Saturday when they play at arch-rival No. 21 West Virginia. That’s coming up, but last Saturday against Morgan State, somebody turned the offense loose at Byrd Stadium in College Park. Quarterbacks Jamarr Robinson and Danny O’Brien combined for five touchdown passes in the first half alone – it was 45-0 at intermission and time to go home. Morgan State was held to only 85 yards of total offense and their only points came on a 39-yard Kemar Scarlett field goal late in the third quarter. It was a miss-match, but there won’t be many of those ahead for the Terps. After the West Virginia battle, it’s a battle for command of the ACC Atlantic Division Ship and the coast is wide open for any of the teams to take the helm.
Right now, it looks like Clemson is the best bet to make that run for Charlotte to represent the Atlantic Division. But we’ll have to wait and see - they haven’t played an ACC game yet, either.
ACC Coastal Division
Ohio State 36, Miami 24
This one had to hurt and hurt bad for Coach Randy Shannon and his Hurricanes. The much-hyped big game between Terrelle Pryor and Jacory Harris turned into a turn-over battle that ended with No. 2 Ohio State proving why they are ranked No. 2. The Hurricanes came into the Horseshoe as the underdog but played well in the early going, taking a 10-3 lead. But not long after that it started to get ugly. Harris did not live up to the hype television created of the two quarterbacks pitted against each other – he ran scared, made costly mental mistakes, and was good on just 22 of 39 passes for 232 yards with only one touchdown and four interceptions – two at critical times when the Hurricanes were in position to score and make it an interesting game.
Pryor managed the Buckeyes fairly well and used the “over-pursuit” of Miami’s quickness on defense to hit on 12 of 27 passes for 233 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions; but where he hurt Miami the most was with his feet. Pryor used that Miami defensive aggressiveness to his advantage and caught the Hurricanes loose on the backside, rushing for 113 yards and a near game-clinching touchdown. Miami looked to be making a late run, but Harris couldn’t deliver the goods and one of the mighty powers in the ACC fell to a Top 5 team. It was not that Ohio State was that good, it was that Miami’s top players did not play as well as expected. Coach Shannon still has work to do in Coral Gables because his players have had the tendency to play that way in games in which they should be challenging for the win. No. 17 (down from No. 12) Miami has a few days off before a big Thursday night ESPN game with Pittsburgh. It should be a good one!
James Madison 21, Virginia Tech 16
In what was the most unexpected of losses, James Madison deserves the credit for pulling off an incredible upset of Virginia Tech at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg – a place most all ACC players say is about the toughest place to play (with Clemson’s Death Valley ranking a close second). In comes lowly Division II (FCS – Football Championship Series – they play a tournament schedule at the end to determine their champion that’s why they’re a Championship Series) James Madison to face the No. 13 team in Division I (FBS – Football Bowl Series) Virginia Tech. All James Madison was expected to do was come to town, play a little scrimmage, accept a big check, and go home with about 60 points plastered against them. Wrong!! This crowd came to play . . . and to win! It just goes to show that will, heart, and determination can move mountains – and Hokies.
It started slow and ended even slower for Virginia Tech. It took Taylor and the offense almost all of the first quarter to score a touchdown on little James Madison. In the second quarter, it looked like VT was gonna pull away after taking a 10-0 lead, but that was quickly cut to pieces on a 77-yard TD pass from Drew Dudzik to Jamal Sullivan. VT’s kicker Chris Hazley accounted for the rest of the Hokies’ points by booting three field goals. Unfortunately for VT, head coach Frank Beamer, and defensive coordinator Bud Foster, James Madison scored two more touchdowns in the second half and recovered a late fumble to end a possible VT scoring drive. Beamer Ball again plagued the Hokies, with a roughing the kicker penalty late that gave James Madison the chance to run out the clock and steal a major upset at 21-16. Can we believe the preseason No. 10 ranked Hokies are 0-2 on the year, with East Carolina coming to town just before the big ACC battle with Boston College in two weeks? VT was the preseason favorite to win the Coastal Division and win the ACC again. Hey, it still could happen, but that won’t be good for the image of the conference if the ACC Champion lost to James Madison!
The Tar Heels had the week off to hopefully get a few players back off NCAA sanctions and prepare for the showdown in Chapel Hill with Georgia Tech on Saturday, September 18th. North Carolina learned early this week that running back Draughn has been cleared by the NCAA to play in the Georgia Tech game – that still leaves a few players who are ineligible and won’t be wearing Baby Blue in the near future. The game with Georgia Tech is a big one for both teams as it gives one the edge in the race for the Coastal Division title.
Kansas 28, Georgia Tech 25
Another Top 20 ranked ACC team fell out of the polls this past week when Kansas pulled off the upset at Memorial Stadium. Georgia Tech came to Lawrence, Kansas clearly expecting to waltz in and run out with an easy win, then come back to Atlanta undefeated and start preparing for North Carolina. The Jayhawks were held touchdown-less against North Dakota State in the opening game, so surely it was a no-brainer that Georgia Tech’s power offense was going to overwhelm Kansas and breeze to another victory. Too many Tech mistakes and miscues led to a major setback for Coach Paul Johnson’s Yellow Jackets. The Techies had plenty of chances to win, but didn’t act like they wanted it as bad as the Jayhawks – and that could be a problem this week for Georgia Tech visiting Chapel Hill.
Coach Johnson says and believes that good teams don’t lose two games in a row. Well, they’ll have to work much harder this week to prove they’re a good team to their head guy. You can’t win games by dropping touchdown passes, overthrowing wide open receivers, pushing quarterbacks after the play is over, running into punters, and then, when the game is on the line, throwing out of bounds on 4th-and-8 in the final two minutes of the game. This week, against a tough North Carolina team who has had a week off to prepare and playing on their home turf for a chance to be 1-0 in ACC play, presents a major test for this Georgia Tech team if they hope to compete for a chance to repeat.
Southern California 17, Virginia 14
Quite possibly the surprise of the ACC may just be Virginia. But they have done this before and fizzled as the ACC competition got tougher. It’s only Week 3 coming up, but in two weeks, the Cavaliers have been impressive, including going out to the Los Angeles Coliseum and playing the mighty Southern Cal Trojans to a 17-14 nail-biter. Yeah, Virginia had to score with four seconds left to make it 17-14, but a look at the statistics tells a story of a close game. Preseason picks to be dead last in the ACC Coastal Division – and considered by many writers as the worst team in the ACC (worse than Duke, can you believe it?) – Virginia racked up more total yards than Southern Cal - 340 to 329 – almost as many passing yards – 190 to 202 – and, more rushing yards – 150 to 127.
More rushing yards than Southern Cal? Virginia? The ACC’s last, worst team, Virginia? That’s right folks, you better believe it! The Cavs may not be able to keep playing like this, but right now, they are playing some good football for a young team with a new coaching staff and new system. They have the week off before hosting VMI, but then it starts into ACC play and things will change. The question now becomes, just how good is Virginia?
That ‘bout wraps up this week. It was not a good one for some ACC teams, pretty good for others, and promising for some – we’ll just have to wait and see what Week 3 will be. As Old Leonard Posttoastee from Leonard’s Losers used to say, “Get me outta here Percy,” and we’ll be back next week with another ACC Football Round-Up!