It took until Week 3, but the Atlantic Coast Conference finally saw its first true upset of the season. Luckily for No. 13 Virginia Tech (2-1, 1-0 ACC), it came against a team that won’t be a conference foe until next season.
The Hokies went on the road and lost to unranked Pittsburgh, 35-17, this past Saturday. Logan Thomas threw three interceptions while Pitt’s Tino Sunseri threw for three scores. The Hokies trailed 21-0 before they even got on the board, and never came closer than the 11-point deficit they faced entering the fourth. The loss, however, won’t count against the conference standings, leaving the Hokies tied for the top spot in the Coastal Division.
Co-division leaders Miami (2-1, 1-0) won at home over MEAC opponent Bethune-Cookman, 38- 10. The Hurricanes gave up a touchdown late in the first quarter to fall behind 7-0 before Duke Johnson took over. The freshman returned the ensuing kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown, then added a pair of rushing scores and a touchdown catch to help Miami win going away.
The rest of the conference slate was a bit of a snooze-fest.
No. 5 Florida State (3-0, 1-0) ran over Wake Forest (2-1, 1-1), 52-0. E.J. Manuel threw for two scores and Chris Thompson carried nine times for 197 yards (a 21.9 yards-per-carry average) and two scores.
Georgia Tech (2-1, 1-1) scored on two of its first three plays in a 56-20 rout of Virginia (2-1, 0-1). Tevin Washington threw a 70-yard touchdown pass on the Yellow Jackets’ first play from scrimmage and Orwin Smith added a 77-yard touchdown run on the following drive. GT’s triple option offense got back on track with 50 carries for 461 yards, including Smith’s 6-for-137 game. Virginia quarterbacks Michael Rocco and Phillip Sims combined for three passing scores.
The remaining conference winners didn’t face too much opposition: No. 11 Clemson (3-0) topped Furman, 41-7; North Carolina State (2-1) defeated South Alabama, 31-7; Duke (2-1) routed North Carolina Central, 54-17.
Saturday wasn’t as successful for Maryland (2-1), Boston College (1-2, 0-1) and North Carolina (1-2, 0-1).
The Terps lost at home against Connecticut, 24-21, as Randy Edsall was unable to defeat his former team. Maryland trailed 14-0 and 17-7 before coming within three points of the Huskies twice in the fourth quarter. Maryland QB Perry Hills scored on a 10-yard run with 4:39 remaining, but UConn held on for the win.
BC lost on the road against Northwestern, allowing 560 yards in a 22-13 defeat. The Eagles mustered only one touchdown, a 31-yard passing score from Johnathan Coleman to Chase Rettig late in the second quarter. The touchdown gave BC a 10-9 lead, but Northwestern kicked a field goal with two seconds remaining to go ahead for good. The Eagles were outscored 13-3 in the second half.
North Carolina lost a tough game on the road against No. 19 Louisville, falling 39-34. Louisville took a 36-7 lead into halftime and held on, withstanding a 20-point fourth quarter by the Tar Heels. Bryn Renner completed 26 of 41 passes for 363 yards and five touchdowns, three of the scores coming in the fourth after UNC fell behind 39-14.The teams combined for 872 total yards of offense.
This sets the stage for the biggest game of the season thus far, a Week 4 showdown between No. 10 Clemson and No. 4 Florida State. For the Tigers, it’s their conference opener. For the Seminoles, it’s a chance to cement their status as a national title contender in front of their home crowd.
The Tigers are in full swing in terms of offensive weapons. Tajh Boyd, Andre Ellington and Sammy Watkins lead a potent Clemson attack. FSU’s Manuel has started his season in strong fashion, completing 42 of 59 passes (71.2 completion percentage) for 525 yards, six touchdowns and only one interception.
From a defensive standpoint, Florida State has allowed only three points over its first three games, including back-to-back shutouts, against a pair of cupcakes in Murray State and Savannah State and an overmatched Wake Forest team. Clemson has averaged 17.7 points allowed per game, but clamped down in Week 3 to allow just seven points to Furman.
FSU has the edge defensively, but Clemson may have the edge on the offensive side of the ball. Saturday night’s matchup should be a terrific game.
The rest of the Week 4 schedule is far less exciting, with Maryland playing at No. 8 West Virginia and Virginia traveling to No. 17 TCU. In the week’s only other conference matchup, Georgia Tech hosts Miami in a Coastal Division clash.
But all eyes will be on the primetime matchup between top-10 teams. The winner has the inside track on the Atlantic Division title, a berth in the conference championship game and a legitimate claim for a spot in Miami in early January.
What did you think of the ACC this weekend? Who will win the big matchup between Clemson and Florida State? Let us know in the comments!