Week 1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference had a little bit of everything. It featured a 62-point shutout victory, an embarrassing one-point home win over a vastly inferior opponent, and a thrilling overtime game.
Just another week of work in college football’s most unpredictable conference.
The week began with a Friday night matchup between North Carolina State and Tennessee. The Wolfpack, who opened their season on the road in the Volunteer State, gave up 22 points in the first quarter and fell, 35-21. NC State actually led early, 7-6, and cut the deficit to 22-14 late in the second quarter. But the Vols pulled away late for the win.
Quarterback Mike Glennon threw four interceptions and the ground game averaged just 3.7 yards per carry. Defensively, NC State allowed two rushing touchdowns and a 5.0 yards-per-carry average to go along with two passing touchdowns.
On Saturday, the conference’s best hope for a National Title – No. 7 Florida State – demolished Murray State in Tallahassee, 69-3. Senior running back Lonnie Pryor’s three rushing scores highlighted a big day on the ground for the Seminoles, who totaled seven rushing touchdowns. E.J. Manuel was as good as he needed to be, going 16-for-22 for 188 yards, one score and one interception.
North Carolina took care of business with a 62-0 home win over Elon. Virginia did likewise, defeating Richmond, 49-13. Duke downed Florida International, 46-26.
Perhaps the most stunning final score of the week in the conference – and college football – came in College Park, where Maryland needed a fourth-quarter touchdown to defeat William &Mary, 7-6. A victory like that does not instill a ton of confidence moving forward. The Terps travel to Temple next, and in two weeks, head on the road for a game against No. 9 West Virginia.
In a similarly surprising outcome, Wake Forest barely won at home over Liberty, 20-17. The game was tied at 14-all after three quarters before Deandre Martin scored early in the fourth to put Wake on top.
No. 14 Clemson scored a solid road victory over Auburn, 26-19, behind 228 yards rushing from Andre Ellington. The Tigers showed plenty of fight – they trailed after one quarter, were tied after three, and faced a 19-16 deficit in the fourth. Tajh Boyd’s lone touchdown pass came when they needed it most, a fourth-quarter toss to DeAndre Hopkins to put Clemson ahead for good.
The opening week featured two conference games, starting with Miami at Boston College on Saturday. The Hurricanes went down early, giving up two touchdowns in the first quarter, before rallying for a 41-32 victory. BC’s junior quarterback, Chase Rettig, threw for 441 yards and two touchdowns, but his lone interception was returned 41 yards for a game-tying score as time expired in the first quarter.
Miami averaged 6.1 yards per carry and had 10 different players make at least one catch. Defensively, the Hurricanes held BC to 2.8 yards per carry and forced three turnovers.
Then came Monday’s overtime thriller between No. 16 Virginia Tech and unranked Georgia Tech. After a largely uninspiring opening three quarters, the teams combined for 20 points in the fourth before VT won it in overtime, 20-17.
The Yellow Jackets took a 17-14 lead with 44 seconds to go when Tevin Washington capped off a terrific drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Deon Hill. But the Hokies marched right down the field and Cody Journell, who missed a field goal earlier, kicked a 41-yarder as time expired to tie the game.
GT had the ball first in overtime and looked poised to kick a field goal before Washington made a poor decision to heave the ball toward the end zone on third down. The pass was picked, allowing VT to take possession and set up Journell for a game-winning 17-yarder.
Neither team looked particularly sharp. Georgia Tech’s triple-option offense mustered only 192 yards rushing, while Virginia Tech had just 96 yards rushing. Logan Thomas was 21-of-38 for 230 yards and two touchdowns, but carried 15 times for just 40 yards.
Looking ahead to the second week of play, Miami has a tough road test against No. 21 Kansas State (1-0). Duke heads on the road to play No. 25 Stanford (1-0), which needed a late interception to defeat San Jose State in its opening game. UNC at Wake Forest is the week’s only conference matchup.
What did you think of the first week for the ACC? Are Florida State legitimate title contenders? Let us know in the comments!