What happened and what mattered in the Week 2 of the ACC college football season?
5. The “other” games
Duke came up with 21 points to beat Northwestern 21-7, but lost QB Daniel Jones to an apparent collarbone injury. Before getting knocked out, he completed 16-of-22 passes for 192 yards and three scores. The D allowed 381 yards, but it stuffed the Wildcats four times on fourth downs and came up with two takeaways. This might be a better Blue Devil team than last year, but Jones was a key part to the puzzle.
To nitpick, the NC State running game still isn’t working. It only came up with 115 yards in the 41-7 win over Georgia State, but that’s okay as long as Ryan Finley is Ryan Finley. He hit 31-of-38 passes for 370 yards and two scores, with Kelvin Harmon and Thayer Thomas each going over the 100-yard receiving mark. Get ready for a shootout against West Virginia, but at some point, the O has to balance out a wee bit.
If you think Nick Saban is annoyed by quarterback questions, just wait for what Bobby Petrino will have to deal with. Louisville beat Indiana State 31-7, but in the downpour and miserable conditions, the offense didn’t work for a half. A Rodjay Burns punt return kept the team alive early, but Jawon Pass was replaced for Malik Cunningham, and then the O started working. Cunningham ran for a score and put the game away with a strike to Jaylen Smith, and now, the WKU game next week will be an interesting test to see who the main man will be.
Wake Forest was fine in its tune-up for the ACC opener against Boston College, rolling to a 51-20 win over Towson highlighted by three Greg Dortch touchdowns including two on punt returns. The Demon Deacons got a 242-yard passing day out of Sam Hartman, and the ground game came up with 130 yard out of Cade Carney – and 340 in all – but the defense struggled early on. Towson’s Tom Flacco threw for 345 yards and three scores, but the Demon Deacon D settled down in the second half.
Boston College only needed six carries out of AJ Dillon to beat Holy Cross 62-14. He did his work in a hurry, coming up with 149 yards and three scores, the Eagles rumbled for 365 yards, and the three quarterbacks combined to hit 16-of-20 passes for 245 yards and four touchdowns. The Eagles outgained the Crusaders 610 yards to 194.
Ohhhhhhhh, North Carolina. NOOOOOOO. The Tar Heels didn’t just lose to an East Carolina team coming off a loss to an FCS squad; they got blown out 41-19. Yes, the NCAA suspensions are an issue, but there’s still more than enough talent to beat ECU. It gave up 510 yards, couldn’t come up with a key third down stop, and now it has to play … UCF. Unless the passing game is better in a huge hurry – Nathan Elliott struggled – that’s going to be ugly at a whole other level.
The Virginia offense couldn’t get going in the 20-16 loss to Indiana, sputtering to just 106 passing yards – but with two scores – from Bryce Perkins, and 188 rushing yards. 123 of those came from Perkins. It was almost enough to pull this off, mainly because of their one guy. The defense held firm time and again, and didn’t allow any points in the second half, but in the bad weather, the run D just didn’t hold up enough and the O couldn’t come up with the breakthrough moment.
It’s not like Miami took it easy on Savannah State, scoring 28 fourth quarter points in the 77-0 win. Malik Rosier threw two touchdown passes, N’Kosi Perry three, and everyone got to have some fun. This was the depth chart scrimmage game, with the D allowing just 78 yards of Tiger offense. After the LSU game, this was a palette cleanser – now comes the trip to Toledo.
That’s how the Syracuse offense is supposed to work. Eric Dungey threw five touchdown passes, the O scored 45 first half points, and there were no issues in the 62-10 win over Wagner. After two huge offensive weeks, now it’s time to step it up with Florida State next week. The offense isn’t going to be any more explosive after coming up 117 points in two games.
So much for any sort of a hangover for Virginia Tech. The Hokies were great right out of the gate in a 62-17 win over William & Mary, with the passing game sharp, the running game cranking up 305 yards, and the run defense dominant. 9-of-11 on third downs, there weren’t any issues keeping the momentum going. With East Carolina and Old Dominion next, it’ll be a 4-0 start before going to Duke.