The ACC took care of business this weekend, with a 4-1 record in non-conference games. Andthe six teams that opened ACC play? Well, they served up some good games. For a recap ofThursday’s game between Miami and Pittsburgh, check out what Ben Kercheval wroteHERE.
Florida State blanked Wake Forest’s high-powered offense 31-0, with Christian Ponderscoring three times for the Seminoles.
Virginia Tech also pitched a shutout, but this game came against the Eagles of Boston College.The Hokies intercepted Eagle quarterback Dave Shinskie in the red zone early andnever looked back, winning the game 19-0 in Chestnut Hill. This game will certainly boost themorale of the Hokies for the remainder of the year, and we know very well that everyVirginia Tech game counts heavily for other teams.
Duke entered the fourth quarter of yesterday’s game against Army down 35-7. In the BlueDevils’ ACC opener against Wake Forest, I thought Duke’s offense had taken a turn for thebetter and would improve significantly. With back-to-back embarrassing losses, I think the onlydirection Duke is headed for is the ACC basement, once again.
Both Virginia and Maryland took care of weaker opponents, beating VMI and FIU respectivelyby a combined 55 points.
North Carolina State most certainly had the most impressive victory, a 45-28 win overGeorgia Tech. The Wolfpack forced two turnovers, scored on a blocked punt, and quarterbackRussell Wilson FINALLY broke onto the national scene. Wilson quietly threwfor 17 touchdowns as a freshman, with just one interception. Last year, he led the ACC intouchdown passes with a 31-11 ratio. So far this year, he has 11 scores through the air and justone blemish for the 4-0 squad. The remainder of NC State’s schedule is all ACC games, expecta bout at East Carolina. If Wilson can serve up some more wins, and with the lack of impressiveACC play, who is to say that the Tom O’Brien-led group cannot reach a BCS bowl?
What about the Big East? The weak east coast conference totaled a record of 3-4 over theweekend. All seven games ended as they should have, and even in the losses most feltrest assured. Three teams played real tough matches, coming up short by a score or less.
Cincinnati nearly had the biggest upset, losing by two points to No. 8 Oklahoma. QuarterbackZach Collaros has his best effort of the season, and did so in a game that the Bearcatsdesperately needed it, connecting on 60.5% of his passes for 305 yards and a score. Whatmay have killed Cincinnati was a missed extra point very early during the second quarter. TheBearcats ultimately lost by two, with their final score coming with around 70 seconds remainingin the game. If Cincinnati had converted the earlier PAT, then they may have opted to go for thetwo-point conversion, possibly tying the match with Oklahoma. The Sooners won 31-29.
The Mountaineers of West Virginia also had an upset brewing. With a 17-14 deficit expandedby three points at the beginning of the fourth quarter, West Virginia needed a score to take thelead. The LSU defense had other ideas. They forced two punts and a missed field goal in thefinal quarter to preserve its six point victory. The Tigers ate up nearly eight minutes of the clockin that period, and had fantastic field position, forcing young quarterback Geno Smith tomake plays, something he could not handle that late in the game. The Tigers went on to win 20-14.
As for the Big East’s victories, Syracuse, Connecticut, and South Florida took care of non-BCS opponents by an average of three touchdowns. Rutgers played a tough battle with NorthCarolina, limiting Tar Heels quarterback TJ Yates significantly. Yates finishedwith just 204 yards passing and a score, along with an interception. I came pretty close in my prediction of the outcome, but not as close as John Taylor did for several of his games.