Bryce Perkins

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No. 3 Clemson wins fifth consecutive ACC championship as they return to College Football Playoff

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The defending national champions are back for some more. No. 3 Clemson (13-0, 8-0 ACC) locked up a fifth consecutive ACC Championship Game victory Saturday night with a 62-17 victory over No. 23 Virginia (9-4, 6-2 ACC), and with that all but officially submitted their R.S.V.P. for this season’s College Football Playoff. What’s not to respect?

Trevor Lawrence passed for 302 yards and four touchdowns before getting an early exit in the fourth quarter, with Clemson leading 45-14 at the time. Travis Etienne rushed for 114 yards and a touchdown and star receiver Tee Higgins hauled in nine passes for 182 yards and three touchdowns. Virginia’s Bryce Perkins had some positive moments with 265 passing yards and two passing touchdowns with 52 rushing yards, but he was picked off twice. His first interception came at the end of the game’s opening possession in the end zone.

Clemson’s 62 points are the most point scored by a team in the ACC Championship Game, which was first played in 2005. Clemson has now outscored its opponents in the ACC Championship Game by a cumulative score of 229-102 over the last five seasons. Clemson has held each of their last three ACC Championship Game opponents to 30 points (3 vs. Miami in 2017, 10 vs Pitt last season, and 17 against Virginia). Clemson is now 5-1 all-time in the ACC Championship Game with their only loss coming as an underdog in 2009 against Georgia Tech.

After 13 consecutive wins this season, on top of the 15 straight wins Clemson had last season en route to a national title, Clemson is going to be riding a 28-game winning streak back into the College Football Playoff. With Alabama being knocked out of the playoff race last week, Clemson will now own the longest active streak of playoff appearances with five straight. That matches Alabama’s record set last year with the Crimson Tide’s fifth consecutive appearance. This will be the first College Football Playoff without Alabama. All that is left to determine is what seed the defending champs will have. Whether Clemson is ranked No. 2 or No. 3 ultimately wouldn’t matter as the Tigers wouldn’t get to have a say which bowl destination they’d prefer, nor would it change the opponent. While Clemson will feel they made a case to be considered as the No. 1 team in the field, that decision now rests with the selection committee, which will make their final decisions on Sunday. A matchup with either LSU or Ohio State is likely the pairing for Clemson. Dabo Swinney will certainly have his team ready for whatever comes next, as his fight for respect will continue even if nobody is actually disrespecting his program these days.

Virginia’s bowl outlook is also likely fixed. Win or lose, Virginia was likely to be in the Orange Bowl, either as the ACC champion or the bowl’s pick from the ACC. When the ACC champion is in the College Football Playoff and unavailable for the Orange Bowl, the next highest-ranked ACC team fills the slot. Virginia being the only other ranked ACC team this week by the committee seems to suggest Virginia will be the locked pick for the Orange Bowl, although if Virginia manages to slip out of the playoff rankings, the Orange Bowl could choose from any available ACC team that is bowl eligible. But even in that scenario, Virginia would likely still be the pick. Virginia would play a team from the SEC or Big Ten, with the opponent being the highest-ranked available team from either conference. The Florida Gators may be the most likely opponent, with Penn State as the alternative. Regardless of how the first experience in the ACC Championship Game went for Virginia, Bronco Mendenhall continues to be doing a terrific job in building the Virginia football program, and a chance to play in the Orange Bowl is a significant step forward.

Big game by Bryce Perkins puts Virginia in ACC Coastal driver’s seat

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Anything is capable of happening in the ACC Coastal Division, but for at least one week it will be Virginia (6-3, 4-2 ACC) that has the most control of the division. A 38-31 victory at UNC (4-5, 3-3 ACC) lifted Virginia into sole possession of first place in the ACC Coastal Divison with some key head-to-head tiebreakers in their pocket.

In a game that was highlighted by offense, neither team managed to score any points in the fourth quarter. A turnover on downs by UNC with just over a minute to play gave Virginia the football with nothing standing in the way of a win. A big game by Bryce Perkins certainly helped Virginia’s cause. Perkins completed 30 of 39 pass attempts for 378 yards and three touchdowns. As if that wasn’t enough, Perkins put the offense on his back and rushed for a game-high 12 yards and two more touchdowns to account for nearly all of Virginia’s scoring. He did not throw an interception.

UNC’s freshman quarterback Sam Howell had a big game too with 353 passing yards and four touchdown passes. Despite UNC having more total yards of offense, it was the little things that made the difference in this one. Both teams went 7-for-13 on third down, but Virginia converted its one fourth-down try while UNC was 0-for-3, including one from the Virginia 27-yard line in the second quarter and one more from the Virginia six-yard line in the fourth quarter. Neither team had a turnover but Virginia had just one penalty for five yards while UNC was flagged six times.

Virginia opened the season with a victory at defending Coastal champion Pittsburgh, 30-14. The Panthers are currently tied with Virginia in the loss column but with one fewer win and on the wrong end of the head-to-head result, Pitt cannot pass Virginia unless the Cavaliers have more losses than them. UNC, Miami and Duke are all with three losses. Virginia Tech also has two losses in conference play, but Virginia will face the rival Hokies in the final game of the regular season.

Virginia will be home next week to face Georgia Tech, who was defeated by Pitt earlier in the day to fall to 2-6 overall and 1-4 in ACC play. A win by the Cavaliers will inch Virginia one step closer to its first appearance in the ACC Championship Game.

North Carolina may have not be mathematically eliminated from the race but will need Virginia to lose twice. UNC will get a road game at Pitt in two weeks (Thursday, Nov. 14) for a chance to stay alive if Virginia stumbles next week). The Tar Heels will be off next weekend.

In battle for ACC Coastal control, UNC and Virginia deadlocked at halftime

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In a battle to seize control of the ACC Coastal, Virginia and North Carolina are knotted in a 17-17 tie in Chapel Hill. Virginia drew even with North Carolina with a Bryce Perkins touchdown pass to Hasise Dubois just 13 seconds before halftime.

The Tar Heels and the Cavaliers were tied at 10-10 until Sam Howell completed a 34-yard touchdown pass to Dyami Brown for a 17-10 lead. Earlier in the second quarter, Howell and Brown connected on a 47-yard score to tie the game at 10-10. The go-ahead touchdown came after the Tar Heel defense forced a three-and-out after the game had been tied.

Virginia has not been able to run the football, with quarterback Bryce Perkins running for 14 yards on 11 carries to lead the team. Perkins picked up the only Virginia touchdown of the half on a short touchdown run from the one-yard line in the first quarter.

The ACC Coastal championship picture may not exactly be cleaned up for good regardless of who wins this game, but the winner will be in the position to have the ultimate hand in determining what happens in the division race that is once again up for grabs.

Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award watch list includes 2018 finalist Shea Patterson, Jalen Hurts, Justin Herbert

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And now for a quarterback award watch list that won’t include a certain starting quarterback form Clemson or Alabama. The Johnny Unitas Foundation has released the watch list for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, presented annually to college football’s top senior or fourth-year quarterback. This year’s watch list includes some recognizable names such as Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts and Oregon’s Justin Herbert.

Former Washington State quarterback Gardner Minshew was named the winner of the award in 2018. Just one finalist for the 2018 award is on the watch list this season. Michigan’s Shea Patterson is that player (UCF’s McKenzie Milton was a finalist last year but is not expected to play this season despite still being at UCF as he recovers from his season-ending injury from late in 2018).

Other past winners include Deshaun Watson (2016), Marcus Mariota (2014), Andrew Luck (2011), Matt Ryan (2007), Eli Manning (2003), Carson Palmer (2002) and Peyton Manning (1997).

2019 Golden Arm Award Watch List Presented by A. O. Smith

  • Jack Abraham, Southern Mississippi
  • Blake Barnett, University of South Florida
  • Woody Barrett, Kent State
  • Jake Bentley, University of South Carolina
  • Anthony Brown, Boston College
  • Kelly Bryant, Missouri
  • Joe Burrow, LSU
  • Stephen Buckshot Calvert, Liberty
  • Marcus Childers, Northern Illinois
  • K.J. Costello, Stanford Unversity
  • Jacob Eason, Washington University
  • Caleb Evans, University of Louisiana Monroe
  • Mason Fine, North Texas
  • Feleipe Franks, University of Florida
  • Mitchell Guadagni, Toledo
  • Jarrett Guarantano, University of Tennessee
  • Gage Gubrud, Washington State University
  • Quentin Harris, Duke University
  • Justin Herbert, University of Oregon
  • Kelvin Hopkins, Jr., Army
  • Tyler Huntley, University of Utah
  • Jalen Hurts, University of Oklahoma
  • Josh Jackson, University of Maryland
  • D’Eriq King, Houston
  • Brian Lewerke, Michigan State University
  • Jordan Love, Utah State University
  • Jake Luton, Oregon State University
  • Cole McDonald, University of Hawaii
  • Justin McMillan, Tulane
  • Steven Montez, University of Colorado
  • James Morgan, FIU
  • Riley Neal, Vanderbilt University
  • Kato Nelson, Akron
  • Shea Patterson, University of Michigan
  • Bryce Perkins, University of Virginia
  • Malcolm Perry, Navy
  • Peyton Ramsey, Indiana University
  • Armani Rogers, UNLV
  • Nathan Rourke, Ohio
  • Anthony Russo, Temple University
  • J’Mar Smith, Louisiana Tech
  • Nate Stanley, University of Iowa
  • Dillon Sterling-Cole, Arizona State University
  • Khalil Tate, University of Arizona
  • Zac Thomas, Appalachian State University
  • Skylar Thompson, Kansas State
  • Brady White, University of Memphis
  • Ryan Willis, Virginia Tech
  • Brandon Wimbush, University of Central Florida