It took until the end of September, but every ACC football has played a football game this fall.
Both Virginia and Virginia Tech responded well after their game on Sept. 19 was postponed. Despite missing 23 players and two coaches due to COVID-19 positive tests and contact tracing, Virginia Tech beat N.C. State 45-24 in a dominating performance.
UVa stumbled out of the gate against Duke, fumbling the opening kickoff. Even with three turnovers, Virginia forced seven of its own in a 38-20 triumph over the Blue Devils.
Elsewhere, Miami cemented itself as a team to watch this fall, while Duke, Georgia Tech and Florida State had Saturdays to forget.
1. Clemson (2-0, 1-0 ACC, No. 1 last week)
The Tigers enjoyed a week off, giving them extra time to prepare for UVa. The last time Virginia and Clemson met, Dabo Swinney and the Tigers won 62-17 in the 2019 ACC Championship Game. The Tigers would love a repeat performance. Next: vs. Virginia, Saturday, 8 p.m.
2. Notre Dame (2-0, 1-0 ACC, No. 2 last week)
The Fighting Irish were idle last week after positive COVID-19 tests within its program lead to a postponed game against Wake Forest. We won’t see Notre Dame again until its Oct. 10 clash with a slumping Florida State. Next: Bye
3. Miami (3-0, 2-0 ACC, No. 4 last week)
Miami’s body of work keeps improving. While Florida State doesn’t seem like a quality team, the Hurricanes looked special in their 52-10 win over the Seminoles on Saturday. There’s still a gap between Clemson and Miami, but quarterback D’Eriq King and company are firmly in the mix to earn the No. 2 spot in the league. King accounted for 332 total yards and a pair of touchdowns Saturday. Next: Bye
4. Pittsburgh (3-0, 2-0 ACC, No. 6 last week)
Pitt pulled out a gritty 23-20 win over Louisville on Saturday, moving them to 3-0 on the season. While scoring points certainly isn’t the team’s strong point, the defense slowed a high-powered Louisville offense. The Panthers held Malik Cunningham to just 110 total yards, and they forced the quarterback into three interceptions. Next: vs. N.C. State, Saturday, noon
5. North Carolina (1-0, 1-0 ACC, No. 3 last week)
We’ve only seen UNC once this season. The 31-6 win over Syracuse wasn’t overly impressive, but Sam Howell and company are expected to perform well this season. The Tar Heels are sliding down the power poll because of barely seeing the field, not due to a lack of talent. Next: at Boston College, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
6. Virginia Tech (1-0, 1-0 ACC, No. 9 last week)
Saturday was quite the statement from the Hokies. Shorthanded, Virginia Tech blew out N.C. State, 45-24. The Hokies rushed for 314 yards and three touchdowns in the victory, and third-string quarterback Quincy Patterson II stepped up when called upon. With Hendon Hooker out and Braxton Burmeister leaving the game early with a hand cramp, Patterson II completed four passes for 75 yards and two touchdowns. He added 10 carries for 47 yards and another touchdown. Burmeister eventually returned. A healthy Virginia Tech could be scary. Next: at Duke, Saturday, 4 p.m.
7. Virginia (1-0, 1-0 ACC, No. 5 last week)
Welcome to college football, Lavel Davis Jr. The 6-foot-7 freshman wide receiver hauled in four receptions for 101 yards and two touchdowns in his collegiate debut, and Virginia’s defense forced seven turnovers as the Cavaliers beat Duke, 38-20. Some first-game sloppiness against a subpar Duke team moves UVa down in the poll, but the Cavaliers should improve as the season progresses. Next: at Clemson, Saturday, 8 p.m.
8. Boston College (2-0, 1-0 ACC, No. 8 last week)
The Eagles avoided a scare Saturday, narrowly beating Texas State, 24-21. Boston College erased a 14-point deficit to pick up the victory, but there’s plenty of room for improvement moving forward. The Eagles were outgained by a 1-3 Texas State team. Next: vs. North Carolina, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
9. Louisville (1-2, 0-2 ACC, No. 7 last week)
Losses to Miami and Pitt aren’t embarrassing by any means, but Louisville entered the season as a trendy pick to finish second to Clemson in the ACC. Instead, the Cardinals lost a shootout with Miami and a defensive battle with Pitt. Quarterback Malik Cunningham, who had been going by Micale previously, suffered a big hit at the end of the game to add injury to insult. Fortunately, the Cardinals don’t play this weekend. Next: Bye
10. Syracuse (1-2, 1-2 ACC, No. 15 last week)
After two subpar showings, the Orange bulldozed Georgia Tech, 37-20. Syracuse ran the ball 41 times for 163 yards and two touchdowns in the victory, while also intercepting four Georgia Tech passes in the 17-point win. Next: Bye
11. N.C. State (1-1, 1-1 ACC, No. 10 last week)
The Wolfpack entered Saturday with a tremendous opportunity. N.C. State faced a Virginia Tech team missing 23 players and two coaches. Instead of capitalizing on the opportunity, the Wolfpack lost 45-24 in a game that wasn’t close after the first few minutes. Next: at Pitt, Saturday, noon
12. Georgia Tech (1-2, 1-1 ACC, No. 11 last week)
Losing to Syracuse by 17 points is embarrassing, and Georgia Tech remains an ACC bottom dweller despite an opening week win over Florida State. It turns out the Seminoles just aren’t very good. Next: Bye
13. Wake Forest (0-2, 0-2 ACC, No. 12 last week)
The Demon Deacons opened with a loss to Clemson before losing to N.C. State. Campbell comes to town Friday in a game that should provide Wake Forest with win No. 1. Next: vs. Campbell, Friday, 7 p.m.
14. Duke (0-3, 0-3 ACC, No. 14 last week)
On the bright side, Duke’s 20 points against Virginia surpassed its combined point total of 19 from its first two games of the season. On the other hand, Duke committed seven turnovers in the 38-20 loss to the Wahoos. The Blue Devils are an absolute mess offensively. Next: vs. Virginia Tech, Saturday, 4 p.m.
15. Florida State (0-2, 0-2 ACC, No. 13 last week)
This isn’t your father’s Florida State team, kids. The Seminoles lined up against Miami last weekend, hoping to keep the rivalry matchup close. Instead, Florida State lost 52-10 in an abysmal effort. The Seminoles trailed 38-3 at halftime after 30 minutes of subpar defense. Florida State fans didn’t need to watch past the second quarter. Next: vs. Jacksonville State, Saturday, 4 p.m.
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