The first week of college football gave us all that shot of life we were hoping for. With the Virginia Cavaliers squarely in the W column, we turn to see how the rest of the conference did in a week mostly featuring FCS and non-Power 5 schools.
1) The ACC avoided Week 1 embarrassment
The ACC went 9-3 in out-of-conference play during Week 1, but that includes a perfect 5-0 against FCS opponents and 4-0 against schools outside the Power 5 conferences. Wake Forest required overtime to slide past Tulane on the road, but none of the other eight teams who won were seriously threatened, and Duke even exacted revenge on Army after falling to them last November.
Last season, Pittsburgh beat FCS foe Youngstown State in overtime, and in 2016, well…a different ACC team lost to FCS Richmond. Seeing the Hoos and their conference brethren handily take care of business in games with little to gain and much to lose was a heartening start to the year.
2) There wasn’t much encouragement in the conference’s three out-of-conference matchups against Power Five squads…but playing Bama is hard.
NOBODY should want Bama. Last year, then-#3 Florida State was smothered by Alabama to start the season in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game. This time, it was Louisville’s turn for a beatdown, as they fell 51-14. Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa completed 12 of 16 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns, and the Bama running game churned out 222 more yards, while the Cardinals finished with just 16 yards on the ground. In fairness, Louisville was picked to finish fifth in the Atlantic by the ACC media…and was playing Alabama.
More eye-opening was ACC Coastal favorite #8 Miami getting beat up by a different SEC opponent, as #25 LSU jumped out to a 27-3 halftime lead at home, eventually winning 33-17. Miami actually outgained LSU 342 yards to 296 but QB Malik Rosier threw 2 interceptions (one returned for a touchdown, capping a stretch during which LSU scored 17 points in 5 minutes) and Miami struggled mightily to contain Tiger RB Nick Brossette, who finished with 125 yards and 2 TDs.
UNC, expected to finish toward the bottom of the ACC, fell behind 17-0 against Cal, expected to finish toward the bottom of the Pac Ten, and a late comeback attempt fell short in a 24-17 loss.
3) Virginia Tech made the statement of the week against Florida State. (Or maybe it was FSU that made the statement, in a negative way.)
The Hokies didn’t just go into Tallahassee and pick up a big win over a (previously) ranked team, but they did so handily. The Hokie defense devastated the Noles, who rushed for 94 yards despite breaking an 85 yard run, turned the ball over five times, and had a punt blocked. FSU entered the red zone four times, but only had three points to show for it. It’s only week 1, so there’s plenty of time for things to change, and this week will be a distant memory come Thanksgiving. But, for now, it’s hard to imagine Tech not solidified as an early ACC Coastal favorite, especially after Miami’s loss, while Florida State looked nowhere near close to contending with Clemson in the Atlantic.