Week 3: MVPs, Helmet Stickers, and Power Rankings

Week 3 was an abysmal set of results for the ACC teams. All relevant out of conference games were losses. In the same week that Notre Dame committed to the conference and gave the ACC a boost of confidence, the current teams  of the conference managed to throw away that positive energy on Saturday. The good news is that the two best teams in the conference right now, Florida State and Clemson, rolled through their opponents and are set to meet next Saturday in what will likely be the biggest in-conference matchup of the year.

> Biggest Surprise Week 3 had many surprises and most of them were negative. The biggest surprise to me was not only that Virginia Tech lost to Pitt, but how they lost. The 35-17 score doesn’t justify how one sided this game was.  If you watched, it felt more like a 52-7 kind of game. Pitt missed two chip-shot field goals and the only touchdown scored by the Hokies while the game was still in doubt was a Kysheon Jarrett punt return.

What went wrong for the Hokies? On the offensive side, Logan Thomas had the worst day of his young career. Thomas threw three interceptions and perhaps threw two accurate passes the entire day. He continuously misread read-option running plays where he was giving the ball to the running back when it’s clear the better decision was for him to keep it. The cameras were in Logan’s face each time he made a mistake and you could tell he was frustrated.

And remember that defense that some publications were regarding as Bud Foster’s best defense ever? They showed themselves to be a group of undersized players with poor tackling skills. Granted, they were on the field the entire day but anyone arguing that this is even one of Bud’s top five defenses is severely mistaken. Tony Sunseri and the Pitt Panther offense racked up 537 total yards and moved the ball at will through the air and on the ground. The Hokies had no answer for anything that Pitt did offensively.

The loss is embarrassing because Pitt was 0-2 coming into the game with a lost to FCS Youngstown State and got blown out by Cincinnati (whom VT plays later this month). The Hokies will drop in the rankings and pretty much lose respect (in regards to being ranked) from the entire country. However, this is merely an out of conference loss that the Hokies typically have on their record every single year and they are still in good position to win the Coastal Division.

> MVP: Chris Thompson, Florida State RB. Thompson went off on in-conference foe Wake Forest Saturday. In case you missed it, Florida State went from being on upset alert coming into the game to routing the Demon Deacons 52-0, and it could’ve been worse. Thompson tallied 197 rushing yards, 220 yards total offense and two touchdowns. The two touchdowns weren’t  your typical 2 yard red zone runs either. They came on two long runs, 74 yards and 80 yards. Thompson was a big part of why the Noles were up 38-0 at the half and also why most of the starters weren’t on the field in the fourth quarter.

> Helmet Stickers

1.) Florida State Defense. The entire unit deserves credit this week. I haven’t given them much credit so far because of who they have played. They held Wake Forest to 126 yards. Tanner Price completed just 8 passes for 82 passing yards on the day. They played well on all three levels. The D-line pressured the quarterback and got three sacks on Price. The linebackers filled gaps and stopped virtually every run and defended the pass just as well. The secondary blanketed the Wake receivers all day long. This is by far the best defense in the conference.

2.) Duke Johnson, Miami RB. Johnson went off on lowly Bethune-Cookman Saturday. He was everywhere. He had two rushing touchdowns, a receiving touchdown and a 95-yard kickoff return touchdown. This guy is for real. While Miami’s defense has struggled this year, Johnson has been a bright spot for the Canes. He is the type of feature back you build a program around. In case you forgot, he’s a freshman.

3.) Georgia Tech. That’s right, the entire team. Did you see their 56-20 win Saturday? Tech dominated every aspect of the game. I wrote in last week’s article that this was a revenge game because of how UVA knocked them off last year. Well, they sure played with a chip on their shoulder. The offense had its way with UVA, rattling off 594 yards and 56 points. The defense absolutely shut down Michael Rocco and the Cavalier offense. The Cavs only put up seven points in the first three quarters because nothing was working. They couldn’t establish the run consistently. They couldn’t get the passing game going either. Georgia Tech responded on Saturday with their backs against the wall and right now appear to be the best team in the Coastal Division, even though they lost to Virginia Tech in the season opener.

>ACC Power Rankings

1.) Florida State. Week 3: W 52-0 vs Wake Forest. Well you can’t say “they haven’t beat anyone” anymore. The Noles won in dominating fashion over a Wake Forest team that was supposed to have them on upset alert. Yes, on paper the Noles are far more talented than Wake Forest but the results in the past few years haven’t reflected that. Next week’s game will be their biggest test of the year in a home game against the Clemson Tigers.

2.) Clemson. Week 3: W 41-7 vs Furman. The Tigers are looking really good coming into week 4. The offense is clicking and will likely be even more explosive with the return of super sophomore Sammy Watkins. However, Watkins and the Tiger offense will be tested against a very stingy Florida State defense in week 3.

3.) Georgia Tech Week 3: W 56-20 vs Virginia. The Yellow Jackets rose to the challenge in week 3 beating in-division opponent UVA. The offense was spectacular from the beginning. Literally. They scored a 70 yard touchdown pass on the first play from scrimmage. Another encouraging aspect of the game was how well the defense performed. Georgia Tech is now above VT on the list because right now they are playing at a higher level. GT will host the Miami Hurricanes in week 4.

4.) Virginia Tech Week 3: L 17-35 vs Pitt. The Hokies looked awful in week 3. The problems begin with their inexperienced offensive line that seems to be overmatched in every game. From there they cannot establish a run game, which applies pressure on quarterback Logan Thomas and a group of receivers who are not used to being primary targets. The lack of offensive success then snowballs onto the defense because they spend way too much time on the field. Over the course of the game you will notice the defense deflating and missing tackles and it’s all because they are tired and unmotivated. This team is in serious trouble and needs to make sure it doesn’t come out flat in week 4. Bowling Green is certainly capable of beating the Hokies team that played this past Saturday.

5.) Miami Week 3: W 38-10 vs Bethune-Cookman. The Miami offense and Duke Johnson in particular are continuing to grow each week. You can’t say enough about how well Johnson is playing and how his contributions trickle down to every other part of the team. However, we can’t forget last week’s disappointing performance against Kansas State and the fact that this week’s win was against Bethune-Cookman. The defense will need to be ready to go as they travel to Atlanta to face a high powered offense in Georgia Tech in week 4.

6.) UNC Week 3: L 34-39 vs Louisville. Carolina is showing some growing pains for first year head coach Larry Fedora. This is why we need to be careful in giving teams credit for blowing out cupcakes on their schedule. Since the 62-0 win in week 1 vs Elon, the Tar Heels have lost back to back games to Wake Forest and Louisville. In state rival East Carolina in week 4 will be another test for a team that couldn’t do much right in the past two weeks.

7.) NC State Week 3: W 31-7 vs South Alabama. The Wolfpack took care of business in week 3 against a team they shouldn’t be playing. Will this game provide some much needed confidence for a team that has been disappointing since week 1? If not they will have another chance to build that confidence in week 4 as they host The Citadel.

 8.) UVA Week 3: L 20-56 vs Georgia Tech. There isn’t much positive you can take from this week’s loss at Georgia Tech. UVA seemed to have confidence coming into the game but were immediately dominated. The defense was beat on the ground and through the air. The offense couldn’t move the ball. The Cavs now find themselves in the bottom half of the division and will need help to find a way into the conference championship. Unfortunately they will have very little time to lick their wounds as perhaps the highest rank team they will play all season is coming to town in week 4, the TCU Horned Frogs.

9) Wake Forest Week 3. L 0-52 vs Florida State. You can’t really take anything good away from a loss like this. It was atrocious and I’m being nice. The coaches will study the film and figure out what adjustments they need to make, but the players just need to forget about it and move on. That’s easier said than done. Wake Hosts Army in week 4, which is a game they should win, but after such a beatdown you wonder if this team will have a hangover.

 10) Duke Week 3. W 54-17 vs NC Central. Duke moves up a couple spots this week even though they beat a team that isn’t very good. They can also thank the good folks at Stanford for knocking off USC and making their week 2 loss not look so bad. The bottom line is Duke is standing where they were expected to be at this point, 2-1. The offense bounced back this week and hopefully built up some confidence for conference play. The Blue Devils will get another week to build up their confidence against the 0-3 Memphis Tigers.

 11.) Maryland Week 3. L 21-24 vs UConn. Maryland took a tough loss at home in week 3. Head Coach Randy Edsall spent most of the week dodging questions about playing his former team and any potential hard feelings that could be in place. Edsall has a lot of work to do in College Park to get this team on track. They somehow beat Temple in week 2 but then got dominated on both sides of the ball in week 3. The offensive line struggled to keep the Huskies from surging into the backfield and disrupting plays. The defensive line and linebackers also struggled defending the run and medium range passes. The road doesn’t get any easier for the Terps as they travel to face #8 West Virginia in week 4.

 12.) Boston College Week 3: L 13-22 vs Northwestern. This was an embarrassing loss for a proud fan base and the conference. The week 1 performance against Miami is now looking far less impressive as Miami has showed it has a very poor defense. BC is simply a vanilla team with nothing that threatens you. The offense needs to find a way to be more productive because the defense is doing everything it can to keep the team in each game. The Eagles will have a bye-week in week 4 before hosting Clemson in week 5.

Featured game, week 3:

For week 4, the obvious choice is Clemson @ Florida State. These are clearly the best two teams in the conference and this is likely the ACC Championship being played in September. College Gameday will be there and this will likely be the marquee matchup of the season for the conference. The return of Sammy Watkins just makes this matchup even better. The Noles defense against a prolific Clemson offense is a matchup many are going to analyze all week long. However, it’s my opinion that the matchup of the Florida State offense against the Clemson defense will determine the outcome of the game. I believe that Noles will try to use the run game to control the clock and even more importantly keep the high powered Tiger offense off the field. Florida State running back Chris Thompson is coming off a career day in week 3. He will be a big factor in this game as well as Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins. However, I believe that the Seminoles will win this game because of their defense.

My prediction: Florida State 34 Clemson 24

Video: Best of the weekend, Week 3

Don Deibler is a college football enthusiast and Virginia Tech alumnus who has had a passion for college sports since he was a young child. Outside of the ACC, he follows Notre Dame and South Carolina intently. He currently lives in Frederick Maryland where he works in the mortgage banking industry and is in training for Air Traffic Control. You can reach him at [email protected].

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