ACC Football Roundup: Week 3 Scores, Rankings, Reactions

    Week 3 ACC football scores, rankings and reactions for each game.

    September 21, 2015

    ACC Week 3 Roundup, Rankings, Breakdowns & Recaps

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    Scroll down for thoughts on each ACC team, recaps and picks.

    ACC Player of the Week

    In the rout of Illinois, North Carolina QB Marquise Williams completed 17-of-24 passes for 203 yards, three touchdowns and a pick, adding 105 yards on the ground.

    ACC Atlantic Rankings After Week 3

    1. Florida State (3-0)
    2. Clemson (3-0)
    3. NC State (3-0)
    4. Louisville (0-3)
    5. Boston College (2-1)
    6. Syracuse (3-0)
    7. Wake Forest (2-1)

    ACC Coastal Rankings After Week 3

    1. Georgia Tech (2-1)
    2. Virginia Tech (2-1)
    3. Miami (3-0)
    4. North Carolina (2-1)
    5. Pitt (2-1)
    6. Duke (2-1)
    7. Virginia (1-2)

    Playoff Hopes Murky

    There are 14 members in the Atlantic Coast Conference. But there may not be a single bona fide threat to earn a spot in this year’s College Football Playoff.

    The ACC began Week 3 with three teams in the AP Top 25, No. 9 Florida State, No. 11 Clemson and No. 14 Georgia Tech. It was impossible to ignore that none of the three played well in national TV spotlight matchups.

    On Thursday night, Clemson slipped winless Louisville, 20-17. The Tiger defense may be playoff-caliber, but the offensive line is a work in progress, which will occasionally slow down all of those talented playmakers.

    One night later, Florida State slogged through a 14-0 defeat of Boston College. The Eagles are no doubt scrappy, especially on the Heights, but one offensive touchdown, and no offensive points over the final 50 minutes? FSU has its own O-line headaches, and a dearth of style points will be more damaging than it was in 2014.

    And then there was Georgia Tech, the wild card out of the Coastal Division. The Yellow Jackets blew up box scores by scoring 134 points over the first two games. But they fizzled in South Bend, falling behind 30-7 before scoring twice in the final minute.

    A one-loss ACC team won’t earn a playoff berth. In other words, the Nov. 7 winner of Florida State at Clemson can’t lose a game in 2015 for the ACC to have a playoff prayer. And even then, pending what happens in the other four Power Five conferences, the ACC is vulnerable to being shut out.

    The ACC did some nice things in Week 3, like Carolina routing Illinois and Miami holding off Nebraska. But the league with the national identity issues in football needs its torchbearers to deliver when the country is watching. And that did not happen on Thursday … or Friday … or Saturday.

    Boston College: DE Harold Landry

    The Eagles have an emerging star up front, a much-needed pass rusher to complement the Eagle run defense. In just his second year out of Fayetteville, N.C., Landry already has eight stops for minus yards and three sacks, including a monster Friday night in the loss to Florida State. The entire BC front seven is going to be hell on opposing O-lines every step of the way this fall.

    Clemson: Brent Venables

    The Tiger coordinator is so far excelling at retooling his D. Clemson lost a handful of players to the NFL, yet the defense is poised to once again rank among the ACC’s stingiest. The team scored just 20 points, and QB Deshaun Watson was so-so, yet it survived Louisville Thursday on the strength of five sacks, two picks and a single offensive touchdown allowed. DE Shaq Lawson is approaching his potential, and LB Ben Boulware has ringleader qualities.

    Duke: D did its job

    The Blue Devils couldn’t have asked for much more from their defense on Saturday versus Northwestern. But you won’t win many games when scoring three points over the final 54 minutes. The Duke D, especially DBs Jeremy Cash, Deondre Singleton and DeVon Edwards, took care of business by picking off two passes and yielding just 70 yards through the air. The offense, though, had no pulse over the final three quarters.

    Florida State: P Cason Beatty

    Beatty is one of the unsung heroes in Tallahassee, and will continue to be throughout 2015. The Noles will have to survive with defense, special teams and Dalvin Cook this fall, because the O-line is taking much longer to gel than most expected. Beatty was instrumental in Friday’s 14-0 win over Boston College, averaging 52.3 a punt and pinning the Eagles inside their 20 four times.

    Georgia Tech: Run defense still a problem

    Annihilating Alcorn State and Tulane did little to prepare the Yellow Jackets for Notre Dame on Saturday. Run defense, a nagging problem on the Flats in recent years, crept up and stung Tech in South Bend. It was far from the only problem in a 30-22 loss that was worse than the score indicates, but yielding three scores and almost 200 yards on the ground to Irish RB C.J. Prosise set the tone for this game.

    Louisville: The Quarterbacks

    Three games. Three starting quarterbacks, Reggie Bonnafon, Lamar Jackson and Kyle Bolin. The winless Cardinals have zero continuity on offense right now, which is not only hurting the hurlers, but also RB Brandon Radcliff, who showed flashes in 2014. Bobby Petrino needs to begin developing his best option, because his rookie receivers, like WR Jaylen Smith and TE Micky Crum, are itching to grow alongside one guy right now.

    Miami: Closing strong

    For Miami to contend in the Coastal Division—and keep Al Golden from losing his hair—the team must become better closers. The Hurricanes were cruising along against Nebraska, contributing on both sides of the ball. And then the bottom fell out as the Huskers tied the game with 23 points over the final eight minutes of regulation. The Canes won in OT, but they’re not deep enough to routinely handle lapses at the end of games.

    NC State: Backfield depth

    Now that Shadrach Thornton’s suspension has ended at two games, the Wolfpack is whole again in the backfield. And that’s a really big deal for QB Jacoby Brissett, who’s still developing as a passer, and a defense that’s going to benefit from long, time-consuming drives. In the Old Dominion win, Thornton and Matthew Dayes combined for 200 yards and two scores in a glimpse of the offensive blueprint this season.

    North Carolina: The old Marquise Williams

    There was plenty of chatter this offseason that the Tar Heels would limit the running of Williams, the team’s quarterback. And it makes sense, since he’s been dinged on occasion. But against Illinois Larry Fedora gave more leeway to his dual-threat playmaker, who responded by rushing for 105 yards and a score while also going 17-of-24 for 203 yards, three touchdowns and a pick. A less predictable Williams is one more problem for opposing defenses.

    Pittsburgh: Pitt can’t win when it doesn’t run

    The Panthers put forth a solid effort at Iowa, losing on a 57-yard field goal, 27-24. Agonizing, though not totally unexpected considering the Panthers could not establish the run against the Hawkeyes. And when this team doesn’t dominate at the line of scrimmage, the results are usually not promising. In Iowa City, the James Conner-less Panthers averaged just two yards a carry, with one run of more than 10 yards.

    Syracuse: Perseverance

    The Orange has now used four different quarterbacks, yet is 3-0 for the first time in 24 years. Rookie Eric Dungey had to leave the game with Central Michigan, but backups Austin Wilson and Zack Mahoney kept the offense from leaving the tracks. Will the winning continue once the schedule toughens? We’ll see. But by keeping his team afloat, despite the revolving door at quarterback, Scott Shafer has really improved his job security.

    Virginia: Pass defense

    The Cavalier defensive backfield, presumably the team’s best unit, has been one of the ACC’s biggest disappointments through three weeks. A group that seemingly housed multiple all-league candidates has begun the season by allowing nine touchdown passes, without a single interception. The last three touchdowns came off the arm of William & Mary’s Steve Cluley in a game Virginia barely won, 35-29.

    Virginia Tech: When all else fails, lean on the D

    The Hokie offense is nothing special, and probably won’t be as long as backup Brenden Motley is behind center. But Va Tech will be just fine against mediocre competition, like Purdue, because the defense controls a game’s tempo. Against the Boilermakers, which were rendered impotent from start to finish, it appeared as if the Hokies were still facing FCS competition.

    Wake Forest: Next man in

    The Demon Deacons lost their most important offensive player, QB John Wolford, to injury, yet still won on the road. It’s an important moment for Dave Clawson and his young team, even if Army was the victim. True freshman Kendall Hinton made the most of the opportunity, rushing for 101 yards and two scores. He’s not the same passer as Wolford, but Wake now knows it can win with more than one player behind center.

    Week 3 ACC Football Scores & Picks: How’d We Do?

    ACC Football Picks Through Week 3: Straight Up: 34-2, ATS: 12-13

    Clemson 20, at Louisville 17

    Line: Clemson -6.5, o/u: 51, Prediction: Clemson 34, Louisville 27

    Florida State 14, at Boston College 0

    Line: Florida State -8.5, o/u: 49.5, Prediction: Florida State 31, Boston College 21

    at North Carolina 48, Illinois 14

    Line: North Carolina -9.5, o/u: 63.5, Prediction: North Carolina 37, Illinois 27

    Wake Forest 17, at Army West Point 14

    Line: Wake Forest -5.5, o/u: 47, Prediction: Wake Forest 31, Army West Point 20

    at Syracuse 30, Central Michigan 27 OT

    Line: Syracuse -6.5, o/u: 45, Prediction: Syracuse 27, Central Michigan 17

    Northwestern 19, at Duke 10

    Line: Duke -3.5, o/u: 49, Prediction: Duke 24, Northwestern 20

    at Virginia 35, William & Mary 20

    Line: No Line, o/u: no Line, Prediction: Virginia 35, William & Mary 20

    Virginia Tech 51, at Purdue 24

    Line: Virginia Tech -6, o/u: 48, Prediction: Virginia Tech 28, Purdue 17

    at Notre Dame 30, Georgia Tech 21

    Line: Georgia -2.5, o/u: 55, Prediction: Georgia Tech 34, Notre Dame 28

    at Miami 36, Nebraska 33 OT

    Line: Miami -3.5, o/u: 57.5, Prediction: Miami 30, Nebraska 26

    NC State 38, at Old Dominion 14

    Line: NC State -18.5, o/u: 62, Prediction: NC State 38, Old Dominion 20

    at Iowa 27, Pittsburgh 24

    Line: Iowa -5.5, o/u: 47, Prediction: Iowa 27, Pittsburgh 23

    MORE: Week 3 College Football Playoff Rankings, No. 1-128

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