A very interesting Week 1 in the ACC. There were games on the field, as well as news off the field. There will be zero conference games that take place this Saturday. All four of the league’s ranked teams are in action with games at home. For the rest of the league, it will be football of the non-conference variety. Let’s take a look back at what was a busy week in the league.
Off the field, the ACC Board of Directors decided to grow the conference by three teams. On September 1, the board voted to add Stanford University, Southern Methodist University, and the University of California at Berkeley. The three schools will become full members next summer. SMU will join on July 1, 2024, while Stanford and Cal will join on August 2, 2024. The vote followed letters of applications that were submitted by all three schools. The league believes that by adding these schools, it will bring strength to the league on the field, in the classroom, and in the wallet. The three schools will add over two thousand student-athletes to the league making a conference that is already strong, even stronger.
Once again the league demonstrates they know how to put people in front of the TV to watch them play. The Sunday night game between Florida State and LSU was seen by an estimated 9.1 million viewers. It was the most watched Labor Day Sunday matchup since 2016. It was the second-most watched game on record peaking at 10.3 million viewers.
The 45-24 win by the Seminoles recorded a first for the school. As a lower-ranked team, it was the first 20+win over an Associated Press Top-5 team since 1988 in a season-opener. The 45 points also tied for the most points in a season opener vs an AP Top-5 team since the poll era began in 1936. It was a big night for QB Jordan Travis who threw for 342 yards and four touchdowns. He would add a fifth score on the ground to tie a career-high with five total touchdowns. It was also the 25th of his career. Travis was selected to both the Davey O’Brien Award and the Manning Award Star of the Week list for Week 1. Travis was named ACC Quarterback of the Week while Keon Coleman was named Receiver of the Week, and left tackle Bless Harris was named Offensive Linemen of the Week.
The surprise of the first week took place on Labor Day night itself as Duke took care of #9 Clemson 28-7. For the Blue Devils, it was their first win over a ranked opponent in a season opener. They are now 1-13 in such games. The multi-touchdowns effort was their first over a top-10 team since 1952. It was the Blue Devils largest victory margin over a ranked team since 1942. Redshirt freshman Wesley Williams had quite a night on special teams blocking two field goal attempts to become the first Duke player to do this since November of 2018.
Clemson did have their chances in this game. They outgained the Blue Devils by a 422 to 374 count. They also recorded more first downs, 29-17. Running back Will Shipley did all he could to give his team a shot at winning this game running for 114 yards on 17 carries, and catching a career-high six passes for 29 yards and a score. The Tigers are now 142-9 when they gain more yards than their opponent.
Wake Forest began the post Sam Hartman era with a solid win over Elon last Thursday night 37-27. Quarterback Mitch Giffins, making only his second career start, went 19-for-30 329 yards, and three touchdowns. Meanwhile, WR Taylor Morin moved into 15th place all-time with his two catches on Thursday night. For his career, Morin has 124 career receptions. He needs 20 more to move into the top 20.
In Georgia Tech’s season-opening loss to Louisville 39-34, the Yellow Jackets youth was on display. All five of GT touchdowns were scored by players making their debut for the school. Four of those scores were delivered by players that were plucked out of the transfer portal including RB Trey Cooley who last year was a member of the Cardinals. Cooley found the end zone twice last week for his new team.
A season ago, the Virginia Tech Hokies opened their year with a 20-17 loss to Old Dominion. One year later, the Hokies took care of business with a 36-17 win. Quarterback Grant Wells was 17-of-29 for 251 yards and three touchdown passes. He also ran for a score. The Hokies host Big-10 Purdue this Saturday.
The Miami Hurricanes got a solid effort on both sides of the ball in their 38-3 win over Miami of Ohio. On offense, the Hurricanes gained 493 yards, 250 on the ground, and 243 in the air. That kind of balance will get you plenty of wins. The defense was just as good limiting the RedHawks offense to just a 48-yard field goal.
Speaking of defense, the North Carolina Tar Heels were in peak form. In their 31-17 win over South Carolina, the defense registered nine sacks for 65 yards in losses. It was the most sacks in a game since they recorded 10 vs Wake Forest back in 2000. Six different players had a sack to go along with 16 tackles for losses. The unit held South Carolina to minus two yards rushing on 31 attempts. A season ago, the Tar Heels had 17 total sacks in 14 games. Kaimon Rucker was named ACC Defensive Player of the Week. The win was also coach Mack Brown’s 100th career win with UNC. He is the only coach in college football history to win 100 games at two different schools. He won 158 in 16 years at Texas.
It was a very good first week for the league. Playing 12 games in five days, the ACC went 8-2 in non-conference action. This week, the league will be involved in 14 non-league games with five of them vs Power-5 teams.
That’s all for this week. Come back next week for more from the ACC.
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