Well, it was another interesting week in the ACC, and a coach got fired. Here’s what else we learned in Week 8…
1. Fire Al Golden Finally Happened
En route to their worst loss in school history, add the Miami Hurricanes to the list of NCAA programs in need of a football coach. The Clemson Tigers rushed for 6 touchdowns in 58-0 shutout victory of Miami on the road. Yes, they won by 58 in Florida! It was the worst loss in school in history for Miami. Golden was 32-25 (.561) as the Hurricanes head coach from 2011 to this season.
Clemson had 33 first downs, 8 converted 3rd downs, 567 yards of total offense, 416 of those yards are just rushing, and the Tigers also forced 3 turnovers. If you were looking for a reason to respect the Clemson Tigers, you may have finally found one.
This Tigers team is special because yes Deshaun Watson is good but everybody contributes, there is no one thing Clemson does well, they do a variety of things well and they set the tone early with their rushing attack. The score was 42-0 at halftime.
2. Florida State Faltered on its Latest Test
Remember those tests Florida State had on their schedule? They failed their latest one. In what looked like a stolen page from the Michigan State special teams playbook, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets upset the Seminoles 22-16 in walk off fashion.
The Seminoles were held scoreless in the second half after leading pretty much all game. Dalvin Cook rushed for 82 yards and a touchdown, Everett Golson was 20-30 with 210 passing yards but 1 interception. Does a loss like this hurt? It shouldn’t.
Part of football is luck, the Seminoles were on the wrong side of luck this go round but they’re still 4-1 in ACC play and still have Clemson on the schedule who’s confidence is through the roof. While the loss certainly hurts in the ranking column, it should make Florida State better going forward, particularly in the “FINISH THE GAME” department.
3. The Hokie Fans Are Twiddling their Thumbs in Suspense
When the opposing team’s quarterback can rush for over 100 yards and pass for over 200 yards, you’re going to lose. Duke quarterback Thomas Sirk threw for 4 passing touchdowns and ran for 109 yards on the ground in another ugly loss for Virginia Tech, this time in 4 overtimes, 45-43. Don’t get me wrong, the Hokies put up a good fight against the Blue Devils but the Duke/Virginia Tech game should be the blueprint for measuring program growth.
In 2011, Virginia Tech was 7-1 and Duke was 1-7 in the ACC. In 2015, the Hokies are 1-3 in the ACC while Duke is 3-0. Needless to say, things have changed drastically for both programs. The Hokies were once the ACC king, winning ACC titles in 2007, 2008, and 2010, but the luster is wearing off while the Blue Devils were once bottom dwellers of ACC Football.
What was once a vaunted and highly rated defense is now a defense that can’t stop anybody when it needs to. The Hokies defense gives up 361.4 yards per game (4th in the conference) and allow 26.1 points per game (11th in the conference). The offense played well against Duke if you ask me. Quarterback Michael Brewer threw for 270 yards and 3 touchdowns and Travon McMillian rushed for 142 yards and 2 touchdowns.
What are the Hokies to do? I guess, we wait and see.
4. Give the ball to Elijah Hood!
Running back Elijah Hood carried the load for UNC, all the way to victory. Hood had 101 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns en route to a 26-13 victory over UVA. It was UNC’s 6th straight victory, but, if they want to win the key games, they have to play better. Marquise Williams was accurate at 21-26 for 226 passing yards but he had no passing touchdowns to go with 1 interception.
At 3-0 in the Coastal division, UNC looks to be in a position to win, but behind Williams’ arm, can it happen? It remains to be seen. It was Hood’s 2nd straight 100 yard rushing game though and when they feed him early and often, they win games.
5. Pittsburgh Found a Workhorse
Pittsburgh may have found a quick replacement to account for the loss of James Conner behind the legs of freshman running back Qadree Ollison. Ollison rushed 23 times for 103 yards and 2 rushing touchdowns. Add this stat line to Ollison’s debut against Youngstown St. where he ran for 207 yards on 16 attempts and you see where I’m going with this.
Injuries have plagued the ACC heavily this season and it’s been refreshing to see some of the depth teams have when it comes to recruiting in such a competitive college football landscape. Pittsburgh certainly saw bad things happening when Conner went down but its good on them to have Ollison ready like he is.