Athlon recaps the Week 3 action in the ACC.
If there were any doubts Florida State was ready to make a run into national title contention, those should be erased after Saturday’s win over Wake Forest. The Seminoles beat Wake Forest 52-0, which included impressive performances on both sides of the ball. Virginia Tech was a surprise loser in Week 3, dropping a 35-17 game to Pittsburgh. Georgia Tech handled Virginia, while North Carolina’s late rally fell short against Louisville in an ACC-Big East showdown.
Offensive Player of the Year
1. Andre Ellington, RB, Clemson – Ellington has been used sparingly the last two weeks due to the competition. The senior has 328 yards and four touchdowns through the first three games.
2. Bryn Renner, QB, North Carolina – Renner has been sharp in the first year under new coach Larry Fedora. Through three weeks, he has thrown for 870 yards and nine touchdowns and completed 62.5 percent of his throws.
3. Chris Thompson, RB, Florida State – Thompson was quiet through the first two weeks of the season but exploded for 197 yards and two scores against Wake Forest.
Defensive Player of the Year
1. Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State – Werner and fellow end Tank Carradine dominated the line of scrimmage against Wake Forest. Werner recorded four tackles and two sacks in the win over the Demon Deacons.
2. Joe Vellano, DT, Maryland – Vellano was relatively quiet in the loss to Connecticut, recording four tackles and no sacks.
3. David Amerson, CB, NC State – Amerson has rebounded after a rough start and recorded three tackles and one interception in NC State’s win over South Alabama.
Coach of the Year
1. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State – The Seminoles passed their first big test of the season, dominating Wake Forest for a 52-0 win.
2. Dabo Swinney, Clemson – The Tigers notched an easy win over Furman, but Swinney has a chance to jump to the top of this list with a win over Florida State in Week 4.
3. Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech – With losses by Wake Forest (Jim Grobe), Virginia Tech (Frank Beamer) and North Carolina (Larry Fedora), there are few options for the third spot. The Yellow Jackets lost a key Week 1 game to Virginia Tech but crushed Virginia in Week 3.
ACC Post-Week 3 Power Rankings
1. Florida State (3-0, 1-0 ACC)
Last Week’s Rank: 1
Week 3 result: Beat Wake Forest 52-0
Consider the Seminoles’ first test of 2012 a huge success. After playing Savannah State and Murray State in the first two weeks of the season, Florida State was still somewhat of a mystery. However, the Seminoles erased any doubts surrounding this team, destroying Wake Forest 52-0 to earn their first ACC win. Running back Chris Thompson ran wild against the Demon Deacons, rushing for a career high 197 yards on nine carries. Florida State’s defense also suffocated Wake Forest, allowing just 126 yards and seven first downs.
Next Game: Clemson
2. Clemson (3-0, 0-0 ACC)
Last Week’s Rank: 2
Week 3 result: Beat Furman 41-7
The Tigers cruised to a 41-7 victory over Furman in the final tune-up before ACC play. Quarterback Tajh Boyd continued his strong start to the season by throwing for 310 yards and two touchdowns. And the offense got a boost with the return of receiver Sammy Watkins, who caught four passes for 52 yards and took one rush for a 50-yard score against the Paladins. One area of concern for Dabo Swinney and his staff has to be the defense, especially after allowing 352 yards and generating no sacks.
Next Game: at Florida State
3. Georgia Tech (2-1, 1-1 ACC)
Last Week’s Rank: 4
Week 3 result: Beat Virginia 56-20
Even though it was only the second ACC game of the season, beating Virginia was crucial for any shot the Yellow Jackets had of winning the division crown. Quarterback Tevin Washington had a standout performance against the Cavaliers, throwing for 125 yards and one touchdown, while adding 93 yards and three scores on the ground. Georgia Tech’s defense held Virginia’s rushing attack to only 98 yards, while forcing two interceptions. The Yellow Jackets are still a game behind Virginia Tech in the Coastal standings, so every conference game the rest of the year (at least for now) is essentially a must-win situation.
Next Game: Miami
4. Virginia Tech (2-1, 1-0 ACC)
Last Week’s Rank: 3
Week 3 result: Lost to Pittsburgh 35-17
One of the most surprising results from Week 3 was Virginia Tech’s 35-17 loss at Pittsburgh. The Panthers lost to Youngstown State and Cincinnati in the first two weeks of the season and were considered a heavy underdog. The problems for the Hokies started on offense, as the rushing attack never found its rhythm, and quarterback Logan Thomas tossed three picks. The defense gave up 254 rushing yards and recorded just one sack against a suspect Pittsburgh offensive line. While this loss knocks Virginia Tech out of the national title discussion, the Hokies are still in control of the Coastal Division.
Next Game: Bowling Green
5. NC State (2-1, 0-0 ACC)
Last Week’s Rank: 6
Week 3 result: Beat South Alabama 31-7
After playing Tennessee and Connecticut in the first two weeks of the season, South Alabama was the perfect Week 3 get well opponent for the Wolfpack. Quarterback Mike Glennon had his best performance on the season, throwing for 257 yards and three scores. The defense held the Jaguars without a score until the fourth quarter and recorded seven sacks. NC State should have another easy win in Week 4 against FCS opponent Citadel.
Next Game: Citadel
6. Virginia (2-1, 0-1 ACC)
Last Week’s Rank: 5
Week 3 result: Lost to Georgia Tech 56-20
There’s really no way to sugarcoat it: Georgia Tech simply dominated the Cavaliers on Saturday. Virginia’s offense never generated much of a rushing attack, and the defense couldn’t stop the Yellow Jackets’ triple-option offense. Georgia Tech rushed for 461 yards and seven scores, while quarterback Tevin Washington threw for 133 yards and one touchdown. After a sluggish performance by Virginia quarterback Michael Rocco, Alabama transfer Phillip Sims may get extended snaps in the Week 4 matchup against TCU.
Next Game: at TCU
7. Wake Forest (2-1, 1-1 ACC)
Last Week’s Rank: 7
Week 3 result: Lost to Florida State 52-0
Even after losing to Florida State 52-0, it’s hard to penalize the Demon Deacons in the power rankings. Few candidates in the ACC are deserving of a promotion, and Wake Forest simply ran into a buzzsaw in Tallahassee. The Demon Deacons gained only 126 yards, while the defense was gashed for 385 yards and four touchdowns by Florida State’s rushing attack. Wake Forest should bounce back this Saturday against Army and has a favorable matchup in Week 5 against Duke.
Next Game: Army
8. North Carolina (1-2, 0-1 ACC)
Last Week’s Rank: 8
Week 3 result: Lost to Louisville 39-34
It was a tale of two halves for North Carolina against Louisville on Saturday. The Tar Heels were awful in the first half, trailing 36-7 before the start of the third quarter. However, quarterback Bryn Renner rallied North Carolina in the second half, giving the Tar Heels a chance to win in the final minutes. Renner finished with 363 yards and five touchdowns, but the ground attack stalled without Giovani Bernard. North Carolina’s secondary continued to struggle, allowing 279 yards and three touchdowns to Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater.
Next Game: East Carolina
9. Miami (2-1, 1-0 ACC)
Last Week’s Rank: 9
Week 3 result: Beat Bethune-Cookman 38-10
A week after suffering a 52-13 beatdown against Kansas State, the Hurricanes rebounded with a 38-10 win over FCS opponent Bethune-Cookman. It was far from a perfect effort from Miami, but freshman running back Duke Johnson scored four touchdowns, and the defense allowed only three points in the second half. Miami’s defense has been a concern all year and while it allowed only a field goal in the last two quarters, Bethune-Cookman managed 233 rushing yards. Considering the Hurricanes’ next opponent (Georgia Tech), specializes in the ground game, Miami’s defensive staff could have a lot of sleepless nights this week.
Next Game: at Georgia Tech
10. Duke (2-1, 0-0 ACC)
Last Week’s Rank: 10
Week 3 result: Beat N.C. Central 54-17
The Blue Devils jumped out to 17-7 lead in the first quarter and never looked back in Saturday’s win over N.C. Central. Led by quarterback Sean Renfree’s 274 passing yards, Duke scored at least 10 points in every quarter and improved to 2-1 for the first time under coach David Cutcliffe. The rushing attack remains a concern for Cutcliffe, as the Blue Devils managed only 128 yards and one touchdown in Saturday’s win. Duke has another must-win game next week against Memphis.
Next Game: Memphis
11. Boston College (1-2, 0-1 ACC)
Last Week’s Rank: 11
Week 3 result: Lost to Northwestern 22-13
The Eagles were close, but not good enough to beat Northwestern. Quarterback Chase Rettig had another steady performance, throwing for 291 yards and one touchdown on 24 completions. However, the rushing attack managed only 25 yards, and the defense had no answer for Northwestern’s offense. The Eagles have a bye this Saturday, which comes at a good time with the team searching for answers on both sides of the ball. Boston College returns to play on Sept. 29 against Clemson.
Next Game: Clemson (Sept. 29)
12. Maryland (2-1, 0-0 ACC)
Last Week’s Rank: 12
Week 3 result: Lost to Connecticut 24-21
Just like the Terrapins’ first two games, Saturday’s matchup against Connecticut wasn’t the easiest to watch. Maryland’s offense managed a season-low 205 yards against the Huskies and committed two turnovers. The Terrapins had a shot to win in the final minutes, but Connecticut’s defense held late in the fourth quarter. Through three weeks, Maryland’s offense ranks 119th nationally in total yards per game (258.3) and 105th in turnover margin. The Terrapins have made some progress in Randy Edsall’s second season but beating West Virginia in Week 4 will be a tall task.
Next Game: at West Virginia
by Steven Lassan
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