Considering the bad losses suffered by some of the other BCS leagues, Week 1 was a solid debut for the ACC in 2013.
Clemson scored a huge victory against Georgia, which should propel the Tigers into a top-five spot in most weekly polls. Clemson should be unbeaten when Florida State comes to Death Valley in October.
As expected, Miami and Georgia Tech had no trouble with their Week 1 competition. And Virginia Tech and North Carolina struggled to hang with their SEC opponents. The Hokies still need to work on their passing attack, while the Tar Heels clearly have some issues on defense.
At the bottom of the conference, Wake Forest, Boston College and Duke were solid this week. And Syracuse hung tough against Penn State in a neutral site matchup.
More Post-Week 1 Power Rankings: Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12| SEC
ACC Post-Week 1 Power Rankings
Clemson (1-0, 0-0): The Tigers claimed the ACC’s best victory of Week 1, edging Georgia 38-35. Quarterback Tajh Boyd made an early Heisman statement with 312 total yards and five scores. Clemson’s defense gave up 545 yards, but the Bulldogs’ offense is one of the best in the nation, and there were a few positives for coordinator Brent Venables to build on this week. The Tigers shouldn’t be tested over the next few weeks, with their next big game coming on Oct. 19 in Death Valley against Florida State. Next Week: South Carolina State
Florida State (1-0, 1-0): All of the offseason talk in Tallahassee centered on redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston. And after Monday night’s debut in the Steel City, it’s clear Winston is already one of the ACC’s best quarterbacks. Winston completed 25 of 27 throws for 356 yards and four scores, while adding 25 yards and one touchdown on the ground. A rebuilt defense gave up 10 points in the first half but held the Panthers to just one field goal in the final two quarters. Even though there’s a lot of new faces in the lineup, Florida State is going to be the thick of the national championship hunt.
Miami (1-0, 0-0): With a huge matchup against Florida next week, FAU was the perfect tune-up for the Hurricanes. After ranking as one of the worst in the ACC last year, Miami’s defense is under the spotlight in 2013. So far, the Hurricanes appear to be better on that side of the ball. FAU managed only two field goals and averaged just 3.3 yards per play. Of course, the Owls aren’t the best competition, but Miami should have some confidence going into Week 2. Next Week: Florida
Georgia Tech (1-0, 0-0): As expected, the Yellow Jackets rolled to an easy 70-0 victory over Elon. There’s not a ton for coach Paul Johnson to glean from this matchup, but the defensive effort is something to build on for the rest of the year. Georgia Tech allowed just 253 yards and scored two defensive touchdowns. Six different players scored rushing touchdowns against the Phoenix, and quarterback Vad Lee threw for 189 yards and two scores. The Yellow Jackets first real test of the season won’t occur until Sept. 14 against Duke. Next Week: Bye
Virginia Tech (0-1, 0-0): Yes, the Hokies were manhandled in Week 1, but let’s not penalize them too much for losing to the No. 1 team in the nation. There’s no question Virginia Tech’s defense is among the best in the ACC. However, the offense still left a lot to be desired on Saturday. Quarterback Logan Thomas completed only five passes, and if you take away Trey Edmunds’ 77-yard touchdown run, the Hokies managed only 135 yards of total offense. Week 1 was rough, but we will get a better idea about Virginia Tech’s offense in future weeks. Next Week: Western Carolina
North Carolina (0-1, 0-0): Just as we mentioned with Virginia Tech, it’s tough to penalize the Tar Heels for losing a game most didn’t give them a chance to win. South Carolina’s advantage in the trenches was simply too much for North Carolina, while the defense remains a work in progress. The Gamecocks recorded 406 total yards and gashed the Tar Heels for 228 yards on the ground. With Georgia Tech coming up on Sept. 21, addressing the defense is a top priority for coach Larry Fedora. Next Week: MTSU
Maryland (1-0, 0-0): The Terrapins were one of the ACC’s most-impressive teams in Week 1. Of course, we don’t want to overreact too much to a bad FIU team, but there were plenty of signs for optimism for coach Randy Edsall. Quarterback C.J. Brown recorded 386 total yards and five scores in his return from a torn ACL, and junior college recruit Deon Long was impressive (nine receptions). After nearly losing to William & Mary in last year’s opener, this is a much better start for Edsall’s team. Next Week: Old Dominion
NC State (1-0, 0-0): Dave Doeren’s debut in Raleigh was a success. The Wolfpack easily dispatched Louisiana Tech (40-14), and there was plenty to success on both sides of the ball. However, the mood was dampened with the injury to quarterback Brandon Mitchell. The senior was a good fit for NC State’s spread attack, but he will miss at least four weeks with a foot injury. With Mitchell out, Pete Thomas is expected to start. Not having Mitchell is a huge blow, but the Wolfpack play only one conference game the rest of September. Next Week: Richmond
Virginia (1-0, 0-0): Coach Mike London was feeling a little pressure after a disappointing 2012 season, but the Cavaliers responded with a huge win over BYU in Week 1. Inclement weather delayed this game for over two hours, and the sloppy conditions contributed to some of the struggles for both offenses. Virginia’s defense allowed the Cougars to record 362 yards but a late interception put the offense in position to record the game-winning score with less than three minutes to play. Although the Cavaliers did just enough to beat BYU, they need a better effort on both sides of the ball to knock off Oregon. Next Week: Oregon
Pittsburgh (0-1, 0-1): The Panthers ran into a buzzsaw named Jameis Winston on Monday night, losing 41-13 to Florida State. Pittsburgh has plenty to work on for both sides of the ball after the loss. Quarterback Tom Savage played well early, but the offense sputtered in the second half. Although the defense struggled to contain Winston and the Seminoles’ receiving corps, most teams will struggle to stop that combination in 2013. Losing the ACC opener isn’t what Pittsburgh fans wanted, but this team should improve as the season progresses.
Wake Forest (1-0, 0-0): As with most FBS-FCS matchups, it’s hard to glean much from Wake Forest’s win on Thursday night. But the Demon Deacons held Presbyterian to just two first downs and only 151 total yards – a good sign for a defense that returns eight starters. Also, the offensive line gave up only one sack, and with top receiver Michael Campanaro sidelined, Jonathan Williams stepped up with five receptions and 143 yards. There were plenty of positive signs in the opener for Wake Forest, but the rest of the ACC will find out more about coach Jim Grobe’s team after Week 2. Next Week: at Boston College (Friday)
Syracuse (0-1, 0-0): Scott Shafer was the only first-year ACC coach to lose in Week 1, but Saturday’s loss to Penn State certainly wasn’t an embarrassing effort. With a new staff and quarterback, getting to a bowl game isn’t going to be easy. Making his first career start, quarterback Drew Allen showed promise (189 yards), and the defense forced four turnovers. The Orange has plenty of work to do, but there are positives to build on going into Week 2. Next Week: at Northwestern
Duke (1-0, 0-0): The Blue Devils snapped a five-game losing streak with an easy 45-0 victory over North Carolina Central. Quarterback Anthony Boone was sharp in his second start, and the defense has plenty to build on after holding N.C. Central to just 184 yards and zero points. The Blue Devils will face tougher competition the rest of September, starting with a road date against Memphis and continuing with ACC games against Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh. Next Week: at Memphis
Boston College (1-0, 0-0): The Steve Addazio era in Chestnut Hill opened with a 24-14 win over pesky FCS opponent Villanova. The Eagles had to sweat a bit in the first half but took control in the second half. There were plenty of positives for Addazio to build on, especially with an efficient effort from quarterback Chase Rettig (285 yards) and running back Andre Williams (114 yards). And the defense was aggressive under new coordinator Don Brown (four sacks). There’s a lot to like after Addazio’s debut, but Friday’s matchup against Wake Forest will give us a better idea of how Boston College shapes up with the rest of the ACC. Next Week: Wake Forest (Friday)
ACC Week 1 Awards
Offensive Player of the Week: Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
Boyd was the catalyst for Clemson’s 38-35 victory over Georgia. The senior quarterback took advantage of a rebuilt Bulldogs’ secondary, throwing for 270 yards and three touchdowns on 18 completions. Boyd also added 42 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. With Boyd at the controls, Clemson’s offense is one of the nation’s best. And the senior quarterback should be near the top of the Heisman watchlist after his Week 1 performance.
Defensive Player of the Week: Anthony Harris, SS, Virginia
Harris was everywhere in Virginia’s 19-16 win over BYU on Saturday afternoon. The junior recorded 11 tackles and one sack, but those numbers didn’t represent his impact on the game. Harris blocked a punt early in the third quarter and recorded a key interception with the Cavaliers leading 16-12 with just three minutes to play. After Harris’ picked off BYU quarterback Taysom Hill, he tossed the ball to Henry Coley, who ran 27 yards to put Virginia in prime scoring position.
Team of the Week: Clemson
The Tigers scored the best victory of Week 1, defeating Georgia 38-35 behind a raucous home crowd in Death Valley. Quarterback Tajh Boyd threw for 270 yards and three touchdowns, running back Roderick McDowell chipped in 132 yards on the ground, and receiver Sammy Watkins grabbed six passes for 127 yards and one touchdown. The defense also stepped up in the second half, harassing quarterback Aaron Murray and limiting the Bulldogs to 14 points after scoring 21 in the first half. Clemson was picked by most to win the ACC, and outside of matchups against Georgia Tech and Florida State, there are few landmines for the Tigers on the schedule. It’s only Week 1, but Clemson’s win over Georgia could loom large in the national title discussion.
Coordinator of the Week: Mike Locksley, Maryland
Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris called a terrific game on Saturday night, but let’s spread the wealth a bit and give a tip of the cap to Locksley. The Terrapins recorded 576 yards and averaged 8.1 yards per play in the 43-10 win over FIU. Quarterback C.J. Brown shredded the Panthers’ defense for 281 yards and three touchdowns through the air and another 105 yards and two scores on the ground. Maryland would like to see its production from the running backs increase over the next few weeks, but Saturday’s game was a good sign for offense.
Freshman of the Week: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
The offseason hype certainly lived up to Winston’s debut. The redshirt freshman was nearly flawless in his debut, completing 25 of 27 passes (and one of the incompletions was debatable) for 356 yards and four touchdowns. Winston also added 25 yards and one score on the ground. The Alabama native was incredibly poised in his first start, and his emergence will make Florida State a factor in the national championship picture.
• NC State quarterback Brandon Mitchell suffered a foot injury in the first half against Louisiana Tech. He is expected to miss four to six weeks.
• Georgia Tech returned two interceptions for touchdowns against Elon. The Yellow Jackets 70-point win was the biggest margin of victory for an ACC school since Florida State beat Western Carolina 69-0 in 2008.
• Wake Forest played 10 freshmen against Presbyterian on Thursday night. Prior to the season opener, coach Jim Grobe had played just 22 true freshman in his 12 seasons in Winston-Salem.
• Oklahoma transfer Drew Allen started at quarterback for Syracuse in the opener against Penn State. Allen threw for 189 yards on 16 completions but also tossed two picks.
• Duke recorded its first shutout since 1989 with a 45-0 victory over North Carolina Central on Saturday night.