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What We Learned: The ACC in Week 4


Is it time to start taking Maryland a little more seriously after a big win over West Virginia? Photo: USA Today Sports

The ACC had a good showing in week four against non-conference opponents, going 7-0. A handful of those wins came against overmatched FCS opponents, but Maryland's 37-0 victory over West Virginia was nothing to take lightly despite the struggles taking place in Morgantown, West Virginia right now. Clemson and Georgia Tech scored some important conference victories as well before the rest of the ACC slate starting to get rather boring. Here's a look at the ACC in week four.

No. 3 Clemson 26, North Carolina State 14 – Clemson was able to overcome a sluggish start and that showed some good grit and focus from the likes of quarterback Tajh Boyd. Getting roughed up and pressured for most of the night, Boyd kept calm and waited for his opportunities to make some plays. There was a controversial call that went against North Carolina State, but ultimately it is unknown how much of a factor that would have had on the outcome. Clemson still had to make some plays, and they did, and North Carolina State still had their opportunities. Clemson moves forward with a big picture in focus but the Tigers must avoid any letdowns. Florida State is coming up in a few weeks but a road game at Maryland all of a sudden looks like no walk in College Park and Georgia Tech plays a unique style that could cause some problems.

Georgia Tech 28, North Carolina 20 – Georgia Tech was down early against North Carolina and it looked as though the Tar Heels were going to return to Chapel Hill with a rather convincing win. But the Yellow Jackets patented running game took its toll on the Tar Heels and the defense shut down UNC in the second half. Georgia Tech scored a huge win in the ACC Coastal to take an early lead in the standings with a 2-0 ACC record already. Virginia Tech comes to Bobby Dodd Stadium next week and then comes a road game at Miami. Georgia Tech is already in good position to take firm control of the ACC Coastal by the end of the first week in October. For North Carolina, that is two losses on the road already. I still feel North Carolina has what it takes to pose a threat in the ACC, but they took a big step back in the ACC picture this weekend.

Virginia Tech 29, Marshall 21 (3 OT) – The criticisms of Logan Thomas have become louder each week, and for good reason. Yet when Virginia Tech needed to get the all moving to tie Marshall and force overtime, Thomas delivered in the inclement weather. The Hokies somehow pulled out a win despite awful special teams play in triple overtime, with Thomas's two-run touchdown run and two-point conversion attempt accounting for the only scoring in three overtime sessions. Virginia Tech is 3-1, with the lone loss coming to Alabama, but find me a less impressive 3-1 team in the country and I will give you a cookie.

Wake Forest 25, Army 11 – Army and Wake Forest did not grab much attention this weekend, and perhaps for good reason. Army gave Stanford a good run last week in an early kickoff, but watching them against Wake Forest must have been confusing after seeing what they did against the Cardinal last week. Was this the same team? Wake Forest evened their record to 2-2 after Josh Harris scored two touchdowns in the second half to allow the Demon Deacons to escape a sloppy game.

Pittsburgh 58, Duke 55 – After losing the home opener against Florida State in week one, Pittsburgh has all of a sudden found an offense. The same team that managed 13 points against the defending ACC champs has since scored 107 points in two games. Nobody saw this coming, and I have some doubts Pittsburgh will be able to score at will in most games in ACC play, but let's give this team some props. Tom Savage threw six touchdown passes and accounted for 424 passing yards. James Connor rushed for 173 yards and Pitt did not turn the football over once. The defense, although gashed for 532 yards and allowed 55 points, picked up four turnovers off the Duke offense as well. To think, if Duke could hold on to the football, they could have put up 60, maybe 70 points in this one. Instead, it's a loss for Duke to drop to 0-2 in ACC play. Just like that, the postseason path for the Blue Devils is becoming a steep uphill battle.

Syracuse 52, Tulane 17 – Terrel Hunt got his first start at quarterback but it will not be his last. Hunt tossed four touchdowns and completed 16 of 21 pass attempts and added 39 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown to help Syracuse put away Tulane under the dome. Perhaps more importantly, all of Hunt's touchdowns came inside the red zone, helping the Orange convert on their scoring opportunities. Syracuse has a bye week before hosting Clemson.

Maryland 37, West Virginia 0 – There may not be a whole lot that can be learned from the ACC schedule this past week, but one thing we did learn is that Maryland is an improved team this season. A year ago at this time nobody would have thought Maryland would dominate West Virginia the way they did in Baltimore Saturday. I did some research and learned this was West Virginia's first shutout loss on the road since September 18, 1999. Who shut them out that day? Maryland. What really impressed me was Maryland put up 37 points and only got 18 yards of offense out of Stefon Diggs.

Randy Edsall has Maryland believing in themselves now, and with Florida State on deck after a bye week, who knows?

Virginia 49, VMI 0 – As with many games Saturday, Virginia took advantage of a much weaker opponent for a blowout win. The Cavaliers put up 580 yards of offense on VMI, with 357 of those yards coming on the ground. Kevin Parks and Daniel Hamm each went over 100 yards on the day and each recorded two touchdowns. It was a nice bounce-back win for Virginia after a bye week and a loss to Oregon, but this team still has work to do if they are to reach a bowl game.

No. 8 Florida State 54, Bethune-Cookman 6 – Florida state had no problems with Bethune-Cookman, which should be expected, but it was not the cleanest game that could have ben played by the Seminoles. Jameis Winston did not rack up big numbers, but then again he didn't have to. Jimbo Fisher will take the coach's perspective and focus on things that need to improve but there's really nothing that can truly be taken from this game.

No. 16 Miami 77, Savannah State 7 – Al Golden was surely embarrassed by the outcome of this game, but there was little he could do to stop it. The Hurricanes set a school-record for most points in a single game and this one was decided about 25 seconds in to the game when Miami first got on the scoreboard. Quarterback Stephen Morris had to leave the game with a sprained ankle in the first quarter but X-rays were negative.

 

Top Player: Pittsburgh quarterback Tom Savage passed for six touchdowns and 424 yards without throwing a single interception. Does this mean Pitt has a reliable quarterback? We'll see but on Saturday he coudl do no wrong for the Panthers in a wild shootout in Durham, North Carolina.

Kevin McGuire

About Kevin McGuire

Managing editor of Crystal Ball Run and contributor to College Football Talk on NBCSports.com. Member of the FWAA and National Football Foundation. College Football Hall of Fame voter. Also managing Bloguin's NittanyLionsDen.com and Macho-Row.com.

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