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The Confidential

The ACC Sports Blog

Archive for the tag “ACC Football”

NC State Give Clemson a Scare on Halloween

Fans of NC State know the recipe all too well: a lackluster NC State team hosts a nationally ranked team at home and somehow pulls off the upset. It’s happened plenty of times before, and it almost happened on Saturday, but the wheels fell off and Clemson escaped with the win.

Game Recap

This game started off at breakneck pace with four scores in the first four drives. What’s more, each team had an extra point blocked and the score was 13-13. The first drive without a score came when Brissett fumbled on a sack. Clemson was held to a field goal in a nice goal line stand by the Wolfpack. NC State was forced to punt on the next drive, but again were kept to a field goal. It looked like the game was getting away, but a risky play gave the Wolfpack a 20-19 lead. On a 3rd and 1, Brissett found Samuels on the pass for a 40yd touchdown.

Samuels

After finally getting a stop on defense, the team looked to improve on their lead. The Wolfpack marched all the way down the field, but missed a field goal. Flashes of the Troy game came back to fans as Clemson threw a hail mary and scored just seconds before the half, giving Clemson a 26-20 lead. While in the locker room, it was announced that Matt Dayes would not return for the second half.

Each team came out of the half and scored pretty quickly. Clemson scored again, and again, and again. The NC State defense fell apart in the second half, and could never slow down Clemson’s offense enough. The absence of Dayes really hurt as the Wolfpack’s running game fell flat. Clemson’s offense exploded for 30 points in the second half, while NC State was left with just 21.

Clemson

Takeaways

Wolfpack fans complaining about this loss need to take a step back. Clemson is one of about a dozen teams still undefeated and for good reason. They are a solid team and have a very legitimate shot at a national title. The fact that NC State hung 41 points on them is a big deal and shouldn’t go unnoticed, especially since Miami was shut out a week ago.

Dayes

The defense was unimpressive, which is interesting because they’ve been a strong point all season. Again, I’m willing to attribute some of this to Clemson being one of the best offenses in the nation. Still, some of these two play drives looked really bad. Hopefully the defense can turn it around next week when they go to one of the ACC’s worst offenses, Boston College

Clemson

GIF Reaction

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It was a good effort and perhaps with Matt Dayes playing the whole game, this would be a different story. Either way, you can’t be mad about this loss, but you can’t be very happy about it either.

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Wolfpack Get Up Early, Fight Off Deacons

After a few depressing weeks, NC State desperately needed a win. The only problem was that they were playing Wake Forest on the road. For some inexplicable reason, the Wolfpack had not won in Winston-Salem since 2001, back when now NFL veteran Phillip Rivers was under center.

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It had been a while since NC State had beaten Wake on the road, but thankfully, that changed on Saturday.

Game Recap

I don’t think this game could have started any better. On just the third play from scrimmage, Brissett found Maurice Trowell through the air for a 60 yard touchdown. Wake Forest then went 3 and out, and Matt Dayes ran 85 yards to score on the first play of the drive. Later in the first quarter, NC State scored on another 1 play drive when Brissett passed 58 yards to Nyheim Hines. Finally, Matt Dayes added on another score with a run in the closing seconds of the first to make it 28-0 Wolfpack.

Dayes

Apparently, NC State thought the game was over after the first quarter. Maybe offensive coordinator Matt Canada decided to catch up on some sleep, or perhaps Jacoby Brissett wanted to save his arm for next week. All joking aside, NC State pretty much parked the bus in the next three quarters. The defense held strong for the most part, but did concede 17 points.

Defense

With about five minutes left in the fourth quarter, NC State scored for the first time since the first quarter. It wasn’t the offense though. Brandon Cherry took a punt 52 yards back to the end zone. Wake managed to score once more after this, but NC State took home the victory 35-17.

Brissett

Takeaways

The first quarter was reminiscent of the “pre-season.” NC State got ahead early and never looked back. Brissett and Dayes both eclipsed 200 yards in passing and rushing respectively.Trowell

Only Wake’s quarterback, Kendall Hinton, posted more than 100 yards of offense. The defense played well when you consider how much they were on the field. It’s just tough to tell which NC State team was the real team. This week’s showdown with Clemson will hopefully tell us which team to expect down the stretch.

GIF Reaction

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I mean yeah, they won. But it was against Wake, who is a power 5 team, but not a good one. The score was similar to UNC/Wake, but they didn’t play that well after the first quarter. I’m just so confused!

Cardinals Escape Wolfpack in Disappointing Contest

To the outsider, Saturday’s Louisville/NC State matchup may have looked like an easy pick. The 4-0 Wolfpack against the struggling 1-3 Cardinals? Of course the undefeated team should win. But if you’ve watched anything from either of these teams, you know that’s hardly the end of the story. Louisville has 2 “quality losses” along with a weird one against Houston, but they’re better than their record indicates. On the other side, NC State may be the most untested team in the nation with wins over 4 teams you probably haven’t heard of. Hopefully you’ve read Pharmacard’s recap because things are different from the NC State side.

Game Recap

After a defense stalemate took up much of the first quarter, NC State appeared to have broken loose. Jumichael Ramos caught a pass and was almost in the end zone before he fumbled. To make matters worse, Louisville made them pay for the turnover as Lamar Jackson broke loose for a 68 yard touchdown run. That was ok, not the start they wanted, but most NC State fans figured the team could recover from this.

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As the second quarter started, NC State faced a fourth and 10 from the Louisville 33 and inexplicably decided to punt. I’m not going to get into the details, but there’s rarely a good reason to punt from the opposite side of the 50. To his credit, punter AJ Cole did great work to pin the Cardinals inside their own 10. Of course, as fate would have it, Louisville drove the field and scored to take a 14-0 lead.

Cole

With their backs against the walls, NC State started the drive needing a score. Nyheim Hines did his part and ran the kickoff back to the 5. Instead of doing what’s worked all year (Matt Dayes), the Wolfpack thought it was time to get fancy with an incomplete pass and a QB draw. They finally called timeout and found their common sense. Dayes got the ball on the next play and ran it in for the score. They went into the locker room trailing 17-7.

Brissett

Things started looking up in the second half as NC State figured out they could run the ball and wound up in the red zone again. A short pass to Samuels and they trailed by only a field goal…except not because the extra point was missed (#collegekickers). Both teams went back and fourth for the rest of the game, but Louisville’s field goal with 15s left sealed the deal for a 20-13 win.

Takeaways

Simply put, this was not the same team State fans have been watching the last month. It isn’t just that they are playing against tougher competition, but the entire gameplan seems to have changed. NC State found great success against South Alabama running the ball and the success continued into the Louisville game. Yet NC State running backs only got 20 carries in the entire game. Most fans could agree that they should have made the Cardinals stop the running game before abandoning it.

Dayes

Overall, I’m not as upset at the defense. There were a few plays where they covered everyone except the QB and that’s ok, dual threat quarterbacks will do that to you. Jackson compiled 224 of Louisville’s 306 total yards. That would have been ok for most games, but the offense just never responded. In short, there’s still work to do on both sides of the ball.

Defense

GIF Reaction

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Yep, it’s gonna be another one of those years. NC State is going to win a few games in a row to instill hope in the fanbase, but then let us all down with bad losses like this one. Oh well, at least we’re used to it.

Wolfpack Sprint Past South Alabama

No one really thought South Alabama would challenge NC State, but this game just wasn’t fair. The Wolfpack finished with 586 yards of total offense and were really never contested. This is going to be a quick recap because this was completely one sided.

Game Recap


The game started pretty quick as the Jags drove the field and scored in just six plays. As they scored, State fans said in unison “here we go again” (probably, right?). That was ok because that would be the only touchdown the defense allowed all night. The Wolfpack also helped State fans’ stress levels by scoring in just three plays.Cherry After giving up the initial score, they would go on to score 28 unanswered in the FIRST QUARTER. In the second, USA finally put up a field goal, but NC State dropped 21 more points on them before the half was over. The second half was irrelevant since most of State’s backups were in and still managed to outscore South Alabama 21-3. When it was all over, NC State picked up their 4th win of the year by a score of 63-13.

Samuels

Takeaways

While I’m not a huge fan of the team’s schedule, being 2/3’s of the way to a bowl game is quite encouraging especially with the way the conference looks this year. In terms of the game, I think State looks like they can be competitive in the ACC this year. As I’ve said in this column for the last three weeks, this team looks really good even when you take into account who they are playing

If you take a look at the drive summary, you can see that NC State scored touchdowns in all of their first five drives. That’s not a team that’s just squeaking by, that’s total domination. I don’t think they’ll do this every week, but I do think it shows that this team is talented. Three different running backs had at least two touchdowns. That kind of depth bodes well for a team going through conference. Matt Days and Shadrach Thornton both rushed for more than 100 yards and Jacoby Brissett threw for over 200 with 2 TD’s.

Thornton

Just like everyone else, I’m excited to see how the team looks this weekend against Louisville. Both teams have something to prove and similarly, this game will tell us a lot about both teams.

GIF Reaction

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ACC play is getting started and NC State is 4-0. They’re playing a Louisville team that has had three tough games so far and just got their first win last week. I’m ready, let’s go!

Overthrowing the Monarchs

Another week came and went, but unless you’re a hardcore NC State fan, you likely didn’t watch the Wolfpack completely overpower the Old Dominion Monarchs on Saturday night. It’s ok, I watched it for you. Here’s what happened:

Game Recap

It was almost surreal how easily they drove the field. On their first possession, a combination of short passes and runs allowed NC State to pound out a 15 play, 73 yard drive that ended in a Jaylen Samuels touchdown.

Later, the defense again succumbed to the “one big play” offense. A long 70 yard pass play put ODU on the board and tied the game at 7

But that was ok, Jacoby Brissett took over on the next drive. He threw a couple of long passes, scrambled out of the pocket and ran it in for a score. A few drives later, Brissett found Samuels through the air for another score. NC State went into the half with a comfortable 21-7 lead.

North Carolina State's Maurice Trowell (87) celebrates with Jaylen Samuels (28) after Samuels scored on a 3-yard touchdown run during the first half against Old Dominion at S.B. Ballard Stadium in Norfolk, Va., on Saturday Sept. 19, 2015. N.C. State won, 38-14. (Ethan Hyman/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS)

The offense got a little lazy in the third quarter, but thankfully the defense continued to play well. In the third quarter, Brandon Cherry returned a punt to the ODU 20. Matt Dayes found his way into the end zone a few plays later.

The rest of the game was pretty much irrelevant. The only notable happening was the return of RB Shadrach Thornton. Previously kicked off the team for a violation of rules, he was reinstated this week and scored a touchdown in garbage time on Saturday. His touchdown with 1:33 left in the game made the final score 38-14.

Takeaways

This was supposed to be the trap game. On the road, a primetime game, and the ODU team on the rise; NC State usually struggles in this type of game. For a team that usually plays down to their competition, this game was refreshing. The Wolfpack got ahead early and were never challenged.

Brissett had his lowest passing yardage of the season, but I’d like to think it’s because he didn’t need to. Much of the second half was just simple rushing plays to run the clock. He also hit his season high for rushing yards. Mostly thanks to his 21 yard TD run, Brissett was much more successful scrambling in this game.

North Carolina State quarterback Jacoby Brissett (12) passes under pressure from Old Dominion defensive end Poncho Barnwell (95) during the second half at S.B. Ballard Stadium in Norfolk, Va., on Saturday Sept. 19, 2015. N.C. State won, 38-14. (Ethan Hyman/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS)

Just like in the Troy game, one play made up most of Old Dominion’s offense. With the exception of that play, the defense kept the Monarchs quiet all night. Of course, we’d all love to do without the one play, but if that’s what it takes, I think most of the fans would be ok with that.

Finally, the return of Shadrach was also a bright spot. While Matt Dayes runs with a more elusive style, Thornton is definitely a power running back. Having both really completes the backfield, especially with Samuels as the “fullback.”

North Carolina State running back Matthew Dayes (21) breaks free from Old Dominion cornerback Aaron Young (27) during the first half at S.B. Ballard Stadium in Norfolk, Va., on Saturday Sept. 19, 2015. (Ethan Hyman/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS)

GIF Reaction

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Oh no, this isn’t good. I’m starting to believe. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but NC State is starting to look really good. I’m not crazy, but this looks like a different NC State team. They aren’t allowing these lesser teams to stick around and make games close. I know, I know. They’re going to let me down. Just let me believe for a second ok?

Wolfpack Blank Colonels

NC State continued to NOT make headlines this week as they took care of business at home against Eastern Kentucky. Though they are a ranked team in the FCS, the Wolfpack should not and did not have much trouble with the Colonels. Oh and they also wore those nifty black alternates.

Game Recap

Ok, so NC State had a little bit of trouble with EKU. In the first drive of the game, it looked like maybe the Colonels could hang around. After barely converting on 3rd and 20, the Wolfpack made it down to the goal line. Then, the wheels fell off. Matt Dayes was stopped for no gain and Brissett could only get back to the line. Facing a 3rd and goal from the 5 after a false start, Brissett failed to avoid the pass rush and was sacked. So the Wolfpack settled for a field goal…except no, the kick was blocked. The entire NC State fanbase groaned in unison and prepared for a long game.

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So close…

The defense forced a 3 and out, but the offense continued to disappoint. Dakwa Nichols fumbled as he got to midfield as Eastern Kentucky caught yet another break. At the end of the first quarter, the game was inexplicably tied at 0. Things got better though. NC State started the quarter in EKU territory and Brissett took over. He eventually found Benson Browne in the end zone to put the Wolfpack on the board.

TD

Finally, a score!

On the next drive, Brissett and Dayes alternated plays to march the team all the way down to the goal line where Jaylen Samuels ran it in for the score.

North Carolina State Jaylen Samuels (28) looks for running room after beating out Eastern Kentucky defensive back Tyrell Curry (31) during the second half at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, N.C., on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015. The host Wolfpack won, 35-0. (Ethan Hyman/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS)

Samuels runs over the EKU defense

NC State would take their 14-0 lead into the half. They picked up where they left off to open the half. Samuels caught a pass and brought State to the red zone. Matt Dayes then ran for 25 yards and his first of three TDs.

North Carolina State running back Matthew Dayes (21) breaks free from Eastern Kentucky defensive back Kobie Grace (38) during the first half at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, N.C., on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015. (Ethan Hyman/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS)

Matt Dayes does the same

The rest of the game went mostly to plan. Dayes and Brissett continued to tear up the EKU defense and on the other side, the Wolfpack defense ended up shutting out the Colonels for a 35-0 victory.

Takeaways

Of course it was against an FCS team, but the combination of Jacoby Brissett and Matt Dayes looked unstoppable again this week. Troy couldn’t handle them, and Eastern Kentucky had no answer for the two. Both did what they wanted basically the whole game. Going forward, it’s nice to know what they are capable of. There’s a lot to be excited about on offense if they can continue this play into the conference schedule.

North Carolina State quarterback Jacoby Brissett (12) passes during the first half against Eastern Kentucky at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, N.C., on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015. (Ethan Hyman/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS)

Jacoby Brissett airs it out

The defense looked better this week. With the exception of a few early drives, they kept the Colonels out of the red zone the entire game. Hopefully this is the real NC State defense. The version of this defense we saw last week was largely ineffective against a sub-par Troy offense. At times, they even carried the team notably in the first quarter when the offense was stagnant. They looked much better this week and hopefully that kind of play is here to stay, but it’s too soon to tell.

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Defense celebrating another stop

Gif Reaction

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It’s hard to get excited yet because of the weak schedule, but it’s hard to complain when you’re 2-0. Offense looks good, defense looks adequate, way to go NC State. Let’s keep these games one-sided.

Syracuse Football Attendance – Needs Moar Fan(nie)s

For now, the Syracuse Orange sits atop the ACC football standings (2-0 overall, 1-0 in conference play), but based on the attendance at the Dome during yesterday’s victory over Wake Forest you would think that the Greg Robinson and Frank Maloney teamed up to coach this year’s team. Not surprisingly, Bud Poliquin was quick to point out that there was “a lack of fannies in the seats” as a mere 26.5k fans trudged-up to the dome to watch the game. To put that in context, last January approximately 23.5k fans took over half of the dome to watch the Syracuse basketball team (sans McCullough) defeat Wake Forest – and that basketball attendance number was without the benefit of free tickets to the frosh students.  Read more…

Not Too Shabby

Let’s be honest, with the way NC State’s non conference schedule looks this season, we shouldn’t be talking about a loss until at least week 5. Of course, as we saw in many other games around college football, these early season games are anything but guaranteed. Thankfully, NC State wasn’t one of the victims.

Game Recap

State won the toss and gave the ball to Troy. They forced a quick 3 and out in their first defensive series, which allowed Jaylen Samuels to take a reverse, and run untouched to the end zone. 7-0 Wolfpack and fans are starting to feel confident.

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Strong Start for Samuels

In typical NC State fashion, that confidence was short-lived. Troy marched 75 yards down the field and tied the game in two minutes. When NC State did the same, this had all the makings of a shootout. Thankfully, the defense woke back up, made a few stops, and offense scored 21 unanswered points to take a 28-7 lead with just 28 seconds left in the half.

So NC State took a 28-7 lead into the half? No, of course not, that’d be too easy. Brandon Silvers threw two long passes and Troy scored a touchdown in 27 seconds. Yes, the Trojans drove 82 yards in 27 seconds.

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*sigh*

The Wolfpack took over in the second half as Matt Dayes started breaking off big runs in the third quarter. The defense stepped up and really shut down the Trojans offense. They put more pressure on Silvers and sacked him twice, something they didn’t do the entire first half.

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All About Matt Dayes

Troy did their best to stay in the game, but big play after big play just seems to kill their spirit. The knockout punch, pun intended, was delivered by Dravious Wright

Though it was only the third quarter, this really decided the game. A few plays later, NC State scored again to take a three-score lead and basically put the game on ice.

Takeaways

Yes, this was only the first game. Yes, it was against Troy. But NC State fans shouldn’t be ashamed by their excitement right now. I’m not talking ACC title or anything crazy, but there were several bright spots in this first game. We knew from last year that Jacoby Brissett was good, but he continues to live up to the hype. He completed 21 of 23 passes for almost 200 yards. All this, and he was pulled with 12 minutes left in the game.

With the suspension of Shadrach Thornton, many were concerned about the Wolfpack running game. It’s safe to say that Matt Dayes quieted those concerns. He got 24 touches for 124 yards, scored twice, and didn’t even get a touch in the fourth quarter.Generated by IJG JPEG Library

The defense was…well…dissatisfying. Allowing 305 yards and 21 points to a team in the Sun Belt probably wasn’t the plan for the NC State defense. Granted, they made some changes, and played much better as the game went on. It will certainly be something to watch in the next few games.

GIF Reaction

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Nothing earth-shattering, but not much to complain about. Solid week. Keep it up Wolfpack!

ACC 2015 Football Schedule Preview

The ACC released its schedule earlier today and even though the season is several months away, I can’t help but take a peek at some big games coming this year in the ACC.

Boston College

  • Rivalry: Nov 28 @ Syracuse
  • Weeknight: Sept 18 vs. Florida State
  • Other notable game: Nov 21 vs Notre Dame @ Fenway Park

The Eagles get a great opportunity in their weeknight game this year as they’ll get Florida State at home. After coming so close last year, BC gets a chance to get revenge. They are also one of Notre Dame’s 5 ACC matchups this year, but this will be a fun one as it’ll be played at historic Fenway Park

Clemson

  • Rivalry: (Non-Conference) Nov 28 @ South Carolina, (ACC) Oct 10 vs Georgia Tech
  • Weeknight: Sept 17 @ Louisville
  • Other notable games: Nov 7 vs Florida State, Oct 3 vs Notre Dame

Clemson could have a real chance to do something special this year especially when you look at their schedule. They get Florida State, Notre Dame, and Georgia Tech at home. Any team with wins against those 3 should find themselves in good position for a New Year’s Six bid (if not a CFB Playoff spot). However, all Clemson fans know how the story goes by now, but I feel cautiously optimistic about this team.

Duke

  • Rivalry: Nov 7 @ North Carolina, Nov 28 @ Wake Forest
  • Weeknight: Sept 3 @ Tulane
  • Other notable games: Sept 19 vs Northwestern, Oct 24 @ Virginia Tech

Not that a rivalry game needs any more hype, but last year we saw UNC go into Durham and absolutely embarrass the Blue Devils. This year, you can be sure that Duke will be looking to turn around and do the same to the Tar Heels. Also, September 19th will be the 2nd game in the new Wallace Wade Stadium and the first against a FBS team. Northwestern may not be the best of the B1G, but this is a bigger power 5 matchup than Duke fans are accustomed to.

Florida State

  • Rivalry: (Non-Conference) Nov 28 @ Florida, (ACC) Oct 10 vs Miami
  • Weeknight: Sept 18 @ Boston College
  • Other notable game: Nov 7 @ Clemson

With the departure of Jameis Winston, no one is really sure how the Seminoles will look next season. We should find out on September 18th as Florida State travels to Boston College for their first real test of the season. Later on, they travel to Clemson who will be hungry for a victory after losing the last 3 matchups against the Seminoles.

Georgia Tech

  • Rivalry: (Non-Conference) Nov 28 vs Georgia, (ACC) Oct 10 @ Clemson
  • Weeknight: Sept 3 vs Alcorn State, Nov 12 vs Virginia Tech
  • Other notable games: Sept 19 @ Notre Dame, Nov 21 @ Miami

Even though it’s a weeknight game, I don’t think many people will be tuned in to the opener against Alcorn State. Either way, the bigger weeknight game for the Yellow Jackets will come on November 12th when the Hokies come to town. Just a few weeks later, we will find out if Georgia Tech can win consecutive games against Georgia for the first time since 2000.

Louisville

  • Rivalry: Nov 28 @ Kentucky
  • Weeknight: Sept 17 vs Clemson, Oct 30 @ Wake Forest
  • Other notable games: Sept 5 vs Auburn @ Georgia Dome, Oct 17 @ Florida State

Louisville got a schedule this year that places most of their tough games at the beginning of the season. The Cardinals get the Chick-fil-A kickoff game this year and face Auburn to open up the season. The schedule doesn’t get any easier as Clemson comes to town just two weeks later for a weeknight game. Then, Louisville travels to Florida State a few weeks after that. On the other hand, the season ends with Virginia, Pitt, and Kentucky. With a schedule like this, there are only two ways this turns out. If the Cardinals can get hot to start the season, they could find themselves in the driver’s seat of the ACC and have a (somewhat) easy road to Charlotte. Otherwise, the beginning of the season will be brutal with the end serving as a consolation for a tough year.

Miami

  • Rivalry: Oct 10 @ Florida State
  • Weeknight: Nov 27 @ Pitt
  • Other notable games: Sept 19 vs Nebraska, Oct 1 or 3 @ Cincinnati, Oct 31 @ Duke

The Hurricanes apparently didn’t get the memo about scheduling easy non-conference opponents. They face Nebraska and travel to Cincinnati before even getting in to ACC play. It’s a bold strategy Cotton, let’s see if it pays off for them as two wins here will give the team some serious momentum heading into their season opener against Florida State.

North Carolina

  • Rivalry: Nov 28 @ NC State, Nov 7 vs Duke, Oct 17 vs Wake Forest
  • Weeknight: Sept 3 vs South Carolina @ Bank of America Stadium, Oct 29 @ Pitt
  • Other notable games: Sept 19 vs Illinois, Nov 14 vs Miami

You don’t see it much anymore, but this year UNC will play all of its in-state rivals plus South Carolina. Wins in all of these games could give the Tar Heels the title of state champions and the right to be known as “The True Carolina” for at least the next year. This will be a challenge however as winning a game in Raleigh and fighting off a revenge-minded Duke will not be easy.

NC State

  • Rivalry: Nov 28 vs North Carolina, Oct 24 @ Wake Forest
  • Weeknight: Oct 9 @ Virginia Tech
  • Other notable game: Nov 14 @ Florida State

The Wolfpack open with 4 cupcake games to open the year and two of them on the road due to questionable home-and-home scheduling from a previous AD. After that, they travel to Blacksburg for their weeknight game against Virginia Tech. Later, the Wolfpack look to pick up its first win in Tallahassee since 2005.

Pittsburgh

  • Rivalry: Oct 24 @ Syracuse, Nov 7 vs Notre Dame
  • Weeknight: Oct 29 @ North Carolina, Nov 27 vs Miami
  • Other notable game: Sept 19 @ Iowa

Pitt has a great chance to make a name for themselves this year as they get two weeknight games this year. They also have home dates with Notre Dame and Louisville. Even though there’s no guarantee of winning (or even being competitive in) those games, this is a program that could really use a fresh image. Maybe a win on national television could do the trick.

Syracuse

  • Rivalry: Nov 28 vs Boston College, Oct 24 vs Pittsburgh
  • Weeknight: N/A
  • Other notable games: Sept 26 vs LSU, Oct 31 @ Florida State, Nov 14 vs Clemson

Looks like the ACC forgot to give Syracuse a weeknight game this season. Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean that Syracuse won’t be playing in the national spotlight this season. LSU comes to the Dome on September 26th. The schedule only gets tougher from there as the Orange will make a trip to Florida State, Louisville, and NC State. Don’t count them out of a bowl game yet though. Assuming they can start the season wins wins over Rhode Island, Wake Forest, and Central Michigan, 6 wins isn’t out of the question at all.

Virginia

  • Rivalry: Nov 28 vs Virginia Tech
  • Weeknight: Sept 25 vs Boise State
  • Other notable game: Sept 5 @ UCLA

After a surprisingly close game last year, Virginia will open their season playing the second half of a home-and-home series with UCLA. Many probably assume this game will be a blow-out, but remember, that’s what everyone said last year. The Cavaliers also have a weeknight game versus Boise State and after the Broncos have fallen from their former glory, this could be a good early win for UVA.

Virginia Tech

  • Rivalry: Nov 28 @ Virginia
  • Weeknight: Sept 7 vs Ohio State, Oct 9 vs NC State, Nov 12 @ Georgia Tech
  • Other notable games: Sept 19 vs Purdue, Sept 26 @ East Carolina

Two of the Hokies defining non-conference games reverse locations this year as Ohio State comes to Blacksburg and the team travels to ECU. The Ohio State game is on a Monday and should the Hokies be able to pull of another upset, it should set a great tone for the season. That is, assuming they can get past ECU this year even with that game being on the road.

Wake Forest

  • Rivalry: Nov 28 vs Duke
  • Weeknight: Sept 3 vs Elon, Oct 30 vs Louisville
  • Other notable game: Sept 26 Indiana

Well maybe it’s not the traditional Thursday night action we’re used to, but Wake will open its season on a weeknight against Elon. They also get to host Indiana, Florida State, NC State, and Louisville. If nothing else, these should be entertaining games for the fans to watch and who knows, maybe the Deacons can get a win or two from that bunch.

Did I leave any big games out?

What games are you most looking forward to?

ACC Roundtable of the Confidential Correspondents: Week 14/15

Welcome to the ACC Roundtable of the ACC Correspondents!  As is and will be the plan for the remainder of the football season, the Confidential correspondents will discuss the Week that was (week 14) and the Week that will be (Week 15) for the ACC and their respective schools.  Special thanks to the Confidential contributors for their comments and opinions.  Tell us what you think below.

WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST SURPRISE FOR THE ACC IN WEEK 14?

Len (Louisville): The ACC going 4-0 against the SEC. That was a great win by Georgia Tech. I am also surprised by how Miami finished the season. They showed potential earlier in the season but finished on a down note. It looked as if they would challenge for the coastal but instead tied with Virginia Tech and Virginia.

Mike (NC State): I don’t know how big a surprise it was, outside of Georgia Tech/Georgia, but the ACC sweep of the SEC was a rush.  Finally some good news in the ongoing battle against The Best Darn Football Conference Ever Just Ask Them.  ACC!!! ACC!!!

John (UNC): Wow. Say what you want about the supposed weakness of the SEC East, but the fact is that Clemson, Louisville, Georgia Tech and Florida State helped the conference make a statement this past Saturday. You can add Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech to that discussion too. With 11 bowl eligible teams for the second year in a row, and a perfect rivalry weekend record against the SEC, the ACC is poised to take another step forward. That is, unless Georgia Tech proves to be TOO good, and knocks the Seminoles out of the playoff.

Brian (FSU): The ACC going 4-0 against the SEC last week. Wow, you would think that would impress the committee… but yet FSU is 4 and GT who has beaten 2 straight ranked teams and is 10-2 is not even top 10, while Michigan State who has not beaten a single committee ranked team and is also 10-2 is ranked 3 spots higher at 8. In that case, the committee is saying Michigan State’s two loses to ranked teams in Oregon and OSU is more important than Georgia Tech’s wins over ranked teams Clemson and UGA. Oh and to add insult to injury no conference has more wins against non-conference Power 5 opponents (10) than the ACC, and the ACC is one of two power 5 conferences with a winning record in that same category (the other being the Pac 12). So, I am surprised both by the ACC’s success and utter lack of respect by a committee that seems either ignorant of college football or void of credibility in its selection.

Anthony (Syracuse): The biggest surprise had to be North Carolina State taking the Tar Heels to the woodshed.  It looked like UNC was finally putting something together…. and… NOT!  A close second for me is Pitt beating Miami.  Again, Miami looked like they were ready to turn the corner… and then NOT!  The ACC sweeping the SEC did not surprise me, really.

WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST SURPRISE/DISAPPOINTMENT FOR YOUR SCHOOL IN WEEK 14?

Len (Louisville): The Cards pulled out the victory with its 3rd string QB & while losing the turnover battle. Bolin was dreadful in his only other appearance this season but turned out one of the best performances by a Louisville QB this season against Kentucky. Their pregame antics reeked of desperation and I was surprised by the lack of class from our rival. I was disappointed that the antics worked and that some Louisville players fell to their level.

Mike (NC State): Well. let’s see.  The Wolfpack beat UNC to finish 7-5.  They played their best game of the season against their archrivals. Not much to complain about, but I was disappointed in a couple of things. The overly aggressive plays that resulted in boneheaded penalties that twice prolonged a Carolina drive in the second half were ridiculous.  And why not pull the starters going into the fourth quarter with the game already won?  Maybe I’m just a grumpy old man.  Anyway, big win, happy happy. The Pack is back.

John (UNC): I’ve all but given up on trying to understand this team. One week the Tar Heels completely demolish a very good Duke squad (now 9-3), and the next they fall flat on their faces against another big rival in NC State. ON SENIOR DAY. If that isn’t motivation, I don’t know what is. Now, they await their bowl placement, and all I can say is, they need the extra practices.

Brian (FSU): I was surprised FSU could win a game in spite of Winston instead of because of Winston. I was disappointed in the committee deciding that TCU should be ranked higher than FSU, at 3.  This decision is idiotic for many reasons, but here are a few:  TCU has a loss, FSU does not have any losses. TCU has 2 less wins than FSU, not 1 but 2. TCU has faced only 9 power 5 schools, FSU has faced 11. TCU actually has a worse SOS than FSU in most rankings, and the one used by ESPN recently has TCU behind FSU in that category. The committee chair yesterday had the cojones to say FSU is undefeated but struggled in its games… FSU WON ALL OF ITS GAMES! So the eye test or game control literally means more in the committees eyes than wins. By the way Kansas, Washington State, and Arkansas all say hello committee members… all teams who are not very good that gave teams ranked higher than FSU fits, not allowing those higher ranked teams to control those games at all; and saying hello right behind those bad teams are Baylor, Ole Miss, and Arizona… they actually beat TCU, Bama, and Oregon. I would like to ask Ninja Swofford to start getting vocal now. I would hope if FSU wins this weekend it could not possibly fall again, but if OSU sitting at five blows out a team in Wisconsin ranked near GT, and FSU struggles to win in its game then FSU, if recent history holds, could fall to 5. Everyone says it is impossible, but 2 months ago would you have thought college football’s only unbeaten team would be sitting behind 3 one loss teams? One last thing, Mike Tranghese was too sick to vote last week, and FSU sat at 3… he was able to vote this week and FSU is at 4.  You know the same Tranghese who was the Big East commissioner until 2009… just saying, if anyone has a an ax to grind against ACC schools it would be the guy whose league imploded due to ACC poaching.

Anthony (Syracuse): Scott Shafer has gone from hero to zero so quickly it is really unfathomable.  If he was coaching with any sense of courage, maybe he would be given the benefit of the doubt.  But his gutless playing for field position–without any regard for game, score, and time.  His hard-nosed mantra is a ruse.  Meanwhile, his team plays undisciplined football, both in terms of penalties and knowledge of the game.  Any Syracuse fan can look past the injuries, but the warning signs on Shafer are huge.  He will likely get 2015 to show that 2014 was an anomaly.  If it shows that 2013 was the anomaly, he will be unemployed.

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO IN WEEK 15 FOR YOUR SCHOOL?

Len (Louisville): Our bowl match up. Where are we going & who will we play. Who be will our starting quarterback? Bonnafon will be available but Bolin looked good against Kentucky. Accuracy has been a problem for Louisville QB this season.

Mike (NC State): What bowl, what bowl?  That’s about all that’s left to contemplate.  Watching the game it seemed that the Belk was mentioned a lot.  Wherever the Pack ends up, it’s a lot better feeling than last year.

John (UNC):  The Tar Heels began the season with ACC Championship dreams, but once again, they’ll be watching, not playing, this Saturday. It’s ironic that North Carolina’s best chance to win the league happened the year they weren’t eligible to participate, but that’s irony for you. With movement already happening in the coaching world (vacancies at Michigan, Florida and Nebraska among others), I’m hoping that Coach Fedora pulls the trigger and at least begins a discussion with a few prospective defensive coordinator replacements. Unfortunately, while former Florida coach Will Muschamp has North Carolina ties (his father played for the Tar Heels), he’s likely to be out of the price range of the basketball centric pocketbooks in Chapel Hill.

Brian (FSU): FSU winning the ACC and getting in the playoff… but I am fully aware of how dangerous GT is in reality. In fact, all my complaining is likely to be moot… I think the Jackets pull it out.  One thing to look for is Smelter is hurt, and GT relies on him for making the big catch and or the big reverse. Of course it is raining this weekend in Charlotte, so that helps Tech much more than FSU. Long story short, I think FSU loses… but if they win, I hope it is a narrow victory. I also hope TCU, Baylor and OSU blow out their opponents… and Oregon and Bama win this weekend. I want to dare the committee to be stupid enough to keep an unbeaten FSU out. I want chaos. I have written them off… and I am rooting for the rest of the country to look at the committee as a bunch of foolish members. I am essentially daring the committee to leave out an unbeaten FSU.

Anthony (Syracuse): It will be interesting to see if the fans cool off over what was a disappointing season made worse by poor coaching.  I suspect not.

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO IN WEEK 15 FOR THE ACC?

Len (Louisville): Can Georgia Tech upset Florida State and if so can they make the playoffs? Will FSU fall out of the top 4 by winning again? Apparently in this new world of college football you have to lose to be number one and going undefeated is meaningless.

Mike (NC State): What else but the ACC Championship Game?  Part of me wants an underdog Georgia Tech win, but the other part smacked that part down and threw it in the garbage disposal.  Not only am I pulling for FSU, they absolutely have to win so we can see Round Two of The ACC Wins It All.

John (UNC):  Nothing got me more excited for the ACC Championship Game than watching Georgia Tech-Georgia this past weekend. What a game! As a North Carolina fan, it’s funny to think that the Yellow Jackets’ only two losses are to the Tar Heels, and to the Blue Devils, who North Carolina beat. But Georgia Tech has really come on strong at the end of the season under the direction of newly crowned ACC Coach of the Year (and North Carolina native) Paul Johnson. The Seminoles better be on watch Saturday if they want to preserve their playoff hopes.

Brian (FSU): Ummmm good recruiting, and John Swofford getting after the committee.

Anthony (Syracuse): Well, FSU winning would be best for the ACC.  On the other hand, if a 13-0 Florida State is dominated, that will tarnish the ACC’s season somewhat.  But if Florida State can beat Georgia Tech, then this will be a true sign that they will be very competitive in the playoff.

WHO ARE YOUR FOUR PLAYOFF TEAMS IF THE SEASON ENDED TODAY?

Len (Louisville): 1 FSU ( because being undefeated should still mean something ) 2 Alabama 3 Oregon 4 Ohio State. I can’t understand the argument of ranking Alabama and Oregon ahead of FSU but not TCU! FSU & TCU resumes or similar but only one is 12-0. I’m calling BS on the committees rankings this week. If you want geographical matchups then don’t seed the top 4. Go Noles!

Mike (NC State):

Florida State – undefeated for a reason.
Oregon – the western powerhouse rolls on.
Ohio State – they earned it, no matter who is at QB.
Alabama – so FSU can complete the Auburn/Alabama sweep.

John (UNC): It’s conference championship week and anything could happen. Arizona has ALREADY beaten Oregon once. Georgia Tech is looking strong. Ohio State will probably screw up. One thing is certain though, and that’s the power of Alabama. For another week, I’m sticking with Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and TCU. I’m just not as confident about it as I was before.

Brian (FSU): Right now: 1) FSU, 2) Oregon, 3) Bama, 4) Baylor…. in reality it will end up being: 1) Bama, 2) Oregon, 3) OSU, 4) TCU

Anthony (Syracuse): The fact that the committee has Florida State at #4 is an abomination.  The entire committee should be scrapped and replaced.  Under the old system, the only question would be who was #2.  Under the new system, the only question should be who is #2 through #4.  In NO circumstance should an undefeated team from ANY POWER FIVE conference… that is the sole undefeated team… be anything but a #1 seed overall.  The bottom line is that Alabama, Oregon, and TCU have each not even been the winner on a field this year, whereas nobody can say that about the Seminoles.  And while FSU has had its share of good fortune, so has TCU (see the West Virginia late-game implosion).  Moreover, there is nothing about the committee’s ranking that is consistent.  So my top 4 is: (1) FSU; (2) Alabama; (3) Oregon; and (4) T.C.U.

What do you think?  How would you answer these questions?

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