A look around the ACC

Photo credit: Al Diaz/ACC

The first week of the 2021 NCAA football season was an eventful one for the Atlantic Coast Conference, with unranked Virginia Tech defeating No. 10 North Carolina in Blacksburg, Virginia, while Miami fell to No. 1 Alabama and Clemson lost to then No. 5 Georgia.

In Week 2, conference programs redeemed themselves as the ACC rebounded from its shakier Week 1 as a whole, registering a conference record of 10-3. And despite the strong overall record, there were still shocking losses and impressive wins from several teams.

Atlantic Division

Boston College (2-0, 0-0 ACC)

The Boston College Eagles followed up an impressive Week 1 victory over Colgate with another convincing result, defeating the Massachusetts Minutemen on the road 45-28, led by a balanced rushing attack. Three players found the end zone on the ground. However, BC suffered a crushing loss as starting quarterback Phil Jurkovec went down with a potentially season-ending wrist injury. Head coach Jeff Hafley and the rest of the team will look to rally around quarterback Dennis Grosel for the foreseeable future as they head into a road matchup at Temple.

Wake Forest (2-0, 0-0 ACC)

After a 42-10 drubbing of Old Dominion in Week 1, starting quarterback Sam Hartman and the Demon Deacons continued their early-season momentum with another blowout victory against MEAC foe Norfolk State. Wake Forest will face its first real test of the year and first in-conference game when they host Florida State on Saturday afternoon.

Clemson (1-1, 0-0 ACC)

As the No. 2 ranked preseason team, the Clemson Tigers sputtered to a 10-3 loss against the Georgia Bulldogs in their season opener. The Tigers’ offense was not able to gain any momentum all night, but head coach Dabo Swinney and quarterback DJ Uiagalelei got back on the right track in Week 2 with a 49-3 romp over in-state opponent South Carolina State.

An encouraging sign for Tigers was the offense getting back on track, and they will look to re-stamp their place as one of the top teams in the country as they open conference play on Saturday in Death Valley against Georgia Tech.

Louisville (1-1, 0-0 ACC)

The Cardinals clearly were not up to the task of containing Heisman hopeful quarterback Matt Corrall and the potent Ole Miss offense in Week 1. Despite the 43-24 loss in the season opener, Louisville got back on track with a 30-3 victory over Eastern Kentucky as starting quarterback Malik Cunningham and the rest of the offense looked sharp. Louisville takes on a dangerous Central Florida team at home in Week 3 as a chance to gain a signature win in front of the home crowd.

NC State (1-1, 0-0 ACC)

The Wolfpack were unable to carry over their momentum from a blowout win over South Florida in Week 1, instead losing to Mississippi State 24-10 on the road in Week 2. Longtime head coach Dave Doeren looks to rally his squad and pick up a comfortable win at home on Saturday against FCS opponent Furman.

Syracuse (1-1, 0-0 ACC)

Syracuse entered this season looking to rebound from multiple flurries of disappointments in previous seasons, and through two weeks, similar issues have persisted for the Orange. After a 29-9 victory over a respectable Ohio team in Week 1, their consistency issues popped up once again after getting handled by Rutgers, 17-7 at home in Week 2. Syracuse looks to bounce back as they battle against a weaker FCS team in Albany at home in Week 3.

Florida State (0-2, 0-0 ACC)

The only team to enter Week 3 of the season without a win is the Florida State Seminoles. After a crushing overtime loss in an instant-classic against No. 9 Notre Dame, highlighted by the return of quarterback McKenzie Milton, the Seminoles imploded in Week 2. Milton shockingly struggled, and the Seminoles were burned on a last-second Hail Mary, losing to Jacksonville State of the FCS 20-17. FSU head coach Mike Norvell and Milton will somehow look to rebound from an embarrassing loss against Wake Forest this weekend.

Coastal Division

Virginia Tech (2-0, 1-0 ACC)

Perhaps the most surprising team so far in the ACC has been the Virginia Tech Hokies. In a primetime matchup against the heavily-favored North Carolina Tar Heels, VT head coach Justin Fuente’s defense frustrated UNC quarterback Sam Howell all night, leading the Hokies to a 17-10 victory.

VT quarterback Braxton Burmeister and the offense put up 35 points in Week 2 for a 21-point victory over Middle Tennessee State. The No. 15 team in the country must now prepare for another rivalry matchup, traveling to West Virginia to take on the Mountaineers.

Pittsburgh (2-0, 0-0 ACC)

Pittsburgh is a team that entered the new season with great optimism. Starting QB Kenny Pickett is back healthy, supported by a defense very capable of causing chaos and making noise in the ACC. So far so good for the Panthers, as victories over Massachusetts and Tennessee have head coach Pat Narduzzi’s team at 2-0. The Panthers look to stay undefeated as host to Western Michigan on Saturday.

Virginia (2-0, 0-0 ACC)

The Virginia Cavaliers look sharp in the 2021 season so far, with convincing double-digit victories over William & Mary and Illinois. The Cavaliers will face one of their biggest challenges in Week 3 as they travel to North Carolina to face off against Howell and the Tar Heels in a primetime kickoff on Saturday.

Duke (1-1, 0-0 ACC)

Projected by many to be in the cellar of the ACC, the Blue Devils have started the season with a loss to Charlotte and a home victory against North Carolina A&T. As clearly a team going through a transitional phase, they will look to make it two wins in a row, hosting Big Ten opponent Northwestern.

Georgia Tech (1-1, 0-0 ACC)

Georgia Tech was able to rebound from a loss against heavy underdog Northern Illinois in Week 1 to get back on track against Kennesaw State last week. The Yellow Jackets, spearheaded by an aggressive defense and rotating quarterback room, will look to start off with a win in ACC play as they face off against Florida State.

North Carolina (1-1, 0-1 ACC)

Entering the season, North Carolina was ranked No. 10 in the country and seemed poised for a dominant season with a potential top 5 pick in the NFL Draft at quarterback and a legendary head coach in Mack Brown. The Tar Heels could still have that signature season but got off on the wrong foot in Week 1, as Howell threw three interceptions while the offense failed to muster any momentum. After a bounce-back 59-17 win at home against Georgia State, North Carolina will seek to continue to regain momentum as ACC foe Virginia visits Chapel Hill on Saturday night.