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Wilson has thrown a scoring pass in 16 straight games going back to last season, throwing for at least three TDs in 10 of those contests. Maryland’s Danny O’Brien has made 63 collegiate throws; six have gone for touchdowns. And just last weekend, Taylor and Georgia Tech’s Joshua Nesbitt had touchdown passes in the final 90 seconds to win ACC games.

Top to bottom, the depth at quarterback across the league is obvious.

“I think it’s a lot better than it’s been before,” Ponder said. “A lot of good guys, a lot of guys that are playing really well. Jacory’s playing well, and Russell Wilson, Nesbitt’s making a lot of plays, there’s a lot of guys out there, Tyrod had a big last-minute touchdown in that game against N.C. State. A lot of guys playing really well and it definitely helps the league, and makes the league better.”

At Clemson, coach Dabo Swinney can’t help but wonder if the added emphasis on passing comes from the simple fact that many defenses across the league are just tougher against the run.

“You can’t run it,” Swinney said, “you’ve got to throw it.”

ACC teams have picked up 93 touchdowns on the ground so far, which sets up another potential first since the league expanded: Teams across the conference have rushed for 134 more TDs over the past five seasons than they’ve managed in the passing game, always getting more on the ground than through the air.

“This has been a defense league at least for the past several years,” Swinney said. “I don’t think you’re going to see us become the Big 12 any time soon.”

Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said this isn’t a fluke, either.

Numbers don’t always tell the entire story, Fisher said, but the way he sees it, the stats getting put up by quarterbacks around the ACC are getting earned the hard way, without a bunch of gimmicks and throwing the ball 50 or 60 times every outing.

“When a team’s got a great quarterback, man, they can always win the football game,” Fisher said. “A team’s always got hope. Like I said, this game is no fun to play or coach if you don’t have a good quarterback. And there’s a lot of them in this league right now. It is a very good crop.”


Associated Press Writer Jeffrey Collins in Clemson, S.C. contributed to this report.