Things to watch in the ACC in Week 2.
GAME OF THE WEEK: Penn State and Pittsburgh used to play every year when they were both Eastern independents, but the rivalry went dormant after the Nittany Lions joined the Big Ten and Pitt went to the ACC. Their first meeting since 2000 - the first of a four-game series that runs through 2019 - matches teams coming off 20-point wins over inferior competition. In an attempt to keep the players’ focus, Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi has put the Panthers on lockdown because he says “this week we’re going to stay locked in and have no distractions.”
BEST MATCHUP: North Carolina State defense vs. East Carolina pass offense. The Wolfpack’s experienced defense - every listed starter entered the season with starting experience - allowed just 106 yards passing in an opening win against William & Mary. They’re going on the road to face a test from former Minnesota QB Philip Nelson, who threw for 398 yards and five touchdowns in a rout of Western Carolina, in a venue that’s always loudly hostile to instate ACC schools. “They have a chip on their shoulder,” N.C. State coach Dave Doeren said. “Our chip on our shoulder has to be proving who we are.”
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Only 12 Bowl Subdivision schools did not allow a touchdown during Week 1, and two of them - Wake Forest and Duke - meet in their ACC opener. The Blue Devils gave up just 112 total yards to North Carolina Central - the fewest ever allowed by a David Cutcliffe-coached team. The Demon Deacons, meanwhile, gave up 280 yards to Tulane, largely because their offense had trouble staying on the field long enough to give the ‘D’ a break.
LONG SHOT: Virginia has to hope its second game under new coach Bronco Mendenhall goes better than the first. The Cavaliers, who were beaten soundly by Richmond of the FCS in Mendenhall’s debut, now face a cross-country trip to No. 24 Oregon. Beating the Ducks would be a huge upset but maybe the struggling Cavaliers can find a way to cover the nearly 25-point spread.
IMPACT PLAYER: Maybe Virginia Tech QB Jerod Evans will put on a show before what’s expected to be the largest crowd to ever attend a football game. Evans will lead the Hokies against Tennessee in the “Battle at Bristol” before an expected 150,000 fans at Bristol Motor Speedway. He threw four touchdown passes in his debut with Virginia Tech, a 36-13 win over Liberty.
Compiled by AP Sports Writer Joedy McCreary in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC.