Time for our weekly "How They Do?" feature, but first a little trivia: who leads the ACC in receiving yards. Hint: you'll find the answer in the Week 13 blurb.
After each weekend, I have been keeping track of how our future opponents' seasons are unfolding while also keeping track of how past opponents react to not having us to kick around anymore.
How to read the post: A capsule for each Pack opponent, including the team's record and most recent result, is listed under the heading "Week 1," "Week 2," "Week 3," etc. based on what week during the season that the Pack plays that opponent. The future/past opponent is listed in bold.
Week 1: #13 South Carolina (7-2) 38, Tennessee (3-5) 35
Make it 1-12 in their last 13 SEC games for the Volunteers, and 0-15 against ranked opponents under the be-crutched Derek Dooley. Apparently tailored orange pants and hips do not go well together. Tyler Bray vs. good defense usually does not go well for Mr. Bray, but he threw for 368 yards and 4 scores against a Gamecocks' defense that is ranked 15th in the country by the Football Outsiders. Alas, it was not enough to upset the Ol' Ball Coach in Columbia. The Volunteers have Troy, Missouri, Vanderbilt, and Kentucky left and must win 3 of 4 to sneak into a bowl. Doable, but certainly no guarantee. Regardless of how it finishes, many UT fans have already anointed Jon Gruden as the team's next coach.
Week 2: UCONN (3-5)
The Huskies got a much-needed week off to try to figure out how to score those pesky point thingies. UConn has averaged just 9 points per game during its three-game losing streak.
Week 3: Louisiana Monroe (6-2) 38, South Alabama (2-6) 24
SOAL hung with the Sun Belt leaders into the 4th quarter, which it entered trailing by just one score, but simply could not get off the field. The Warhawks converted 12 of 19 third downs. Demetre Baker ran for 115 yards and Jereme Jones hauled in a pair of TD passes from Ross Metheny in the losing effort.
Week 4: Wofford (7-1) 24, The Citadel (4-4) 21
The Citadel nearly knocked off its third top 10 FCS opponent of the season Saturday, but failed to convert numerous 4th quarter possessions into points after the Terriers took the lead early in the final period. The Bulldogs did a decent job of bottling up likely Walter Payton award winner Eric Breitenstein, holding him to 110 yards on 23 carries, though Breitenstein did score twice. Breitenstein, who was coached as a baseball player in high school by the dude that is typing this story, is third in the FCS with 153.5 rushing yards per game and has scored 13 touchdowns. The fullback is averaging better than 8 yards per carry.
Week 5: Miami (4-4, 3-2)
The Canes had a bye in front of the Thursday, November 1st Virginia Tech tilt that may well decide the coastal division and the bowl prospects, if any, of both teams. The banged up Blue Devils have to play Clemson, @Georgia Tech, and Miami, so their stay atop the coastal may well be short-lived. I think the Hokies rally and end up on top (hopefully with an upset over FSU along the way). With a win over the Canes coupled with a previous win over Duke, the Hokies would have the head-to-head advantage in hand in case of a tie.
Week 6: #12 Florida State (8-1, 5-1) 48, Duke (6-3, 3-2) 7
The Seminoles exposed the upstart Blue Devils, running up a 328-yard advantage in total offense and winning by 41 despite losing the turnover battle 0-4. It could have been much worse. Devonta Freeman showed that life without Chris Thompson will be just fine in Tallahassee; Freeman ran for 104 yards and a pair of scores on just 12 carries, which is pretty much exactly what Thompson used to do. E. J. Manuel needed just 8 completions to throw for 282 yards and 2 TDs. Conner Vernon's nearly invisible 3 catch, 12-yard performance pretty much summed it up for Duke, whose starting quarterback, Sean Renfree, was trying to battle through an illness before getting concussed from the game. Rough night.
Week 7: Bye week. I could use another one of these to recover physically (liver damage) and emotionally from last Saturday's debacle.
Week 8: Boston College (2-6, 1-4) 20, Maryland (4-4, 2-2) 17
We now know what it takes to get BC a win against an FBS opponent. First off, play the game at home in front of tens of rowdy Eagles' faithful. Second, make sure the opponent is coming off a soul-crushing loss in a game it really should have won. Third, make sure the opponent lost its starting QB to transfer and its 2nd, 3rd, and 4th quarterbacks to season-ending injuries. Presto! You have a 3-point BC win.
In two weeks the Fighting Edsalls have gone from looking like one of the nation's most-improved teams to looking like a 4-8 squad. To make matters worse, 5th string QB Caleb Rowe shredded an ACL, leaving Maryland with a linebacker starting under center next week when Georgia Tech comes to town. The Yellow Jackets are epic-bad on defense, but it's hard to imagine a scenario where even the Fighting Edsalls can right the ship after all the adversity they have faced. I've gone from hating the Terps just a smidge less than I hate UNC to almost feeling sorry for them. Almost.
Week 9: North Carolina (6-3, 3-2) 43, N. C. State (5-3, 2-2) 35
I don't want to talk about it, and you can't make me.
Week 10: Virginia (2-6, 0-4)
To hear TOB talk in his weekly presser, you would think that the Hoos used their bye week to transform into a team on par with the Steeler dynasty of the late 70s. Virginia has lost 6 straight (and it would be 7 if Penn State's kicker hadn't missed eleventy million kicks) and ranks dead last in the FBS with a -2 turnover margin PER GAME. But that's the really scary thing about Virginia. They actually aren't bad on a per play basis, averaging 5.51 yards per snap and yielding 5.33. For comparison, N. C. State averages 5.45 per snap on offense and, thanks to its generous gifting of the big play, surrenders 5.96 per play. What if, over the bye week, the Hoos forgot the script where they toss 3 picks and beat themselves? If State has to earn it without the benefit of a gaggle of turnovers, it could be a long afternoon.
Week 11: #18 Clemson (7-1, 4-1) 42, Wake Forest (4-4, 2-4) 13
Add Wake Forest to the scrap heap of ACC squads clinging to dwindling bowl hopes. The Demon Deacons will need two wins from a schedule that includes Boston College and Vanderbilt at home and N. C. State and Notre Dame on the road. As BC and State are the next two games, if the Deacs beat the Eagles as expected, they will be playing the Pack for a chance at the postseason. Awesome. Wake has been outscored 94-13 against the two top 25 teams it has faced this year, but top 25 we ain't.
Week 12: #18 Clemson (7-1, 4-1) 42, Wake Forest (4-4, 2-4) 13
Wake's strategy seemed to be to clog running lanes and force the Tigers to be one dimensional. The Deacons held the Tigers to just 2.2 yards per carry, but Tajh Boyd was very much up to the task of winning this one with his right arm. Last week Clemson only had 3 receivers with a catch; this week 5 Tigers received Boyd touchdown balls BEFORE INTERMISSION. Boyd's 428 yards passing set a new school record, as did Sammy Watkins' 202 yards receiving. The Tigers are up to 13th in the BCS rankings, and, with a game left against South Carolina, if they can avoid the patented Dabo November swoon and win out, it could mean that the otherwise weak ACC has two BCS bowl reps.
Week 13: Boston College (2-6, 1-4) 20, Maryland (4-4, 2-2) 17
You can't stop Alex Amidon, you can only hope to contain him. Maryland could not. Amidon hauled in 9 Rettig rockets for 137 yards and now has 943 yards receiving on the season. Bet you didn't know that! Boys and girls, that total leads this here Atlantic Coast Conference, so BC has that and wins over Maine and Maryland going for it.