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.
What a difference a week makes. Apparently Notre Dame's defense is 41 points better than N. C. State's, but none of that matters since, after all the struggles, the Pack gutted out a come-from-behind win over 3rd-ranked FSU.
Week 1: Tennessee (3-2)
UT has the week off to lick its wounds after dropping yet another conference game. Thanks to its win over FSU, State now gets more votes in the "others receiving votes" section of the coaches' poll than do the Vols. Of course the Pack would be solidly inside the top 20 right now had they won this game.
Week 2: Rutgers (5-0) 19, UCONN (3-3) 3
The Huskies have a solid defense (12th in the nation, in fact, according to the Football Outsiders' defensive efficiency ratings), but that defense is not enough to overcome post-Rivers era ineptitude levels at quarterback. Chandler Whitmer was 14-for-32 with 4 picks in this one.
Week 3: South Alabama (1-4)
We got no SOAL this week. The Jaguars had a bye.
Week 4: Samford (5-1) 38, The Citadel (3-3) 7
The bloom is most definitely off the rose for the Bulldogs, losers of 3 straight after their hot start. The Citadel yielded 569 yards to a Samford squad that is looking like a player in the SoCon championship race.
Week 5: Notre Dame (5-0) 41, Miami (4-2, 3-0) 3
In two games against ranked opponents this season, the Hurricanes have lost by 39 and 38. It's hard to score when you don't have the ball. The Irish held over an 18-minute advantage in time of possession thanks to gutting the Miami defense for 376 yards on the ground. State's win over FSU makes State's loss to the Canes all the more difficult to stomach. 5-1 with a top 25 ranking would be pretty sweet, though at least the Pack still controls their own destiny in the race for the ACC title. Win out and the Pack is in the championship game. If that fortuitous future comes to pass, a rematch with a Miami team that is 3-0 in league play is not out of the question.
Week 6: N. C. State (4-2, 1-1) 17, #3 Florida State (5-1, 2-1) 16
Remember C. J. Williams taking the mic when State returned to Raleigh after getting to the Sweet 16? He paused, then, addressing the thousand or so fans that greeted the team bus, started his speech with, "After all the struggles..." Yeah. After all the struggles to open the season, the Pack broke through with a marquee win Saturday night that helped ease the pain from week 1 and week 5. Maybe Florida State was once again overhyped after a strong start against lesser competition, but the Seminoles are still head and shoulders above the rest of the ACC. Well, except they are not head and shoulders above N. C. State. This could be the win that propels the Pack into special season territory. If not, at least I got to march around the house proclaiming, "After all the struggles!" for two days, much to the confusion of the wife and kids.
Merciful bye week to bury the dead and heal the wounded after FSU game. The news will probably not be good for Logan Winkles, but hopefully we are fretting less about injuries and instead mixing a healthy dose of basking in the glory of the FSU game and fretting over Maryland during the bye week.
Week 8: Maryland (3-2, 1-0) 19, Wake Forest (3-3, 1-3) 14
The Fighting Edsalls did what they do: play good defense and win ugly. The Terps harassed Tanner Price into a 13-for-38 effort and held the Deacons to 241 yards of total offense. After the Pack play Maryland, they will have faced 3 of the top 7 defenses in terms of yards allowed per game (UConn and FSU being the others). That Maryland is in the top 7 in that stat with a schedule that includes West Virginia is saying something. The Terps held Geno Smith and company to 188 yards under their total offense season average. I'm feeling another 10-7 game coming on in this one; let's just hope that State is the one with the 10.
Week 9: North Carolina (4-2, 1-1) 48, Virginia Tech (3-3, 1-1) 34
Italian Stallion Giovani Benard put up video game numbers against the backsliding Hokies, rushing 23 times for 262 yards. That's 11.4 yards per carry! Gio's big day was the biggest individual rushing effort ever against a Frank Beamer-coached Va. Tech team. The Hokies are off to their worst start since opening 2-3-1 in in 1992, a fact that makes the Tarheels' win hard to measure. The Tarheels did lose to what looks to be a pretty bad Wake Forest team, but they still appear to already be better under Larry Fedora than they ever were with Butch at the helm. At Clemson in week 12 looms large on the schedule, but the Terps/Heels weeks will probably make or break this season for the Pack.
Week 10: Duke (5-1, 2-0) 42, Virginia (2-4, 0-2) 17
The Hoos dropped their 4th straight, losing despite outgaining the Blue Devils (461-394), who managed 42 points with their second-string quarterback at the helm. Anthony Boone acquitted himself well in Sean Renfree's absence, going 18-for-31 for 212 yards and 4 touchdowns. Phillip Sims got the nod over Mike Rocco in this one and did his best Rocco impression, throwing for a decent amount of yards (268) but gifting the opponent with 2 picks. Oh, and HOLY CRAP MAN DUKE IS 5-1!
Week 11: Maryland (3-2, 1-0) 19, Wake Forest (3-3, 1-3) 14
Tanner Price is 99th in the nation in QB rating (114.89) this season. Last season he was 56th (132.8). That's pretty much all you need to know about how Wake's season is going.
Week 12: #15 Clemson (5-1, 2-1) 47, Georgia Tech (2-4, 1-3) 31
Clemson surrendered 31 points for the second straight week while flirting with another upset loss. The Yellow Jackets were up 31-30 in the 4th quarter, but Tajh Boyd rallied the Tigers with a 35-yard strike to DeAndre Hopkins that started a 17-0 run to close the game. Sammy Watkins gets all the press, but Hopkins has 777 yards and 8 touchdowns on the season. His worst game was an 88-yard effort against FSU, and he has gone over 100 yards 4 times already.
Week 13: Army (1-4) 34, Boston College (1-4, 0-2) 31
The Black Nights came into this one winless on the season following a 20-point stomping at the hands of Stony Brook. They were held to 3 points against the Seawolves but had a trio of 100-yard rushers en route to 34 points in the win over the Eagles. For the second straight week, 31 points was not enough for Spaz and company to come away with a victory. BC's lone win so far is over FCS Maine, and it would be shocking if Frank Spaziani survives the season. Meanwhile, Stony Brook is 5-1 in football and made it to the college world series in baseball. Seawolves for the 16th member institution of the Atlantic Coast Conference!