The North Carolina Tar Heels kicked off last week’s action with a trip down to southern Florida to take on the 16th ranked Miami Hurricanes. Things started off somewhat promisingly for the struggling Tar Heels, with North Carolina only being down by four points at the end of the first quarter.
However, quarterback Chazz Surratt, who showed some explosiveness on the ground, struggled through the air in his first game back after being suspended for four games for selling team shoes. He threw for just ten yards and lobbed away three interceptions, including a decisive pick-six in the second quarter that shut the door on any hopes for a UNC comeback.
Miami would go on to score two additional touchdowns on defense, and crushed the floundering Tar Heels, 47-10. UNC moves to 1-3 in their 2018 campaign.
The Duke Blue Devils were in action on Saturday. Led by Head Coach David Cutcliffe, who has quietly brought the program back from obscurity, the Blue Devils headed into their matchup with Virginia Tech with a perfect 4-0 record and serious aspirations for postseason play.
After capturing an early 7-3 lead, Duke’s offense stalled and their normally-stringent defense was gashed all night by the Hokies, who may have had something to prove after being embarrassed by Old Dominion last Saturday.
Hokie quarterback Ryan Willis, filling in for the injured Josh Jackson, had a magnificent game, throwing for 332 yards and three touchdowns en route to a commanding 31-14 victory. The defeat derailed any early-season College Football Playoff hopes for the Blue Devils and knocked them out of the AP Top 25. Duke now falls to 4-1 on the years and 0-1 in the ACC.
NC State took on the University of Virginia on Saturday afternoon and had little trouble dispatching the Cavaliers in their conference opener. The Wolfpack, led by All-ACC candidate Ryan Finley, took a 20-7 lead into halftime and did not look back. Finley threw for 257 yards and three touchdowns. Finley’s third and final touchdown of the day—a 16-yard strike to wide receiver Kelvin Harmon—put the game out of reach for the Cavaliers, and the ‘Pack moved on, 35-21. They are now 4-0 this season and are likely the biggest threat to usurp Clemson as kings of the ACC. Their Oct. 20 matchup is starting to look like a game that may decide the Atlantic Division.
Outside of the busy ACC, Appalachian State continues their conquest of the Sun Belt Conference with a resounding 52-7 win over the University of South Alabama. Quarterback Zac Thomas finished the game with four total touchdowns.
Had the Mountaineers been able to pull off the monumental upset against Penn State in their season opener, this team would be in Top 25 and would likely be in the Playoff discussion. As it is now, they are 3-1 and even received a few votes in the most recent AP Poll. It wouldn’t be unfair of them to make a claim as the best college football team in the state of North Carolina.
East Carolina got their second win of the season against Old Dominion, which, as earlier mentioned, was coming off a shocking upset of then-14th ranked Virginia Tech. Pirate quarterback Reid Herring threw for 309 yards, three touchdowns, and two picks. ECU kicker Jake Verity sealed the win with a 38-yard boot with 46 seconds left to give the Pirates a 37-35 advantage. ECU’s defense stepped up and they came away with the clutch victory.
Other North Carolina schools in action over the weekend included NC A&T, who played on Thursday against South Carolina State and won 31-16, and UNC-Charlotte, who fell to UAB by a score of 28-7.