App State (2-5, 1-2 Sun Belt)
Beat Troy 53-14
What worked: In what was their first-ever Sun Belt victory, the Mountaineers defense forced four Troy turnovers, had three sacks and eight tackles for loss. Offensively, Appalachian State rolled up 551 yards.
What needs work: The Mountaineers got off to another slow start, but this didn’t last long. Troy scored first, before Appalachian State scored 20 consecutive points.
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What’s next: The Mountaineers take a week off before playing Georgia State on Nov. 1 at Kidd Brewer Stadium. The Panthers (1-6, 0-4) lost to South Alabama 30-27 Saturday. David Scott
Clemson (5-2, 4-1 ACC)
Beat Boston College 17-13
What worked: Cole Stoudt did a solid job back as the starter at quarterback after Deshaun Watson suffered a broken finger against Louisville. Stoudt completed 29-of-45 passes for 285 yards. He didn’t throw a touchdown, but he also didn’t throw an interception. Wide receiver Mike Williams had another huge day with eight catches for 128 yards.
What needs work: Clemson has tried to establish a running game all season without much success. Against the Eagles the Tigers ran 36 times for 113 yards; a 3.1-yard average just doesn’t cut it.
What’s next: Clemson hosts Syracuse, which blew out Wake Forest in Winston-Salem. Rick Bonnell
Duke (6-1, 2-1 ACC)
Beat Virginia 20-13
What worked: Duke’s bend-but-don’t-break defense was at it again. Entering the game, the Blue Devils were second in the ACC in scoring defense (15.5 points per game) but 10th in total defense (386.8 yards per game). That trend held again Saturday: Duke gave up 465 yards to the Cavaliers but allowed only 13 points. Virginia scored just three points in the second half, which came on its first drive of the third quarter. After that, the Cavaliers went punt, punt, punt, turnover on downs, end of game.
What needs work: Quarterback Anthony Boone started strong, delivering some bullets in the first half, which he finished 16-for-21 (76.2 percent) for 125 yards and a touchdown. In the second half, though, his accuracy issues returned. Boone went 6-for-16 (37.5 percent) for 51 yards.
“Anthony hit a lull,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. “We missed some open people. What I went over there and said, I told him, ‘Anthony, I’ve seen you at your best, and I’ve seen you when this happens. I don’t want to make a big deal about it, but you’ve got to quit worrying about Virginia and play. Just play’ ”
Boone’s finest play of the day came on Duke’s penultimate drive – a perfectly read 23-yard option run.
What’s next: An open date before a Nov. 1 trip to Pittsburgh.
South Carolina (4-3, 2-3 SEC)
Beat Furman 41-10
What worked: Yes, they were playing an FCS opponent, but piling up 548 yards of total offense had to be heartening to a South Carolina team that has been a disappointment most of the season. The defense allowed one third-down conversion in nine Furman attempts.
What needs work: The Gamecocks were just 4-of-12 in third-down conversion attempts (although 2-of-2 in fourth-down conversions). Also South Carolina fumbled twice.
What’s next: South Carolina is at Auburn on Saturday in what could be the Gamecocks’ most challenging game of the remaining schedule. Rick Bonnell
N.C. State (4-4, 0-4 ACC)
Lost at Louisville, 30-18
What worked: N.C. State’s offensive line, rejuvenated by the return of junior left guard Joe Thuney, gave quarterback Jacoby Brissett (223 passing yards, two touchdowns) more time to throw and opened up running room for Shadrach Thornton (54 yards on 13 carries).
The defense, which has bled yardage in ACC play, held the Cardinals to 369 total yards. The Wolfpack, using more blitz packages, also sacked Louisville quarterback Will Gardner three times.
Sophomore tight end David Grinnage caught two touchdown passes, of 16 and 21 yards, and finished with three catches for 43 yards. Grinnage has three touchdowns in the past two games. Receiver Bo Hines, who injured his ankle against Boston College last week, returned to the lineup and caught two passes for 75 yards.
Senior linebacker Brandon Pittman got more playing time and made the most of it with seven tackles and a sack.
What needs work: For the third straight ACC game, the Wolfpack gave up a touchdown on the opening drive. The defense got better as the game progressed, and got a great effort from freshman linebacker Airius Moore, but it has to figure out a way to start games better.
Kicker Nik Sade made a 48-yard field goal, and one from 25 yards, but he missed a PAT on the Wolfpack’s first touchdown of the game, which would have tied the score at 7.
The goal-line offense left some points on the board at the end of the third quarter. The Wolfpack ran five plays inside the Cardinals’ 10-yard line – including three from the 1-yard line – but couldn’t punch the ball in the end zone.
What’s next: N.C. State is off this week and then travels to Syracuse on Nov. 1. Joe Giglio
UNC (3-4, 1-2 ACC)
Beat Georgia Tech 48-43
What worked: The offense, outside of an early three and out and a turnover, played its most complete game of the season. Marquise Williams, the junior quarterback, finished with 463 yards of total offense, accounted for five touchdowns and led the Tar Heels on their late game-winning drive in the final minutes. For once, too, UNC’s rushing game came through. The Tar Heels had 189 yards rushing, led by T.J. Logan’s 75 yards. And also: no penalty problems. Or, at least fewer penalty problems. UNC finished with four penalties for 35 yards, which would have been a quarter’s worth in some games this season.
What needs work: Georgia Tech’s option offense offers unique challenges that defenses don’t face at any other point in a season. So some of the struggles are understandable. Still, the Tar Heels were pretty bad – again – against the option. UNC allowed 611 yards and surrendered a garish 8.9 yards per play. One of the best things the defense might have done, though, was to allow Georgia Tech to take the lead so quickly late in the fourth quarter. UNC gave up a 75-yard touchdown run with about three minutes to play, and it would have been much worse – and much more difficult to come back – if the Yellow Jackets had simply run down the clock and scored later.
What’s next: At Virginia (4-3, 2-1), noon, Saturday. Andrew Carter
Wake Forest (2-5, 0-3 ACC)
Lost to Syracuse 30-7
What worked: The Deacons got occasional offensive production, especially on the second drive of the game, when they drove 91 yards on 13 plays to take a 7-0 lead. But that drive accounted for more than half of the Deacons’ 170 total yards for the day.
What needs work: Wake Forest’s defense was soft all day. Indicative of that were two Syracuse drives, during which the Orange converted six-of-seven third downs.
What’s next: Wake Forest is host to Boston College (4-3, 1-2), which lost to Clemson 17-13 Saturday. David Scott