Through the first three weeks of the season, the Atlantic Coast Conference has some impressive non-conference wins. North Carolina and Florida State have impressive wins over SEC foes South Carolina and LSU respectively.
The ACC is 8-7 in Power 5 non-conference games, however, six of those seven losses combined belong to Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh, and Virginia. The loss by the Hokies to Power 5 conference schools are games that, well, they could have and probably should have won. At least one of the two.
Virginia Tech’s Power 5 loss were to inferior Big Ten schools
Virginia’s two Power 5 losses are to Tennessee of the SEC and Maryland of the Big Ten. The Tennessee loss is not surprising and really neither is the Maryland loss with the way the Cavaliers season is going. Pittsburgh’s two Power 5 losses are to Cincinnati and to West Virginia, 17-6, last Saturday in a game where the Panthers did not look too good.
As for Virginia Tech, by now you know their two Power 5 conference losses are to Big Ten schools Purdue and Rutgers. It’s not too long ago when the Hokies would have beaten both schools, but the times have changed in Blacksburg.
What makes the Purdue loss tough to stomach is that Tech lost wide receiver Ali Jennings in the game and starting quarterback Grant Wells suffered an ankle injury late in the first half. He stayed in the game in the second half before being replaced by Kyron Drones for the final drive. Maybe a change at QB earlier in the game yields a different result. Add to it that Syracuse went into West Lafayette last Saturday and beat the Boilermakers, 35-20, handing them their second home loss of the season after Fresno State beat them in Week 1.
Last Saturday at Rutgers, the Hokies dominated time of possession in the first half and held a two-to-one advantage with the ball, but still went into the locker room trailing 21-3. In the second half, they came back, and cut the deficit to 21-16, before the Scarlet Knights put the game away late with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns. Injuries have played a part in the Hokies’ 1-2 start to the season, but let’s be honest, they lost to two Big Ten teams that will finish in the middle or near the bottom of the conference standings. Rutgers is 3-0, but their other wins are over Northwestern and Temple. Not exactly the iron of the conference in the Wildcats or are the Owls in a non-conference battle.
What started out promising for Virginia Tech to begin the season with a win over Old Dominion is now looking like it’s going to be tough sledding. The ACC schedule is going to be very difficult for the Hokies and you can’t say for certain that they can win any games on there. Even Boston College and Virginia will be tough with the way the Hokies are playing and yes, I know, those games are on the backend of the schedule.
Brent Pry might need to get the memo other teams in the ACC have, maybe on Power 5 conference school a year non-conference is the way to go, especially for a program rebuilding. Winless against two Big Ten inferior teams is not what they were expecting when the season started. The ACC has some respectable wins, but right now, losses by the Hokies, UVA and Pitt are holding back the conference.