Should Syracuse football feel optimistic within the ACC?

Syracuse Wake Forest
Oct 31, 2020; Syracuse, New York, USA; Wake Forest Demon Deacons running back Christian Beal-Smith (26) is tackled by a number of Syracuse Orange defenders in the first quarter at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse opened its 2021 season with a 29-9 win over Ohio, making it one of only six ACC teams to win its opening game.

Still, six ACC teams received AP top 25 votes, proving that there is still plenty of talent in conference.

Here is how the Orange’s ACC opponents fared during Week 1.

Week #5: Florida State

If it wasn’t for Jonathan Doerer going 7-7 in field goal attempts, including the 41 yard overtime game winner, FSU would have pulled off the Week 1 upset against Notre Dame.

After going 2-6 in ACC play last year, FSU looks improved with QB McKenzie Milton under center. After three years recovering from a career threatening leg injury, the backup QB was the story of the season opener.

The Seminoles looked more poised last week than all of last year, and it started with their defensive line. FSU controlled the run game all day with 264 rushing yards led by a dominant performance from running back Jashuan Corbin who had an 89 yard TD run.

Week #6: Wake Forest

After what will be a difficult weekend in Tallahassee, the Orange will head back to CNY for its first ACC home game against Wake Forest.

The Demon Deacons went 3-4 in ACC play last year including a 38-14 victory in the Dome. This time around Dave Clawson’s squad is not going to be any easier for the Orange.

Redshirt junior QB Sam Hartman looked solid manning the offense against Old Dominion Week 1 in a blowout 42-10 win. Redshirt junior Christian Beal-Smith finished with 11 carries for 74 yards.

Week #7: Clemson

Already set for a 7 p.m. start on Oct. 15, Clemson will likely bring the largest crowd of the season to campus.

It is hard to bounce back as a program when you lose Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne, but if any team could do it it would be Clemson.

Still, the Tigers have their work cut out for them the rest of the way after a tough 10-3 first week loss to Georgia. In postgame, quarterback DJ Uiagalelei stated “the loss is on me” after throwing for just 178 yards and one interception.

Week #9: Virginia Tech

A great performance in Week 1 to upset UNC, 17-10, landed Virginia Tech at No. 19 in the AP Poll.

The Hokies were impressive offensively over the weekend with QB Braxton Burmeister throwing for 169 yards, mainly to Raheem Blackshear and Tre Turner. But what stood out the most against UNC was the Virginia Tech defense.

The Hokies held a very offensively talented UNC team to just 10 points and did so in dominant fashion. Virginia Tech has an incredibly strong line on both sides of the ball which brought chaos for UNC.

Week #10: Boston College

No week is easy in the ACC, and Boston College is a perfect example of that. Although not normally considered a top ACC football school, the Eagles have a very solid roster this season.

BC beat up on Colgate in week one 51-0 which led to recognition in the AP Poll with eight votes. Last year the Eagles sat at 5-5 in ACC play, and most of those players returned for second year head coach Jeff Hafley, who helped BC to a winning record in his first year as head coach.

» Related: Former Syracuse LB Rich Scanlon says Orange will be ‘much improved’

Week #12: Louisville

In a week where several ACC teams lost, Louisville perhaps looked the worst. A offensive explosion from Ole Miss turned into a poor overall performance from the Cardinals.

The Louisville defense was lost at times against Ole Miss allowing easy options for Matt Corral and the Rebels.

Week #13: NC State

NC State had a similar first week to Boston College in which they beat up on South Florida 45-0. QB Devin Leary threw for an impressive 232 yards with two touchdowns. Even more dominant was the NC State run game with Zonovan Knight leading the way with 163 rushing yards.

The Wolfpack are legit ACC contenders who are just outside of the AP Top 25.

Week #14: Pittsburgh Panthers

Pitt started the season off strong against UMass with a 51-7 win. After .500 play last year in the ACC, the Panthers return key veterans like QB Kenny Pickett while bringing in some new exciting talent.

Transfer Lucas Krull from Florida is set for a big year after injury limited his time last season. In addition, freshman running back Rodney Hammond Jr looked impressive in his debut. ESPN rated Hamond as one of the nations top 20 incoming running backs.

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About Brett Gustin 30 Articles
Brett is from Canastota, NY, and is currently attending Falk college at Syracuse University studying Sports Analytics. Being a Central New York native, Brett has been passionate about Syracuse sports for his whole life. He covers all Syracuse athletics.