ACC Football Weekend Recap: Drake Thomas picks up the pieces, Wake Forest makes history

Check the calendar: it’s November, somehow. With the days getting shorter, let’s not waste any more time. Here’s what you missed over the weekend in ACC football.


ACC Football Power Rankings: Nov. 11

This week’s ACC Football Power Rankings are out. Make sure to check those out here.


Players of the Week

Tyler Van Dyke, Miami, QB

Van Dyke. Despite beginning the season as Miami’s third-string quarterback, Van Dyke has now led the Hurricanes’ offense to exceed the 30-point mark in three consecutive games.

On the road Saturday, he completed 76 percent of his 42 attempts for 426 yards — along with three touchdown passes — to hand ranked Pittsburgh its first ACC loss of the season. The Canes needed every bit of those gaudy stats, too, because while Van Dyke couldn’t be stopped through the air, the running game was held to just 64 yards.


Sean Tucker, Syracuse, RB

Without much of a supporting passing game, Tucker has been incredible this season. The FBS leader in rushing yards (1,267) and carries (201) celebrated a career day in the win over Boston College. Tucker ran for a career-best 207 yards (7.96 yards per carry) and a 51-yard touchdown.

So far, through nine games this season, Tucker has eight 100-yard rushing performances. That ranks No. 1 in the FBS, too. (Duke’s Mateo Durant is tied with the second most at six.)


Drake Thomas, NC State, LB

Thomas finished with a career-best 15 tackles and two sacks as NC State contained Louisville quarterback Malik Cunningham, one of the most explosive offensive talents in the ACC, en route to a big win Saturday night in Raleigh.

The effort from Thomas came at a critical time, too. During last Saturday’s loss at Miami, star and defensive play-caller linebacker Isaiah Moore was lost for the season with an injury. NC State was already down one stud linebacker: Payton Wilson, a 2020 First Team All-ACC performer.

Thomas wasn’t alone, though. This was team effort. Safety Tanner Ingles finished with 10 tackles. Vi Jones picked up seven total tackles, and was a crucial speed element in the run-stop game.


Stats of the Week

History in Winston-Salem

Wake Forest football. These are truly unchartered waters for the Demon Deacons. The first recorded year of Wake Forest football was in 1888. In the ensuing 133 years of football — the first 68 in Wake Forest, N.C. and the last 65 in Winston-Salem — there has never been a team to start a season 8-0 or win eight consecutive games. Until now.

As a result, Wake Forest was ranked 10th in the AP poll this week, which is its highest ranking in school history.



The an interesting dynamic in the ACC this season. Overall, the league is down; Clemson has regressed significantly. However, the quarterback play in the league has been excellent.

    • Kenny Pickett
    • Sam Hartman
    • Sam Howell
    • Brennan Armstrong
    • Devin Leary
    • Tyler Van Dyke (all of a sudden)

These are five quarterbacks in the midst of terrific seasons — and Van Dyke who has been brilliant over the last two weeks. Amazingly enough, all of that quality quarterback action has come from programs not named Clemson and doesn’t include D’Eriq King, who lost most of the season with an injury.

Leary, however, has flown under the radar, some. He’s been quite good in 2021: 66.1 percent completion rate, 21 touchdowns and two interceptions. ESPN’s David Hale gets a little friendly with filters here, but the point remains: Leary has been efficient and opportunistic.


Scoville Scale: ACC Coaches on the Hot Seat

For the 2021 season, we’re using the Scoville Scale — which measures the pungency/spiciness of peppers — as a means to signify how hot the seats are for certain ACC head football coaches. (SHU: Scoville Heat Units)


Jalapeno Division

  • 2,500-8,000 SHU: Justin Fuente (Virginia Tech)
    • It’s hard to know where things stand, exactly, with Fuente and VT. The win over Georgia Tech helps, but the final four games of the regular season may determine what happens next

Cayenne Division

  • 30,000-50,000 SHU: Manny Diaz (Miami), Geoff Collins (Georgia Tech), David Cutcliffe (Duke)
    • After a loss a few weeks ago in Chapel Hill, Miami has picked things up. For now, Diaz is trending up
    • The Yellow Jackets have dropped two straight, and really only have one win of note this season: North Carolina, back in September
    • Duke has lost four straight games, including defeats to Virginia and Wake Forest by a combined 86 points over the last two weeks

*Josh Graham contributed to this post


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