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ACC Football Weekend recap: Josh Downs emerges as Biletnikoff candidate, Kenny Pickett keeps flinging darts

Halloween is only a couple of weeks away and Wake Forest (5-0) is still unbeaten. Is it starting to feel like 2006 in Winston-Salem, again? Too early to say at this point, but if this keeps up for a few more weeks, everyone in the Triad should reserve only the best candy for Dave Clawson and the Demon Deacons when trick-or-treating comes around.

This was a busy weekend in the ACC — with plenty of dramatic finishes. Let’s take a look back!

 

Power Rankings

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

 

Players of the Week

Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh, QB

Pickett continues to sizzle and emerge as arguably the top player in the ACC this season. At this point, that’s probably not up for debate. Pickett threw for 304 yards and three touchdowns during the first half of Pitt’s blowout win over Georgia Tech. He finished the game with 389 yards through the air and four touchdowns.

For the season now, Pickett is averaging 346.2 passing yards per game (No. 2 ACC) and 10.3 yards per pass attempt (No. 1 ACC), while throwing 19 touchdowns (No. 2 FBS) in five games to only one interception.

 

Josh Downs, North Carolina, WR

Downs continues to excel as the go-to guy in North Carolina’s offense. During Saturday’s win over Duke, Downs grabbed eight passes for 168 yards and another touchdown. Downs, who is averaging 15.5 yards per catch, has recorded eight receptions in every game this season, so far, which puts him in rare territory.

Through the first five games of the season, Downs already has 13 receptions of 15+ yards, including nine catches of 25+ yards.

 

Taylor Morin, Wake Forest, WR

Lining up across from preseason All-ACC wide receiver Jacquarii Roberson, Morin had a monster day against the Louisville Cardinals. He finished with six catches for 122 yards and a touchdown to help the Demon Deacons stay perfect at 5-0.

Morin stepped into a starting role after Donavon Greene sustained a season-ending injury in the offseason.

 

Stats of the Week

Led by Kenny Pickett, Pitt leads the FBS in scoring offense (52.4 points per game) and ranks No. 6 in offensive efficiency, according to ESPN.

As David Hale of ESPN points out, this five-game stretch from Pitt is one of the most impressive starts to a season over the last decade of college football.

 

Panther Party

As a result of Pittsburgh‘s 52-21 win at Georgia Tech, the Panthers have scored at least 40 points in all 5 of its games this season. The only other ACC program to accomplish this feat is Florida State, who had 11 straight 40-point games in 2013, seven in 1995 and five in 1999.

 

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: Dino Babers (Syracuse), David Cutcliffe (Duke)
    • Syracuse has a winning record, but two of the team’s three wins came vs. Ohio and Albany. The Orange are set to head into a tough portion of their schedule, too: Wake Forest, Clemson, at Virginia Tech, Boston College, at Louisville, at NC State and Pitt. Syracuse could very well lose out. Lots of football to play, but after the loss to FSU, this is a situation to monitor.
    • Cutcliffe has done so much good during his time at Duke; more recently, the Blue Devils did well picking up wins over Northwestern and Kansas. That win streak snapped on Saturday, though, as UNC trounced Duke and kept the Victory Bell in Chapel Hill for a third straight season.

 

Cayenne Division

  • 30,000-50,000 SHU: Mike Norvell (FSU), Geoff Collins (Georgia Tech), Manny Diaz (Miami)
    • Norvell picked up his first win of the 2021 season, but it didn’t exactly come in the cleanest of fashions; FSU needed a 34-yard field goal from Ryan Fitzgerald as time expired to defeat Syracuse 33-30 in Tallahassee.
    • Two weeks ago, Collins got the signature win of his tenure at Georgia Tech, which was been shaky for the seasons now, when the Yellow Jackets bottled up Sam Howell and UNC. However, the loss at Pitt on Saturday was embarrassing. This isn’t going well, right?
    • Miami and Diaz are entering uncomfortable waters, playing without injured quarterback D’Eriq King: the 30-28 loss to UVA featured some head-scratching decision-making, too. This season started with great promise for the Hurricanes, but once again, things are falling apart.