There are some very good units in the ACC, based on the official NCAA statistical top five lists. Let’s take a look at which teams are in the top fives so far and what it may mean for the season...
Rushing Offense (yards per game)
After just one game, the Virginia Tech Hokies made an immediate splash as the offense debuted at number two in the nation in terms of rushing yards per game with 314 yards against NC State (Army is still in first place with 320 yards).
Team Passing Efficiency
When you run as well as the Hokies did you don’t have to throw a lot of passes, but it still pays to be efficient when you do, and Virginia Tech is currently fifth in the nation with a rating of 192.96, just behind the Oklahoma Sooners. In other words, the Hokies might have a pretty good offense this year!
Total Defense (yards per game)
The ACC has not one but three teams in the top five in this stat:
2. Pitt (177 yards)
3. UNC (202 yards)
5. Clemson (246 yards)
I know it’s still early, but the Pittsburgh Panthers look like the real deal on defense. I assume the Clemson Tigers are going to be in the final mix as well, but the North Carolina Tar Heels have only played one game, so we’ll have to reserve judgment on them.
Rushing Defense (yards per game)
The antithesis of Virginia Tech’s potent rushing attack could be the number two rush defense of the Virginia Cavaliers, but before we get too excited about that unit, let’s keep in mind they’ve only played one game, and it was against the winless Duke Blue Devils. Pitt, on the other hand, is tied for second and probably legitimate. The number one team, LSU, gave up a million yards passing so you should probably put an asterisk beside that rush defense.
Passing Yards Allowed (yards per game)
Once again we find the Pitt Panthers (121 yards) in the top five of another defensive stat, this time good enough for third best in the nation. North Carolina checks in at number four (134 yards), but again, the only game the Tar Heels have played so far was against the Syracuse Orange; I don’t have to tell Pitt fans how much the Orange have struggled on offense.
Team Passing Efficiency Defense
UNC (66.46) and Pitt (80.89) are one and two in this stat. Both teams have played Syracuse, but the difference is Pitt has also faced Louisville.
Scoring Defense (points per game)
The UNC defense has given up just six points - third lowest average in the nation. Two ACC teams are tied for fourth, just half a point behind them; Notre Dame and Clemson both have yielded 6.5 points per game so far this season.
After one game, the Virginia Cavaliers lead the nation with a plus four average turnover margin. That’s likely to come down a bit when they play Clemson this Saturday.
Fewest Penalties Per Game
The Wake Forest Demon Deacons have the second-fewest penalties (2 per game) and the second-fewest penalty yards (10.5 yards per game) in the FBS - but they’re still winless (0-2), so you have to wonder how valuable this statistic really is...
Time of Possession
Pitt is number five with an average time of possession of 34.50. It’s tough enough to score on the Panthers when you have the ball, but when you don’t...
Team Sacks (year-to-date)
I saved the best for last as there are four ACC teams tied for fourth or better nationally:
1. Pitt (17 sacks in 3 games)
T4. Duke, Miami (10 sacks in 3 games) and Clemson (10 sacks in 2 games)
The bottom line is this: there are some really good units on these ACC football teams - and the Pitt Panthers defense is near the top. Enjoy, Panther fans - despite the pandemic, this is shaping up to be a special season!