Here are things to watch in the Atlantic Coast Conference in Week 2:
GAME OF THE WEEK
North Carolina State at Mississippi State. The Power Five matchup against a Southeastern Conference foe features two teams coming off big wins. The Wolfpack racked up 293 yards rushing in a 45-0 victory over South Florida. The Bulldogs built a 14-0 lead against Louisiana Tech, then gave up 34 unanswered points before mounting the biggest comeback in school history in a 35-34 win. NC State will have to deal with QB Will Rogers, who completed 39 of 47 passes for 370 yards and three touchdowns to key the Bulldogs’ winning comeback. He also tied the Mississippi State single-game record with 12 consecutive completions. Sophomore RB Zonovan Knight rushed for a game-high 163 yards, including a 46-yard TD run, caught two passes for 16 yards, and had a 25-yard kickoff return for the Wolfpack. This will mark only the second time the Wolfpack have traveled to Starkville and the first since posting a 6-0 win in 1931. The series is tied 3-3. The Bulldogs’ slated trip to Raleigh last season was canceled because of COVID-19.
The Mississippi State defense against the North Carolina State offense. The Wolfpack had two backs go over 100 yards – Zonovan Knight (163) and Ricky Person Jr. (105) combined for 268 yards rushing and four touchdowns – and racked up 525 yards of total offense. Although Mike Leach’s Bulldogs gave up 34 points in their opener, the defense allowed only 4 of 15 third-down conversions (26.7%). The Bulldogs had four tackles for a loss, including one sack, against Louisiana Tech but allowed 12.8 yards per catch and 4 yards per carry on the ground. NC State converted 8 of 13 third downs (61.5% ), tied for 12th in the nation.
Syracuse won only one game last year but got off to a promising start to the new season with a dominant 29-9 victory last week at Ohio, not allowing a touchdown. The Orange’s veteran front line is relatively healthy after one game and tailback Sean Tucker is coming off a career-best, 181-yard performance. The Orange return to the Carrier Dome for the first time in 650 days to host former Big East foe Rutgers, which won its season opener 61-14 over Temple. Syracuse is a slight underdog, according to FanDuel Sports Book, but the Carrier Dome can be a very raucous place and if the hometown fans are buoyed by the season-opening win and turn out in big numbers it gives the Orange an edge. Rutgers has won three of the past four in the Dome.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Boston College totaled just seven 300-yard passing games from 2010-19, including just three since 2013. In 11 games, Eagles quarterback Phil Jurkovec is already fifth in school history with five. Former BC stars Matt Ryan (43 games from 2004-07) and Doug Flutie (46 games from 1981-84) share the school record with 12. Jurkovec was the first player in school history to have four 300-yard passing games in his first five career starts and the first with four or more 300-yard games in a season since Ryan in 2007. Jurkovec led BC to a 51-0 win over FCS foe Colgate to open the season, finishing 16-for-24 passing for 303 yards and three touchdowns. The redshirt junior also had 61 yards on the ground, including a 41-yard carry in the third quarter.
Syracuse sophomore tailback Sean Tucker emerged last season as the Orange’s go-to guy, averaging 4.6 yards per carry behind an injury-riddled offensive line and there’s talk the team might be handing out the famed No. 44 again. The 5-foot-10, 210-pound Tucker, one of two players assigned No. 34, gained a career-high 181 yards on 25 carries in a 29-9 win at Ohio last week to open the season. Coach Dino Babers says to get the full appreciation of what Tucker does you have to watch the short gains, not the long ones like the 47-yarder he ripped off against the Bobcats.
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