It was a busy -- and relatively easy -- early afternoon for three ACC teams jockeying for position in the crowded middle ground of the conference. All three games ended in blowouts, but for NC State and new head coach Dave Doeren, the day wasn't without its setbacks.
The good news is, Doeren and the Wolfpack got win No. 1. The bad news is they also lost their starting quarterback for the foreseeable future.
Brandon Mitchell suffered a broken foot that will require surgery early in the game and could miss up to six weeks, according to reports. The Arkansas transfer, who won an offseason QB competition to replace Mike Glennon, was 3-for-3 for 93 yards and ran for another 19, leading NC State to scores on each of his first two drives. But on a failed run on third-and-1 on the Wolfpack's third drive, Mitchell went down with the foot injury and didn't return.
Pete Thomas replaced Mitchell, but didn't look quite as sharp. The junior completed 15 of 27 passes for 212 yards and an interception, but the ground game picked up the slack as Matt Dayes rushed for 84 yards and three touchdowns.
NC State's defense forced four Louisiana Tech fumbles, which contributed to the Wolfpack more than doubling Louisiana Tech's time of possession. Kicker Niklas Sade connected on four field goals.
It was a long wait for C.J. Brown to finally get on the field again after missing all of 2012 with a knee injury. Against a thoroughly overmatched FIU team, Brown quickly made up for lost time.
The Terps' quarterback scored five times in the first half -- three passing TDs, two rushing -- to lead the charge. It was the most touchdowns by a Terps quarterback in a game since 2003.
Brown didn't stick around long in the second half, and finished the day 20 of 23 passing for 281 yards and three TDs, adding another 11 rushes for 109 yards and two scores. His 66-yard TD throw to Stefon Diggs was the first in what the Terps hope will be a lethal combination in 2013. Diggs finished the game with five catches for 98 yards. Wideout Deon Long added eight catches for 108 yards and a touchdown.
Brown's stellar debut couldn't be better news for Maryland, which used five different quarterbacks during a remarkable run of injuries in 2012. Brown's five touchdowns in the first half were just one shy of what linebacker-turned-QB Shawn Petty mustered in Maryland's final four full games of 2012.
Paul Johnson couldn't have expected his team to have much trouble with Elon, but Georgia Tech nevertheless managed to impress.
Sure, the competition was light, but the Yellow Jackets thoroughly dominated. Tech entered the fourth quarter with a 63-0 lead -- the largest in program history. By tacking on a fourth-quarter touchdown, the Jackets set a new ACC record for largest margin of victory in a game, topping Florida State's 69-0 win over Western Carolina in 2008.
It was a matter of shared wealth in the drubbing, with nine different Yellow Jackets finding the end zone. Still, it was a strong start for first-year starting quarterback Vad Lee, who completed 7 of 11 passes for 189 yards and two touchdowns and ran six times for an additional 49 yards and a score.
Linebacker Tyler Marcordes' 95-yard interception return for a score was one of two Georgia Tech had in the game.