What we learned in the ACC: Week 3

Here’s a look back at five lessons learned in the ACC in Week 3:

Syracuse found a quarterback: Granted, it was only against FCS opponent Wagner, a team the Orange drilled 54-0, but Syracuse quarterback Terrel Hunt gave the offense the spark it so desperately needed after an 0-2 start. He came off the bench in the first quarter to replace starter Drew Allen and directed five first-half touchdown drives. He completed 15 of 18 passes for 265 yards and three touchdowns. This past week, coach Scott Shafer had said that both Allen and Hunt would see playing time against Wagner. Allen struggled in the first two games as the starter, and against Wagner, he wasn’t much better, starting out with just three points on the first three series. Hunt came in with 7:07 left in the first quarter and didn’t look back.

Georgia Tech takes early lead in Coastal race: It’s still waaaaay too early to make any judgments about who will separate in the Coastal Divison race, but with a 38-14 win at Duke, Georgia Tech took a small step ahead of the rest. The next three weeks (against UNC, Virginia Tech and Miami) will reveal the Yellow Jackets’ true place in the ACC standings, but the convincing performance was exactly what Georgia Tech needed heading into the critical four-week stretch. Virginia Tech, on the other hand, continued to underwhelm with its offense and special teams while the defense was the difference in a 15-10 win over East Carolina. We learned that identity, though, years ago.

Wake Forest has bigger problems than Boston College: They’ve got … Louisiana-Monroe. The Demon Deacons lost 21-19 to ULM in what (so far) has easily been the ACC’s worst loss of the season. Wake Forest had just 15 rushing yards (on 15 attempts) and was 5-of-15 on third-down conversions. And yet the Deacs won the turnover battle, and receiver Michael Campanaro racked up a game-high 177 yards. For the second straight week, Wake’s option offense struggled and the defense underwhelmed. It’s one thing to see the offense trying to adjust to a shift in philosophy, but the Deacs’ defense was supposed to be a strength this fall, and expectations within the program were obviously much higher. If Wake can’t beat BC or ULM, who can it beat?

The ACC can’t win ‘em all. It was an impressive first two weeks for the conference, with Clemson’s upset of Georgia and Miami’s upset of Florida, but beating up on the big boys (and in Wake’s case, the little guys) came to a halt in Week 3. Boston College couldn’t get it done in a 35-7 loss at USC on Saturday. USC, which was coming off an embarrassing loss to Washington State, took its frustrations out on the Eagles, holding BC to just 184 total yards and 4 of 13 third-down conversions. The Eagles had positive momentum after a 2-0 start, but the intangibles weren’t enough to slow down USC’s running game, or get their own ground game going. Overall, the ACC went 4-2 against nonconference opponents this week, with losses to USC and … ULM.

Karlos Williams can play offense. In the season opener against Pitt, he was a safety. In the win over Nevada, he was a running back -- and a heckuva good one, too. The position change suited Williams just fine, as he ran eight times for 110 yards and a touchdown. His 65-yard run early in the third quarter gave the Noles a 31-7 cushion. His performance made Coach Jimbo Fisher look like a genius. "I'm not trying to say that I was rubbing a crystal ball, but that guy is a talented cat," Fisher said, according to the Associated Press. "He's very dynamic with the ball. He's big, he's strong and explosive. He's natural. When he gets in space, he can hit home runs and he's hard to tackle because he's a big, physical guy there, too. ... Karlos will provide us a very big piece of the puzzle, in my opinion, as the year goes on."