Tuesday December 1st, 2015 6:47PM

ACC rolling up the yards, points, wins this season

By The Associated Press
BOSTON -- Pittsburgh allowed an average of 56 points per game last season. So last week's 58-55 victory over Duke wouldn't stand out much to a fan scanning the scores.

Except that team with the stingy defense was Pitt basketball.

The victory over the Blue Devils on Saturday was the Panthers' football team - one, but hardly the only, example of the record-setting Atlantic Coast Conference offenses that are scoring an average of 33.53 points per game.

"Nothing really surprises you anymore about college football," Georgia Tech defensive coordinator Ted Roof said. "With the way the rules have changed and the evolution of the spread offense and all those things, not too much shocks me. I pretty much can roll with it. ... As long as we win, I'm good."

One year after averaging a record 29.55 points per game, ACC offenses are scoring almost four points more. A league-record five schools scored 50 or more points on a single day - last Saturday - including Pittsburgh's game against Duke in which both teams broke the milestone.

"It's hard to play defense," Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. "You just can't give up explosive plays. You've got to let them self-destruct. They'll drop a ball, they'll overthrow a pass, they'll have a penalty, you'll get bad down and distance. ... You've got to be opportunistic around timely defense, I guess, (is) what it's starting to look like."

And it's not just Duke.

Virginia scored 49 points to beat Virginia Military Institute, Maryland had 37 against West Virginia and Syracuse scored 52 against Tulane. And in Miami's 77-7 victory over Savannah State, the Hurricanes set a school record for points even though the coaches agreed to shorten the fourth quarter to 12 minutes.

"It's a lightning-quick conference with a lot of skilled athletes on the perimeter," Syracuse coach Scott Shafer said. "It's a lot of high-potency schemes that give those schools opportunities to make plays in space. That's what you see when you watch the videotape.

"I think a combination of good coaching with very adequate schemes coupled with exceptional athletes is probably the biggest reason for all the high scores."

Many of the games were set up to be mismatches, like the one that had No. 15 Miami as a 60-point favorite over Savannah State of the Football Championship Subdivision or Virginia against VMI, another FCS team. Syracuse also scored more than 50 points a week earlier against Wagner, also an FCS school.

But that doesn't explain the ACC game between Pitt and Duke in which the teams combined for 113 points. Florida State hasn't been held to fewer than 41 points this season, including in its game against the Panthers, and Georgia Tech has averaged almost seven touchdowns a game, including victories over Duke and North Carolina.

"It's our job to make sure that whatever the game is, that we're prepared to win it," said Panthers coach Paul Chryst, whose team scored its most points since 1995. "If it's a shootout, we've got to be prepared to win it. If it's in bad conditions, we've got to be prepared to win it. That's the way I choose to look at it. But these scores aren't as shocking as maybe they would've been 10 years ago."

Or even one week ago, when Pitt beat New Mexico 49-27; the 107 points in two games was the Panthers' most since 1977). Or the game before that, when the Panthers gave up 41 in a loss to Florida State.

Duke cornerback Ross Cockrell said it's all through the NCAA - and even the NFL - that teams are running a hurry-up offense that adds plays to the game and makes mistakes more likely. North Carolina moved to a no-huddle, spread offense last season and set program records with 40.6 points and 485.6 yards per game.

"That can wear down a defense," Cockrell said.

Virginia coach Mike London believes he might know another reason why.

"Sometimes there's a mentality to try to put up as many points on the board as you can because it looks good, for perhaps maybe future rankings or getting your stats up there offensively," said London, who put in his second- and third-string quarterbacks in the second half after the Cavaliers opened a 49-0 lead.

"I have a respect for coaches in this game," he said. "You're going to play the game, but after a certain point we wanted to make sure that we used as much clock as possible and then run plays. I think some of that sometimes gets lost in college football and doing things the right way because you want to get numbers and you want to look at the stats and things like that."
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