The concept of building things up just to tear them down didn’t begin with the advent of social media. Facebook, Instagram and the platform formerly known as Twitter have only transformed it into an art form.

That’s why the wild ride Florida State has been on over the first 3 weeks of the 2023 season, while fascinating, is anything but surprising.

Expectations for the Seminoles were already high before a game was ever played. But they skyrocketed in the aftermath of the opening week beatdown Mike Norvell’s talented team put on LSU in Orlando.

Was it an overreaction?


But that didn’t stop the hype from building.

No. 3 with a bullet, FSU became everybody’s cool pick to win the ACC, go undefeated, produce a Heisman winner and make a splash in the College Football Playoff.

And then Saturday happened.

Even though the Seminoles held on to beat Boston College 31-29, some warts were exposed. And it didn’t take long for folks to start jumping off the bandwagon.

Is it an overreaction?

Of course it is.

But that’s how it works. As Sir Isaac Newton taught us, what goes up must come down.

It’s just 1 of the 10 things I’m absolutely overreacting to in and around the ACC in Week 3.

10. Power of the red bandana

Maybe Boston College should wear those red bandanas every week?

There’s no other way to explain the Eagles’ inspired performance against Florida State than to attribute it to the motivation they got from their annual tribute to former BC lacrosse player and 9/11 hero Welles Crowther.

After getting beat by Northern Illinois and having to struggle to survive against Holy Cross, Jeff Hafley’s crew looked like a totally different team in giving the 3rd-ranked Seminoles all they could handle literally down to the wire.

Even though they lost and are going nowhere fast, the Eagles did Crowther’s memory proud by the way they showed out.

9. The sorry state of college football in Virginia

South Carolina took a beating across the previously mentioned social media platforms after the opening week of the season.

Not just the SEC’s Gamecocks.

The entire state.

As a widely-circulated meme pointed out, every Division I team in the Palmetto State lost on Labor Day weekend.

But when it comes to being the worst state for college football this season (so far), South Carolina has nothing on the mess that is Virginia.

There are some good teams in the Commonwealth. James Madison and Liberty are a combined 6-0. But when it comes to the Power 5, it doesn’t get much worse than Virginia and Virginia Tech.

The Hokies and Cavaliers won only 3 games each last year. With just 1 victory between them so far in 2023 – earned by Tech against another in-state team, Old Dominion – they’ll have a hard time equaling that woeful performance this year.

8. That’s the Brennan Armstrong I remember

The most prolific left-handed passer in ACC history was supposed to add some electricity to NC State’s offense and reunion with former offensive coordinator Robert Anae.

The only electricity to come out of his first 2 performances in red and white, however, was the lightning strike that momentarily knocked out the new $15 million scoreboard at Carter-Finley Stadium during the weather delay against Notre Dame.

Armstrong recorded 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions in a win against UConn and a loss to the Irish. But he looked more like himself on Saturday while completing 27-of-32 passes for 264 yards and a touchdown while averaging 6.5 yards per carry.

OK, so it was against VMI. But if nothing else it was a nice warmup for Armstrong’s return to UVA next week.

7. Didn’t you used to be Phil Jurkovec?

Pat Narduzzi swung and missed last year when he brought Kedon Slovis in from Southern Cal to fill the quarterback void left by 1st-round NFL Draft pick Kenny Pickett. So he stepped right back up to the plate and took another shot at the transfer portal by adding Jurkovec from Boston College.

It had all the makings of a home run pickup. Instead, Narduzzi finds himself in an 0-2 hole.

Jurkovec is a local Pittsburgh kid with 5 years of college experience. He’s been an effective passer when healthy, but so far this season he’s been anything but.

After completing only 31% of his passes in a loss to Cincinnati last week, he was only 8-of-20 (40%) with 3 interceptions while failing to get his team into the end zone in Saturday’s ugly 17-6 loss to West Virginia in the Backyard Brawl.

Jurkovec was openly critical of Pitt fans who booed him and his offense during the Cincinnati game by publicly calling them out as “pathetic.” But when you put up the kind of numbers he has, with only a win against Wofford to show for your first 3 games with a new team, you’re not going to get many pats on the back.

His performances have been so bad that Narduzzi is considering making a change for next week’s ACC opener against North Carolina.

6. The next Josh Downs

When you have a generational quarterback the caliber of Drake Maye running your offense, why in the world would you rely so heavily on the running game rather than your star’s powerful right arm?

That’s a question North Carolina coach Mack Brown and his new offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey were being asked after the first 2 games. Even though the Tar Heels won both, the strategy was akin to the Golden State Warriors posting up Steph Curry in the paint every possession instead of letting him fire 3-pointers.

Now we know the answer. The problem wasn’t with Maye, it was with a receiving corps devoid of playmakers without the ineligible Tez Walker and the injured Nate McCollum. That all changed Saturday. Not only was McCollum back, but his presence made an immediate and dramatic impact.

“He became Josh Downs for us today,” Brown said.

That’s saying a lot, since Downs averaged 98 catches over the past 2 seasons and is currently playing in the NFL for the Indianapolis Colts. But it’s not much of a stretch.

McCollum’s 15 catches were just 1 off Downs’ single-game school record. His 165 yards with a touchdown helped open up things for Maye, who revitalized his Heisman hopes by airing it out for 414 yards in a 31-13 win against Minnesota.

5. Orange crushed

While UNC added a difference-maker to its offense on Saturday, Syracuse was learning that its most potent pass catching threat will be lost for the rest of the season.

It was announced shortly before the Orange’s game against Purdue that Oronde Gadsden III has been shut down because of an injury to his foot suffered last week against Western Michigan. The news is a devastating blow to Syracuse’s hopes heading into its ACC schedule.

Even though the Orange still managed to score 35 points in a win against Purdue, most of that production came courtesy of quarterback Garrett Shrader’s legs. Shrader ran for 123 yards and 3 touchdowns. While he also threw for 184 yards, his 14 completions went to only 3 players. And only 2 of them, Damien Alford and Donovan Brown, are wide receivers.

It doesn’t bode well moving forward, especially with a 3-game gauntlet of Clemson, North Carolina and
Florida State rapidly approaching.

4. The Big 2 (plus 1)

The ACC might bring in less revenue than the SEC and Big Ten. But contrary to the narrative perpetrated by the TV talking heads and internet influencers, there’s little difference between the so-called Big 2 and the ACC when it comes to performance on the field. This year, anyway.

In 6 head-to-head matchups against Big Ten opponents, the ACC went 4-2 on Saturday with Duke, Louisville, North Carolina and Syracuse earning victories. The conference is also 4-2 against the SEC this season with the only losses coming from bottom-feeders Virginia and Georgia Tech.

Depending on the outcome of next week’s Florida State-Clemson showdown, the ACC could be in line to get 2 entries into the College Football Playoff at season’s end. With several other teams off to impressive starts, the only thing inferior about the ACC this year compared to the SEC and Big Ten is the way the league is promoted.

3. If not Florida State and Clemson, then who?

It seemed like a foregone conclusion coming into the season that this week’s game between the Seminoles and Tigers at Death Valley would be the prelude to a more important rematch between the teams in the ACC Championship Game.

That could still happen. But after Clemson’s opening night upset loss to Duke, the Tigers could find themselves in a hole from which they can’t dig themselves out if they lose again.

So if the anticipated rematch doesn’t happen, who is the next most likely team to make it to Charlotte on the first Saturday in December?

The top 3 contenders after Week 3 are: 1. UNC. 2. Duke. 3. Miami.

The Tar Heels finally look like the team we all expected now that Maye has a reliable target to throw to. The Blue Devils are a talented, fundamentally sound team that showed how good they are by taking down Clemson in Week 1. The Hurricanes, meanwhile, are clearly a team on the rise thanks to a rebuilt offensive line and the resurgence of quarterback Tyler Van Dyke.

2 Don’t count out the Tigers

Remember those obituaries that were being written about Clemson after its loss at Duke and a dreadful 1st half in a win against Charleston Southern in Week 2?

They’re starting to look premature now that the Tigers finally appear to have figured out how to play an entire game without making any egregious self-inflicted mistakes. Yes, their 2 wins were against a pair of lightweights, including Saturday’s 48-14 breather against Florida Atlantic.

But they’re still the preseason ACC favorites. They’ve still won their past 7 meetings with FSU And they’re still playing at Death Valley, where they haven’t lost to an ACC opponent since November 2016.

Sleep on them at your own risk.

1. Wakeup call or warning sign?

If there’s 1 positive to come out of Saturday’s close call for Mike Norvell and Florida State, it’s that the chances of them taking Clemson for granted this weekend are greatly diminished.

That, however, is the only resolved question surrounding a Seminoles team that won its game at BC, but lost its aura of invincibility.

Has the hype that’s been building around FSU since the end of last season finally outkick the coverage of realistic expectations? The voters in at least 1 of the national polls think so. The Seminoles dropped 1 spot from No. 3 to No. 4 in this week’s Associated Press Top 25.

Are the Seminoles, gasp, overrated?

Or are we all just overreacting?