For the first time since 2009 (at Boston College), an ACC school will play host to ESPN’s College Gameday, when the guys set up shop in Tallahassee this weekend. It’s a big day for the conference, as it continues its uphill PR battle, and the atmosphere shouldn’t disappoint. We’ve got our predictions for Saturday below. Plus, if you’re looking for a full rundown of the television schedule, consult our handy viewing guide from Wednesday.
Game of the Week
Clemson Tigers (3-0) (0-0) at Florida State Seminoles (3-0) (1-0): Amidst the lights, sights and sounds of College Gameday, two top-ten ACC teams will play for both individual and collective respect. Win big, and the victor here gets an infinite amount of respect thrown their way (especially in the case of Clemson). For the loser, it’s a case of “I told you so.” Florida State’s defense is as staunch as they come, giving up just three points over its first three contests. However, you can never count out the Tigers’ high-powered offense, especially with the return of play-making receiver Sammy Watkins. It will be a closer matchup than the aggressive two-TD line suggests, but FSU will win the battle at the line of scrimmage, ultimately setting the stage for a big win on national television. Prediction: Florida St. 26, Clemson 20
The Rest of the Slate (in order of start time):
Bowling Green Falcons (1-2) at Virginia Tech Hokies (2-1) (0-0): The Hokies are reeling after struggling mightily to put up points against Pittsburgh on Saturday, in a surprising upset. Not only have the questions on offense lingered and even increased as the season’s progressed, but now the defense (its strong point) looks to be embattled as well. Their opponent this week, Bowling Green, is in a similar mess. Scoring under 17 points per game, the Falcons have been unable to generate offensive momentum against lesser opponents. This may be just the solution Logan Thomas and VPI needed, as they roll, and get back on track. Prediction: Virginia Tech 31, Bowling Green 3
Virginia Cavaliers (2-1) (0-1) at TCU Horned Frogs (2-0): The other team in Virginia is also staggering after a rough outing on Saturday. UVa found themselves dominated on both sides of the ball against Georgia Tech, amplifying their faults for all of their future opponents to see. TCU, while they struggled the put away Kansas last week, still possesses a tenacious pass rush, and a formidable offense as well. While they’ll put up a better showing than last week, the Hoos will find themselves in the loss column once more, triggering even more questions about Michael Rocco‘s status as starting quarterback. Prediction: TCU 38, Virginia 20
Maryland Terrapins (2-1) (0-0) at West Virginia Mountaineers (2-0): Maryland’s pass defense is suspect to me, despite its sixth-overall ranking in the FBS. It’s a terrible thing to say prior to a meeting with Geno Smith and WVU’s buzzsaw of an offense, but it’s likely to be proven true. The Terps are surely better than last year’s edition — on offense, at least — but it’s difficult picturing them covering the Mountaineer wideouts effectively, or preventing Smith from tucking and running. Quarterback Perry Hills still has plenty to learn, and this should be his first experience getting soundly beaten on the road. Let’s hope they can all take something positive from it. The only saving grace may be WVU’s tendency to allow piles of garbage-time points. Prediction: West Virginia 52, Maryland 24
Army Black Knights (0-2) at Wake Forest Demon Deacons (2-1) (1-1): Depleted by injury, we’re still unsure which Wake Forest team we get to watch from week-to-week; something that doesn’t change with NT Nikita Whitlock out once more. Quarterback Tanner Price, who came into this season with high praise about his accuracy and consistency, has been anything but, and shows a tendency for his game to implode when under heavy pressure. After a strong start, the run defense has steadily given up more yardage with each outing, too, which is a poor sign against the triple-option Army attack. It’s never great to be without your best defender, but the Deacs will need someone to step up into Whitlock’s spot and penetrate the line, if they hope to slow the Black Knights down on Saturday. Prediction: Wake Forest 33, Army 28
Be sure to check out the rest of our predictions in Part Two!