ACC Football 2013 Previews & Predictions: Week 9

Miami Breathed a Sigh of Relief on Tuesday -- Will it Help Them Avoid Trap v. Wake?

Miami Breathed a Sigh of Relief on Tuesday — Will it Help Them Avoid Trap v. Wake?

A week after Florida State asserted itself as the ACC‘s top dog, we get a bunch of games that won’t really help us determine the pecking order beyond the ‘Noles. Despite being nearly halfway through conference play, this weekend feels like a bit of a lull — though still, plenty of chances for surprising (but hopefully not to surprising) results. Just like normal, we’re running down the list of every ACC (plus Louisville) game and predicting outcomes that will almost undoubtedly be wrong. Have some picks of your own? Predict away in the comments!

Game of the Week

Wake Forest Demon Deacons (4-3) (2-2) at Miami Hurricanes (6-0) (2-0): A matchup with a 23-point spread being the featured game of the week? #goacc… But honestly, that line’s a bit overblown and it’s not as if the ‘Canes have much of a home-field advantage anyway. Miami also struggled to get by a hapless North Carolina team last Thursday, while Wake Forest is suddenly coming on strong offensively, scoring 62 points over the past two weeks (strong for them, obviously). If Tanner Price can move the ball well on the ground, it should help set up the Deacs’ passing game for more success, though Miami’s offense might be too much for them. Whether it’s Duke Johnson or Dallas Crawford carrying the load, expect the Hurricanes to try and test Wake’s strong running defense all afternoon. Miami is likely to win this one — just not by as much as Vegas might think. Prediction: Miami 31, Wake 24

The Rest of the Slate (in order of start time):

Louisville Cardinals (6-1) at USF Bulls (2-4): Louisville’s coming off a tough loss last Friday that killed off any national title hopes. USF’s riding a surprising two-game winning streak and actually holds a share of first in the American Athletic Conference right now. While the Bulls have played better of late, it’s unlikely that’ll be enough against a team out for a bit of redemption this week. USF is still a struggling offense that only puts up 16 points per game, and to be honest, UConn‘s the first offense they’ve really stopped all year. Teddy Bridgewater should make short work of the secondary and get the Cards back on track. Prediction: Louisville 41, USF 13

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (4-3) (2-2) at Virginia Cavaliers (2-5) (0-3): It’s unlikely Georgia Tech will be able to replicate last week’s 56-point output, though if there was an opponent that could happen against, I guess it would be UVa. The Hoos have been a mess all season, with an offense that can’t score (less than 18 points per game vs. FBS competition) and a defense that simply gets abused in second halves. Maybe Mike London coming under fire serves as motivation for Virginia? There’s a chance of it, though this really is a lopsided matchup of two teams going in opposite directions. Prediction: Georgia Tech 38, Virginia 20

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Florida State vs. Clemson Preview: Why the Seminoles Will Win

Part 2 of Our Florida State-Clemson Preview Explains Why the 'Noles Will Win on Saturday

Part 2 of Our Florida State-Clemson Preview Explains Why the ‘Noles Will Win on Saturday

Saturday’s matchup between Florida State and Clemson is obviously a big deal. And since this is an ACC blog, it only makes sense that we discuss the game as much as possible. We’ve done so all week, but now it’s almost game day, and that means in-depth previews. I gave my short thoughts yesterday, but we want to dive in further. To help, I enlisted the assistance of none other than fellow ACC afficionado Hokie Mark — whom you know from his contributions here as well as his own site, ACCFootballRx. In this battle of ACC powers, he’ll be arguing in favor of Clemson, while I’ll present the reasons why Florida State should emerge victorious. Enjoy!

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Yes, Clemson’s got the big game experience, the battle-tested quarterback and the home-field advantage. Those things are undeniable. But Florida State brings plenty with them as well. For one, “Famous” Jameis Winston seems to be just a small step behind Clemson’s Tajh Boyd as just a true freshman, and he even makes up for that gap in talent with what can only be described as “swagger.” Two Heisman moments already, a ridiculous stat line and almost irrational confidence in his abilities are all important characteristics in situations like this. With pressure looming down, the weight of Heisman potential, ACC titles and BCS National Championships within sight — sometimes irrational confidence is the only thing that can buy you a win.

Even if confidence isn’t enough though, he’s also got an impressive cast of characters to help him out as well. The running game is a multi-headed monster, with a variety of different backs who can also do some serious damage to an aggressively-blitzing Clemson front. Devonta Freeman, Karlos Williams and James Wilder are a lethal combination, and resemble Syracuse’s attack enough (with a bit more talent too) to give the Tigers fits all day. The Orange ran for 323 yards vs. Clemson a couple weeks ago, and have supplied a blueprint for the ‘Noles to do the same. In the passing attack, Winston has the weapons to test Clemson’s secondary too, with Kenny Shaw and Rashad Greene prepped to burn them on the outside. All of this made possible by Winston and what’s arguably the conference’s top offensive line.

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Florida State vs. Clemson Preview: Why the Tigers Will Win

In Part I of Our Extended FSU-Clemson Preview, We Explain Why Clemson Will Win

In Part I of Our Extended FSU-Clemson Preview, We Explain Why Clemson Will Win

(Ed Note:) Saturday’s matchup between Florida State and Clemson is obviously a big deal. And since this is an ACC blog, it only makes sense that we discuss the game as much as possible. We’ve done so all week, but now it’s almost game day, and that means in-depth previews. I gave my short thoughts yesterday, but we want to dive in further. To help, I enlisted the assistance of none other than fellow ACC afficionado Hokie Mark — whom you know from his contributions here as well as his own site, ACCFootballRx. In this battle of ACC powers, he’ll be arguing in favor of Clemson, while I’ll present the reasons why Florida State should emerge victorious. Enjoy!

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This is the week: the Game of the Century (at least for the ACC). Florida State vs. Clemson. The winner likely takes the Atlantic Division, probably the ACC, maybe even a shot at the BCS title. To say this game is huge is an understatement!

Yes, I know that Florida State is the Las Vegas favorite, and yes, I’m aware that some of the computer models like CFBTN and others are also picking the ‘Noles. I’m still going to pick the Tigers, and I’ll tell you why…

First, Clemson is at home. In the recent history of this series, the home teams are 6-0. In fact, FSU has not won in Clemson since 2001 — 12 years ago. Quite honestly, the Seminoles are a different team on the road. At home the ‘Noles win by an average score of 41-11, but on the road, the margin drops to 32-22. Meanwhile, the Tigers have only lost one home game in two-and-a-half seasons (South Carolina). Advantage: Clemson.

Another factor is big game experience at quarterback. Tiger QB Tajh Boyd has been in some real battles over the years: Auburn (2011, 2012), Virginia Tech (2011, twice), LSU (2012), Georgia (2013) — not to mention this is Boyd’s third FSU game as starting QB. By contrast, Jameis Winston‘s toughest road game of his career was probably the game at Boston College; the most hostile environment Winston has played in so far? Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. Advantage: Clemson.

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ACC Football 2013 Previews & Predictions: Week 8

Tajh Boyd Understands the Pressure He and His Clemson Tigers Will Be Up Against This Saturday

Tajh Boyd Understands the Pressure He and His Clemson Tigers Will Be Up Against This Saturday

We’re here! It’s the biggest week in ACC football history! The most important game, possibly, this conference has ever seen and it could end up being the college football regular season’s most important game as well. All eyes are on Clemson and Florida State, and as regular spectators, we’re happy to even be a small part of the festivities and attention sent the ACC’s way. Just like normal, we’re running down the list of every ACC (plus Louisville) game and predicting outcomes that will almost undoubtedly be wrong. Have some picks of your own? Predict away in the comments!

Game of the Week

Florida State Seminoles (5-0) (3-0) at Clemson Tigers (6-0) (4-0): The winner of this game gets a clear shot at a conference title, Heisman trophy, National Championship and so much more. So know that both teams will be fully prepared for what comes on Saturday night. Tajh Boyd‘s been here many times before, while Jameis Winston takes his first trip into the spotlight against a major opponent. The two quarterbacks may cancel each other out, which brings this game down to the defenses. Clemson’s pass-rush is one of the best in the country, and FSU’s has been iffy at times this year. Neither side’s a push-over, though something tells me the Tigers’ experience plays a major part in delivering the win. This veteran Clemson team remembers last year’s close loss to the ‘Noles and will be prepared for the rematch. It’s not to take away from Florida State. I just see the Tigers as the (slightly) better team — especially at home. Prediction: Clemson 41, Florida State 38

The Rest of the Slate (in order of start time):

Miami Hurricanes (5-0) (1-0) at North Carolina Tar Heels (1-4) (0-2): Miami’s rocketed into the top 10, while the Tar Heels could not be in worse shape. This of course is the recipe for a major upset in most cases, though I just don’t buy it here. The Hurricanes’ offense has scored 42 points or more for three straight games, and despite a lingering ankle injury to Stephen Morris, they’ve still maintained one of the top 30-40 passing attacks in the country. The defense is also improved and given the recent state of things for the Heels, a lot would have to go their way in order to beat Miami on Thursday. Prediction: Miami 33, UNC 21

UCF Knights (4-1) at Louisville Cardinals (6-0): UCF’s without its top pass-rusher on Friday, which certainly poses an issue to their strategy of getting to Teddy Bridgewater. Still, the Knights should be well equipped to giving the Cardinals all they can handle in Louisville’s last game against real competition. If the Cards defense plays as they have lately, they’ll do just fine. But make no mistake, UCF will be able to test this team as likely no team has all year — nor will, until the postseason, that is. Prediction: Louisville 27, UCF 20

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ACC Football 2013 Previews & Predictions: Week 7

Logan Thomas and the Virginia Tech Hokies Aim for Win No. 6 vs. Pitt

Logan Thomas and the Virginia Tech Hokies Aim for Win No. 6 on the Season vs. Pitt

As the country wraps up non-conference schedules for the most part and dives head-long into league play, we get this final middle of the road week of ACC football. It’s not that the matchups are bad, of course. We just know that next week’s slate is chock-full of more interesting story lines and a likely ACC showcase for College Gameday. Just like normal, we’re running down the list of every ACC (plus Louisville) game and predicting outcomes that will almost undoubtedly be wrong. Have some picks of your own? Predict away in the comments!

Game of the Week

Pittsburgh Panthers (3-1) (2-1) at Virginia Tech Hokies (5-1) (2-0): Both of these teams were pummeled in their respective season openers, and yet both have also managed to rebound nicely and factor into the early Coastal Division race. Of course, Tech’s five wins have been against a bit heftier competition than Pitt’s had over the last month, so it’s tough to consider them “equal” at this time. The Panthers’ wideouts have played out of their minds of late, but can they do so once again when facing the ACC’s top defensive unit? If the Hokies’ corners can keep containment along the outside, it’ll certainly be a tough task — especially since Pitt doesn’t have much of a running game. Their own defense will also pose a challenge to Virginia Tech, however, testing Logan Thomas to keep up his mistake-free ways. If he can do that, you have to believe the Hokies pull off yet another conference victory. Prediction: Virginia Tech 26, Pittsburgh 17

The Rest of the Slate (in order of start time):

Rutgers Scarlet Knights (4-1) at Louisville Cardinals (5-0): Don’t be fooled the same way some poll voters have. SUNJ’s 4-1 record is mostly a mirage, built on the backs of college football bottom-feeders and a narrow escape against SMU last week. Formidable teams have been able to score at will on the Scarlet Knights this year (twice allowed 50 points or more), and that makes Louisville’s job rather easy. Teddy Bridgewater should have no problem spreading the field against this defense, and even if the running game fails to get going early, they’ll be plenty of time for handoffs later. Louisville’s not overlooking this one as it might be their “toughest” game all year, so don’t expect them to sleepwalk through. Prediction: Louisville 42, SUNJ 20

Navy Midshipmen (3-1) at Duke Blue Devils (3-2) (0-2): Navy’s rushing defense (85th in the country) is a problem for the Midshipmen right off the bat, so don’t be surprised to see Duke quarterback Brandon Connette running even more than normal. Lost in the shuffle of his many interceptions, Connette’s actually collected a pretty stellar set of statistics both on the ground and through the air (1,246 total yards and 17 scores), and should continue to rack up more against a so-so Navy D. Duke’s defense hasn’t been much better against the ground game, but they do have the excuse of facing Georgia Tech. The line’s close on this one (-3 for Duke), but I see the Blue Devils winning comfortably. Prediction: Duke 35, Navy 20

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ACC Football 2013 Previews & Predictions: Week 6

Miami and Georgia Tech Face Off for Coastal Supremacy; Who Gets the Inside Track?

Miami and Georgia Tech Face Off for Coastal Supremacy; Who Gets the Inside Track?

Another week of ACC action, and now we’re actually figuring out how good teams are. Tougher opponents could spell doom for several teams, though because they’re untested to this point, we really don’t know what to expect once up against fellow conference teams. Just like normal, we’re running down the list of every ACC (plus Louisville) game and predicting outcomes that will almost undoubtedly be wrong. Have some picks of your own? Predict away in the comments!

Game of the Week

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (3-1) (2-1) at Miami Hurricanes (4-0) (0-0): Georgia Tech was kept in check last week, while no one’s really contained Miami to this point. Vad Lee‘s not your typical triple-option quarterback, so I’m not sure the extra time the Wreck gets here is even worth it. Lee knows what he’s doing, of course, but he’s yet to go up against a legitimate defensive front. The defense is rock-solid for Tech, though this Miami offense has more than enough playmakers to combat that. As much as this one seems ripe for a Yellow Jackets upset, there’s just too much to like about the ‘Canes. Serviceable defense, dynamic offense — they can take care of this game, albeit barely. Prediction: Miami 33, Georgia Tech 24

The Rest of the Slate (in order of start time):

Ball State Cardinals (4-1) at Virginia Cavaliers (2-2) (0-1): Ball State’s offense has been entirely to hard to stop so far this season, putting up 40 points per game through five contests. The Virginia defense appears ready for the challenge, though. Outside of the Oregon debacle, the Hoos have not allowed 20 points to any opponent, which bodes well for their matchup with the Cardinals. If they can keep containment on Ball State’s passing game as they have other teams’, that should lead them to a comfortable victory. Prediction: Virginia 31, Ball State 21

Maryland Terrapins (4-0) (0-0) at Florida State Seminoles (4-0) (2-0): FSU’s offense has been impressive thsu far, while their defense has been less than stellar. For the first time this season though, they’re up against an actual challenge to both. With an aggressive Terps’ defense nipping at their heels, can the ‘Noles outlast and outscore their challenging, surprising opponent? And considering Maryland’s tough passing attack, can FSU keep containment on both C.J. Brown and Stefon Diggs? This won’t be a blowout at all, but I’m still tempted to take FSU, if only because that program’s well assimilated to these types of heated, competitive matchups at this point in the year. Prediction: Florida State 38, Maryland 27

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ACC Football 2013 Previews & Predictions: Week 5

Jeremiah Attaochu and the Georgia Tech Defense Are Aiming to Deliver a Big Win Over Virginia Tech

Jeremiah Attaochu & the Georgia Tech Defense Aiming to Deliver a Big Win Over Virginia Tech

Finally, some actual games that matter (a few anyway). The ACC‘s still got five undefeated teams (sort of six), but will that continue to be the case much longer. I’m sure we all hope so… Just like normal, we’re running down the list of every ACC (plus Louisville) game and predicting outcomes that will almost undoubtedly be wrong. Have some picks of your own? Predict away in the comments!

Game of the Week

Virginia Tech Hokies (3-1) (0-0) at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (3-0) (2-0): For all but one year of divisional play, this game has decided the Coastal. And while it may seem like a remote possibility given the state of Virginia Tech’s offense in particular, that’s still on the table for this season’s edition of the matchup. But this one’s not going to last long if the Hokies can’t cut down on mistakes. The kicking game’s a mess and despite some flashes of success, Logan Thomas is still as rough around the edges as he’s ever been — and as error-prone as he’s ever been too. Georgia Tech’s aggressive defense should take advantage of those opportunities, while Vad Lee could have the offense closing the deal by the third quarter. Prediction: Georgia Tech 31, Virginia Tech 21

The Rest of the Slate (in order of start time):

Miami Hurricanes (3-0) (0-0) at USF Bulls (0-3): In the past, this contest has actually been pretty close. But that was the old version of the USF program. The version we’ve come to know lately has fallen on some hard times, and that’ll likely continue this weekend. USF can’t seem to score points (just 12.3 per game this season), though over the last two games, the defense hasn’t been all bad. It’s certainly not the best MIami’s seen though, after facing and beating Florida in week two. Expect the ‘Canes to breeze through yet another contest en route to a 4-0 record. Prediction: Miami 30, USF 13

East Carolina Pirates (2-1) at North Carolina Tar Heels (1-2) (0-1): Considering the high expectations UNC had going into the season and the way things have gone instead, this ECU game is now a must-win. The defense is a bit of a concern, especially after last week’s second-half collapse versus Georgia Tech, but the bigger issue has been and remains the offense. North Carolina’s line is struggling to protect Bryn Renner and can’t open up holes for the running game either. The result has been a neutered attack that pales in comparison to what we’ve seen from previous Larry Fedora teams. They’ve got to figure things out this week against ECU or they’re in full-on crisis mode. Prediction: UNC 41, ECU 28

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