ACC Football 2013 Previews & Predictions: Week 4 (Part 2)

Stefon Diggs and the Maryland Terrapins Aim to Get to 4-0 This Weekend

Wide Receiver Stefon Diggs and the Maryland Terrapins Aim to Get to 4-0 This Weekend

Welcome to part two of this week’s previews and predictions! Here’s part one if you missed it.

Pittsburgh Panthers (1-1) (0-1) at Duke Blue Devils (2-1) (0-1): Duke’s loss to Georgia Tech last week certainly changed their outlook a bit for this year, especially with Brandon Connette playing quarterback for the foreseeable future. This will be an odd look for a David Cutcliffe-coached team now: relying on the defense to win them games and give the offense a chance. Pittsburgh has similar issues on offense, as questions still linger about Tom Savage‘s abilities. But the defense should be able to outdo Duke’s own improved group in a slugfest. Aaron Donald is just too tough to stop and should be able to generate a ton of pressure on Connette and force him into some ill-advised throws or unnecessary contact. Prediction: Pitt 30, Duke 21

Tulane Green Wave (2-1) at Syracuse Orange (1-2) (0-0): The Orange have a whole new starting quarterback in Terrel Hunt, and with that, a whole new hope for this season — or so it seems. If the redshirt sophomore can keep up his strong play from last week, SU’s looking at a whole new offensive attack that appears to run with a quickened pace and increased fluidity. The key for Syracuse will be to score early and to keep the heat on Tulane’s defense. Wear them down and force Green Wave QB Nick Montana to try and do too much. SU’s defense has shown a solid ability to rush the passer and force turnovers, and should be able to show that off here. Prediction: Syracuse 38, Tulane 20

West Virginia Mountaineers (2-1) at Maryland Terrapins (3-0) (0-0): Maryland hung with the ‘Neers last season, and that was a much better WVU team than this one (and a much worse Terps team too). The Terrapins have come out the gates on fire in 2013, piling up points and yardage behind C.J. Brown and Stefon Diggs. West Virginia, on the other hand, is running a stalled out offense that can’t complete drives, while leaning heavily on the defense. This will be a closer game, and will likely be decided by who wins the turnover battle. Maryland lost a big piece of that puzzle when CB Dexter McDougle went down for the year last week, but if the secondary continues to play smart and Brown doesn’t force passes, the Terps should take it. Prediction: Maryland 30, WVU 24

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ACC Football 2013 Previews & Predictions: Week 4 (Part 1)

Clemson Wideout Martavis Bryant Will Be Called Upon to Step Up and Replace Charone Peake

Clemson Wideout Martavis Bryant Will Be Called Upon to Step Up and Replace Charone Peake

Weak slate of games this weekend, as most teams are facing off with some overmatched FCS foes. Still, a couple of in-conference games should move the needle for most ACC fans as we start to wind down on non-conference play. 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

Clemson Tigers (2-0) (0-0) at NC State Wolfpack (2-0) (0-0): These teams have arrived here in two very different ways (Clemson: dominant; NC State: slightly less so), but because this one’s in Raleigh, all cards appear to be on the table. Can Tajh Boyd avoid a repeat performance of his last trip down to State back in 2011 (zero TDs and two INTs)? Can Wolfpack QB Pete Thomas finally meet his potential and put aside his early season struggles? There’s plenty of upset talk floating around this week, but I just don’t see it (of course, I said that in 2011, too). Boyd and the Tigers’ offense are as good as they’ve ever been, while the State secondary was chewed up by Richmond two weeks ago. Clemson should continue to roll. Prediction: Clemson 42, NC State 24

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

North Carolina Tar Heels (1-1) (0-0) at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (2-0) (0-0): Through two games, we have no idea who the Heels really are. They looked dreadful against South Carolina (fair enough) to start the season, but then the offense took awhile to pick up versus Middle Tennessee State as well. The offensive line has struggled to keep the pressure off QB Bryn Renner, but even more notably, they can’t seem to move the pile to open up the running game. Carolina’s only gaining around 116 yards per game on the ground — something that could hurt them all season. If Georgia Tech can gain an early lead, the triple-option should be able to seal the deal from there. The key, as you’d expect, will be Jackets’ QB Vad Lee and his ability to continue passing the ball effectively in order to set up that strong running game. Prediction: Georgia Tech 36, UNC 31

Marshall Thundering Herd (2-1) at Virginia Tech Hokies (2-1) (0-0): We’ve been saying it for awhile now, but it bears repeating: this is the best Tech defense in quite some time, and maybe ever. Their ability to force turnovers and get after the quarterback make them absolutely lethal — especially for a team with an undersized offensive line and/or no ability to run the ball. Marshall’s line may seem a bit undersized, but their offense is still prolific by any standards. QB Rakeem Cato can absolutely kill a defense if given time to throw, and if the passing game stalls, there’s still the two-headed rushing attack of Steward Butler and Essray Taliaferro to deal with. Tech should win this one, but it won’t be easy. If they fall behind early, it could be a very long afternoon for the Hokies. Prediction: Virginia Tech 26, Marshall 23

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ACC Football 2013 Previews & Predictions: Week 3

Vad Lee Leads Georgia Tech to Durham to Face Coastal Rival Duke

QB Vad Lee Leads Georgia Tech to Durham to Face Coastal Division Rival Duke This Saturday

Another week, another big ACC win this season. Might as well continue riding the wave of good vibes and hope the conference’s top teams continue winning — Clemson is ranked third in the country at this point, you know. 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 (1-0) (0-0) at Duke Blue Devils (2-0) (0-0): Georgia Tech looked phenomenal in game one, while Duke’s getting used to life without starting quarterback Anthony Boone. The Blue Devils’ defense has shown improvement through two games, but it’s unlikely they’ll be able to put a stop to Tech’s revitalized offensive attack. Vad Lee was incredibly efficient to start the year and with a more versatile attack (still centered on the triple-option, of course), Tech is looking to top 2012’s 7-7 finish. This one will be close for as long as Duke backup Brandon Connette keeps it that way, but eventually, he’s going to be forced into a mistake by the Wreck defense. Once he does, it’s all over from there. Prediction: Georgia Tech 38, Duke 26

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

Louisville Cardinals (2-0) at Kentucky Wildcats (1-1): Louisville’s started the year on a tear, and that’s not about to change against the cross-state Wildcats. Kentucky’s played pretty solid pass defense against its two opponents thus far (just 147 yards allowed per game), but then again, neither had much of a passing game to speak of either. Despite Mark Stoops’s specialty with the secondary, his UK team just isn’t up to snuff at this point, leaving plenty of opportunities for Teddy Bridgewater to continue padding his impressive numbers. Kentucky should be able to put up some points, but for the Cards, this will be treated like a track meet if necessary. They have no intentions of losing this contest with so much on the line. Prediction: Louisville 41, Kentucky 23

Virginia Tech Hokies (1-1) (0-0) at East Carolina Pirates (2-0): What would normally be an easy non-conference matchup turns into a pretty harrowing contest for Virginia Tech this Saturday against East Carolina. Not only is the game on the road, but ECU is extremely proficient at the main thing Tech isn’t: scoring points, with an average of 41.5 in two contests so far. With offensive production mostly out of the question, that’ll leave it up to the Hokies defense to try and create scoring opportunities similar to what they did against Western Carolina last week. The Pirates also have their own penchant for forcing turnovers (four this year), and if Tech falls behind early, it could spell doom for them. It’ll be close, but count on Frank Beamer’s defense to find a way at the end. Prediction: Virginia Tech 30, ECU 27

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ACC Football 2013 Previews & Predictions: Week 2 (Part 2)

After a Come-From-Behind Win Over BYU, Can Virginia Find a Way to Upset the Ducks on Saturday?

After a Come-From-Behind Win Over BYU, Can Virginia Find a Way to Upset the Ducks?

Welcome to part two of this week’s previews and predictions! Here’s part one if you missed it.

Western Carolina Catamounts (0-1) at Virginia Tech Hokies (0-1) (0-0): The Hokies are hungry to put last week’s disaster behind them, and rightfully so. Despite holding Alabama to just 206 yards of offense, special teams and their own offensive mistakes ultimately doomed them to a lopsided loss. Logan Thomas isn’t the only reason the offense was completely ineffective on Saturday — plenty of receivers dropped passes — but it still appears that he hasn’t progressed past last season’s struggles. He’ll have an opportunity to shake that feeling this weekend, however, against the incredibly overmatched Catamounts. The 41.5-point line on this one sounds a bit aggressive, but there’s no reason why Tech shouldn’t win handedly. Prediction: Virginia Tech 41, WCU 7

Oregon Ducks (1-0) at Virginia Cavaliers (1-0) (0-0): Virginia’s defense bailed them out last week, as the offense still attempts to get its bearings with David Watford at the helm. This week, it’s unlikely they’re so lucky, though. The Ducks will have two Heisman candidates (Marcus Mariota, De’Anthony Thomas) on the field on nearly every offensive play, plus more team speed than the Hoos can possibly compete with all at once. It shouldn’t be seen as a sign of a season dead in the water for Virginia, but Oregon is going to run away with this one. Improved defense or not, there’s just very little UVa can do about it. Prediction: Oregon 49, Virginia 13

Old Dominion Monarchs (0-1) at Maryland Terrapins (1-0) (0-0): Maryland looks like a team reborn after last week’s offensive showing (43 points), while Old Dominion actually doesn’t look too shabby themselves after putting up 38 in a loss to East Carolina. But the Terps should have very little trouble in this game. The defense, though young, looks like it may be able to measure up to last season’s standards, and as long as everyone stays healthy (no guarantee), the offense should continue firing on all cylinders. C.J. Brown should have plenty of protection when operating out of the pocket, and given ODU’s status still transitioning to the FBS, he’ll probably be able to take advantage of a size discrepancy while on the run as well. Prediction: Maryland 52, ODU 20

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ACC Football 2013 Previews & Predictions: Week 2 (Part 1)

Duke Johnson Should Hold the Key to Whether or Not Miami Can Take Down Florida

Duke Johnson Should Hold the Key to Whether or Not Miami Can Take Down Florida on Saturday

Nice start for the ACC this season — now let’s see if the conference can keep it up. Just like normal, we’re running down the list of every ACC (plus Louisville) game and predicting outcomes that will almost undoubtedly be wrong. As is customary when the games are primarily of the out-of-conference variety, we’re splitting things up into two posts to make things more easily digestible. You’re welcome, and happy football season!

Game of the Week

Florida Gators (1-0) at Miami Hurricanes (1-0) (0-0): The in-state rivals meet again, though maybe for the last time for the foreseeable future. Still, Saturday’s matchup ends up being one of the marquee early non-conference contests, as both squads are in the top 25. The Gators’ strength is their strong defense, while the offense continues to sputter along, similar to last season. Obviously a defensive struggle doesn’t suit this high-scoring Miami team, but it may be the only way to beat Florida. Against an aggressive secondary and pass-rush, there’s no guarantee Stephen Morris will be able to pass the ball effectively, which puts productivity on Duke Johnson‘s shoulders. Florida’s got a strong run defense, but I believe Johnson can allow Miami to control the clock and pull out a big (and atypical) win. Prediction: Miami 20, Florida 17

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

Wake Forest Demon Deacons (1-0) (0-0) at Boston College Eagles (1-0) (0-0): Messy first halves for both teams last week gave way to much stronger second halves and ultimately wins against FCS schools. So which versions of Wake and BC are we going to see tomorrow night? From what we’ve observed so far, it looks like defense will be guiding force for both, which means a low-scoring affair. But who has the edge? The Deacons’ secondary forced six turnovers against an overmatched Presbyterian team, while the Eagles notched four against Villanova. Wake held the Blue Hose to a lot less yardage, but the Wildcats are definitely the better of the two FCS opponents. It’ll be close, though it’ll be the Deacs’ offense that comes up with the late play for the victory. Prediction: Wake Forest 21, Boston College 17

Eastern Kentucky Colonels (1-0) at Louisville Cardinals (1-0): Louisville had made the conscious decision to just be a death machine this season, and I don’t really see the problem with it. After flying right through Ohio last week, it’s very unlikely Eastern Kentucky gives them many — if any — problems at all. Teddy Bridgewater should make short work of the Colonels’ secondary, and is likely to be pulled by mid-way through the third. Expect a lot of points. Prediction: Louisville 70, Eastern Kentucky 7

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ACC Football 2013 Previews & Predictions: Week 1 (Part 2)

Jerome Smith and the Syracuse Run Game Hold the Key to Beating Penn State on Saturday

Jerome Smith and the Syracuse Run Game Hold the Key to Beating Penn State on Saturday

Welcome to part two of this week’s previews and predictions! Here’s part one if you missed it.

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs at NC State Wolfpack: With coach Sonny Dykes now off to California, it’s likely the Bulldogs’ torrid offensive pace from last year leaves with him. That also means that State’s very young secondary, which is replacing three of four starters from 2012, gets a bit of a break too. This won’t necessarily be a cakewalk for this young Wolfpack team — we still don’t know what type of pistol elements are already implemented into this offense, nor do we know how the running game will look (my guess is mediocre). But they should be able to score a home win to start the year without a ton of difficulty, and build some positive momentum for this very green group. Prediction: NC State 37, Louisiana Tech 21

Penn State Nittany Lions v. Syracuse Orange (MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ): Neither team has revealed who their quarterback will be, but in Syracuse’s case, they’ve got the better options to choose from in Drew Allen (likely the pick) and Terrel Hunt. But regardless of who’s throwing the ball, this game is very likely to be decided in the trenches. Penn State’s rushing defense was very strong last year and SU figures to have one of this year’s top rushing attacks in the ACC. If either team starts getting in behind the line, that will be the difference-maker in what should be a hard-fought battle between the former rivals. Prediction: Syracuse 20, Penn State 17

BYU Cougars at Virginia Cavaliers: This game is perceived to be pretty close (current line’s at +1 for UVa), but I have a feeling we’re looking at a much different outcome. With a young quarterback in David Watford, the Hoos are likely to spend the opening portions of the contest finding their way on offense, which should also open up the BYU defense for some critical opportunities. The Cougars only allowed 14 points per game last season, and as long as Kyle Van Noy‘s in the fold, they’re likely to hold teams to a similar number this year as well. Despite the cross-country trip, BYU makes short work of Virginia. Prediction: BYU 36, Virginia 17

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ACC Football 2013 Previews & Predictions: Week 1 (Part 1)

Down a Few Defensive Backs, Can Georgia Keep Clemson's Sammy Watkins in Check?

Down a Few Defensive Backs, Can Georgia Keep Clemson’s Sammy Watkins in Check?

Welcome back, football!  Tonight begins another fantastic season of our favorite chaos-ridden soap opera, also known as college football. And with that, there are actual games being played, and actual predictions to be made. Just like normal, we’re running down the list of every ACC (plus Louisville) game and predicting outcomes that will almost undoubtedly be wrong. Every conference team is in action this weekend too, so we’re splitting things up into two posts to make things more easily digestible. You’re welcome, and happy football season!

Game of the Week

Georgia Bulldogs at Clemson Tigers: Two top-10 teams with National Championship dreams, facing off on the first Saturday night of the season. It just doesn’t get any better than this. Clemson has a distinct home field advantage and completely understands what’s at stake: perception, which is most of the battle in college football. If Tajh Boyd wins his second straight contest against an elite SEC defense, then expectations are off to the races and the Tigers appear to be a legitimate threat to win it all. Lose, and they spend the rest of their season digging out of a hole. Preseason injuries have seemingly ravaged this ‘Dogs secondary, and that won’t do them any favors against the likes of Sammy Watkins & co. Clemson grabs win number one. Prediction: Clemson 31, Georgia 23

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

North Carolina Tar Heels at South Carolina Gamecocks: Old ACC rivals reunite in a battle for who gets to be called “Carolina” for the rest of the season. The Gamecocks program has risen to previously unseen heights these past few years, while the Tar Heels are looking to embark on a similar upward trajectory. It could start here for UNC, though they’ll have to figure out a way to deal with SC’s Jadeveon Clowney first and foremost. The country’s best defensive lineman will give the Heels’ line all they can handle tonight. Despite some optimism that they’re up to the task, it still won’t stop Clowney from making a huge impact, though. Prediction: South Carolina 33, North Carolina 24

Presbyterian Blue Hose at Wake Forest Demon Deacons: Presbyterian was very bad last year (2-9), so this matchup is the exact type of body bag game Wake Forest needs to start off their season on the right foot. Outside of winning the football game (not a difficult task in this case), the main goal is getting out of the contest with everyone healthy — a struggle for the Deacs lately. With an ACC game coming up in week two, I’m also curious if Wake looks to break out some of the new spread-option elements of the offense, or if they’re keeping it under wraps until they head up to BC. I’d bet they keep things pretty basic tonight. Prediction: Wake Forest 38, Presbyterian 7

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