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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ACC Football 2013 Power Rankings: Week 7

Now Ranked in the Top 25 As Well, Virginia Tech Joins the ACC's Power Three

Now Ranked in the Top 25 As Well, Virginia Tech Makes It Four Elite Teams From the ACC

There’s a huge gulf between the top of the ACC and the rest of the conference — something that has both good and bad consequences. On the one hand, the conference is deeply involved in the national title race right now. On the other, we’re seeing a lot of blowouts, too, which hurts the league’s top-to-bottom image. As always, the poll includes all 14 current ACC members, plus future member Louisville. Feel like I’m totally right or completely off-base? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

ACC Football Power Rankings 2013 (Week 7)

1. Clemson Tigers (5-0) (3-0) (Last: 1): Another week, another big Clemson win. And yet, there are still some doubts about whether or not the Tigers are national title contenders. The defense can go cold for stretches and the offense is largely one-dimensional, sure. But given the country’s best resume win thus far (vs. Georgia) and a major Heisman contender at quarterback in Tajh Boyd, this team will be impossible to ignore as long as they keep on winning.

2. Florida State Seminoles (5-0) (3-0) (Last: 2): As mentioned up top, the gap between the ACC’s top teams and the rest is very large, with Florida State’s 63-0 massacre over Maryland being exhibit A. No, the Terps were not exactly a strong top 25 team at the time, but still, they were still perceived as one of the conference’s better teams going into Saturday. FSU’s absolutely dominant performance, led by both Jameis Winston and the defense, changed all that. And changed the perception of the ‘Noles too, from an interesting team to one that could easily contend for a championship.

3. Miami (FL) Hurricanes (5-0) (1-0) (Last: 4): The Hurricanes’ offense just continues to impress, no matter how banged up Stephen Morris may seem. Down 10 early, the group fought back against Georgia Tech, and pulled off the big divisional win. But at the same time, it might’ve been the defense that was most responsible for the turnaround. Holding Tech scoreless in the third allowed the ‘Canes offense to come back and take the lead, especially the dagger touchdown to go up 45-23 with just a little over a minute remaining.

4. Louisville Cardinals (5-0) (Last: 3): Louisville didn’t do anything wrong necessarily against Temple. But as an offense, it’s tough to say their 30-point output against the Owls was overly impressive. The Cardinals are still undefeated and as predicted, this schedule’s already starting to creep up on them. All three ACC teams ranked ahead have better wins to their respective names, and will only continue to add more as the year goes on.

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ACC Football Player of the Week, Week 6: Andre Williams, Boston College

Boston College Running Back Andre Williams is the ACC Player of the Week for Week 6

Boston College Running Back Andre Williams is the ACC Player of the Week for Week 6

Each week, we’ll be identifying the best ACC (plus Louisville) player from that weekend’s games. As always, it’s a completely arbitrary award with no specific criteria beyond the vague concept of “excellence.” No, we don’t take write-ins.

ACC Player of the Week, Week 6: Andre Williams, RB/Boston College

Week six was a big weekend for several ACC players (as you’ll see in the honorable mention section below), but perhaps none was as impressive as Williams. The senior was already having a strong season before Saturday’s matchup with Army, and then simply went off to put his overall statistics into another stratosphere. His 30 carries for 263 yards and five scores were astounding — and among the best the ACC has ever seen from a running back. For a BC offense that has fluctuated between serviceable and impressive, it’s very obvious who controls that perception. Williams has already set career highs in every rushing category and is the conference leader in rushing yards by nearly 200 yards right now. While his name wasn’t coming up much when talking about the league’s top playmakers in the preseason, it certainly is now. As long as he continues operating at this level, the Eagles postseason prospects suddenly look a whole lot brighter.

Honorable Mention:

Tajh Boyd, QB/Clemson (20/27 passing, 455 yards, 5 TD, 2 INT)

Jameis Winston, QB/Florida State (23/32 passing, 417 total yards, 5 TD, 0 INT)

Tanner Price, QB, Wake Forest (27/43 passing, 339 total yards, 4 TD, 1 INT)

Michael Campanaro, WR/Wake Forest (12 catches, 153 yards, 2 TD)

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ACC Football 2013 Week 6 Lessons: Virginia Tech, Miami Turning Coastal Into Two-Horse Race

Virginia Tech's Win Over North Carolina Puts Them Head-to-Head With UNC for Coastal

Virginia Tech’s Win Over North Carolina Puts Them Head-to-Head With Miami for Coastal

Each Monday morning, we compile our top five takeaways from the weekend’s action. Here’s what we got out of Week 6 of the ACC football season:

1. Miami and Virginia Tech own the Coastal this year: With all due respect to Pittsburgh (also 2-0 in the Coastal), this division is a two-horse race between the Hokies and Hurricanes. Virginia Tech’s showed itself to have one of the conference’s — if not the country’s — top defenses, while also defeating two of the top four teams (according to preseason expectations) in the Coastal. Miami’s been tested as well, and has also passed with flying colors. They’re the division’s top two teams, and despite recent perceptions of the Coastal, are also legitimate conference title contenders as well. But…

2. Florida State and Clemson continue to impress: Regardless of how well Virginia Tech and Miami have been playing though, the story has been and will continue to be FSU and Clemson. The two teams have been among the nation’s most dominant teams all season, winning by impressive margins in impressive environments, while putting up staggering numbers. Both schools average over 44 points per game, are in the top 20 in passing offense, and also in the top 20 in scoring defense. Last weekend, they outscored their opponents by a combined margin of 112-14. They’re on a collision course for October 19 (when they meet in Clemson) to possibly decide the division, ACC title and possibly even a national title game bid.

3. Maryland‘s not ready to contend just yet: Prior to Saturday’s game against Florida State, all the buzz was about Maryland’s obvious improvement, increased stature as a football program and how well they were set up to join the Big Ten next year. Now? They appear to be the beneficiaries of a cupcake schedule and not much else following a 63-0 drubbing. Yes, C.J. Brown was injured, but the rout was on even before that happened. This ‘Noles team is built on offense, not defense, and the Terps’ defense simply couldn’t stop anything FSU and Jameis Winston threw at them.

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ACC Football Player of the Week, Week 2: Andre Williams, Boston College

Boston College Running Back Andre Williams is the ACC Player of the Week for Week 2

Boston College Running Back Andre Williams is the ACC Player of the Week for Week 2

Each week, we’ll be identifying the best ACC (plus Louisville) player from that weekend’s games. As always, it’s a completely arbitrary award with no specific criteria beyond the vague concept of “excellence.” No, we don’t take write-ins.

ACC Player of the Week, Week 2: Andre Williams, RB/Boston College

Chief among Boston College’s struggles over the past couple of years has been the running game. After finishing 119th in rushing yards per game in 2012, it was a core focus of new head coach Steve Addazio to fix the issue, even without former starter Deuce Finch in the fold after leaving the program in April. Luckily, Andre Williams has already more than filled the role of starting running back, capped off by his 204-yard effort on Friday night against Wake Forest. Without much going on in the passing game, the Eagles were forced to rely on the ground game to move the ball. In response, Williams delivered the best effort of his career, with averaging 5.8 yards on 35 carries, plus a score. Boston College took home its first ACC win and second overall win of the season (both tying last year’s marks already), and now with a legitimate running game, they can aim for even more.

Honorable Mention:

Teddy Bridgewater, QB/Louisville (397 passing yards, 4 TD)

C.J. Brown, QB/Maryland (305 total yards, 4 TD)

Stefon Diggs, WR/Maryland (179 receiving yards, 1 TD)

Detrick Bonner, S/Virginia Tech (2 INT, 1 TD)

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ACC Football 2013 Season Preview: Boston College Eagles

Boston College is Looking to Rebound From What's Been a Disastrous Program Downturn

Boston College is Looking to Rebound From What’s Been a Disastrous Program Downturn

Team: Boston College Eagles

2012 W-L: 2-10 (1-7)

Head Coach: Steve Addazio (0-0; first season)

Returning Starters: 16 (8 Offense, 8 Defense)

The Eagles hit rock bottom in 2012. The absolute lowest point you could hit — made even worse by where they’d been for much of the previous two decades. When your team and fan base become accustomed to bowl bids and contending for conference titles (as had regularly been the case since BC joined the ACC), a 2-10 train wreck is a tough pill to swallow. Yet that’s where Boston College sits now in the first year of head coach Steve Addazio’s reign. There’s talent on this roster; don’t think there isn’t. But in order to rebound and harness that talent, it’ll take the right coach. Is Addazio the right coach? We’ll soon find out…

Boston College’s offense will be completely revamped for 2013, as new OC Ryan Day tries to bring the team back to a more balanced attack than last year’s pass-at-all-costs disaster. They didn’t have the personnel to run that scheme (while they still finished 45th in passing yards per game), but I’m unsure whether they have the personnel to be run-first either. Addazio’s looking for a grind it out game, which means a lot of the onus falls on running back Andre Williams to far surpass the paltry 584 yards he amassed last season. He’ll have little help or experience there to assist him, though, which makes for a very tough hill to climb at running back. With more carries (he only had 130 last year), I’d bet we see a lot more production out of Williams, but perhaps not on the level you’ll get from the league’s elite ball-carriers.

Passing-wise, things are more settled, and we may actually see a rebound season from QB Chase Rettig. Forced to pass more often than necessary last fall, Rettig took a lot of sacks and suffered from turnovers. But with a balanced approach, maybe we see something like 17 scores, nine picks and around 2,800 yards on 55-percent passing, coupled with less sacks. Star receiver Alex Amidon should be able to help him out with all of that, however the jury’s still out on the offensive line. Replacing starters at both tackle spots is no small order, and it could make for some rough early outings as everyone gets settled.

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ACC Football Positional Rankings 2013: Running Backs

Devonta Freeman and Florida State Headline the ACC's Running Backs for the 2013 Season

Devonta Freeman and Florida State Headline the ACC’s Running Backs for the 2013 Season

While we’re still over two months away from the season, it does indeed seem to be that time of year — when college football blogs like this one and so many others start churning out season preview materials. We’ll be holding off till July and August for the team-by-team season previews, but in the meantime, there’s nothing wrong with taking a look at each position on the field and evaluating ACC squads’ respective strengths and weaknesses.

This week, we’re on to the running backs (you can check out last week’s feature on quarterbacks, too). Though there’s not a whole lot of experience at the position — just one returning back (Syracuse’s Jerome Smith) rushed for 1,000 yards last year — this group makes up for a lot of that in potential. Many of the most talented runners this year will be sophomores or juniors, so that aforementioned experience will come with time. As for those who are seniors, many possess a significant leg-up, which you’ll find reflected here as well.

Keep in mind that these are full unit rankings — not just one player — so just because one individual quarterback is better than another, it doesn’t necessarily mean the team’s entire crop of passers is. Still, disagree with any of these picks? Share your own selections below.

ACC Positional Rankings 2013: Running Backs

1. Florida State Seminoles: Injuries ravaged the Florida State backfield in 2012. But because of that, the team’s top two returning rushers, Devonta Freeman and James Wilder Jr., actually have quite a bit of experience under their respective belts (221 carries between them last year). They’re both vertical runners for the most part, doing most of their work in the middle of the line, but Wilder, in particular, also has some pass-catching ability out of the backfield (19 catches for 136 yards and two scores last year). Expect that role to expand this year, while also incorporating Mario Pender, who’s the quickest back on the roster and anxious to contribute after red-shirting last season.

2. Miami Hurricanes: Miami’s ranking here is purely on the strength of sophomore Duke Johnson, and his success is likely to decide how far the ‘Canes go this season. Despite splitting carries with Mike James last year, Johnson still ran for 947 yards and 10 scores, while tacking on another 1,133 yards from receiving and kick returns. With that on his resume in just one season, he’s now being listed among the most dynamic players in the country and will be the focal point of every gameplan against Miami. He won’t be acting alone in the backfield, but there’s no telling what to expect from backups Dallas Crawford or Eduardo Clements either.

3. Syracuse Orange: SU’s offense was largely seen as a pass-first attack in 2012, but its success in the season’s second half was heavily reliant on the running game. The Orange bring back everybody this year, and arguably have one of the deepest backfields in the country. The group will be guided by Jerome Smith (1,171 yards last year), but this will be a multi-back, run-first system. Expect Prince-Tyson Gulley to approach the 200-carry mark as well, while the team gets additional contributions from short-yardage specialist Adonis Ameen-Moore and jack-of-all-trades Ashton Broyld in hybrid WR/RB slot role.

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