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 Heisman Watch: Week 6

After His Strong Play Carried FSU Over Boston College, Jameis Winston Moves Up the Watch List

After His Strong Play Carried FSU Over Boston College, Jameis Winston Moves Up the Watch List

After five weeks of play, the ACC‘s set a pretty high standard for who belongs on this list. Among the criteria: have zero losses (as four — sort-of five teams do), be your team’s undisputed best player and in one case, giving us what could be a “Heisman moment.” Have other nominees? Submit your ballots below.

1. Tajh Boyd, QB/Clemson (1,153 total yards, 13 total TD, 0 INT, 64% completion) (Last: 1)

Boyd’s made a habit of making opponent demolitions look easy, and that goes double for Saturday’s win over Wake Forest. Throwing just 24 passes, he still managed 311 yards and three scores. Rushing an uncharacteristic 17 times, he still ended up amassing 69 yards on the ground, with another TD thrown in for good measure. As everyone well knows by now, he’s a machine. And we’re so used to his success for the past three years that the gravity of his performances don’t even register anymore. It’s unfair, but it also sets you up well to be a Heisman frontrunner at times (like this one).

2. Teddy Bridgewater, QB/Louisville (1,250 total yards, 14 TD, 1 INT, 71.8% completion) (Last: 2)

A bye week may have actually done Bridgewater a favor, as most players got a full week to catch up to his astronomical statistics, yet still couldn’t. Through four games, he’s been absolutely clinical in his execution — easily one of the best playmakers in the country, even in what amounts to half-games for the most part. If he’s going to move up in the national conversation though, he needs the rest of the teams on Louisville’s schedule to pick it up a little bit. You can’t amass a Heisman resume blowing out a team destined for 2-10 every week, even if your numbers are as good as his have been.

3. Jameis Winston, QB/Florida State (1,159 total yards, 14 total TD, 2 INT, 73.6% completion) (Last: 3)

That sloppiness that’s been hinted at over the past couple weeks? Still there for the entire FSU team, Winston included, as we saw in last week’s oddly close victory over Boston College. And as much as that game may have given way to some doubts about the ‘Noles, it actually ended up pleading the case for Winston’s abilities above all else, and maybe even handed out what could be his “Heisman moment.” Tied at 17 with just a few seconds left in the second quarter, Winston unleashed a pressured Hail Mary to Kenny Shaw, which he completed for a touchdown. The feat of pure athleticism was a microcosm of what makes the true freshman such a force on the game, and a leader for this team.

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ACC Football 2013 Heisman Watch: Week 5

Through Four Games, No Defense Has Been Able to Stop Maryland's C.J. Brown

Through Four Games, No Defense Has Been Able to Stop Maryland QB C.J. Brown at All

The ACC‘s top teams are still unbeaten, but that doesn’t mean we’re only choosing from a few teams here. The league is deep with playmakers this season, so plenty to choose from as we try and determine who might contend for college football’s highest honor. Have other nominees? Submit your ballots below.

1. Tajh Boyd, QB/Clemson (773 total yards, 9 total TD, 0 INT, 62.2% completion) (Last: 1)

Boyd’s performances have seemingly become old hat to most viewers, which could end up hurting his candidacy in the long run (especially if the Tigers wind up losing a game at some point). And that’s not even his fault. It takes a pretty talented player to make 282 total yards and three scores seem mundane, and yet, that’s where he’s at. He just needs to keep doing what he’s doing and help his team keep winning games.

2. Teddy Bridgewater, QB/Louisville (1,250 total yards, 14 TD, 1 INT, 71.8% completion) (Last: 2)

Bridgewater never seems to stay in a game long enough to put up even bigger numbers — or his team just starts running the ball incredibly early. That’s unlikely to change as the year goes on and this schedule fails to get much harder. But it doesn’t appear that critics are complaining much thus far. The Cardinals winning, specifically on account of the junior quarterback, is all that really matters in the big scheme of things.

3. C.J. Brown, QB/Maryland (1,326 total yards, 13 total TD, 1 INT, 66.7% completion) (Last: 4)

Maryland didn’t put up much of an effort in the second half against West Virginia, which explains why Brown’s numbers weren’t exactly at the season’s typical torrid pace. The senior passer really has put on quite a show overall though, and his team is still undefeated — both of which should count for something (especially the second part). He’s proved himself to be one of the best pure dual-threats in the country, and if they can pull off a monster upset of Florida State in a couple weeks, then maybe people will finally start taking notice of his body of work.

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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 Heisman Watch: Week 4

Looks Like a Terrapin Could Be Climbing Into Heisman Contention (and Not the One You'd Think)

Looks Like a Terrapin (Not the One You Think) Could Be Climbing Into Heisman Contention

No losses among the ACC‘s top teams yet, which means all of these players stay in the actual Heisman hunt for the time being. We’re still just a few games in, though. Plenty of season left to play, and plenty of players that might even be flying under the radar right now. Have other nominees? Submit your ballots below.

1. Tajh Boyd, QB/Clemson (491 total yards, six total TD, 0 INT, 60.4% completion) (Last: 1)

Boyd’s still leading, and is likely to be as long as Clemson’s undefeated. With his first test in a few weeks coming this Thursday against NC State though, we’ll see what happens next. His last trip down to Raleigh did not go well at all, so all eyes will be on how he responds this time around. Put up the type of stats he did in the opener, and we’re right back on track in the national Heisman race.

2. Teddy Bridgewater, QB/Louisville (1,037 total yards, 10 TD, 1 INT, 70.5% completion) (Last: 2)

So Teddy Bridgewater is mortal? After throwing just one touchdown pass versus Kentucky, it does seem that way. If he’d kept up his pace from the first two games, he’d probably be atop this list. So is this the end of his scorched-earth sprint over the Cardinals’ schedule? Hardly. Kentucky, despite their overall weakness, is still one of the best opponents on the Cards’ schedule. Take a look. Bridgewater’s numbers are going to be just fine this year.

3. Jameis Winston, QB/Florida State (603 total yards, seven total TD, 1 INT, 88.9% completion) (Last: 3)

Even in a limited amount of playing time, Winston still knows how to continue growing his sort-of legend. Despite completing just 15 passes, he still managed 215 yards and two scores. He ended up tossing an interception, but beyond that, there’s still very little negative to say about the redshirt freshman’s game. Tougher tests await, though for right now, Winston can just continue to rack up yardage and touchdowns against FSU’s tune-up opponents. The fact that the numbers still stand out next to the Seminoles’ 377 rushing yards against Nevada says an awful lot of good about his game.

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ACC Football 2013 Power Rankings: Week 4

On the Arm of Vad Lee, Georgia Tech May Actually be a Contender in the Coastal Division

On the Arm of Vad Lee, Georgia Tech May Actually be a Contender in this Year’s Coastal Division

Three weeks in, and the ACC is not the most beleaguered major conference in the land (high, Big Ten!). It’s an accomplishment — if not on the field, than from a PR standpoint — and as the league’s top teams remain unbeaten this week, things only continue to get better. 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 4)

1. Clemson Tigers (2-0) (0-0) (Last: 1): No game last week means the Tigers will have plenty of time to prepare themselves for a trip down to Raleigh this Thursday. Last time they visited NC State, Clemson was dealt a crushing 37-13 defeat, but that was a different squad. A different (read: worse) defense, and a very green Tajh Boyd at quarterback. This Tigers team is arguably the best one in 30 years. We’ll get to the preview later in the week, but with an extra five days to prepare, Clemson should remain the top team in these rankings without much issue.

2. Florida State Seminoles (2-0) (1-0) (Last: 2): Nevada looked as if they were keeping things close with Florida State for at least a little while on Saturday. And then they weren’t. We’re not exactly sure what the Seminoles’ defense is going to look like against better competition, but for right now, that’s fine. The offense is on another level through two games and it’s showing no sign of slowing down. Whether on the ground or through the air, the ‘Noles know how to score, which makes them incredibly dangerous.

3. Louisville Cardinals (3-0) (0-0) (Last: 3): Teddy Bridgewater slowed down a bit against Kentucky (just one touchdown), but that’s understandable. There’s simply no way he could continue the video game pace he was on through the first two contests. Lucky him, the rushing attack showed up in a big way and gave this team a little bit of hope too. One-man shows don’t win. So if Louisville’s going to actually contend for a title, it’ll need efforts like Saturday’s, just as much as blowouts like their first couple games.

4. Miami (FL) Hurricanes (2-0) (0-0) (Last: 4): Another team with the benefit of an early bye. The ‘Canes are looking good so far, though the defense won’t truly be tested until October. And that’s a bit nerve-wracking considering how disastrous that unit was in 2012. In the meantime, at least the offense looks competent. Miami’s already proven it knows how to win a couple different types of games — blowouts and slugfests — which should suit them well as the season continues. Best of all, that same offense doesn’t look as if it was rise and fall with Duke Johnson. If nothing else, that may be the biggest gift of all from the first few weeks.

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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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