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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Conference Realignment: What If Conferences Were Redrawn By Academics?

What if college athletic conferences were realigned based on institutions’ academic standing?

With the apparent breakneck speed of the conference realignment carousel, most have lost sight of the fact that these teams are academic institutions, and not just brands. But what if, instead of athletic earning potential, they were rearranged by academic ranking? The stature of conference partners may not matter to Florida State trustees, but it apparently matters a good deal to those in-charge at Miami. So while this would obviously never happen, it’s fun to imagine what-if. Especially for the fan bases that are a bit more obsessive about how academics fit into the realignment game than others may be.

For the groupings below, we took a look at U.S. News & World Report’s Top National Universities list for 2012. Yes, we’re well aware these rankings mean nothing and are very imperfect and flawed. Funny enough, so are the BCS rankings and conference realignment, yet those play an pretty important role in a lot of college football happenings, now don’t they? Since we were limited to the top 200 overall, just 93 FBS schools were ranked (service academies not included).

Conference One: The “Not-Quite-Ivy” League

In order: Stanford | Duke | Northwestern | Rice | Vanderbilt | Notre Dame | California | USC | UCLA | Virginia | Wake Forest | Michigan

By division: East: Duke, Northwestern, Vanderbilt, Notre Dame, Wake Forest, Virginia

West: Stanford, Rice, California, USC, UCLA, Michigan

Commentary: All four California schools from the Pac-12 stick together, and align themselves with Michigan and Notre Dame, two schools they all have plenty of experience playing over the years (some more than others). Vanderbilt and Rice definitely upgrade themselves to a group of more academically-suitable peers, and not surprisingly, there are three ACC schools here, too. Also of note, four of these schools appear in early renditions of a 2012 top 25. This setup also wouldn’t do half-bad from a money standpoint, capturing the Los Angeles, Bay Area, Chicago and Nashville markets outright, along with Raleigh, Houston, Detroit and Washington D.C. Continue reading

Does the ACC Have the Nation’s Best Group of Quarterbacks?

We Look at Whether or Not the ACC's Crop of Quarterbacks Is the Nation's Best

The ACC, top to bottom, has the nation’s best group of quarterbacks for the 2012 season. Laugh all you want, but it may be hard to avoid the fact. While some may call out the pure number of schools we’re considering (14), or the fact that none are necessarily “elite” (false, by the way), this post’s going to try to prove those naysayers wrong. Or at least make them consider the opposing point of view. Maybe. Let’s jump in…

Of the 14 ACC starting quarterbacks, not one is in a real quarterback controversy. Just one (Stephen Morris) lost a position battle last year, and he still got considerable reps in 2011. Every one of these guys are upperclassmen — half seniors, half juniors. Six of them have also thrown for more than 3,000 yards in a season. Need I go on?

Below you’ll find a breakdown of the ACC’s signal-callers, compared to how they stack up to their counterparts in the Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC. To make all things even, we’ll average out all statistics across all passers. The categories will include: Career wins, 2011 passing yards, 2011 (total) TDs, and 2011 interceptions.

We’ll keep in mind this “study” isn’t perfect or scientific, so long as you remember we never claimed it was either. Continue reading