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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A Tale of Two Upsets: Why ULM Beat Arkansas, But Syracuse Couldn’t Beat USC

UL-Monroe Slayed Their Giant, Arkansas; But Why Couldn’t SU Defeat USC?

While the rankings we assign to teams during each week of the college football season are so subjective and arbitrary that there are calls to abolish them, they do, in many cases indicate the relative strengths of the teams on the field. So, when something like UL-Monroe 34, #8 Arkansas 31 happens, it’s still a shock.  But it also requires something special to happen. Something so whacky and unexpected that the collective consciousness of college football fans is drawn to the game and immediately dons the cap of the Cinderella story. So when Warhawks QB Kolton Browning completes a 23-yard TD pass on fourth down to tie the game, and then later runs for a 16-yard touchdown to seal the victory in OT, that’s when lightning strikes and huge upsets happen. When it doesn’t? Well, that’s when you see USC beat Syracuse by 13.

SU coach Doug Marrone wanted his team to believe they could knock off the second-ranked team in the land on Saturday, and for the most part they did believe it was possible. On the ride down from Central New York, in the locker room and in pre-game warm-ups, there’s a good chance that message still permeated through the minds of every Orange player. But then the proverbial glass slipper was forcibly removed the second the game started. Why? Conservative play-calling.

With his NFL coaching background, it’s understandable why Marrone wouldn’t take many risks. At the professional level, you take very calculated risks to help ensure victory because of the money at stake for you, your players and your franchise. It’s not fun to lose in the NFL, but if you do, there are no rankings to watch out for the next day, no bowl game to position for. At the end of the day, your only job is to make the playoffs, and then see what happens next. Marrone allows himself to forget this at times – see last season’s 49-23 upset of a ranked West Virginia team and the 2010 Pinstripe Bowl victory as prime examples – but for some reason, he wouldn’t against USC.

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