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 Power Rankings: Post-Week 1

After a Huge Win Over Georgia, No One Can Deny Clemson the Top Spot in the ACC

After a Huge Win Over Georgia, No One Can Deny Clemson the Top Spot in the ACC

One week down, and things seem to be trending positively for the ACC. Conference teams are rising in the polls, everyone has positive things to say about the ACC and (knock on wood), things really couldn’t be much better for the league as a whole. I don’t know how long this will last, but it’s fantastic. 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 (Post-Week 1)

1. Clemson Tigers (1-0) (0-0) (Last: 1): Up to number four in the recent AP rankings, Clemson is riding high right now. And why not? You beat a top-five team in Georgia, your quarterback is now assumed to be a Heisman front-runner… There’s very little left to question about this Tigers squad, and given how unimposing the remaining schedule is for them, it’s unlikely much more doubt creeps up between now and November. This is a team capable of winning the national title, and believe it or not, they just might go ahead and do it this year.

2. Florida State Seminoles (1-0) (1-0) (Last: 2): There was hope that Jameis Winston could step right in and run this Seminoles offense. But no one could’ve known just how good the freshman would be in his debut on Monday night. Accounting for five touchdowns against Pittsburgh, Winston has quickly thrown himself into the national spotlight very early in the season. In a surprising move, his team’s also joined him, putting to rest concerns about how they’ll replace EJ Manuel and much of last year’s defense.

3. Louisville Cardinals (1-0) (0-0) (Last: 3): Louisville understands what it needs to do to keep observers’ respect this season, whether that’s fair or not. And thus far, they’ve met the challenge. Teddy Bridgewater was a star against Ohio, putting up 355 passing yards and five scores against a team that was thought to be among the best in the MAC. We’ll see if that’s true or not, but we do know is that the Cardinals will be tough to beat on both ends this year. Now, the rest may be up to the voters.

4. Miami (FL) Hurricanes (1-0) (0-0) (Last: 4): Miami didn’t meet much of a test in Florida Atlantic on Friday, but they took care of business and collected a solid victory. Duke Johnson was the game’s standout performer, picking up right where he left off in 2012 by picking up over 200 total yards and a score. Obviously, the Owls are no worldbeaters, but it’s also worth noting the defense’s improved effort in the 34-6 win, too. We’ll see if that’s a mirage or not next week versus Florida.

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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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ACC Football 2013 Television Schedule & Spreads: Week 1

Tajh Boyd Leads Clemson Against Georgia in One of Many Nationally Televised ACC Games

Tajh Boyd Leads Clemson Against Georgia in One of Many Nationally Televised ACC Games

Every week, we’ll be providing a quick rundown of which ACC football games are on television, and also list the latest spread on each game (should you choose to engage in gambling-related activities). Please plan your days accordingly.

ACC Football Week 1 TV Schedule & Spreads

Thursday, August 29

North Carolina Tar Heels at South Carolina Gamecocks (-12), 6 p.m. ET, ESPN

Presbyterian Blue Hose at Wake Forest Demon Deacons (-38), 6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN 3

Saturday, August 31

Special: ESPN College Gameday, Live from Clemson, S.C., 11 a.m. ET, ESPN

Elon Phoenix at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (-46), noon ET, ESPN 3

Villanova Wildcats at Boston College Eagles (-16.5), noon ET, ESPNEWS

Florida International Panthers at Maryland Terrapins (-21), 12:30 p.m. ET, ESPN 3/College Gameplan

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs at NC State Wolfpack (-13.5), 12:30 p.m. ET, ESPN 3/College Gameplan

Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Syracuse Orange (+8), 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN 2

BYU Cougars at Virginia Cavaliers (+1), 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU

N.C. Central Eagles at Duke Blue Devils (-33), 4 p.m. ET, ESPN 3

Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Virginia Tech Hokies (+19.5), 5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Georgia Bulldogs at Clemson Tigers (+2), 8 p.m. ET, ABC

Sunday, September 1

Ohio Bobcats at Louisville Cardinals (-20.5), 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Monday, September 2

Florida State Seminoles at Pittsburgh Panthers (+10), 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

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ACC Preseason Top 50 Players of 2013: #22, Nikita Whitlock

Wake Forest’s Nikita Whitlock is #22 in Our Countdown of the ACC’s Top 50 Players for 2013

Wake Forest’s Nikita Whitlock is #22 in Our Countdown of the ACC’s Top 50 Players for 2013

Ten days until college football kicks off! In the past, we’ve limited these lists to just the top 25 players, but this season, we’re upping our game to 50. So just about every day until the season starts, there will be a new player profile up here as we count down to the top ACC player for 2013.

Obviously these lists are always completely subjective — and thus “completely bulletproof” — so feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments, too.

No. 22, Nikita Whitlock, NT/Wake Forest (Last Season: NR)

Whitlock has struggled to stay on the field throughout his career at Wake, so it’s never easy to quantify his importance to this defense, or how he stacks up against other ACC defenders. But that doesn’t mean he’s an enigma either. The 5’11”, 250 pound nose tackle makes up for his lack of size by getting a quick jump off the snap; shutting down runs up the middle, while also getting through to the quarterback. He had three sacks last season, which is par for the course over the first three years of his career. If they want to get back to the postseason though, Wake will need him to finally increase those numbers in 2013.

This year, Whitlock is just one veteran cog in a three-man front. He’s surrounded by experienced defenders, so you would think that spells ample opportunities for him to take advantage of one-on-one matchups between himself and the opposing center. While Whitlock is well-regarded as a run-stuffer, it’s also tough to glance over the fact that his numbers have dropped a bit since his breakout freshman season back in 2010. After 10.5 TFLs in his first season, he bumped that up to 14 in 2011… and then dropped to just 5.5 last year. You can blame it on injury if you’d like, but that overlooks the attention he’s paid by offensive linemen. As an interior linemen who runs a 4.7 40-yard dash, that’s still an incredibly tough man to stop, blitzing or not.

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Ranking the Best ACC Football Matchups of 2013: #112-101

The ACC Plays a Competitive Non-Conference Slate This Season, But Not Every Opponent's So Tough

The ACC Plays a Competitive Non-Conference Slate in 2013, But Not Every Opponent’s So Tough

As most noticed yesterday, the 2013 ACC football schedule has officially been released, meaning we finally have some clarity as to whom the conference’s 14 teams will face-off with from week-to-week next season. So with that in mind, we thought it would be an entertaining undertaking to rank all 112 ACC football games for 2013 because, well… it’s the offseason.

So to start us off, we have numbers 112 through 101; the worst of the entire schedule. Upset to see your team appear in this section? Don’t be. Every team in the ACC scheduled at least one FCS school this season, so each one is bound to have at least one completely uncompetitive matchup.

#112: Wagner Seahawks at Syracuse Orange (Saturday, September 14)

#111: N.C. Central Eagles at Duke Blue Devils (Saturday, August 31)

#110: South Carolina State Bulldogs at Clemson Tigers (Saturday, September 7)

#109: Alabama A&M Bulldogs at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (Saturday, November 23)

#108: VMI Keydets at Virginia Cavaliers (Saturday, September 21)

#107: Presbyterian Blue Hose at Wake Forest Demon Deacons (Saturday, August 31)

#106: The Citadel Bulldogs at Clemson Tigers (Saturday, November 23)

#105: Savannah State Tigers at Miami Hurricanes (Saturday, September 21)

#104: Western Carolina Catamounts at Virginia Tech Hokies (Saturday, September 7)

#103: Bethune-Cookman Wildcats at Florida State Seminoles (Saturday, September 21)

#102: Elon Phoenix at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (Saturday, August 31)

#101: Old Dominion Monarchs at North Carolina Tar Heels (Saturday, November 23)

Some additional notes on today’s list:

  • All 12 opponents are visiting teams, and all 14 come from FCS conferences
  • All 12 games appear on one of five different dates
  • Breakdown of opponent conferences: MEAC (4), Southern (4), Big South (1), FCS Independent (1), Patriot (1), SWAC (1)
  • Breakdown of opponent home states: North Carolina (3), South Carolina (3), Virginia (2), Alabama (1), Florida (1), Georgia (1), New York (1)
  • Public vs. private universities: Eight public, four private

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ACC Football 2012 Power Rankings: Week Three

Georgia Tech Bounced Back Nicely in Week Two, Running Roughshod Over Presbyterian All Day Saturday

All 14 ACC squads were in action again last week, and while many performed admirably, several manged to disappoint as well. Check out the list below, and weigh in down in the comments if you disagree.

1. Florida State Seminoles (2-0) (LW: 1): We really don’t know how to properly evaluate the Seminoles after two 1.75 games against FCS opponents, but they have won by a combined score of 124-3. So at least there’s that. The team’s first true test is coming up next week, however, as they are paid a visit by constant nemesis/thorn-in-side, Wake Forest. Also of interest: FSU has run the ball very effectively up until now. We’ll be curious to see if that continues now as they face better competition.

2. Clemson Tigers (2-0) (LW: 2): The Tigers’ second half defense against Ball State gave some fans reason for concern, as did the run D, which has been particularly poor. While it’s understandable that Auburn would be able to rack up 180 yards on the ground against them, for the Cardinals to total 252 is simply unacceptable. It’s great to have Sammy Watkins back this week, but unfortunately, he can’t play defensive line.

3. Virginia Tech Hokies (2-0) (LW: 4): The Hokies looked tired and disinterested against Austin Peay on Saturday, despite the fact that they won 42-7. We knew this offense would struggle coming into 2012, but it does appear that QB Logan Thomas will have to carry nearly the entire scoring burden. But should he continue his issues with accuracy, Tech could have a real problem on their hands as the season wears on.

4. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (1-1) (LW: 5): Unlike their Labor Day counterparts, Georgia Tech did not give off any signs of exhaustion Saturday, amassing 712 yards of offensive en route to a big 59-3 rout of Presbyterian. Mixing it up against an inferior opponent, Tech was also able to give extended playing time to Vad Lee and Zach Laskey. The two combined for 217 rushing yards and two scores on just 20 carries, including a huge 79-yard gain by Lee.

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