ACC Football 2013 Previews & Predictions: Week 4 (Part 1)

Clemson Wideout Martavis Bryant Will Be Called Upon to Step Up and Replace Charone Peake

Clemson Wideout Martavis Bryant Will Be Called Upon to Step Up and Replace Charone Peake

Weak slate of games this weekend, as most teams are facing off with some overmatched FCS foes. Still, a couple of in-conference games should move the needle for most ACC fans as we start to wind down on non-conference play. 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

Clemson Tigers (2-0) (0-0) at NC State Wolfpack (2-0) (0-0): These teams have arrived here in two very different ways (Clemson: dominant; NC State: slightly less so), but because this one’s in Raleigh, all cards appear to be on the table. Can Tajh Boyd avoid a repeat performance of his last trip down to State back in 2011 (zero TDs and two INTs)? Can Wolfpack QB Pete Thomas finally meet his potential and put aside his early season struggles? There’s plenty of upset talk floating around this week, but I just don’t see it (of course, I said that in 2011, too). Boyd and the Tigers’ offense are as good as they’ve ever been, while the State secondary was chewed up by Richmond two weeks ago. Clemson should continue to roll. Prediction: Clemson 42, NC State 24

The Rest of the Slate (in order of start time):

North Carolina Tar Heels (1-1) (0-0) at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (2-0) (0-0): Through two games, we have no idea who the Heels really are. They looked dreadful against South Carolina (fair enough) to start the season, but then the offense took awhile to pick up versus Middle Tennessee State as well. The offensive line has struggled to keep the pressure off QB Bryn Renner, but even more notably, they can’t seem to move the pile to open up the running game. Carolina’s only gaining around 116 yards per game on the ground — something that could hurt them all season. If Georgia Tech can gain an early lead, the triple-option should be able to seal the deal from there. The key, as you’d expect, will be Jackets’ QB Vad Lee and his ability to continue passing the ball effectively in order to set up that strong running game. Prediction: Georgia Tech 36, UNC 31

Marshall Thundering Herd (2-1) at Virginia Tech Hokies (2-1) (0-0): We’ve been saying it for awhile now, but it bears repeating: this is the best Tech defense in quite some time, and maybe ever. Their ability to force turnovers and get after the quarterback make them absolutely lethal — especially for a team with an undersized offensive line and/or no ability to run the ball. Marshall’s line may seem a bit undersized, but their offense is still prolific by any standards. QB Rakeem Cato can absolutely kill a defense if given time to throw, and if the passing game stalls, there’s still the two-headed rushing attack of Steward Butler and Essray Taliaferro to deal with. Tech should win this one, but it won’t be easy. If they fall behind early, it could be a very long afternoon for the Hokies. Prediction: Virginia Tech 26, Marshall 23

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ACC Football 2013 Power Rankings: Week 3

Miami Florida Gators Hurricanes Upset 2013 ACC Football SEC Stephen Morris

Miami’s Big Upset of Florida Has Them Thinking ACC Championship, and Possibly More

Two weeks into this young season and things seem awfully positive for the ACC. There’s a collective conference pride rooted not just in hilarious gestures of solidarity, but in actual on-field results. The ACC is beating the SEC on the field, and (at least from a public relations standpoint) putting to bed the rhetoric about it being a weak league. 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 3)

1. Clemson Tigers (2-0) (0-0) (Last: 1): Even without Tajh Boyd for most of the game, Clemson was able to breeze through South Carolina State on Saturday. But the biggest win may have been what happened in Georgia. The Bulldogs beat up on South Carolina in front of a national audience and staked their claim to the SEC East crown. But if Georgia’s the best team in the SEC East, then how good is Clemson? It appears the answer is “very” and now everyone seems to be buying in on the Tigers. The team moved up to no. 3 in the AP rankings this week and even received a first-place vote.

2. Florida State Seminoles (1-0) (1-0) (Last: 2): Florida State had the week off, but it doesn’t mean the hype around Jameis Winston vanished. If anything, it just continued to grow as pundits began to wonder what he might do for an encore. Against Nevada on Saturday, he should have ample opportunity to replicate his success from Labor Day, though it does feel like we’re already entering Clowney-type territory when it comes to expectations for him. At some point, he’ll remind folks he’s a freshman quarterback and the ESPN hivemind will inevitably turn on him. But until then, FSU fans will certainly enjoy the ride.

3. Louisville Cardinals (2-0) (0-0) (Last: 3): What does Louisville have to do to make their case for a national championship? Simply put: just win. And so far, they’ve done that, winning two contests by a combined score of 93-14. Teddy Bridgewater is on an absolutely torrid pace in terms of statistics, and with the American Athletic Conference looking even worse off than people thought this season, we could be seeing something truly special from him this year.

4. Miami (FL) Hurricanes (2-0) (0-0) (Last: 4): Is the U back? That depends on your point of view, though Saturday’s upset over Florida is certainly a nice start to that conversation. The Hurricanes weren’t perfect against the Gators, but maybe that’s what makes this victory resonate a bit more. Everyone has a tendency to celebrate a team for playing a flawless game en route to a big victory, when it’s the team that can win an ugly contest that’s probably better set up for long-term success. While the offense had its moments, the biggest plus from Saturday was the defense, which (Florida’s inept offense aside) did appear to have taken major leaps forward from last season’s disastrous effort.

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ACC Football 2013 Week 2 Lessons: After Wins over Florida & Georgia, Does ACC Have What it Takes in 2013?

Following Miami's Upset Over Florida, the Narrative Around the ACC Has Drastically Shifted

Following Miami’s Upset Over Florida, the Narrative Around the ACC Has Drastically Shifted

Each Monday morning (or sometimes Tuesday), we compile our top five takeaways from the weekend’s action. Here’s what we got out of Week 2 of the ACC football season:

1. The ACC Looks Ready to Contend: Three matchups between the perceived upper crust of the ACC and the perceived upper crust of the SEC have yielded two wins (over Georgia and Florida, respectively) for the former. It’s no national championship, of course, but it’s those types of victories that completely change the narrative for the ACC and barring some typical #goacc upsets (please, no), we may be set up for a very fun finish in 2013. With three potential title contenders all hovering around the top 10-15 spots in the rankings, this is exactly what the league needed to show it’s a new era. Moments like this one also do their part.

2. Boston College and Maryland on the rebound?: Over the past couple seasons, Boston College and Maryland’s respective struggles have been well chronicled and ridiculed, but both programs suddenly appear to be on the mend. The Terps and Eagles are both 2-0 to start the season, and while Maryland has won with a high-powered offense, BC has done it with a formidable defense. We’ll see if the trends hold, but for right now, things are looking up for both programs.

3. Syracuse, Virginia, NC State Experiencing Quarterback Troubles: While each team has experienced different results (0-2, 1-1, 2-0), they all do face very similar issues at the quarterback position. Syracuse’s Drew Allen has proven himself to be turnover-prone and unable to make quick reads. David Watford of Virginia has also been plagued by turnovers — though he’s also been up against two of the nation’s best defenses. Since jumping into the starting job part of the way into game one, State’s Pete Thomas has done very little to prove he deserves the position long-term, especially after struggling against an FCS team like Richmond. Expect all three situations to be watched very closely over the coming couple weeks.

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ACC Football 2013 Previews & Predictions: Week 2 (Part 2)

After a Come-From-Behind Win Over BYU, Can Virginia Find a Way to Upset the Ducks on Saturday?

After a Come-From-Behind Win Over BYU, Can Virginia Find a Way to Upset the Ducks?

Welcome to part two of this week’s previews and predictions! Here’s part one if you missed it.

Western Carolina Catamounts (0-1) at Virginia Tech Hokies (0-1) (0-0): The Hokies are hungry to put last week’s disaster behind them, and rightfully so. Despite holding Alabama to just 206 yards of offense, special teams and their own offensive mistakes ultimately doomed them to a lopsided loss. Logan Thomas isn’t the only reason the offense was completely ineffective on Saturday — plenty of receivers dropped passes — but it still appears that he hasn’t progressed past last season’s struggles. He’ll have an opportunity to shake that feeling this weekend, however, against the incredibly overmatched Catamounts. The 41.5-point line on this one sounds a bit aggressive, but there’s no reason why Tech shouldn’t win handedly. Prediction: Virginia Tech 41, WCU 7

Oregon Ducks (1-0) at Virginia Cavaliers (1-0) (0-0): Virginia’s defense bailed them out last week, as the offense still attempts to get its bearings with David Watford at the helm. This week, it’s unlikely they’re so lucky, though. The Ducks will have two Heisman candidates (Marcus Mariota, De’Anthony Thomas) on the field on nearly every offensive play, plus more team speed than the Hoos can possibly compete with all at once. It shouldn’t be seen as a sign of a season dead in the water for Virginia, but Oregon is going to run away with this one. Improved defense or not, there’s just very little UVa can do about it. Prediction: Oregon 49, Virginia 13

Old Dominion Monarchs (0-1) at Maryland Terrapins (1-0) (0-0): Maryland looks like a team reborn after last week’s offensive showing (43 points), while Old Dominion actually doesn’t look too shabby themselves after putting up 38 in a loss to East Carolina. But the Terps should have very little trouble in this game. The defense, though young, looks like it may be able to measure up to last season’s standards, and as long as everyone stays healthy (no guarantee), the offense should continue firing on all cylinders. C.J. Brown should have plenty of protection when operating out of the pocket, and given ODU’s status still transitioning to the FBS, he’ll probably be able to take advantage of a size discrepancy while on the run as well. Prediction: Maryland 52, ODU 20

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ACC Football 2013 Television Schedule & Spreads: Week 2

Duke Johnson Leads the 'Canes in a Tough Early Test Against the SEC's Florida Gators

Duke Johnson Leads the ‘Canes in a Tough Early Test Against the SEC’s Florida Gators

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 2 TV Schedule & Spreads

Friday, September 6

Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Boston College Eagles (-3), 8 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Saturday, September 7

Florida Gators at Miami Hurricanes (+3), noon ET, ESPN

Eastern Kentucky Colonels at Louisville Cardinals (-41), noon ET, ESPN 3

Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders at North Carolina Tar Heels (-17.5), 12:30 p.m. ET, ESPN 3/College Gameplan

South Carolina State Bulldogs at Clemson Tigers (-52.5), 12:30 p.m. ET, ESPN 3/College Gameplan

Western Carolina Catamounts at Virginia Tech Hokies (-41.5), 1:30 p.m. ET, ESPN3

Oregon Ducks at Virginia Cavaliers (+22), 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC

Old Dominion Monarchs at Maryland Terrapins (-18), 4 p.m. ET, ESPNEWS

Duke Blue Devils at Memphis Tigers (+6), 4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN3

Richmond Spiders at NC State Wolfpack (-23), 6 p.m.ET, ESPN3

Syracuse Orange at Northwestern Wildcats (-12), 6 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network

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Ranking the Best ACC Football Matchups of 2013: #100-91

Pitt's One of Several ACC Schools That Scheduled A Few Less-Than-Stellar Opponents

Pitt’s One of Several ACC Schools That Scheduled A Few Less-Than-Stellar Opponents

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.

Today, we take a quick glance at numbers 100 through 91; wrapping up FCS opponents, along with a smattering of terrible FBS teams. As part of the conference’s continuing PR battle, the volume of cupcake opponents actually goes a long way. In the past, teams have fallen victim to difficult slates devoid of “easy” matchups — something every school looked to avoid this year.

#100: Old Dominion Monarchs at Pittsburgh Panthers (Saturday, October 19)

#99: Idaho Vandals at Florida State Seminoles (Saturday, November 23)

#98: Boston College Eagles at New Mexico State Aggies (Saturday, November 9)

#97: Richmond Spiders at NC State Wolfpack (Saturday, September 7)

#96: Florida Atlantic Owls at Miami Hurricanes (Friday, August 30)

#95: New Mexico Lobos at Pittsburgh Panthers (Saturday, September 14)

#94: Duke Blue Devils at Memphis Tigers (Saturday, September 7)

#93: Old Dominion Monarchs at Maryland Terrapins (Saturday, September 7)

#92: Villanova Wildcats at Boston College Eagles (Saturday, August 31)

#91: Tulane Green Wave at Syracuse Orange (Saturday, September 21)

Some additional notes on today’s list:

  • Old Dominion, which is in the process of upgrading to the FBS, appears on this list twice (and once yesterday as well); a result of playing as a FCS independent
  • Of the 10 opponents (nine different teams), four are from the FCS and six are from the FBS
  • The 10 games appear on eight different dates, including three on Saturday, September 7
  • Breakdown of opponent conferences: Conference USA (3), CAA (2), FBS Independent (2), FCS Independent (2), Mountain West (1)
  • Breakdown of opponent home states: Virginia (3), New Mexico (2), Florida (1), Idaho (1), Louisiana (1), Pennsylvania (1), Tennessee (1)
  • Public vs. private universities: Seven public, three private

Previously: #112-101

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Final 2012 ACC Football Power Rankings

Clemson's Big Upset Over LSU Was One of Several Wins to Help the ACC Save Face This Postseason

Clemson’s Big Upset Over LSU Was One of Several Wins to Help the ACC Save Face This Postseason

Well that was a pleasant surprise now, wasn’t it? After getting knocked around on and off the field all season, the ACC found itself when it counted — the postseason — and (including Pitt & SU) managed a 5-3 slate, it’s first winning bowl record since 2005. If you want to include Louisville (and I sure do, given their big Sugar Bowl win), that brings the league to 6-3, with wins over the SEC (LSU & Florida), Big 12 (West Virginia) and Pac-12 (pre-season no. 1 USC). But sure, keep laughing at this league. They proved themselves and more during this year’s bowl season, and hopefully it’s a building block for even more excellent football.

1. Florida State Seminoles (12-2) (7-1) (LW: 1): Knock FSU for their schedule, their two losses (why are we criticizing a 12-win team again?) or their lack of a chance at a national title this season. But at the end of the day, they’re exactly where they were slated to be. The ‘Noles will be back in that conversation again this decade. It just takes some time, and this — winning both the ACC and the Orange Bowl — was the first step. Jimbo Fisher’s team will need to get past several big losses going forward, most notably Bjoern Werner and EJ Manuel, but the foundation’s there for a bright future.

2. Clemson Tigers (11-2) (7-1) (LW: 2): Despite not making it to a BCS bowl game, I’d say the Tigers’ consolation prize was still well-worth the trouble, no? On a national stage, Clemson beat mighty SEC’s LSU Tigers, and in the process, ended up being part of the most-watched non-BCS college football game in ESPN’s history. Most stunning in Clemson’s 25-24 victory, however, was the oft-maligned defense. Down 11 points heading into the fourth, the Bayou Bengals could’ve just run the clock out throughout the final stanza. Instead, it was Clemson that stayed strong, shutting out LSU and setting up a defining win for the Dabo Swinney era.

3. North Carolina Tar Heels (8-4) (5-3) (LW: 4): It’s tough to look at UNC’s 2012 season without imagining what could’ve been for a squad that seemed to finally turn the corner here in Larry Fedora’s first year. Knocking on the door of a division title for quite some time, the Heels finally put it all together, only to be ineligible for the postseason. So while it’s a disappointment for North Carolina fans to watch an eight-win season get laid to waste, it’s also built this program some street cred. Despite Giovani Bernard‘s departure to the NFL Draft, QB Bryn Renner will stick around for his senior year, meaning this team returns plenty of firepower; most of which this season only served as a preview for.

4. Syracuse Orange (8-5) (LW: 5): As if it was meant to be, Syracuse closed out their time in the Big East — the conference they built — by putting together its most impressive season in a decade. Up against one of the nation’s toughest non-conference schedules, and a top-heavy league to boot, the Orange still managed to win six of their final seven games. The exclamation point, however (on top of a split conference title), was their resounding victory over rival West Virginia in the Pinstripe Bowl. As someone who braved the cold to watch in-person, it was amazing to see this squad’s transformation from the season’s opening-week struggles to the machine-like execution against the Mountaineers.

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