ACC Football 2013 Previews & Predictions: Week 9

Miami Breathed a Sigh of Relief on Tuesday -- Will it Help Them Avoid Trap v. Wake?

Miami Breathed a Sigh of Relief on Tuesday — Will it Help Them Avoid Trap v. Wake?

A week after Florida State asserted itself as the ACC‘s top dog, we get a bunch of games that won’t really help us determine the pecking order beyond the ‘Noles. Despite being nearly halfway through conference play, this weekend feels like a bit of a lull — though still, plenty of chances for surprising (but hopefully not to surprising) results. 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

Wake Forest Demon Deacons (4-3) (2-2) at Miami Hurricanes (6-0) (2-0): A matchup with a 23-point spread being the featured game of the week? #goacc… But honestly, that line’s a bit overblown and it’s not as if the ‘Canes have much of a home-field advantage anyway. Miami also struggled to get by a hapless North Carolina team last Thursday, while Wake Forest is suddenly coming on strong offensively, scoring 62 points over the past two weeks (strong for them, obviously). If Tanner Price can move the ball well on the ground, it should help set up the Deacs’ passing game for more success, though Miami’s offense might be too much for them. Whether it’s Duke Johnson or Dallas Crawford carrying the load, expect the Hurricanes to try and test Wake’s strong running defense all afternoon. Miami is likely to win this one — just not by as much as Vegas might think. Prediction: Miami 31, Wake 24

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

Louisville Cardinals (6-1) at USF Bulls (2-4): Louisville’s coming off a tough loss last Friday that killed off any national title hopes. USF’s riding a surprising two-game winning streak and actually holds a share of first in the American Athletic Conference right now. While the Bulls have played better of late, it’s unlikely that’ll be enough against a team out for a bit of redemption this week. USF is still a struggling offense that only puts up 16 points per game, and to be honest, UConn‘s the first offense they’ve really stopped all year. Teddy Bridgewater should make short work of the secondary and get the Cards back on track. Prediction: Louisville 41, USF 13

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (4-3) (2-2) at Virginia Cavaliers (2-5) (0-3): It’s unlikely Georgia Tech will be able to replicate last week’s 56-point output, though if there was an opponent that could happen against, I guess it would be UVa. The Hoos have been a mess all season, with an offense that can’t score (less than 18 points per game vs. FBS competition) and a defense that simply gets abused in second halves. Maybe Mike London coming under fire serves as motivation for Virginia? There’s a chance of it, though this really is a lopsided matchup of two teams going in opposite directions. Prediction: Georgia Tech 38, Virginia 20

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ACC Football 2013 Heisman Watch: Week 9

Jameis Winston Flies to the Top of the Heisman Watch List After Beating Clemson

FSU’s Jameis Winston Flies to the Top of the Heisman Watch List After Beating Clemson

You’ve heard this before: Florida State’s big win on Saturday shakes up everything we thought we knew about the ACC. And that includes the Heisman race. As long as FSU keeps winning, Jameis Winston is a serious contender and should remain atop this list. Have other nominees? Submit your ballots below.

1. Jameis Winston, QB/Florida State (2,022 total yards, 23 total TD, 3 INT, 71.3% completion) (Last: 2)

No matter the size of the stage, Jameis Winston has risen to the occasion, with his performance against Clemson obviously being the year’s standout game for any player. He’s got at least two or three “Heisman moments” already, the season’s landmark win and he’s piloting a National Championship contender. What more could you ask for out of a quarterback? He’s a Heisman frontrunner now — arguably even more so than the next man on this list ever was.

2. Tajh Boyd, QB/Clemson (2,134 total yards, 21 total TD, 4 INT, 63.1% completion) (Last: 1)

Any Heisman contender can survive one “bad” game, however this was Boyd’s second. Plus, he lost to fellow contender in Winston. Yes, the senior passer has been in the conversation since the year began, but at this point, his time might have run out. Winston’s energy and charisma are infectious and his performance against Boyd’s Tigers was other-worldly. Boyd is still a stellar senior. It’s just unlikely he’s stellar enough to take home this award.

3. Teddy Bridgewater, QB/Louisville (2,257 total yards, 22 TD, 2 INT, 72% completion) (Last: 3)

Like Boyd, Bridgewater’s time as a Heisman contender may have run out, but it shouldn’t take away from the excellent season he’s had for the Cardinals. While his team lost last Friday, it’s to little fault of their quarterback, who still threw for over 300 yards and two scores. At this point, all he can do is continue to help this team win, and hopefully they can work their way back into the BCS conversation. They’ll need some help, but it’s possible.

… and that’s it. No point extending this list past the top three anymore, since that’s really all there is. Obviously discussions can be reopened if/when all these contenders are eliminated and we revert to the Weinke Awards Watch (named for the last ACC Heisman winner, Chris Weinke) instead.

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ACC Football 2013 Previews & Predictions: Week 8

Tajh Boyd Understands the Pressure He and His Clemson Tigers Will Be Up Against This Saturday

Tajh Boyd Understands the Pressure He and His Clemson Tigers Will Be Up Against This Saturday

We’re here! It’s the biggest week in ACC football history! The most important game, possibly, this conference has ever seen and it could end up being the college football regular season’s most important game as well. All eyes are on Clemson and Florida State, and as regular spectators, we’re happy to even be a small part of the festivities and attention sent the ACC’s way. 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

Florida State Seminoles (5-0) (3-0) at Clemson Tigers (6-0) (4-0): The winner of this game gets a clear shot at a conference title, Heisman trophy, National Championship and so much more. So know that both teams will be fully prepared for what comes on Saturday night. Tajh Boyd‘s been here many times before, while Jameis Winston takes his first trip into the spotlight against a major opponent. The two quarterbacks may cancel each other out, which brings this game down to the defenses. Clemson’s pass-rush is one of the best in the country, and FSU’s has been iffy at times this year. Neither side’s a push-over, though something tells me the Tigers’ experience plays a major part in delivering the win. This veteran Clemson team remembers last year’s close loss to the ‘Noles and will be prepared for the rematch. It’s not to take away from Florida State. I just see the Tigers as the (slightly) better team — especially at home. Prediction: Clemson 41, Florida State 38

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

Miami Hurricanes (5-0) (1-0) at North Carolina Tar Heels (1-4) (0-2): Miami’s rocketed into the top 10, while the Tar Heels could not be in worse shape. This of course is the recipe for a major upset in most cases, though I just don’t buy it here. The Hurricanes’ offense has scored 42 points or more for three straight games, and despite a lingering ankle injury to Stephen Morris, they’ve still maintained one of the top 30-40 passing attacks in the country. The defense is also improved and given the recent state of things for the Heels, a lot would have to go their way in order to beat Miami on Thursday. Prediction: Miami 33, UNC 21

UCF Knights (4-1) at Louisville Cardinals (6-0): UCF’s without its top pass-rusher on Friday, which certainly poses an issue to their strategy of getting to Teddy Bridgewater. Still, the Knights should be well equipped to giving the Cardinals all they can handle in Louisville’s last game against real competition. If the Cards defense plays as they have lately, they’ll do just fine. But make no mistake, UCF will be able to test this team as likely no team has all year — nor will, until the postseason, that is. Prediction: Louisville 27, UCF 20

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ACC Football 2013 Heisman Watch: Week 8

Clemson's Tajh Boyd is Still Very Much in Control of Heisman Race, Though Jameis Winston is Gaining

Tajh Boyd is Still Very Much in Control of Heisman Race, Though Jameis Winston is Gaining

Like the national Heisman race, the ACC‘s version is packed very tightly with a bevy of spectacular passers leading undefeated teams. There’s very few ways to separate any of these players from each other, but we try our best with what we have at hand. Have other nominees? Submit your ballots below.

1. Tajh Boyd, QB/Clemson (1,970 total yards, 20 total TD, 2 INT, 66.5% completion) (Last: 1)

No, Boyd’s performance against Boston College wasn’t amazing, but at the end of the day, he still managed over 360 total yards and two TDs. In a game that only featured 38 combined points between the two teams, I’d still say that’s pretty impressive. Under pressure, the senior’s accuracy has fallen off a bit, so that’s something to watch for. Though the main concern at the end of the day is to continue winning football games.

2. Jameis Winston, QB/Florida State (1,576 total yards, 19 total TD, 2 INT, 73.2% completion) (Last: 2)

Winston had a bye last week, though it’s tough to forget how well he’s played up to this point. He’s played second-fiddle to Boyd all season, but that could all change should he lead FSU to a victory against the Tigers on Saturday. In last year’s ACC Heisman race, EJ Manuel and Boyd were both pretty equal until the ‘Noles beat Clemson in late September. Winston has an opportunity to repeat the feat this year, and truly state his case for the trophy.

3. Teddy Bridgewater, QB/Louisville (1,921 total yards, 20 TD, 2 INT, 71% completion) (Last: 3)

Louisville appears bored with their opponents, and that goes double for Bridgewater, whose incredible statistics have fallen off somewhat from the early part of the season, but still possesses one of the best number lines in the entire sport. Just like the two gentlemen in front of him, if Bridgewater can continue to generate wins without many mistakes, his candidacy will only continue to improve. Unfortunately, Friday against UCF is likely to be one of his final performances on a national stage.

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ACC Football 2013 Heisman Watch: Week 7

After a Five-Touchdown Effort Against Maryland, Jameis Winston Shoots Back up the Charts

After a Five-Touchdown Effort Against Maryland, Jameis Winston Shoots Back up the Charts

Like the national Heisman race, the ACC‘s version is packed very tightly with a bevy of spectacular passers leading undefeated teams. There’s very few ways to separate any of these players from each other, but we try our best with what we have at hand. Have other nominees? Submit your ballots below.

1. Tajh Boyd, QB/Clemson (1,603 total yards, 18 total TD, 2 INT, 66% completion) (Last: 1)

A game against Syracuse‘s lackluster secondary was exactly what Boyd needed to bolster his case as a Heisman contender. The star senior was pulled early, along with several other Tigers starters, and yet still accounted for 450 yards of offense and five scores. Every game won’t be against the Orange, of course, but if nothing else, the strong effort was a stern reminder of just how explosive Boyd can be.

2. Jameis Winston, QB/Florida State (1,576 total yards, 19 total TD, 2 INT, 73.2% completion) (Last: 3)

Just like Boyd, Winston used last week as a reminder to everyone about just how high his ceiling really is. Up against a Maryland team that was simply embarrassed, he tallied over 400 yards and five touchdowns — making things seem effortless for the second straight week and handing himself yet another “Heisman moment.” At this point, there’s no question the redshirt freshman can keep up a high level of play. The question is now how much better can he get?

3. Teddy Bridgewater, QB/Louisville (1,600 total yards, 18 TD, 1 INT, 71.7% completion) (Last: 2)

And this is where Bridgewater and Louisville’s fortunes start to dip somewhat. They’ve been playing for style points all season to make up for the poor schedule and poor American Athletic Conference affiliation for one more year, but they’re starting to lose ground on the other top-ranked teams now. Beat Temple 30-7 is not just what they were supposed to do, it’s less than what they should’ve been the Owls by (according to voters). It could spell doom for Bridgewater’s Heisman hopes and the Cardinal’s dreams of playing for a national championship, even if undefeated at year’s end.

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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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