One week and two conference matchups are behind us, and two more ACC matchups—plus a clash between two Top-10 teams—are on the slate this weekend...
Saturday, September 8
(17) Nebraska (-6.5) at Wake Forest
The Demon Deacons come into their home opener after losing at Boston College last week. Nebraska comes off of a huge win over Nevada.
The key to this game is Marlon Lucky. The Nebraska RB ran for 230 yards and three touchdowns against Nevada. If the Cornhuskers can get him going against a stout Wake Forest run defense, Sam Keller will be able to work successfully against a secondary that allowed over 400 yards last week.
If the Deacons are able to shut down Lucky, though, the Huskers would have to rely on Keller to win the game—not as certain.
The Deacons will be looking to rebound in Brett Hodge's first career start. Hodge played well in relief last week, but starting can be a different animal. He'll need tons of a help from a running game that gained trace yardage last week.
My heart wants to pick the Deacons, but my head and my eyes didn't see enough against Boston College.
Prediction: Nebraska 31-Wake Forest 21
Miami (+10.5) at (6) Oklahoma
Randy Shannon won his coaching debut against Marshall last week, but few teams in the country matched the impressive effort that Oklahoma put forth against North Texas.
If this game were played in the Orange Bowl, I think Miami would stand a chance to win; in a hostile Norman I'm not so sure.
Miami will struggle against an aggressive Oklahoma defense. Kirby Freeman had a subpar game against Marshall, completing only 9 of 21 passes. If he has a repeat performance against the Sooners, Miami will quickly regret scheduling this one.
Miami's defense will also need to have an answer for DeMarco Murray, who had quite the memorable introduction to college football against North Texas.
Miami might keep it close for a half, but Oklahoma will pull away in the second half and win handily.
Prediction: Oklahoma 35-Miami 13
Duke (+16.5) at Virginia
These two teams are bad, to put it nicely.
We all know Duke is Duke, but the egg Virginia laid against a good but not spectacular Wyoming team adds further heat to the seat of Al Groh.
It was widely agreed that Duke's best chance to win a game this season was against UConn last week—and that game wasn't even close. I'd have no problem throwing some money down on Duke going 0-12 again.
That said, Virginia's offense was so poor last week I'm not sure they can put up 17 points to cover the spread. Expect the defense to provide some scoring to help the Wahoos cover and start their ACC season 1-0.
Prediction: Virginia 20-Duke 0
Louisiana-Monroe (+23) at Clemson
Clemson proved against Florida State that there's no more confusing, inconsistent team in college football: World beaters one half, can't get out of their own way the next.
Somehow, I don't see much of a letdown this week, as the Warhawks won't be able to stop James Davis or C.J. Spiller. You or I could probably lead Clemson to a home victory this week, as the two stud RBs will combine for around 350 yards and four or five touchdowns.
Prediction: Clemson 45 Louisiana-Monroe 7
Samford (No Line) at (21) Georgia Tech
After the thorough humiliation laid on Notre Dame last week, Georgia Tech returns home to find an opponent whose offense probably can't produce less than what we saw from the Fighting Irish.
Tashard Choice will have his way with the Samford defense, and John Tenuta's defense will have little problem shutting down Samford's offense.
Prediction: Georgia Tech 38-Samford 3
North Carolina State (+13.5) at (25) Boston College
How will Boston College fans react when Tom O'Brien returns to lead the Wolfpack against his old team?
My two cents: Why would the BC fans care?
Coach Jags led his team to a win over the defending ACC champs, while NC State lost at home to Central Florida. If I were a fan of the Eagles, I would be comfortable with how things turned out.
NC State is turning to Harrison Beck at QB to jump-start the offense this week, but will have to cope with the season-ending loss of RB Toney Baker, who has been very solid on an otherwise poor NC State squad.
Matt Ryan should have some fun this weekend against a secondary that will not offer a ton of resistance. Beck will have his troubles with an aggressive Boston College defense, and the Eagles will get redemption for their close loss in Raleigh a year ago.
The only question is whether or not Tom O'Brien will try to get his old job back when this one's over.
Prediction: Boston College 31-NC State 10
UAB (+34) at Florida State
Looking at this line, I was amazed that Florida State could be favored by 34 points over anybody right now—but UAB did get hammered in East Lansing last weekend, so I suppose it's possible.
Florida State has significant problems on offense. Their QB situation is a mess, the offensive line had massive troubles against Clemson, and the receivers didn't help matters by dropping passes.
I think it has become apparent that the only way FSU is going to win big games this year is with the help of the defense.
Mickey Andrews' defense will own UAB this weekend, but I'm not sure FSU is going to score quite enough to cover the spread.
Prediction: Florida State 27-UAB 6
North Carolina (+3.5) at East Carolina
It could be argued that ECU showed more in defeat than UNC did in victory last week.
The Pirates played very well in Blacksburg-especially the defense, which really only allowed ten points. The offense moved the ball at times, and will find it easier this week.
Butch Davis won his debut against James Madison, so I guess that's good news. The play of T.J. Yates has to be encouraging to Tar Heel fans, despite the fact that the run game was subpar against the Dukes.
This should be a very competitive game, one that could well be decided in the final moments. As trite as it sounds, the team that can run the ball more effectively and not turn it over will prevail.
ECU ran the ball better against VTech than UNC did against JMU, so I'll give them the edge.
Prediction: East Carolina 21-UNC 16
Maryland (-23.5) at Florida International
There are two ways of seeing at this game.
The first is by looking at FIU, who lost by 59 at Penn State last week. The other is by looking at Maryland, who has made a habit of looking poor against inferior opposition—including both last week against Villanova and last year against this FIU team (a 14-10 Maryland victory).
While Maryland should win this one, it will be tough for them not to look ahead to their next four games (West Virginia, Wake Forest, Rutgers, Georgia Tech). Jordan Steffy will have to be sharp in the next month, and it has to start against a poor FIU team.
Maryland will handle FIU but fail to cover the spread, as they often have done in these early-season encounters.
Prediction: Maryland 27-FIU 10
(9) Virginia Tech (+13.5) at (2) LSU
The NCAA game of the week to be sure—and a spread that doubled after VTech's struggle with ECU and LSU's easy victory over Mississippi State.
Baton Rouge will be rocking—and Sean Glennon will have never seen anything like it. With two great defenses, the game should remain pretty low-scoring, which means that either team will have an opportunity to win in the second half.
There's no shortage of talent on both sides of the ball for both teams: Flynn v. Glennon; Hester v. Ore; Doucet v. Hyman/Morgan/Royal. Both defenses will be looking to make the big play to turn the game.
I think 13.5 is way too large a spread for this game. VTech's defense will give the Hokies a chance to win the game late, and it will be up to Glennon to get the job done.
In a mild upset, I see VTech stealing the game late in the fourth quarter due to a key turnover, or possibly even a blocked kick, and Glennon making one more play than Flynn.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 13-LSU 10
Regardless of the results, it should be a fine week of football in the ACC. Obviously all eyes will be on Baton Rouge, but don't forget Winston-Salem, Norman, and Chesnut Hill.
All three matchups will be interesting, if not exciting games to watch.