After yet another .500 week, I once again submit my probably incorrect assessment of what to look for in the ACC this weekend.
Saturday, September 29
North Carolina (+17.5) at (17) Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech has hardly looked like team we expected after four games. Their offense, while putting up points, still doesn't look like they have completely gotten their act together. Fortunately for them, the Tar Heels are still amiss and still searching for a victory against a 1-A opponent.
Tyrod Taylor will get to show his progress against an ACC defense this week, using his legs and arm to help garner a Virginia Tech victory.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 31-North Carolina 7
Duke (+23.5) at Miami
This is the classic let-down game for the Canes. The win against Texas A&M has the ability to turn this program around. The players will have some confidence, and no doubt they will show off that classic 'Cane swagger against the Blue Devils. But remember when these two met last year, Miami won on the last play of the game.
As valiantly and well as Duke has played this year, this will be a different kind of opponent and a different kind of challenge. Miami will ride Kyle Wright to a big win.
Prediction: Miami 41-Duke 10
Massachusetts (No Line) at (12) Boston College
After getting through that tough opening stretch, BC is in week two of their four-week non-conference joyride. This is another opportunity for Matt Ryan to play well and help his Heisman candidacy.
BC looked a little sluggish against Army last weekend, but that was to be expected. With Bowling Green ahead, BC won't be looking ahead this week, and will cruise.
Prediction: Boston College 38-Massachusetts 6
Louisville (-9) at North Carolina State
These are two teams who seriously need to stop the bleeding this week. Louisville just suffered the biggest upset of the season last week against Syracuse (and no, I am not forgetting about App. State). NC State is looking for their first 1-A win of the season at home.
Despite their problems, NC State's secondary has played pretty well. They had their roughest game last week against Clemson, but they haven't faced a quarterback as good as Brian Brohm. On the other end, NC State will be able to score points, since we have determined that anybody can score points on Louisville. Two weeks ago, this spread would have been over 20. This week, Louisville should be able to cover.
Prediction: Louisville 45-NC State 34
After last week's heartbreak, Maryland now goes to New Jersey to face Rutgers, who is in the Top 10 for the first time this year. For an offense that showed inconsistency last week, the Terps will struggle against the stout Scarlet Knights. The Terps will also struggle to handle Ray Rice after giving up nearly 100 yards to a freshman last week.
This game might stay close for a while, but the Terps will need to have great mental strength to keep from getting blown off the field. It could very well be a long day for the Terps and a long trip down Route 95 back to College Park.
Prediction: Rutgers 34-Maryland 10
(13) Clemson (-3) at Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech is much like Louisville. After losing a game to a very good Boston College squad, Georgia Tech could not get it back together against a Virginia team that it is better than. Georgia Tech flat out needs to win this game. Clemson has handled their business against inferior competition the last three weeks, so this provides a good challenge to them.
This game relies on Cullen Harper's ability to to take advantage of a pass defense that has looked suspect. Georgia Tech will be better than most at slowing down James Davis and CJ Spiller, so Clemson will have to win it through the air. On the other end, the health of Tashard Choice is vital for Georgia Tech, who will need a much better game out of Taylor Bennett this weekend. He will need to do a lot better than the 17-40 he posted last weekend.
It will be interesting to see how Tech's crowd factors into this game. They will be loud early, but Clemson can quiet them with strong play. I will give the slight edge to Tech, as they can try and use the BC game to help them this week. Harper will struggle against the Jackets and the RBs will not be able to bail him out.
Prediction: Georgia Tech 23-Clemson 20
Alabama (+2) at Florida State
If the Georgia Tech-Clemson game is the best game in the ACC this week, this one certainly is the most interesting. A neutral site in Jacksonville will garner a 50-50 split in support. Florida State has been getting better with each game, and Alabama has shown some ups and downs in their early season SEC matchups.
On talent alone, Alabama has the slight edge, but the 'Noles have one big thing in their favor. It is a bad sign for Tide fans that this coaching staff has had two weeks to prepare for them. Mickey Andrews' defense will give 'Bama fits, while Jimbo Fisher will have some wrinkles in the gameplan to be sure. If Florida State executes their gameplan, they should win the game.
Prediction: Florida State 21-Alabama 17
Pittsburgh (+7) at Virginia
The Wahoos could not be happier with their season so far. A 3-0 conference record has to give them belief that they can pull a Wake Forest this season. This will be a good test to see if they can focus themselves after a big conference win for a game against a mediocre non-conference opponent. Pitt has been up and down for the last couple seasons, and last week was a BIG down. UConn is not the cream of the Big East, so a 20-point loss hurts.
Pitt will be fired up and worry-free this week. Virginia will have to match that intensity or they will find themselves in trouble. Virginia is the better team, so they should win, but it will be a close game. If Pitt plays well, they can certainly win. But they can just as easily shoot themselves in the foot, just like last week.
Prediction: Virginia 24-Pittsburgh 20
Last Week: 4-4