The college football season will have finally arrived at 7 p.m. eastern tonight when South Carolina travels to Raleigh, North Carolina, to take on N.C. State. In week one, the ACC has two games against the SEC, one against the Pac-10, and one against the Big 12.
ACC football has been down the last couple of seasons, but ended last year on a high note placing 10 teams in bowls. And Virginia Tech brought the conference a BCS Bowl win.
The 2009 season has been much anticipated with four teams ranked in the preseason AP Top 25: No. 7 Virginia Tech, No. 15 Georgia Tech, No. 18 Florida State, and No. 21 North Carolina.
Virginia Tech and Florida State both have huge games this weekend, bot of which will give us an idea of what direction the ACC will head in 2009.
Here are my predictions for week one:
N.C. State 24, South Carolina 14
N.C. State is receiving a fair amount of hype this season, and some have even picked the Wolfpack to win the Atlantic Division in the ACC. After a slow start to last season, including a 34-0 loss against the Gamecocks, N.C. State finished the season strong winning the last four games of the regular season to become bowl eligible.
The Wolfpack live and die with Russell Wilson. If, and it's a big if, Wilson can stay healthy for the duration of the season I expect N.C. State to have a very good year. The game stayed close last season against the Gamecocks until Wilson went down with an injury.
South Carolina has a solid defense, but I'm expecting their offense to struggle, especially through the air. Look for Wilson to take this game over through the air and on the ground as the Wolfpack handle the Gamecocks at home to open '09.
Georgia Tech 63, Jacksonville State 3
I'll actually be surprised if Jacksonville State scores in this one, especially since their troubled quarterback, Ryan Perilloux, has been suspended for the game.
Josh Nesbitt and Jonathan Dwyer, among the seven other guys that run the ball, should have a field day in this one. I'd be surprised if either were on the field in the second half.
Boston College 27, Northeastern 10
This will likely be one of only a few wins for Boston College this season. After firing head coach Jeff Jagodzinski, who was fired today by Tampa Bay if you haven't heard, Frank Spaziani will take over.
However, they will have a 25-year-old quarterback starting for them this year. David Shinskie gets the nod after Dominique Davis, who was the only quarterback on the BC roster with game experience, transferred out because of his grades.
Defensively the Eagles will be hurting as well, with their leader and star linebacker, Mark Herzlich, battling cancer. Boston College wins this one, but it will likely be a long season for the Eagles.
Baylor 28, Wake Forest 27
I like Wake Forest a lot, and Riley Skinner is under appreciated in my opinion. However, I don't think Wake's defense will have an answer for Robert Griffin. Griffin, who's also a track star at Baylor, has the ability to run wild on defenses out of the quarterback position, and that's what I think happens in this one.
Wake Forest's offense is good, but I'm not crazy about their defense. This one could become a high scoring affair, considering Baylor's "D" isn't spectacular either.
If Wake can slow down Griffin they have a great shot at winning, but I don't think they will.
North Carolina 45, The Citadel 0
North Carolina is a wild card in the ACC this year. If it wasn't for an injury to T.J. Yates against Virginia Tech last year, UNC would have likely stomped the Hokies. However, after breaking his ankle the Hokies came back to win the game.
The Tar Heels have lost two key players on offense, Brandon Tate and Hakeem Nicks, to the NFL, but they have had some great recruiting classes under Butch Davis.
T.J. Yates and Shaun Draughn should carry the Tar Heels on offense, but look for a more experienced defense to carry them throughout the season. North Carolina wins easily in week one.
Clemson 35, Middle Tennesse State 13
Middle Tennesse State upset Maryland last year in week one, but I'm not expecting the same result this year. Clemson has a lot of talent and will look to utilize it this season, unlike past seasons.
C.J. Spiller should lead the way on offense, and will be the feature back for the first time in his career. Spiller is very talented, but has disappeared in big games throughout his career.
Kyle Parker is the new starting quarterback for the Tigers, beating out the likely choice Willy Korn. Quarterback play will likely determine a lot for this team, but they shouldn't have trouble against Middle Tennessee.
Clemson's matchup against Georgia Tech next week will give us an idea if the Tigers are legit.
Virginia 24, William & Mary 7
I'm not expecting Virgina to have a great season this year, and I'm not sure the spread offense will be able to work against anyone in the ACC. Maybe it will work against William & Mary, but the Cavaliers have yet to announce who their starting quarterback will be.
Virginia should win this one fairly easily, but I do expect them to struggle a bit on offense.
Duke 21, Richmond 20
For those that don't remember, Richmond is the national champion of the FCS. Duke opened against James Madison last season, and struggled in the first half before pulling away late.
However, David Cutcliffe is beginning to turn this program around, and Thaddeus Lewis and company should be a little too much for the Spiders to handle.
Virginia Tech 23, Alabama 20
This is a game I've been waiting for since I heard about it. September 5 hasn't been able to get here soon enough, but it's only a couple days away.
Both teams field great defenses, but Virginia Tech should have the edge on offense. Tyrod Taylor is now in his junior year, and, unlike past seasons, the offense is 100 percent his. The coaching staff has worked on his throwing motion, he's gained 17 pounds of muscle in the offseason, and was named the hardest working offensive player in spring practice.
Those are all important things when you're talking about the leader of your football team.
Yes, the Hokies lost Darren Evans, but Ryan Williams will be a star for the Hokies this season. I'm not expecting Williams to have great success against Alabama, but the Hokies have two other backs that will be getting the ball, Josh Oglesby and David Wilson, and all of these backs have different styles, which could benefit the Hokies.
Offensive line play will be critical for both sides, and if each offensive line struggles this is going to be a very low scoring game. The score could potentially come down to which team scores a defensive or special teams touchdown.
I do know one thing. This will be a very good game, a defensive battle, and Virginia Tech will not play like Clemson did last year. The Hokies are coached too well.
The kickers will likely play a huge role in this one, but I'm giving the edge to Virginia Tech in a game that may be decided on the last possession.
California 42, Maryland 14
Maryland is going to have a down year, and California should have a field day on the ground against the Terps. Jahvid Best will likley run for 200 yards or more against the Terps. This one shouldn't be close.
Florida State 45, Miami 38
These two teams had a crazy game last season, and I'm expecting much of the same come Monday night. I like both teams, and they are both on the rise after a few down years.
Randy Shannon will have his guys ready to play, but I'm not sold on the passing ability of Jacory Harris. Harris is a great runner, but he needs to improve his passing.
Christian Ponder will be the biggest deciding factor for the Seminoles, and I think he will have a big game.
Miami is a tough team to judge because they played well at times last season, but struggled in others. I wouldn't be surprised at all if Miami wins, but I'm giving the edge to Florida State.