Last night’s matchup between Miami and Pittsburgh was clearly the most anticipated ACC vs. Big East game of the week, but it may turn out to be the most revolting. As Ben so eloquently put it, the game was mustn’t see television.
But let’s not give up on the two conferences! A team does not need a two digit number less than 26 next to its name in order to provide good football. Hell, in 2007 Boston College started 2-0 unranked and was one point No. 2 in the nation. Anything can happen this week, folks.
But if you are into “sexy” football, we do have a game for you. No. 22 West Virginia is heading over to No. 15 LSU tomorrow night in a game many people believe will make-or-break Mountaineer Noel Devine’s Heisman campaign.
Virginia Tech at Boston College (12:00 ET)
THE LINE: Virginia Tech -4
THE PLOT: When was the last time neither team was ranked in this rivalry? I could not locate the answer to that question, despite roaming through records dating back to 1992. (If you can find it, share the information!)
This ACC matchup between former conference forerunners will play a huge role in determining the outcome of both teams for the remainder of the year. Virginia Tech has to answer to critics after a few real bad games. The Hokies also need to win out, or get to and win a bowl game in order to continue their 10-win season streak alive; they currently sit at six seasons, which is second behind Texas’ nine.
Boston College is 2-0 on the young season, but both wins have been unimpressive and over lower tier teams, Weber State and Kent State. The quarterback play of Dave Shinskie for the Eagles will be just as important as BC’s defensive play. The only thing the Eagles truly have going for them is that this game is in Chestnut Hill.
THE PICK: In 2007 and 2008, Boston College and Virginia Tech met four total times; once during the year and again during the ACC title game. The same scenario played out both times with the Eagles winning the regular season matchup and the Hokies taking the more important game to reach a BCS bowl. At the rate both teams are playing now, neither team will reach the conference title game, so they better play hard this game, because it will likely be the only meeting between the two until next season.
Virginia Tech has a more balanced team. I know the Hokies lost to James Madison, but the weather was crummy, the players were still reeling from the gigantic Boise State loss and it’s not impossible to believe that the Hokies expected to walk over the Dukes.
I think the Hokies take this game in Massachusetts to set the tone for the rest of their ACC slate. The play of Ryan Williams? Nah, they won’t need it.
THE SCORE: Virginia Tech 24, Boston College 10
North Carolina at Rutgers (3:30 ET)
THE LINE: North Carolina -2
THE PLOT: The Tar Heels have played four games with Rutgers, losing three. They won the most recent though, in 2008 in New Brunswick, a 44-12 victory.
North Carolina has played two games this season, both six-point losses to good teams. They did this despite missing twelve players. The Tar Heels will not have any of those ineligible players back for this matchup (other than Shaun Draughn), which leaves them susceptible to being taken advantage of late in the game due to a lack of depth.
Rutgers enters the game with a 2-0 record, with wins over Norfolk State and Florida International. Quarterback Tom Savage played a miserable game two weeks ago in a 19-14 win down in Miami, but he vowed himself to get better from that point.
North Carolina’s Butch Davis is 8-9 coming off a loss, and Rutgers’ Greg Schiano isn’t much better coming off a bye week with a 13-10 record.
THE PICK: I know Rutgers has played rather tough within the Big East this decade, but their defense is not the same as it was in 2006, coincidentally the same year that Rutgers last beat UNC. The Scarlet Knights’ offense has also declined in yards per game each of the past two seasons—once Ray Rice left.
As for the Tar Heels, they have still played great football without their best playmakers. Quarterback TJ Yates has really improved his draft stock with his tough—and productive—play against two good defenses in LSU and Georgia Tech.
I expect UNC to play lights out defense and Yates to lead the Tar Heels on several scoring drives in a low-scoring battle.
THE SCORE: North Carolina 17, Rutgers 9
No. 8 Oklahoma at Cincinnati (6:00 ET)
THE LINE: Oklahoma -13.5
THE PLOT: The Sooners have played really good football so far this year. They got the jitterbugs out early against Utah State and a mobile quarterback in Diondre Borel. They embarrassed and dismantled Christian Ponder and then-No. 17 Florida State. And last week, they squared off against the nation’s leading rushing team in Air Force. What can we pick up from these results? That Oklahoma’s rush defense hasn’t been that great this year.
Cincinnati, on the other hand, hasn’t been great this year at…well, anything. The Big East team has lost twice as many games through three bouts this year as they did all of last season. The preseason favorite to run the Big East conference has only one impressive offensive performance so far, and that was against Indiana State.
THE PICK: This matchup is a home game for Cincinnati, seeing as it is being played 15 minutes from the Bearcats’ campus at Paul Brown Stadium.
Oklahoma has not been on the road yet this year, so there is certainly the possibility of an upset here. In fact, for those who care, Bob Stoops is 2-4 in non-conference regular season away games against BCS foes.
I think if Cincinnati can score early, they might look cute for a little bit, but it will not take long for Oklahoma to suffocate them. FSU’s Christian Ponder was picked apart on a big stage, so playing the Bearcats’ Zach Collaros should not present too much of a problem.
THE SCORE: Oklahoma 30, Cincinnati 16
No. 22 West Virginia at No. 15 LSU (9:00 ET)
THE LINE: LSU -10
THE PLOT: This is the biggest non-conference game for the Mountaineers since 2005 when West Virginia hosted No. 3 Virginia Tech. That game didn’t end well for the team from Morgantown, but it was their only loss as WVU went on to win the Sugar Bowl against No. 8 Georgia.
This year is completely different. The Mountaineers do not have Pat White, but possess a young and inexperienced quarterback in Geno Smith. To be fair, Smith has played as well as anyone could ask, scoring seven touchdowns and limiting himself to one turnover. The Mountaineers have not seen a consistent passing quarterback in nearly a decade, but Smith is taking on that role.
Speaking of a passing quarterback, that is about the last thing Louisiana State would like to see tomorrow night. The Tigers surrendered 412 yards to North Carolina’s Yates during week one. Yates is the only passing quarterback that LSU has faced all year, so this week’s opponent in West Virginia may by problematic.
THE PICK: Bill Stewart has a winning record against Top 25 teams, as well as against BCS teams, but is 4-6 away from Morgantown. His three road games against non-conference BCS opponents have all culminated in losses.
LSU possesses the talent advantage, the coaching advantage, and home field advantage. West Virginia will need as much out of Noel Devine and Geno Smith as they possibly can get.
THE SCORE: Louisiana State 33, West Virginia 21
(Odds courtesy of SportsBook.com by way of our friends at NBCSports.com.)