ACC, Big East Football Preview: Saturday's Key Games
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Boston College at No. 16 Florida State (12:00 ET)
THE LINE: Florida State -22
THE PLOT: Boston College is facing more quarterback concerns than arguably any other BCS school. Freshman Chase Rettig is paced to make another start, his first since recovering from a minor injury and benching. The Eagles have lost three consecutive games, marking it the longest losing streak since 1998, when it lost six in a row.
The Seminoles have their own streak going as well. Florida State has won four consecutive games since losing 47-17 to No. 10 Oklahoma. During that streak, FSU has outscored opponents by an average margin of 25.8 points. Quarterback Christian Ponder and running back Jermaine Thomas have led the Seminoles by performing above expectations over the course of the win streak.
THE PICK: The Eagles possess the league’s worst passing defense, but have been No. 1 in stopping the rushing attack. Having the best rush preventing defense is great, but Florida State can both pass and run.
Thomas has led a Seminoles backfield that has averaged nearly 260 rushing yards per game the past four bouts. Boston College is giving up just 80 rushing yards per game, so this match can really go either way. If the runs aren’t there, then Ponder can reach his receivers.
The Seminole quarterback has thrown for six scores and a lone interception during the winning streak.
Hailing from Massachusetts, I am all too familiar with the Boston College program. I think the Eagles are one of the most efficient and refined teams in the nation, but this is truly an ugly stretch. Not having a consistent quarterback can kill a team, and calling up a freshman scout team player to fill a depth chart void is not promising.
THE SCORE: Florida State 38, Boston College 13
Pittsburgh at Syracuse (12:00 ET)
THE LINE: Syracuse -1
THE PLOT: It isn’t every week that you see the Orange lined as a favorite to win a game, especially against a Football Bowl Subdivision team. So for the Orange to be favored in a game against Pittsburgh boggles my mind.
The last time Syracuse was favored against a Football Bowl Subdivision team not from the Mid-American Conference, you would have to look back to 2006 when the Orange were a one-point favorite over Connecticut.
I know that Syracuse has played some great football--the 4-1 start is the best since an 8-2 start in 2001--but reality has to hit the Panthers at some point. Dave Wannstedt has been criticized more as a head football coach than most any other professionals within their respective line of work. The Panthers have started out just 2-3, but are nine points shy of being 4-1 with its lone loss a 31-3 beat down from then-No. 19 Miami (FL).
THE PICK: Pittsburgh finds solidarity in a convincing Big East-opening win. What? You thought Pittsburgh’s season was over?
THE SCORE: Pittsburgh 28, Syracuse 17
Army at Rutgers (East Rutherford, 2:00 ET)
THE LINE: Rutgers -7
THE PLOT: Neither team is having the season it imagined.
Rutgers was supposed to ride sophomore quarterback Tom Savage to the top of the Big East in a down-year for the league. The Scarlet Knights barely won two games, one at Florida International and another in New Brunswick. Then there’s the Tulane game, a 17-14 inexplicable loss; a game that saw Savage go down with an injury.
As for the Black Knights of West Point, wins have come often and easily. Army won unconvincingly at Eastern Michigan, then dropped a three-point game to a tough, high-scoring Hawaii team at home. Then the Knights shut-out North Texas and won notably at Duke. A one-score loss at home to a tough MAC team in Temple was the lone skirmish before Army destroyed Tulane 41-23 in New Orleans.
The four wins for the Black Knights is one shy of last year’s total of five, and Army actually still has a chance to reach ten wins for the first time since 1996.
THE PICK: This battle of Knights is going to come down to turnovers and field position. The game will be played at the New Meadowlands Stadium, home to the NFL’s New York Jets and New York Giants. With the game being played on such a grand stage, home field advantage may not necessarily be a factor.
These two schools have played each of the past three seasons, with Rutgers winning each game. This Saturday’s outcome will be different though.
THE SCORE: Army 21, Rutgers 17
Straight up: 4-2
Vs. spread: 2-3-1
Straight up: 18-4
Vs. spread: 8-13-1
(I failed to predict scores before Week One, but if you would like to count my predictions on Week One from an outside source, you can add the following: Straight up 2-1, Vs. spread 0-3.)
(Odds courtesy of SportsBook.com by way of our friends at NBCSports.com.)
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