Week 6 in the ACC is highlighted by the matchup between two desperate ACC Coastal teams trying to scratch and claw their way back into the Coastal Division Race: Miami and Virginia Tech. The winner of this game will improve to 1-1 in the ACC Coastal and prove to be the biggest challenger to Division opponents Georgia Tech and North Carolina. The loser will fall to 0-2, and, while in the past that has far from doomed an ACC Team, it will be a huge challenge for either of these teams to recover from that hole. Here are my predictions for the ACC in Week 6:
The Conference Schedule continues in Week 6
Wow, these Tigers have certainly been blazing to this point in the young season. After three straight wins against ranked opponents, Dabo Swinney has his Clemson Tigers in position to have a huge season in the ACC. The opposite is true for their opponents this week in the Boston College Eagles. Frank Spaziani's Eagles have struggled tremendously on offense this season, ranking #87 in total offense. Clemson's Offense has been explosive, with Tajh Boyd leading the way on offense. While BC's defense led by Luke Kuechly is nothing to sneeze at, Clemson will prove too much for this BC team that will fall to 1-4 on the season
Prediction: Clemson 35, Boston College 14
The other explosive team of the young ACC season has come in the form of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. After suffering a rough 2010 campaign, the Jackets are back to form, scoring the second most points per game in the nation, and putting up the second most yards per game in the nation. Maryland, on the other hand, has failed some of the expectations fans had. After an early season win against Miami, Maryland dropped two straight to West Virginia and Temple, getting gashed on defense in both games. Temple put up 285 rushing yards on this Maryland defense, and drawing the triple option with a reduced practice schedule does not bode well for this Maryland team. While their offense will put up some points on the GT defense, expect the Jackets to become one of the first teams to be Bowl eligible in the 2011 season.
Prediction: Georgia Tech 48, Maryland 24
Every week, Russell Wilson is making Tom O'Brien regret the decision of forcing him to leave the school. The season has been a constant struggle for the Wolfpack, who have yet to earn a victory against an FBS opponent, and who have to win seven games this year to reach Bowl Eligibility. The path to earning those seven wins begins in earnest this week against a weaker CMU team. After getting gashed by Georgia Tech's Triple Option attack in the previous week, NC State's injury filled defense will be thrilled to face an offense that is 96th in total yards in the nation. Expect a win for the Wolfpack.
Prediction: NC State 27, CMU 17
Quietly, North Carolina is putting together a very good season. After losing their second ACC contest to GT, many prematurely wrote off UNC as a non-factor in the Coastal race. UNC seems to be out to prove that they are far from out of it. However, they get a break from the ACC battle as they face off against Big East foe Louisville. The ACC in general has struggled against the Big-East to this point, going 1-3 against their East Coast opponents. UNC will try and change that, and in my eyes they will. Louisville only averages 18.8 points per game, which will not cut it against a good UNC defense fielding perhaps the best defensive NFL prospect in Quinton Coples. I'll take UNC in this matchup
Prediction: North Carolina 28, Louisville 10
Boy, did these two teams come in with different expectations for the season, or what? After starting at No. 5 nationally in the polls, FSU has taken a tumble after losing a tough game against Oklahoma, and a small upset to the red hot Clemson Tigers. However, don't be entirely fooled by the early struggles; Florida State is finally starting to patch up some injuries, most importantly the one to QB EJ Manuel, and will still play a factor in the ACC Atlantic division race. Wake Forest, on the other hand, has stunned many. If you are looking for the surprise story of the young ACC season besides GT and Clemson, look no further than Wake Forest. If not for losing star QB Tanner Price in the middle of a tough battle with Syracuse, the Demon Deacs could easily be undefeated right now. However, the competition ratchets up significantly in this game. While it will be a close, tough game, FSU's Defense will ultimately win this game for them, as Wake Forest falls to Seminoles of Florida State.
Prediction: Florida State 35, Wake Forest 31
As I mentioned on the opening slide, this game has potential to be the best game of the week in the ACC. Both teams are going to be desperate for a win in this one. For Virginia Tech, it all comes back to offensive play. The defense will always be good under Frank Beamer and Bud Foster. But without all-world QB Tyrod Taylor, the VT offense has struggled this season. Logan Thomas has been an ok game manager, but they must have more efficiency in the passing game if they want to be a factor in the Coastal this season. Miami, on the other hand, has been a roller coaster ride. After starting with a loss to Maryland, the Canes followed it up with a victory against tOSU. After a victory against Ohio State, the Canes came back and lost to, admittedly, a good Kansas State team. The question: Where is this teams identity? To this point they have not established much continuity on the season, and much of that can be blamed on the suspensions of the early season. Ultimately, I feel VT's Defense will be the deciding factor, as Jacory Harris continues to be a liability for the Canes
Prediction: Virginia Tech 21, Miami 17
Well there it is. My first set of predictions. I would love to know what you think. In the comments below, let me know how wrong I am, if you agree, if you disagree, and what predictions you have. I'll keep a running tally on the season for my predictions, and see you next week.