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ACC Football Week #3: Preview

Maryland plays on Thursday this week which means if I want credit for picking West Virginia to win I have to post this thing before that game kicks off. At least I am thinking about the important stuff here.

Thursday, September 14th

Maryland at #5 West Virginia, 7:30 PM, ESPN

So Maryland has won two games this season against lower tier opponents and done so in rather average fashion. West Virginia has faced similar level competition and beat them senseless averaging over 500 yards of total offense in the process. And since the game is at WVU I am going to dispense with any pretense that the Terps have a chance here. And let's also dispense with the whole "stranger things have happened" business. This game is a "play well and hope no one gets hurt" game for Maryland. No shame in losing to the #5 team in the country, even if that #5 is extremely soft based on the Mountaineers weak schedule. WVU 41 MD 14

Saturday, September 16th

Wake Forest at Connecticut, 12:00 PM

You see two or three years ago if you saw this matchup you would pray like mad it was basketball season. Unfortunately it is not so take it for what it's worth, which isn't much since no one outside of Storrs will see it. Wake is coming off what has to be considered an incredibily embarassing win. And if you think I am kidding about the win being embarassing see if you can find a replay of Demon Deacon coach Jim Grobe post-game interview after they barely beat Duke 14-13 by blocking a field goal as the clock expired. I half expected him to forfeit the game after the fact because his Demon Deacons almost lost to a Duke team I thought was impossible to lose to this season. UConn is a good team and I think Wake's QB issue will get a little too much exposure this week. Huskies win 21-10.

BYU at #23 Boston College, 12:00 PM, ESPN2

I think this game would get a larger audience if ESPN billed it as "Mormons vs. Catholics." BC's win last week against Clemson was huge for them which makes this the classic definition of a "trap game." There is also a lot of pressure since you never want to lose the first game after you enter the Top 25. I expect Matt Ryan to give BC more of the same mistake free passing he provided last week against a Clemson defense that is arguably better than the Cougar one he is about to see. BC moves to 3-0 with a 34-21 win.

Duke at #14 Virginia Tech, 12:00 PM, Raycom/Lincoln Regional

This is going to be ugly. Actually, VT is not the most potent offense in the world so the score may not be a skewed as some might think. The ugliness will come when the Duke offense and special teams has to deal with the VT defense and special teams. I will be particularly interested to see how Duke QB Thaddeus Lewis handles the VT defense since neither Joe Dailey or Cam Sexton knew what the heck to do with it last week. Other than the details and a little comparison between Duke and UNC's performance against the same opponent, the matter is pretty well decided. VT 45 Duke 6

Troy at Georgia Tech, 1:30 PM

The interesting part of this matchup is Troy almost beat FSU in Tallahassee last week. Since FSU has no running game whatsoever and ultimately had to rely on their defense to win the game I will be interested to see how Troy does against Georgia Tech. Tech actually does have a running game and an all world receiver in Calvin Johnson. And if I were the Yellow Jackets I would come into this with a huge chip on their shoulder. Why? Because the dropping of Notre Dame in the polls following the opener was a direct slap in GT's face. The implication associated with dropping one team following a win is that the team they beat must not be that good so squeaking by is the same thing as a loss. If GT can steamroll Troy in a way that FSU was not able to do it should send a message that they are better than most people give them credit for and maybe garner them some poll support. GT 35 Troy 9

#17 Miami at #12 Lousiville, 3:30 PM, ABC Regional

This is the featured mid-afternoon game for the conference. Louisville is an offensive powerhouse though they have not played anyone. Beating Kentucky and Temple is not definitive proof of anything other than you are capable of beating two very weak football teams to death. In fact I am not sure I knew Temple had a football team. Sixty-two points and almost 700 yards of total offense is a bludgeoning. Then again Louisville dropped 69 on UNC last season so maybe we should get Temple on the schedule. Anyway, beating Temple that way is not convincing anyone that the Louisville rushing game can be relevant without Michael Bush who broke his leg against Kentucky. On the other side of the coin, we really do not know much about Miami's defense even though they held FSU in check because FSU is worse at running the ball than Temple. Couple that with the fact Miami also had a box of cupcakes last week against Florida A&M and what you have is two teams which have not faced stiff challenges to their defenses and only one, Miami, has played a superior defensive team(FSU). In other words this game is a toss-up but my gut feeling is that the injury to Bush gives Miami an advantage even though this game is being played at Louisville. So, let's call it Miami 31 UL 28.

Western Michigan at Virginia, 3:30 PM

I really have no idea on this one because I have no idea whether losing to Indiana and beating Toledo means WM has enough to come into Charlottesville and beat a UVa team that needed a missed extra point to beat Wyoming. In fact had there not been an OT session, UVa would not have scored a TD in that game. UVa is awful but for all I know Western Michigan is awful. I would like to think an ACC team would be able to step up and beat a MAC team on its own field but NC State pretty much destroyed that theory last week. Or I would use the premise that if UVa scheduled this school at home early in the season it must be a given win but again NC State kind of screwed me on that one too. However I do not think the MAC will win two straight versus the ACC, so UVa takes it 16-10.

And, yes this is logic and reasoning you will not get anywhere else...and hopefully you are immensely grateful for that fact.

Furman at North Carolina, 7:00 PM, ESPNU(dang it!)

As is customary I will have a bloated prediction on this one later. UNC must win. If UNC does not win, I may very well have the header changed to FIRE BUNTING by Saturday night. UNC 24 Furman 9.

NC State at Southern Mississippi, 7:00 PM

This is the other half of the equation and that equation is that if UNC loses to Furman and NC State loses to Southern Mississippi then I think that Adam Gold over at 850 the Buzz should consider taking Monday off in favor of taped interviews from the previous week rather than face the hysteria emnating from the two fan bases. Just some free advice from me to AG if he happens to be reading this. Anyway, I think the drum beats are starting up. The media jumped the gun on the hot seat talk and had Chuck Amato on the way out the door before the fan base really got antsy. For fan bases to rise up and ask for a coaches ouster you need a steady stream of displeasurable events which culminate at a single trigger point. For Herb Sendek it was the 24 point loss to UNC at the RBC Center in February which had Wolfpack nation crying, "Uncle!" That being said, had NC State beaten BC and WF in their next two games, the fans would have relented somewhat. That is the place Amato is at right now. The Akron loss was a trigger event. The fuse has been lit and Amato needs to cut it off by going to Southern Miss and winning, preferably by a decent margin. There is really very little choice here. I think dropping to 1-2 will put the Wolfpack in a bad position to reach a bowl. Amato, who this week made a complete fool of himself by complaining about Akron's non-qualifiers, has reached the end of his goodwill rope with the fans. The swagger and attitude are cliched now since there are really no big wins to back it up. Mediocrity is afoot in Raleigh and Wolfpack nation is weary of it. Amato could very well survive until next season simply because there may still be hesitancy on the part of the administration to pull the trigger on firing him. Nevertheless, Amato's team has something to prove against Southern Miss. I think they eke it out which actually makes the situation more maddening than if they actually lost. Wolfpack 16 Southern Miss 13.

Clemson at #9 Florida State, 7:45 PM, ESPN

This could be entertaining on so many levels. And just so you know, I really have very little actual analysis to offer on this one. FSU has a great defense, no running game, and Drew Weatherford has yet to prove himself as the ACC's most dangerous offensive threat. Clemson has a good offense, a defense which had high expectations in the preseason but they do need help protecting the extra point kick. I think FSU will probably win the game though Clemson needs to win this game in a bad way and could steal one here. Of course Bobby Bowden, who is never at a loss for words, offered this gem brought to us by EDSBS:

I don’t like offensive football the way it is nowadays. Offensive football today is a game of formations. When I used to work the offense, you lined up in one formation and you played that way the whole game. You could tell every thing the other team was doing. If they did this, you go there. If they did this, you go here. If they do this, you do that. But now it’s ‘put this formation in and they do this. Put this formation in and they do that.’ Try to always get some kind of a mismatch. But that’s the way the pros play it. Colleges are the same way.

Wow. You really cannot make this stuff up can you? Here we have the all time winningest coach in college football history essentially implying that the Xs and Os of college football has gotten too complicated for him. Apparently he prefers a football game where both teams use simplistic formations and plays that can be predicted and matched as the game goes on. I mean what's the point of having superior athletes if that superiority gets negated by such trickery as attempting to gain a mismatch, right Bobby? Can you imagine Dean Smith circa 1994 saying he did not like basketball because of the three point line and slam dunk? If I were an FSU fan I would be deeply concerned. This must be why he has his son, Jeff Bowden calling all of the offensive plays, but apparently Jeff is fairly clueless himself. Add to this mix the fact that Bobby and Jeff are going against son/brother Tommy Bowden at Clemson and this weekend promises to be a lot of fun. Anyway, regardless of Bobby's obvious dissatisfaction with having to think too much to coach modern college football, he still has enough to beat his son which means UNC will got to Death Valley on September 23rd to face a very angry Clemson team which has just lost two straight games. Nice. FSU 21 Clemson 20.

Last Week: 7-2
Season: 15-4