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Previewing the ACC: The First Two Weeks

Does anyone else miss the old method of scheduling, where invariably all the teams would open with two or three non-conference opponents before settling into conference season? It gave you more of a chance to work out the kinks in your playing style in games that weren't nearly as critical to your season - not to mention with some of the patsies being scheduled, there was no danger of losing, no matter how slow a team came out of the gate.

This year the season opens with two ACC matchups in each of the first two weeks. Boston College doesn't see a non-conference opponent until the fourth game of the season. That's gotta be a rough start for a new coach.

Anyway, as I did last year, I'll be running through the entire season, taking wild guesses at the outcome of every game, all the while hoping no one ever comes back to take a look at them. Here's how it all starts:

September 1st

Connecticut at Duke: I'll start out with a bold prediction - the twenty game losing streak ends here. Yes, it's the same team that couldn't beat Richmond last year, but there a year older, wiser, and actually know who their quaterback is, which is more than you can say for some ACC teams. The road to respectability begins here.

Florida State at Clemson: Well this is much better than starting the year off playing Miami, isn't it Bobby? This is supposed to be the beginning of FSU's return to form, with a slew of new assistant coaches making all of last year's problems dissappear. Never mind the lack of running back experience, wide receiver experience, and question marks at quarterback - they've got N.C. State's old coach back working with the linebackers!

Clemson meanwhile, has a great tandem at tailback, a lot of folks returning from a team that started the season 7-1 before melting down. As my Clemson alumnus friend put it last night, "As long as we've got a quaterback that can throw it more than 10 yards, we're better than last year." (Of course, he also complained about meeting too many women at CalTech, so his judgement is suspect.) I'll take the same old coaches over the shiny new ones with this game.

Georgia Tech at Notre Dame: I picked the Irish here last year, and I don't see a Calvin Johnson-less Tech team faring any better. Sure, they may upgrade at quarterback, but here's the thing. So will Notre Dame. And I say that not knowing who is taking snaps in South Bend this year. I just remember the collection of arms warming up on the sideline at the UNC game, and my longstanding belief that Brady Quinn wasn't very good. Imagine what a quarterback that isn't sackable by last year's Tar Heel inebackers could do against GT.

Villanova at Maryland: Wake me when it's basketball season.

Marshall at Miami: I'm down on the Hurricanes more than most, but I'm not this pessimistic.

James Madison at North Carolina: Come on, UNC isn't going to lose at home to a 1-AA school. That just can't happen.

Central Florida at N.C. State: I forgot to inclde this gam in my first draft of this post. It's a forgettable game, and I have no insight into it. Give it to the Wolfpack.

Virginia at Wyoming: The Cavaliers only won by one at home against the Cowboys last year. I cn't tel you how tempting it is to have them lose this game on the road. But I just can't convince myself Al Groh is that bad.

East Carolina at Virginia Tech: I dread this game. Not for the football, but for the mawkish coverage I'm expecting - ESPN being the paragons of restraint that they are. We don't need to hear how the Hokies "have to realize they're playing not just for a championship but for the entire university." They're playing football. You're selling football. Don't use a tragedy to do so, and don't incorporate the lives of a bunch of kids to sell ad space.

Wake Forest at Boston College: A new coaching staff versus an old one that's pulled off miracles in Winston-Salem. I'd love for this to be the start of a second great season for the Deacons, but BC won ten games themselves last year, still has a lot of talent, and has installed some smart people in their coaching ranks. The early half of the season looks bright for the Eagles.

September 8th

Self-evident: Louisiana-Monroe at Clemson, UAB at Florida State, Samford at Georgia Tech, and Maryland at Florida International.

Duke at Virginia: Virginia's 5-7 record hides the fact that they were really bad last year. How bad? The last three opponents they managed to beat all fired their coaches. The second half of their season had a schedule that hid a lot of their problems, and what's the best thing folks are saying about this year's team? That they have an easy schedule. Duke lost to UVa by 37 last year, but won't have the same misfortune this time around.

Miami at Oklahoma: One's a Top 10 team in the preseason coaching poll. The other's in the "also receiving votes" category, which, lest you've forgotten, also includes Duke. Teams in rebuilding years don't knock off this Sooners team.

North Carolina at East Carolina: There's absolutely no good reason for me to pick the Tar Heels here. ECU was 2-0 against the ACC last season, including a in over a Virginia team UNC couldn't even score against. And if that's not bad enough, the Pirates haven't fared too poorly against Butch Davis, either. But I just can't type ECU over UNC, or suffer the indignity of losing to a coach named Skip. My pride must give this game to the Heels.

N.C. State at Boston College: I think the Wolfpack's new coach may just have some insight into this team. He just doesn't have the talent to beat a team still stinging from last year's Wolfpack upset.

Virginia Tech at LSU: I'm amazed the ocnventional wisdom seems to be Jimbo Fisher will work miracles at FSU, while the LSU squad he just left won't be fazed in the least. Can both of these things be true? This game is pretty much a toss-up, but I don't see the Tigers losing at home.

Nebraska at Wake Forest: It wasn't that long ago that Wake would be incapable of scheduling a home-and-home with the Huskers. Now they're a legitimate challenge. They won't win, though.

Your standings after two weeks of play:

Team Confer Overall
Boston College 2-0 2-0
Clemson 1-0 2-0
Maryland 0-0 2-0
Florida State 0-1 1-1
N.C. State 0-1 1-1
Wake Forest 0-1 0-2

Team Confer Overall
Duke 1-0 2-0
North Carolina 0-0 2-0
Virginia Tech 0-0 1-1
Georgia Tech 0-0 1-1
Miami 0-0 1-1
Virginia 0-1 1-1