Every year, I pick each and every ACC football game using a combined method of uninformed speculation and flippant disinterest. And it hasn't failed me yet, leading to such blogging brilliance as how UNC will definitely beat Notre Dame and Duke starting the season 3-1. With that kind of record, how could I not continue this?
As always, the winner's in bold, and you can't make me write about the boring games. And I'm too lazy to label the Thursday games separately.
Self-evident: Delaware at Maryland, Jacksonville St. at Georgia Tech, Charleston Southern at Miami, McNeese St. at North Carolina.
Clemson vs. Alabama: Ah, Clemson. Best quarterback in the ACC. Best running back duo in the ACC. Best returning defense in the ACC. Consensus pick to win the ACC. And yet not part of the national conversation at all. Part of that is because of the qualifier "ACC" that's redefined damning with faint praise lately, but the rest of it falls on Tommy Bowden's shoulders. Every year there's invariably at least four losses, often weighted towards the season's end and with at least on loss that's absolutely inexplicable. But we have to build the Tigers up before they can collapse, and no matter how good Nick Saban is, he's not putting on the pads for the game. Give it to the Tigers.
N.C. State at South Carolina: Spurrier's team collapsed pretty thoroughly at the end of last season. So completely, in fact, the only managed one win more than the Wolfpack, bottom dwellers of the Atlantic Division. I think the Gamecocks will end up better than State this year, but they're starting an untested quarterback, have a shaky offensive line, and an entirely new defensive coordinator. That spells trouble for an opening game, and it's always good to bet on N.C. State annoying me in some fashion. Or maybe I'm just down on the SEC.
James Madison at Duke: The Blue Devils did lose their last D1-AA game, against Richmond in 2006, so this isn't really self-evident. But still, even I wouldn't wish this kind of pratfall on David Cutcliffe.
Southern Cal at Virginia: Southern Cal is traveling to Charlottesville? Really? I wouldn't have thought that. Maybe the time difference will give the Trojans trouble. Maybe an NCAA investigation will ban the entire team. Maybe the band will forget "Fight On." Maybe not.
Boston College at Kent State: Similarly, Boston College is traveling to Kent State? I'd like to offer a plausible forecast where the Golden Flashes win this game, but that require a knowledge of Kent State football I do not care to possess. Plus, I'd probably make a tasteless Vietnam-era joke, so it's better for all concerned if I just assume the Eagles will win like everyone else.
East Carolina at Virginia Tech: I dislike both of these teams. Correction - I dislike both of these teams' fans. And I could say mean things about them, and watch as my hit count goes up, but that's not in anyone's interest but the folks who put the tacky Google Ads on the site. So this will be a good game, hard fought by both teams. East Carolina could very well win it - they're returning more starters, and where they're weakest - the secondary - is where Virginia Tech will send an incredibly inexperienced receiving corps. But there's still a talent gap between the ACC and Conference USA overall, so I'll play it safe with Virginia Tech. It'll be closer than you think, though.