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Previewing the ACC: September, Part the First

September 6th

Self-evident: Citadel at Clemson, Western Carolina at Florida State, Maryland at Middle Tennessee, William & Mary at N.C. State, Richmond at Virginia, Furman at Virginia Tech

That is just the saddest slate of games I think I've ever seen. This ain't the way to ACC respectability, folks. The only things worth watching:

Northwestern at Duke: OK, admittedly this is a small value of "worth watching." Northwestern was the sole win of Carl Franks' last two seasons, but while Duke floundered its way through the ACC, Northwestern steadily improved, winning six games. I can believe that under Cutcliffe Duke will improve, but the Wildcats - they are the Wildcats, right? - have a head start.

Georgia Tech at Boston College: I find it interesting that in two years Tech as gone from insurgent challenger, opening up their season in a marquee game against Notre Dame, to Coastal Division afterthought. This despite trading coach Chan Gailey, he of the seven-win limit fame, for a coach who overachieved at Navy of all places. I think the first year bump a new coach brings will result in the Yellow Jackets going a lot further than people think; also, Boston College is really going to be hurting. 

Miami at Florida: Miami, on the other hand, didn't get a first year coaching bump, primarily because just promoting the defensive coordinator isn't exactly cleaning house. Florida is top-five caliber; the Hurricanes are spiraling. Any other week and I would have just stuck this in the self-evident column and be done with it.

Mississippi at Wake Forest: Wake Forest has gone out and scheduled a non-conference slate of teams perfectly geared to give the Demon Deacons of a few years ago a tough fight. These aren't those Deacs, however, and Wake should cruise to a 4-0 record outside of the ACC, against three BCS schools and Navy. So what excuse does the rest of the conference's scheduling cowards have again?

September 13th

Self-evident: Chattanooga at Florida State

N.C. State at Clemson: Still way to early in the season for the Tigers to collapse against an inferior opponent.

California at Maryland: Cal makes a cross-country trip to play an opponent off their radar but just a likely to stun a visitor as they are to completely fail to show up. Maybe it's just my allegiances have switched from my former state of residence to my current one, but I think the Terps will pull this one off.

Navy at Duke: How much of Navy's success was coaching? Lots. How much will Duke improve with a new coach? That's still up in the air, but three weeks into the season isn't enough time for them to pull this off.

Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech: I think Georgia Tech is better than advertised, and I think Virgina Tech as significantly more weaknesses than most people are expecting. I don't think GT can walk out of Lane Stadium with a win three games into the season, though. It should be close, however.

North Carolina at Rutgers: Both teams take the week off before this Thursday night game. The difference is, the Scarlet Knights start their season against Fresno State, while UNC dips a toe into the D1-AA pool. Rutgers began their ride to prominence by running over UNC two years ago; they won't let the Heels do the same to them in Jersey.

Virginia at Connecticut: A common theme this season is to look for UNC to overlook Connecticut in October, sandwiched as that game is between Virginia Tech and Notre Dame.  don't think that will be the case, in part because the Huskies may just be undefeated come October 4th, with only Louisville the week before a doubtful win. They should absolutely destroy the Cavaliers, though.