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Previewing the ACC: September, Part the Second

September 20th

Self-evident: South Carolina St. at Clemson, Eastern Michigan at Maryland.

UCF at Boston College: I was all set to call this George O'Leary's triumphant return to the ACC, until I remembered that was actually last year, when UCF opened the season by knocking off N.C. State on the way to a Conference USA championship and a ten-win season. So instead, it's just George O'Leary playing an ACC school he never shared a conference with. And bringing along a new cast of characters, especially at QB and RB. So will BC, but BC's got a better base to start from.

Wake Forest at Florida State: The Seminoles have lost two straight to Wake, a thought that was inconceivable as recently as, well, two years ago. And this is basically the same Wake team, minus some holes on the offensive line, facing an FSU team that will have only seen D1-AA opponents up to this point. And yet, I'm leaning towards Wake not being able to make it three in a row. Jimbo Fisher isn't going to singe-handedly save the program, but he'll improve on the last two offensive performances.

East Carolina at N.C. State: ECU couldn't beat the Wolfpack at home last year. I don't think they'll be able to do so on the road. I mean really, what sort of self-respecting ACC school could possibly lose at home to the Pirates?

Mississippi St. at Georgia Tech: I'm full-bore on the Georgia Tech bandwagon for the duration of the preseason. But I'm also high on what Sylvester Croom's doing at MSU. And it's typically a safe pick to go for the SEC against the ACC. 

Miami at Texas A&M: I was shocked that Miami beat the Aggies last year at home. That shock didn't last, as it was the Hurricanes last impressive home win, followed by a sloppy win over Duke and three losses to Georgia Tech, N.C. State, and Virginia. Texas A&M only lost once in College Station last year, and they forced out their coach. Miami may be following the Aggies in that regard after another season or two.

Virginia Tech at North Carolina: Man, I want to pick UNC for this game. Both teams will be coming off tough opponents - don't laugh, GaTech is going to be a force, even though I keep picking them to lose - and UNC will have an extra couple of days rest. And an experienced recieving corps. And hopefully not a quarterback-by-committee. But I just can't pick the Heels. They should win, they can win, but until they do win, the smart money's on the Hokies.

September 27th

Self-evident: Rhode Island at Boston College, Navy at Wake Forest.

Maryland at Clemson: If living in the heart of the Terrapin fan base has taught me anything, it's that there is no Terrapin fan base. I know nothing about this team, save the headline on the local free paper proclaiming that Friedgen has a plan for this season. Which is nice, I suppose. Clemson should handle them easily, except Clemson never handles the teams they should handle easily without a bit of trouble.

Colorado at Florida State: FSU won't be as good as most people think, and Colorado looks like they'll improve on last season's 6-7 record. But there's still a large enough gap that the Seminoles should put away a team that gave up 47, 55, and 51 points in games last season.

South Florida at N.C. State: For two straight years now I've watched USF and Matt Grothe light up UNC for 37 points a game. Wolfpack fans are hoping State won't be as bad as the Heels were the last to years - and that's definitely an achievable goal - but USF should still be able to handle them.

Virginia at Duke: If there's a conference game the Blue Devils have a chance at winning, this is most likely it. The Cavaliers lost a lot of players to graduation, the pros, and Jamie Sewell not really grasping the whole "student" part of "student-athlete." They can still beat the Blue Devils, though, especially without their leading rusher.

North Carolina at Miami: Miami's lost three straight conference games at home. UNC hasn't won outside the state since the Mesolithic Era. Something has to give, and frankly, Butch Davis has a better track record in Miami than Randy Shannon.

Virginia Tech at Nebraska: This should be an easy win for the Hokies. Nebraska's coming off of a sky-is-falling season - only one win better than UNC - and a new coach can't work miracles in only four games. The only thing is... no, there is no only thing. Virginia Tech brings a little pride to the ACC.