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Previewing the ACC: Half of October

October 4th

Self-evident: Western Kentucky at Virginia TechMaryland at Virginia, Duke at Georgia Tech

Boston College at N.C. State: Tom O'Brien gets to see his old employers for the first time without super-QB Matt Ryan. But Ryan didn't actually do all that well in O'Brien's first reunion - it was the running game (and State's five interceptions) that steamrolled the Wolfpack 37-17. And yet, I have more faith in State than I do the Eagles. I may be coming down with something.

Florida State at Miami: FSU was Miami's sole win in the latter half of the season, and it took two touchdowns in the last 1:15 to pull it off. FSU is improving, Miami is running out of players not on suspension, and there's no way the Seminoles are going to let this happen again.

Connecticut at North Carolina: The conventional wisdom is that the Heels will be overlooking this game, coming off of the road game against Miami and heading into the Notre Dame game. I don't really get this. The teams that overlook games are the ones with a season-long perspective - you know, the ones that are winning. (See Clemson, the inevitable fall of) UNC will most likely be .500 going into this game, and UConn is a good team. I didn't think so when I saw them play Pitt, but they were the anti-UNC, winning most of the close games and elbowing their way to a 9-4 record. Look for them to regress to the mean this season, and hopefully for Carolina to give them a bit of a push in that direction.

October 11th

Self-evident: Gardner-Webb at Georgia Tech

Clemson at Wake Forest: The only in-conference game of the week, and the only two Atlantic Division teams taking the field. I'm sure this means something, I just don't know what.

Wake's recent success has oddly come at the expense of Clemson - how happy do you think IPTAY is to see Wake above them in the standings - without the Deacons having actually beaten Clemson. Yep, bowl-bound Wake couldn't get past the Tigers, but the 4-7 2003 squad could destroy them 45-17. This is the beginning of the long, hard stretchfor Clemson, with Wake being followed by GaTech, BC and FSU. They're bound to lose on of them, but this won't be it.

UCF at Miami: By this point, George O'Leary has to be really confused by all these strange teams with ACC patches on their jersies. UCF will be the same team that faced Boston College two weeks ago; Miami will be a slightly worse opponent. But what self-respecting team is going to lose to an upstart Conference USA team from the same state? It's just ludicrous.

Notre Dame at North Carolina: I believe I've been confronted with this scenario before. And, well...

 

Scott Pilgrim is the official slacker of UNC-ND predictions.

 

I did graduate (honest!) and now I have a chance to correct my early blogging mistake. There's just one thing - I still think UNC is going to win. Notre Dame's season without Brady Quinn the offensive line that protected Brady Quinn was less than spectacular (Hey, I do know something.) The offense won't be as bad this season, but it will still be one of the few teams the UNC will face where their defense will be the experienced side of the ball. And history's on the Heels' side. They beat the Irish in Chapel Hill once, and ND's only won like sixteen times. I don't know why the Irish are even making the trip.

East Carolina at Virginia: I've waffled on East Carolina so far this preview, swinging from thinking of them as a team that could take Virginia Tech to the wire to considering them outclassed by N.C. State. And yes, those are pretty divergent thoughts, although a young Hokie team in the opening week is a much different animal than another young team a month in. But here I'll split the middle - East Carolina is simply a better team than Virginia.