ACC Week Three Predictions
Troy (1-1) at Georgia Tech (1-1) 1:30 PM EST Saturday September 16th
Why to Watch: When Georgia Tech’s 2006 schedule was issued, the Yellow Jacket faithful probably chalked this one up in the win category without hesitation. But Troy’s performance in Tallahassee last week battling Florida State down to the wire should have perked up everyone’s attention. The Yellow Jackets got a 38-6 win over D-IAA Samford last week, but if they want to be playing on New Year ’s Day this January, they can’t afford to lose a game they shouldn’t … like this one.
Why Troy Might Win: Confidence. Only Ws and Ls mean something when it’s all said and done, but the confidence that the Trojans gained last week in almost knocking off the Seminoles could set the tone for an upset. The Trojan defense held FSU to 45 rushing yards showing the quickness and aggressiveness up front that could pose a major problem. The Yellow Jackets only ran for 119 yards against Notre Dame, so Troy has a significant opportunity to make this Reggie Ball-led offense one dimensional.
Why Georgia Tech Might Win: The Tech effectiveness and efficiency on offense and its nasty, physical zone dog blitzing scheme on defense should be too much to overcome. Although that sounds simple, football isn’t rocket science. Defense coordinator Jon Tenuta is not the mastermind that Troy QB Omar Haugabook, starting only his third game, wants to face now that he’s coming off such a high-profile performance. The JUCO transfer threw three picks against an FSU scheme that’s not nearly as sophisticated scheme as Tenuta’s.
Who to Watch: Georgia Tech linebackers Philip Wheeler and KaMichael Hall were all over Notre Dame’s Brady Quinn like a cheap suit, and Haugabook has to know where these two are at all times or he’ll be wearing them as well. But if Haugabook can get some semblance of a running game, any running threat will do, then the pressure falls back on Wheeler and Hall to press and try to make more big plays. That means Troy RB Anthony Jones has to be more of a factor.
What Will Happen: If Georgia Tech can’t get 120 yards plus out of the running game, it’ll be a dangerous precedent for the rest of the season. That’s where Reggie Ball comes in. The Tech quarterback will run just enough to keep the chains moving and keep the pressure off the rest of the backfield. Expect the Tech defense to create three turnovers or more with its blitz pressure into the backfield.
CFN Prediction: Georgia Tech 31 ... Troy 10 ... Line: Georgia Tech -18
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Dancing with the Stars) ... 2
(1-1) at Virginia
(1-1) 3:30 PM EST
Saturday September 16th
Why to Watch: The Wahoos struggled mightily with the pesky Wyoming Cowboys last weekend eking out a 13-12 overtime win thanks to a missed extra point. Is Virginia this average? It needs to right the ship in a big hurry with Georgia Tech and the ACC season coming up next. For this week, the visiting Broncos are coming in sky-high after taking the lead role in the MAC West race after a convincing victory over Toledo scoring 24 unanswered second half points. This is a good enough team to make a national statement by knocking off a BCS team on its turf, like Akron did last week at NC State.
Why Western Michigan Might Win: Bonds. Mark Bonds. All the junior running back did last week against Toledo was rush for 134 yards on 22 carries and one score. After dominating with former WR Greg Jennings and TE Tony Scheffler in the passing game in 2005, Bonds has forced the WMU coaching staff to be fluid in their thinking about what he can do in the running game as well as in the passing attack. On defense, the Broncos’ pressure produced five sacks and forced three interceptions against Toledo, which is the worst news that the UVA offensive coaching staff needs to hear with the team’s developing quarterback problem.
Why Virginia Might Win: One week after getting torched by Pitt’s Tyler Palko, UVA CB Marcus Hamilton, one of the best in the ACC, and the secondary had a strong game against Wyoming’s passing offense. The secondary’s ability to lock down the perimeter will allow safety Nate Lyles to come up into the box and help stop Bonds. Regardless of who eventually plays quarterback this week, a receiving threat is emerging. Fontel Mines? Nope. TE Tom Santi? Uh uh. Who? Kevin Ogletree, a 6-2, 184-pound sophomore, caught ten passes for 95 yards and the game winning touchdown against the Cowboys.
Who to Watch: Backup UVA QB Kevin McCabe came into the game during the fourth quarter last week and was instrumental in the win over the Cowboys throwing the game winning TD in overtime. He has played fairly well in both games while starter Christian Olsen has struggled mightily. Who will start isn’t nearly as important as who’ll play well. Whoever Al Groh decides on must be aware of WMU DB Londen Fryar. The Bronco DB had two picks last week, one of which he ran back 97 yards to break Toledo’s back.
What Will Happen: UVA’s defense must disrupt the WMU blocking schemes to keep Bonds from rushing for over the six yards a carry he cranked out against Toledo. Whether the Wahoo defense runs a series of zone run blitz dogs or more base schemes, they should hold Bonds to under 100 yards putting more pressure on QB Thomas Peregrin, who’ll get the call with starter Ryan Cubit banged up, to throw the ball 20 to 25 times to move the WMU offense. The UVA QB situation will continue to play itself out on the field for another week, forcing the running game, which has run for a total of 84 yards in two games, to move the chains and pick up key yardage throughout the game.
CFN Prediction: Virginia 21 ... Western Michigan 17 ... Line: Virginia -9
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Dancing with the Stars) ... 2.5
Miami (1-1) at Louisville (2-0), 3:30 EST, ABC, Saturday, September 16th
Why to watch: Remember how much fun it was when these two met in Miami’s thrilling 41-38 win in 2004? This weekend’s game could be just as good, and it’s likely to turn out to be much more important. This is your classic high-powered offense meeting a head-knocking defense with storyline after storyline to make this a standout game on a day with several standout games. With a win over a top-shelf program, Louisville immediately gets stamped as a viable contender for a national championship, and it also makes itself an even bigger target for West Virginia down the road. With a loss, Miami inexplicably slips below .500 and puts Larry Coker on double secret probation For years, Louisville has had a pipeline to the Sunshine State with 22 Floridians, including chatty LB Nate Harris, on this year’s roster who’ll have a little something extra to prove. Oh, and then there’s the Big East, the BCS red-headed stepchild. This is the league’s best opportunity for national respect since it was gutted by the ACC three years ago, and it has to take advantage of the opportunity. Throw in victories by West Virginia and Pittsburgh over Maryland and Michigan State, respectively, and Big East fans could be dancing on Saturday night. A Miami would prove that it’s really a high-powered contender to get back in the national title chase.
Why Miami might win: This is, by far, the best defense Louisville will face all year. It’s one thing to hang 50 on Kentucky and Temple, but it’s another thing entirely to score points on a Cane defense that lives for challenges like this. You’ve got to go the NFL to find a better secondary than a Cane group jammed with future pros. If UL QB Brian Brohm can be neutralized, the Cards will turn to its stable of backs. That’s precisely when it’ll become evident that Michael Bush is on the shelf and show why he was such a difference maker.
Why Louisville might win: Despite all the off-season tinkering, the Miami offense is still very much a work in progress and a liability if QB Kyle Wright doesn’t get protection. Against Florida State, the Canes managed just two yards rushing and ten points while failing to make the proper adjustments in the second half. It took a visit from Florida A&M last week for the offense to find itself. If this game is played in the 30s, the Canes might not have the firepower to keep pace.
Who to watch: RB Tyrone Moss returned three weeks earlier than expected from an ACL tear to give an emotional boost to the Miami ground game last Saturday. He had 64 yards and a touchdown on eight carries, and represents a physical, ball control option that’s been lacking since he went down last year. Also, keep an eye on Art Carmody and Jon Peattie. They’re two of the best kickers in the country and should play a key role late.
What will happen: We know all about Louisville’s skill position players, but do we know if that revamped left side of the line can protect Brohm’s blindside? Can a spotty secondary can contain Miami’s speed receivers? With its back against the wall, the Cane defense will keep the Cards from going wild or getting over the mythical hump.
CFN Prediction: Miami 26 ... Louisville 24 ... Line: Louisville -4.5
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Dancing with the Stars) ... 5
(0-2) 7:00 PM EST ESPNU
Saturday September 16th
Why to Watch: It really couldn’t get worse for the Tar Heels, could it? Two home games to start the year resulted in two losses getting shocked by Rutgers and then bombed by Virginia Tech. Not that Furman needs more ammunition or confidence, but D-IAA Richmond, Montana State and New Hampshire all stunned BCS conference opponents; this team is good enough to do the same. In case, the Heels needed a reminder, the Purple Paladins won 28-3 the last time these two met in 1999.
Why Furman Might Win: The Southern Conference power is one of the best defensive teams in D-IAA giving up a total of 180 yards per game – 79 on the ground and 101 through the air. Linebacker Andrew Jones, who had eight tackles against West Georgia last week, and defensive end Roy Ravenell create the most problems.. They're good enough to screw things up for a Tar Heel offense that turned the ball over five times against Virginia Tech. TB Cedrick Gipson and manchild FB Jerome Felton are a lot like the Rutgers’ pair of backs that steamrolled over the Heels. Uh oh.
Why North Carolina Might Win: The Tar Heels can’t look as bad as they did last week against Virginia Tech, can they? To avoid a repeat, newly appointed starting QB Cam Sexton has to turn around, hand the ball to RB Ronnie McGill and Barrington Edwards, build confidence in the running game, and take pressure off of the passing game. If the Heels jump to a lead and Furman QB Renaldo Gray has to throw the ball consistently, the UNC secondary is good enough to make the youngster pay for any indiscretions.
Who to Watch: Furman FB Felton is a load at 250 pounds with the versatility to make him as vital to the Furman offense as Brian Leonard is to the Rutgers attack. He’s a solid lead blocker and will not make things easy for UNC LB Larry Edwards. Again, for a third consecutive week, the focus will be on the quarterbacks, but this time it’ll be starting Sexton, and not Joe Dailey, who must generate positive offensive output from this position, instead of being the team’s main liability.
What Will Happen: McGill and Edwards should combine for over 200 rushing yards to take the pressure off Sexton. The Tar Heel defensive front four should control the line of scrimmage, the Furman running attack, and the game.
CFN Prediction: North Carolina 35 ... Furman 13 ... Line: No Line
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Dancing with the Stars) ... 1.5
(1-1) 7:00 PM EST Saturday September 16th
Why to Watch: Suddenly, this becomes an intriguing battle between two fairly evenly matched teams who both need to win this game to be considered for a bowl game in December. Southern Miss is coming off of a resounding 45-0 victory over Southeastern Louisiana and a competitive showing down in Gainesville in the season’s opener against Florida. Getting a big boy in its own house, this is a must-win for Jeff Bower’s crew. The Wolfpack is reeling from a crushing defeat to Akron on the last play of the game, which followed a less-than-thrilling opening game victory over Appalachian State. While Southern Miss is good, a State loss would be nothing less than soul-crushing with Boston College and Florida State ahead.
Why NC State Might Win: Quite simply, the Wolfpack has to win to have a shot at a bowl game; the motivation and sense of urgency is more than there. Head coach Chuck Amato loves the underdog role and can play that up until he gets what he needs out of his club. The Pack is always great with its back against the wall. On the field, State’s defense frustrated Akron QB Luke Getsy for much of last weekend’s game (until the final drive). The same sort of pressure this weekend would result in a better outcome.
Why Southern Miss Might Win: Southern Miss didn’t have much of a test last week against Southeastern Louisiana, but it allowed the starters to get some rest after getting beaten up a bit by Florida. The USM run game registered 256 yards against SELA, and the production has to continue against a State defense that was burned by hard running Akron RB Dennis Kennedy for 117 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner. Defensively, USM’s aggressive, blitzing attack could give QB Marcus Stone problems throughout the game.
Who to Watch: State WR/multi-purpose threat Darrell Blackman is getting touches in the return game, in the passing game, and even out of the backfield. Now he’ll be used even more to put maximum pressure on an aggressive USM defense. Stopping Blackman, or shadowing him, will be the responsibility of rover/safety Brandon Sumrall, who had four tackles, one sack and two forced fumbles last week against SELA. This winner of this personal battle might determine the winner of the game.
What Will Happen: When the Wolfpack is confronted with a must-win game under Amato, the offense tends to go into a shell and be ultra-conservative, while the defense makes one play after another. The D will attack from the first play and attempt to disrupt USM QB Jeremy Young’s reads and execution and force just enough mistakes to overcome the lack of scoring punch.
CFN Prediction: NC State 16 ... Southern Miss 13 ... Line: Southern Miss -2.5
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Dancing with the Stars) ... 2.5
ACC Week Three Predictions