ACC Fearless Predictions, Week 3, Part II gives their previews and predictions for the week three ACC games.

How are the picks so far? SU 15-4 ... ATS 10-3

ACC  Week Three Predictions, Part 1

ACC Game of the Week

Clemson (1-1) at Florida State (2-0) 7:45 PM EST ESPN Saturday September 16th
Why to Watch: From Clemson’s standpoint, this game is do or die.  Lose this one after the crushing 34-33 overtime loss to Boston College last week, and the Tigers’ goal of playing on New Year’s Day, not to mention in the ACC championship game in Jacksonville, will die.  The Seminoles would love to be the team that puts that dream to sleep for another year after losing to Tommy Bowden’s club in two of the last three years. Although FSU suffered a major letdown against the Troy Trojans, it did what championship teams do: win. With the sandwich game between this one and the season opener at Maryland in the past, this should be a fully focused team. Of course, this matchup is always about family when the Bowdens get together. Lately, it’s been more about the game on the field. This one should be no exception.
Why Clemson Might Win:  Clemson RB James Davis might be the back carrying the running game load, but true freshman and Florida native RB C.J. Spiller has added an explosive dimension to the offense taking a short flare pass and turning it into an 82-yard touchdown against the Eagles. He helps balance a Clemson offense that’ll be the best FSU has faced so far.  In stark contrast to the Clemson running game, the FSU ground attack has accounted for only 46 total rushing yards in two games. Even without the services of injured LB Tremaine Billie and Anthony Waters, the Noles might find yards hard to come by.
Why Florida State Might Win:  Even without defensive tackle Paul Griffin, who’s out for the year with an ACL tear, FSU can counter Clemson’s strength, the running game, with its strength, the defensive front seven led by two-time ACC Defensive Player of the Week ILB Buster Davis. On offense, QB Drew Weatherford hasn’t put up overly impressive numbers (511 yards in two games with two picks and two touchdowns), but he’s been clutch at the right time. He’s now a big-game quarterback who should handle the pressure well.
Who to Watch:  With the spotlight squarely on him since he took his first snap against Miami last season, Weatherford continues to make progress in all aspects of his game.  His ability to elude Clemson DE Gaines Adams, who’s fighting through a shoulder injury, and get rid of the ball on time is a major key to the FSU passing game to once again bail out the punchless ground attack.  However, Adams and the Clemson defensive line didn’t register a sack on BC’s Matt Ryan in 60+ minutes of action.  Whether Adams is on the field or not, the Tiger front four must generate enough pass rush to force the FSU offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden to leave his backs in to block on passing downs to help his offensive line.
What Will Happen:  Clemson QB Will Proctor proved that he could throw the football well enough last week (25 of 40 for 343 yards and two TDs) to get the attention of FSU defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews. Expect Andrews to make life uncomfortable for Proctor through blitz packages and an unrelenting pass rush that could force him into bad decisions.  Proctor had sufficient time in the pocket against Boston College and it showed in the numbers at game’s end. Andrews and the FSU defensive staff should erode that time immensely. On offense, the Seminole RB duo of Lorenzo Booker and Antone Smith will finally break out.
CFN Prediction: Florida State 23 ... Clemson 17 ... Line: Florida State -4
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Dancing with the Stars) ... 4

Maryland (2-0) at West Virginia (2-0), 7:30 EST, ESPN, Thursday, September 14th
Why to watch: In front of a national television audience, the Terps and Mountaineers renew what’s become a pretty salty out-of-conference rivalry.  Maryland owned West Virginia during the first half of this decade, but the ‘eers have broken the hex with back-to-back wins and now need this win to start to earn more national respect. The games against name teams are few and far between, so this doesn’t just have to be a win over the Terps; it has to be impressive after cruising through Marshall and Eastern Washington with no resistance.  Maryland is more of a mystery at this stage of the season. While 2-0, the wins have been a little too tight against lightweights William & Mary and Middle Tennessee. Was Ralph Friedgen waiting for this game to open up his playbook, or is Maryland about to get exposed like so many of its ACC brethren have early in 2006?  Stay tuned. This is huge or both conferences.
Why Maryland might win: Behind its big, physical offensive line, Maryland will be able to pick up real estate on the ground while keeping the West Virginia offense pacing on the sidelines.  The backfield trio of Keon Lattimore, Lance Ball and Josh Allen gives the Terps the depth and fresh legs needed to control the tempo and quiet the home crowd. They don’t have to match West Virginia’s ground game yard for yard, but they might be almost as effective. QB Sam Hollenbach doesn’t move well in the pocket, but he’ll have time to find receivers against a Mountaineer defense that’s yet to register its first sack.              
Why West Virginia might win: The Mountaineer running game is every bit as impressive as it was billed to be ranking No. 2 nationally cranking out 353 yards a game.  You can also expect the wraps to be taken off electric QB Pat White, who’s played conservatively while his sore ribs have needed time to heal. Once West Virginia gets up, Maryland won’t have the downfield passing game to mount a comeback, and doesn’t have the defense to keep Steve Slaton and the ground attack from tearing up time and yards.                      
Who to watch: Maryland LB Wesley Jefferson leads the Terps with 18 tackles and is in the midst of a breakout junior season. He’ll have to have the game of his life in order to slow down the vaunted Mountaineer ground attack.            
What will happen: With a chance for a little national validation, there’s no way you won’t get an “A” from the Mountaineers in front of their rabid fans.  Slaton will get his yards, but this night will belong to White, who’ll explode with both his legs and his arm.
CFN Prediction: West Virginia 38 ... Maryland 16 ... Line: West Virginia -16
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Dancing with the Stars) ... 3

Duke (0-2) at Virginia Tech (2-0) 12:00 PM EST GamePlan Saturday September 16th
Why to Watch:  Duke is young, improving team that could use a big break. It’s not going to get one this week. After controlling much of the game against Wake Forest, QB Thaddeus Lewis led a last-minute drive to get into field goal range, but the kick was blocked and the Demon Deacons left with a rough 14-13 loss. While Duke suffered a cruel fate, Virginia Tech came to Chapel Hill and systematically dismantled a reeling North Carolina squad 35-10.  Unfortunately for the Blue Devils, Enter Sandman will be rocking and the Hokies will be less than willing to play nice.
Why Duke Might Win:  The Blue Devils held Wake Forest, one of the better running teams in the ACC, to 57 measly yards on the road; Virginia Tech RB Branden Ore is going to have to fight for his yards.  One of the reasons that the defense was able to stop Wake RB Micah Andrews was the offense’s ability to control the ball, move the chains and keep that defense fresh for much of the game.  The Blue Devil offense won the time of possession battle with Wake Forest by nearly nine minutes, which North Carolina was able to do against Virginia Tech, as well.  It didn’t pay dividends for the Tar Heels, but it’s the only chance Duke has.
Why Virginia Tech Might Win:  Duke QB Thaddeus Lewis faced a good secondary last week in Winston Salem, but facing rover Aaron Rouse and the Virginia Tech defensive backs will be significantly tougher.  Making life more difficult for Lewis is Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster, who won’t allow Lewis to sit in the pocket and throw without someone in his face.  Duke only gave one sack against Wake Forest, but Foster’s unit won’t need sacks as long as they’re forcing bad throws and turnovers. 
Who to Watch:  Duke DT Vince Oghobaase is already one of the best defensive tackles in the league after only two games. His strength and quickness up front will create blocking scheme concerns for Virginia Tech’s offensive interior and is the one Duke defender who can disrupt the Hokie ground game. Virginia Tech CB Macho Harris and Brandon Flowers haven’t yet been tested through the air, but Lewis will make things interesting if he can get the ball off.  Last week, the true freshman completed 21 of 32 passes for 305 yards with no interceptions.
What Will Happen:  Duke’s offense looked better last week, but it’s still not good enough to scare any defense with a pulse. As usual, the Virginia Tech special teams, in particular the punt block team, are back with two blocked punts for touchdowns.  After this game, make it three.
CFN Prediction: Virginia Tech 38 ... Duke 6 ... Line: Virginia Tech -35
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Dancing with the Stars) ...

Wake Forest
(2-0) at Connecticut (1-0) 12:00 PM EST Saturday September 16th
Why to Watch:  The Demon Deacons are 2–0 with a chance to continue with its hot start in its toughest test yet before closing out the non-conference season with Ole Miss and Liberty. Yes, that Wake Forest could really be 5-0 to start off the year.  However, UConn won’t be a pushover after getting a week off to rest up and prepare against a Deacon team that had way too many problems last week with Duke. Playing the hapless Blue Devils at home is one thing, but for new starting QB Riley Skinner and the rest of the offense, playing Connecticut in Rentschler Stadium could be a completely different ball game.
Why Wake Forest Might Win:  Those critics who thought that Skinner’s presence would force a drop off in passing game production were wrong.  The former Bolles School product completed 22 of 29 passes for 235 yards with no interceptions highlighted by a game-winning seven-play, 63-yard drive to come away with the win. The Blue Devils chose to take away the run game, and the passing game clicked throughout proving Deacon offense now has balance that could be lethal in Storrs. 
Why Connecticut Might Win:  Husky RB Terry Caulley is finally healthy and proved it against Rhode Island rushing for 95 yards and one touchdown on only 12 carries.  But, what may make him even more dangerous now is that he’s not alone.  Fellow RB Lou Allen and Donald Brown II combined for 201 yards and three touchdowns helping the Huskies to crank out 418 yards against the Rams.  LB Jon Abbate and the Wake front seven completely eliminated the Duke running game (62 total rushing yards), but stopping three RBs of this caliber will be a different story.
Who to Watch:  Wake Forest safeties Josh Gattis, who was banged up in the Duke game, and Patrick Ghee will have to play near the tackle box to keep the Husky triumvirate of backs from piling up another huge rushing day.  If the Deacons do sell out to stop the run, Husky QB D.J. Hernandez then carries the pressure of beating a three man secondary throughout the game.  Is he ready? He only threw 14 times against Rhode Island.
What Will Happen:  It’s hard to believe that losing QB Ben Mauk was a good thing, but Skinner is a gamer and won over the offense with late game calm and cool.  Going on the road, though, takes Skinner out of his comfort zone, and the Huskies have to raise the pressure level on him throughout the game.  If the Huskies can get Skinner and company off the field, then they have to register eight to ten play drives using all three backs and play action to control the clock.  Duke won the time of possession battle with Wake and the Demon Deacons almost lost as a result.  If the Huskies do the same this week, then the Deacons won’t eke out a close win this time. 
CFN Prediction: Wake Forest 24 ... Connecticut 21... Line: Connecticut -6
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Dancing with the Stars) ... 3

BYU (1-1) at Boston College (2-0) 12:00 PM EST ESPN2 Saturday September 16th
Why to Watch:  They don’t get a whole bunch of pub, but BYU’s John Beck and Boston College’s Matt Ryan, who’s battling through an ankle injury, are two of the nation’s best unsung quarterbacks.  Each came up with a vital win last week with Ryan leading Boston College over Clemson, 34–33, while Beck and BYU beat defending Conference USA champion Tulsa 49–24.  These two met last year to start the year with the Eagles shutting down BYU in Provo allowing a mere eight rushing yards in a 20-3 win.  If BYU can return the favor, it’ll generate the type of buzz that’ll get the pollsters to pay attention.
Why BYU Might Win:  Although Beck has blossomed into one of the best QBs anywhere in the nation, it was the running game that took over against Tulsa. RBs Fui Vakapuna and Curtis Brown combined for 221 yards and two touchdowns helping alleviate the pressure on Beck in the passing game.  However, given the fact that Clemson QB Will Proctor threw for 343 yards against the BC secondary, the passing game should be able pick apart the Eagles in the same manner while still utilizing the ground game for some balance. On the other side of the ball, the BYU secondary helped hold Tulsa’s All-CUSA QB Paul Smith under 200 yards passing. A similar performance this weekend will likely result in the win.
Why Boston College Might Win:  Ryan had the utmost respect of his teammates going into the Clemson game, but in going out and playing on an ankle that would’ve put most other players on the shelf, he made himself even more of a leader. Although his production slipped from week one against Central Michigan, his presence makes this team believe that they can win anytime, anywhere. While Tom Brady-lite continues to carry the offense, safety Jamie Silva is carring the defense doing a little bit of everything extremely well.  His presence is a sufficient counter to the Cougar offensive balance.
Who to Watch:  BYU TE/WR Jonny Harline only had two catches against Tulsa, but he’s an intriguing, and often perplexing, matchup because he runs so well for his size.  His presence, whether lined up at receiver, flexed away from the line of scrimmage as a tight end, or with his hand on the ground, makes defending the passing game difficult.  He’ll have to take advantage of a BC defense looking to slow down the run first. LB Nick Larkin’s hard-nosed style sets the tone for the BC defense racking up 13 total tackles against Clemson. Stopping both Brown and Vakapuna will likely be tougher.
What Will Happen:  Traveling east for an early game at noon, it’s imperative that the Cougars come out of the gates quickly. On defense, the Cougs can’t allow Ryan to sit in the pocket and distribute the ball to all of his receiving threats, mainly WR Kevin Challenger, who caught six balls for 73 yards.  On the other side of the ball, the Cougs must attack deep downfield early to open up more room to throw swing passes to Brown out of the backfield and create various routes for Harline in the middle of the field.  If BYU comes out flat, BC has to close the door early by hammering their trademark zone runs down BYU’s throat to demand safety help.  Then, Ryan can get his WR open across the middle.

CFN Prediction: Boston College 28 ... BYU 20 ... Line: BC -7
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Dancing with the Stars) ... 3

ACC  Week Three Predictions, Part 1

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