Around the ACC

ACC fans, who in recent years have loudly proclaimed their conference an up-and-coming superpower, are quiet this week. Particularly silent are the fans of the free falling triumvirate: Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina State.

Each of these programs suffered painful defeats last Saturday and all of them face the prospect of a coaching change this off-season. The chopping block might not stop there however. Miami, North Carolina and Duke could all have new football coaches next year as well. Coaching turnover might be the most exciting topic surrounding this conference the remainder of this season. By the way, this is one bad week of football in the ACC.

Virginia at Georgia Tech Thursday 7:30 PM ET

Virginia must travel to Bobby Dodd stadium for a Thursday night match up against Georgia Tech after losing at home last week to Western Michigan. ESPN chose poorly on this one and has touted this match up with less excitement than the women's bowling tournament the channel is showing next Tuesday night. And for good reason. While Georgia Tech is not a great team, they should have no problem with the Cavaliers at home.

Virginia has struggled mightily on offense this year, having gone through three signal callers already. The Tech defense, led by aggressive DC Jon Tenuta, should have no trouble containing the Virginia attack. Reggie Ball is not a good quarterback, but he can be dangerous with draw plays and Tech's rushing attack led by Tashard Choice is ranked 19th in the nation. Calvin Johnson suffered a deep thigh bruise last week but is a tough competitor and should be ready.

My Prediction: Georgia Tech: 24 Virginia: 10

North Carolina at (19) Clemson Saturday 12:00 PM ET

Chapel Hill was vibrant this week after the Tar Heels rousing victory over bitter rival Furman. Actually, most people on Franklin St. have already forgotten that it is still football season. The same cannot be said for Clemson fans, who rabidly follow their beloved Tigers and must feel rejuvenated by a nice road win against Nepotism State in Tallahassee. Their reward is an easy home romp against the hapless Tar Heels.

John Bunting's UNC teams are always good for one upset per season no matter how bad the team. However, I don't believe that upset will be this week at Death Valley, and I certainly hope it does not come in South Bend.

My Prediction: Clemson: 34 North Carolina: 7

Cincinnati at (11) Virginia Tech Saturday 12:00 PM ET

Virginia Tech continues their exhibition season this week with a home contest against Cincinnati. While the Bearcats are not a total pushover, I expect them to be down this week after a hard fought contest last week against OSU in Hades, OH. While they might not get cursed at and spat upon as much in Blacksburg, I suspect Cincinnati will have a hard time on the field against the Hokies, who lead the nation in scoring defense at 3.33 points per game.

Surprisingly, Cincinnati won the last match up between these teams, a 16-0 win in Blacksburg in 1995. I do not expect a repeat performance. Virginia Tech will run the ball well, play tough defense and most likely return a punt block for a touchdown. It is what they do. All of this will result in an easy Virginia Tech win at home.

My Prediction: Virginia Tech: 31 Cincinnati: 10

Rice at (18) Florida St Saturday 3:30 PM ET

I feel bad for Rice. They started the season with two close losses against Houston and UCLA. They then got the chance to serve as therapy for Texas, who beat up on the Owls 52-7 in order to help expunge the OSU loss. Now Rice gets to play the same role with Florida St. who will surely be looking to run up the score after a tough home loss to Clemson. I am not sure if a Jeff Bowden led offense can run up the score, but that is what they will be looking to do. Not much else to say on this one.

My Prediction: Florida State: 41 Rice: 7

Florida International at Maryland Saturday 6:00 PM ET

Like I said, it is not a very good week of football in the ACC. Maryland will win this week against Florida International. However, I doubt that does anything to get an angry Terrapin fan base off of Ralph Friedgen's massive back.

My Prediction: Maryland: 24 Florida International: 10

Wake Forest at Mississippi Saturday 6:00 PM ET

Wake Forest is a surprising 3-0 and can probably be classified as the only team in the conference that has exceeded expectations thus far. While the Deacons have started with a relatively easy schedule, they dodged bullets at home against Duke and on the road against UConn and now stand to make a bowl game.

Ole Miss has struggled mightily this season and is coming off back-to-back blowout losses against Missouri and Kentucky. Supposed savior Brent Schaeffer, an ex-Tennessee Volunteer, is completing less than 50 percent of his pass attempts. On the other hand, injuries continue to plague Wake Forest. The Deacons lost their starting QB, Matt Mauk, in the first game and found out this week that leading rusher Micah Andrews is out for the season with a torn ACL.

Going into any SEC venue on a Saturday night is a tough assignment. The Rebels will have rabid fans in the stands and a crazy Ed Orgeron on the sidelines. However, I expect the Deacons to squeak out another close victory because Jim Grobe is a better coach than Ed Orgeron.

My Prediction: Wake Forest: 17 Ole Miss: 14

(20) Boston College at North Carolina State Saturday 8:00 PM ET

Boston College earned another double overtime victory last Saturday over BYU because the Cougars' kicker forgot how to kick a ball between the uprights. While I begrudgingly give the Eagles a little bit of credit, the parts of that game I watched did not impress me a great deal.

NC State's offense is currently ranked 103rd in the nation in total yards. Primary quarterback Marcus Stone is completing less than 50 percent of this passes.

The team's other stats on both sides of the ball are not much more compelling. Furthermore, it appears Chuck Amato has lost the team and everyone knows this season will be his last in Raleigh. The fans that do show up on Saturday night will most likely spend their time booing every time Chuck appears on the jumbotron.

For all of these reasons, I am picking NC State in my upset special. It makes no rational sense but I just have a feeling about this one.

My Prediction: NC State: 20 Boston College: 17

Last Week: 8-2 Season: 8-2

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