ACC Preview

This week's ACC schedule began last night with NC State's 24-20 upset over Florida State at Carter-Finley Stadium. If you believe this win will serve to get Wolfpack fans off of Chuck Amato's back, you clearly underestimate the delusion of the NC State faithful.

The discussion during call-in shows in the Raleigh-Durham area will now be focused on NC State deserving to be ranked in the top 10. Once they will lose again, it will shift back to discussing the long-term contract Bill Cowher will receive.

North Carolina State: 24 (17) Florida State: 20

Attempting to prove last week's game-winning touchdown pass to beat Boston College was no fluke, Daniel Evans threw for three touchdowns last night while leading the Wolfpack to a 24-20 comeback victory over Florida State. Chuck Amato's decision two games ago to bench QB Marcus Stone and replace him Evans, a redshirt sophomore, looks to have salvaged NC State's season.

Florida State appeared to control the game when the Seminoles followed a great goal-line stand with a 99-yard touchdown drive to go up 20-10 with 3:02 left in the third quarter. However, Evans connected with Geron James on a 10-yard touchdown before the third quarter ended, and five minutes into the fourth quarter completed a 12-yard touchdown to John Dunlap for the winning score. Dunlap caught the pass in the same corner in which he caught the game-winning touchdown last week against Boston College. Sophomore RB Andre Brown and was also a key contributor, rushing for 113 yards on 18 carries.

Florida State now has a very difficult uphill climb to the ACC Championship Game in Jacksonville. It appears that the Seminoles' streak of being wholly undeserving participants in the BCS will be coming to an end.

(15) Clemson at Wake Forest – Saturday 12:00 PM ET

With a win over Clemson this week, Wake Forest would earn a 6-0 start and a spot in the top 25, two things that have not happened in Winston-Salem for a long time. More importantly, an upset win on Saturday would place Wake Forest at the top of the ACC's Atlantic Division alongside NC State. Unfortunately for the Deacons, Clemson comes into Groves Stadium with a prolific offense that includes a number of dangerous athletes.

Senior QB Will Proctor leads the Clemson attack this season and has thrown for 937 yards and seven touchdowns. Proctor's favorite target is senior WR Chansi Stuckey, the recipient of three of those touchdowns. The Tigers possess a talented stable of running backs, included highly touted freshman C.J. Spiller, starter James Davis, and Demerick Chancellor. All three backs ran for over 100 yards in last week's 51-0 victory over Louisiana Tech.

Wake has already lost its starting quarterback and tailback to injuries this season, but the Deacons have not missed a beat under the impressive coaching of Jim Grobe. Freshman QB Riley Skinner has played effectively and Junior RB De'Angelo Bryant has been a suitable replacement for Micah Andrews.

Wake has won two of the past three meetings against Clemson, including last year's 31-27 victory at Groves Stadium. Because of these recent defeats and Wake's undefeated record, Clemson will not be taking the Deacons as lightly as they might have in the past. This should be a competitive, hard-fought game, but Clemson's talent and athleticism will likely prove too much in the 2nd half.

My Prediction: Clemson: 28 Wake Forest: 24

North Carolina at Miami – Saturday 12:00 PM ET

Miami struggled mightily against Houston last week, finally squeaking out a 14-13 victory at the Orange Bowl. Fortunately for the Hurricanes, North Carolina is no Houston. The Tar Heels' season is currently in a free fall as UNC has been embarrassed in their two conference games thus far. Unless John Bunting recruited a whole new team and replaced himself as coach during the bye week, Miami will enjoy a comfortable victory and a necessary confidence boost.

My Prediction: Miami: 38 North Carolina: 10

Maryland at (18) Georgia Tech – Saturday 3:30 PM ET

Notre Dame's 14-10 road victory over Georgia Tech to start the season continues to look more impressive. The Yellow Jackets scored a decisive victory over Virginia Tech last week in Blacksburg, jumping out to a 25 point advantage and then cruising to a 38-27 upset win over the Hokies. Calvin Johnson continues to show why he will be a great pro player, and junior transfer RB Tashard Choice has averaged roughly 5 yards per carry.

This sets up as a clear trap game for Georgia Tech. Maryland, while easily the least impressive 3-1 team in the country, is coming off a bye week and should be highly motivated for the upset. Meanwhile, Tech players could have a hard time focusing after two nationally televised games. I expect an ugly game that could remain close for awhile, but Maryland is simply not good enough to pull of the upset.

My Prediction: Georgia Tech: 24 Maryland: 14

Virginia at East Carolina – Saturday 6:00 PM ET

Virginia made my Duke pick look rather silly last week, thrashing the Blue Devils 37-0 at a virtually empty Wallace Wade stadium. The Cavaliers used their athletic advantage and some timely turnovers to put the game away quickly.

Skip Holtz's East Carolina team played West Virginia tough two weeks ago, with the game still in doubt going into the 4th quarter. The Pirates have had an off week to rejuvenate and should be pumped up for a home night game against an ACC team. East Carolina has the potential to be a dangerous team, and I don't believe UVA is good enough to earn a road victory at night.

My Prediction: East Carolina: 21 Virginia: 14

Duke at Alabama – Saturday 7:00 PM ET

Duke is a very bad football team. While I knew they were not good, I did not realize just how terrible they are until I watched a few plays of their game against Virginia last week.

Alabama will most likely be completely flat for this affair. Besides the fact that Duke is tough to get excited for, the Crimson Tide are coming off two very difficult defeats to Arkansas and Florida. There are probably around 80 division 1-A teams that I would predict to beat Alabama this week. Duke is certainly not one of them.

My Prediction: Alabama: 31 Duke: 7

Last Week: 4-2 Season: 20-4


IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories