ACC Preview

It might have appeared to the casual observer that all was back to normal this week in the Atlantic Coast Conference. NC State was losing to teams with far less talent and far better coaching. Florida State was back to crushing ACC weaklings. Virginia fans were dressed up and looking pretty just to see their team lose.

Miami was certainly back to their thuggish ruggish ways. However, with Wake Forest in the top 25, and Florida St, Miami and Virginia Tech unranked, this is certainly not the ACC of old.

North Carolina at Virginia – Thursday 7:30 PM ET

Fox executives are smiling this evening. Not only did the NLCS go to a decisive Game 7 and feature both a team from New York and the popular St. Louis Cardinals (Go Mets!), but the game is also matched up against this dud. You can bet that even in Chapel Hill and Charlottesville, television sets will be turned to baseball.

Here are a few quick thoughts on my visit to Charlottesville last weekend. First, Virginia fans are dressed as if they are attending a wedding or Easter service. Not sure how I feel about this yet. Secondly, UVA fans were surprisingly loud and supportive considering how terrible the season has gone. Thirdly, games at Virginia are much like pro games, with the jumbotron and pop music blaring through speakers a constant presence. Be very thankful for the atmosphere at Notre Dame games. Very thankful.

On the field, the Cavs reminded me a great deal of the Notre Dame teams of the Davieham era. Virginia quarterback Jameel Sewell is a legitimate running threat and the Cavaliers' best plays were broken pass plays in which Sewell scrambled. When he did throw, it was usually either a poorly designed out pattern or an up-for-grabs fly pattern down the field. Virginia should have beaten Maryland, but Al Groh coached scared and made some horrendous decisions late. Despite this disappointment, the Cavaliers should handle North Carolina at home.

My Prediction: Virginia: 28 North Carolina: 14

North Carolina State at Maryland– Saturday 12:00 PM ET

I think I have NC State figured out. Whenever logic, reason, and the facts point in one direction, the Wolfpack's fate will typically be heading the other way. After two comeback wins against ranked opponents and a new lease on life, NC State came out flat at home and lost to a resilient Wake Forest team 25-23. You have to hand it to Chuck Amato. He continues to surprise to the downside.

I am going to go against this line of thinking on this pick however. Reason would state that this last defeat was too much for the Wolfpack's fragile psyche and they will fold like a cheap suit the remainder of this season. Therefore, in line with my theory, I should be picking NC State in a route. However, I am going to follow logic here simply because I believe Amato might have lost this team for good. Furthermore, Maryland has proved the last few weeks that while far from good, they might be putting some things together.

My Prediction: Maryland: 24 NC State: 21

Miami at Duke – Saturday 1:00 PM ET

Duke appears to be heading for a winless season. This is not really news here in Durham, as fans are far more interested in Greg Paulus' foot injury and the coaching/leadership clinic Coach K is running for CEO's for a high price. The Blue Devils only hope is the season ending affair against North Carolina. While Miami is coming to town this week both distracted and short handed, this game will not likely be very competitive. I doubt the Canes even care enough to get into another brawl.

My Prediction: Miami: 38 Duke: 7

(22) Boston College at Florida State – Saturday 3:30 PM ET

Boston College heads to Tallahassee this weekend hoping their starting quarterback Matt Ryan will be able play despite a foot injury. The outcome of this game most likely depends on Ryan's status, as backup quarterback Chris Crane has seen very limited action and would likely struggle mightily against a athletic Seminoles defense.

What else can be said of Florida State? They have become a mediocre ACC team whose success against Boston College at home hinges on an injury to BC's quarterback. Heady times for Seminole fans to be sure. My guess is Boston College, led by a hobbling Ryan, wins here and adds to Florida State's mounting woes.

My Prediction: Boston College: 20 Florida St: 17

Southern Mississippi at Virginia Tech – Saturday 7:00 PM ET

Virginia Tech should be able to handle Southern Miss at home. However, the Hokies' behavior last Thursday night was very alarming. It appears the team gave up on Coach Beamer and his staff, the Hokie players seemed far more concerned with fighting each other than the opponent. Who knows, maybe instituting fines against a group of students who do not receive a salary might have backfired against Beamer. Especially when this same group is not accustomed to discipline of any kind.

I expect the Hokies to get their act together this weekend. At least enough to win an ugly game against Southern Miss.

My Prediction: Virginia Tech: 21 Southern Miss: 14

(13) Georgia Tech at (13) Clemson – Saturday 7:45 PM ET

This week's marquee ACC match up features Clemson against a surprising Georgia Tech team. Death Valley is no easy place to play, particularly under the lights. In order to reduce the effect of the crowd, it is critical for Georgia Tech to establish momentum early as they did against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. If the Yellow Jackets can take an early lead, Clemson will be forced to do more than simply run the ball with James Davis and C.J. Spiller.

After watching Will Proctor make several poor decisions against Wake Forest, I think Tech's blitzing defense could give him fits. If Reggie Ball can play an efficient and relatively error free game, as well as get the ball into Calvin Johnson's hands, I think Tech could steal a road win here. Unfortunately, I foresee an early Ball turnover leading to an easy Tiger's score. Once Clemson gets the lead and establishes a running game, I think they will be too tough for the Jackets in Death Valley.

My Prediction: Clemson: 24 Georgia Tech: 14

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