College football is back and that means so are CuseNation.com’s weekly ACC predictions. Publisher Mike McAllister and recruiting analyst John Garcia Jr. break down all of the action from week one of ACC play.
Wake Forest at UL-Monroe
Garcia Jr.: Wake has a young roster, including a freshman quarterback and a new coach, and it travels to one of the top non power-5 schools in the country to open things up? Not good for the league, as ULM will impress with an easy one on national television. Deacs go down, 31-21.
McAllister: Wake Forest hits the road in week one and has a new quarterback, new coaching staff and questionable talent all over the roster. Still, they prove to be too much for a ULM squad that has pulled off upsets in recent years. Look for the Demon Deacons to rely on their ground attack and kick a late field goal to avoid the upset. Wake 27 ULM 24.
FridayVillanova at Syracuse
Garcia Jr.: The Orange open up at the Dome to kick off Shafer's second campaign, but I'm more curious to see the second debut of George McDonald's offense. Terrel Hunt should look like a breakout candidate after a year in the system, and an FCS opponent to kick things off is a formula for confidence. He'll notch 300 total yards in a relatively easy victory for the home team. Orange start strong, 38-10.
McAllister: Continuity, experience and more talent all are on Syracuse’s side in the home opener. The Orange show flashes of a downfield passing game while utilizing a physical ground attack that gets each of the four backs involved. There may even be some special teams fireworks from true freshman Ervin Philips. All in all, a successful debut on both sides of the ball with some freshmen getting snaps towards the end of the blowout. Syracuse 48 Villanova 13.
Delaware at Pitt
Garcia Jr.: Pitt lose a lot of its offense to graduation, but it brings back 2013 frosh standout Tyler Boyd, who is as scary as it gets in terms of young wideouts in America. He kicks off year No. 2 with a bang, going for 150 yards and multiple trips to pay dirt. Pitt pounds the Blue Hens, 41-21.
McAllister: The Joe Flacco bowl goes to the team he transferred from rather than where he finished his college career. Pittsburgh is too talented for the FCS level Blue Hens despite some significant turnover. Pitt 38 Delaware 14.
Garcia Jr.: UVa. isn't scared to face out of conference powers of late, and this one will look a lot like its early 2013 matchup with Oregon. Mike London's young defense has some star power, but the touted group will get off to a slow start against Hundley and company, as his Heisman campaign gets going on the road. Bruins bash the Wahoos, 49-17.
McAllister: This could be interesting if Virginia can get off to a fast start. Ultimately, Hundley and the Bruins are one of the nation’s best and on a different level than the Cavs. UCLA pulls away in the third quarter and wins in a route. UCLA 41 Virginia 20.
Wofford at Georgia Tech
Garcia Jr.: The triple option thrives at home, and it will once again in 2014. Easy one for another young ACC program, though the Jackets defense will soon face growing pains. GT 38, Wofford 17.
McAllister: A complete mismatch as Georgia Tech looks to be the surprise team of the conference in 2014. Georgia Tech 49 Wofford 10.
Georgia Southern at North Carolina State
Garcia Jr.: Trap game, anyone? We all saw GSU stun the Swamp a season ago and put an exclamation point of embarrassment on the Florida Gators, but the Pack know how to defend the triple option because of Georgia Tech, and an entire offseason to refresh on the discipline needed to defend it only helps. But the story in this one will be the new one-two punch in Raleigh of Jacoby Brissett at QB and Matt Dayes at running back. Each will explode for big numbers in a 35-10 victory.
McAllister: N.C. State is a giant question mark entering the season. There is talent and reason for hope, but can they put it all together? This matchup will not do much to answer some of those questions but it will get the Wolfpack off to a fast start. N.C. State 34 Georgia Southern 7.
Garcia Jr.: The battle for New England will go to Flutie's boys, by it may be closer than we think. The Minutemen will come within minutes of victory, but a late Eagle score saves the day, as B.C. avoids the shocker, 28-24.
McAllister: Boston College has lost a lot of talent from their surprising season a year ago. That combined with the road environment will make it somewhat close early. But ultimately Steve Addazio’s bunch is too physical for FCS UMass. B.C. 37 UMass 17.
William and Mary at Virginia Tech
Garcia Jr.: As long as the Beamer/Foster battery is around in Blacksburg, that defense will do enough no matter how awful the offense can be. With a weak in-state opponent to kick things off at home, it'll actually look easy for once. Hokies hold W&M scoreless most of the way before the backups give up a few points in a 31-10 win.
McAllister: Can Virginia Tech return to form as a top-25 team that opponents do not want to play because of their defensive and special teams prowess? While those two units will undoubtedly be strong, the offense is a giant question mark. They ease into the season with a blowout victory. Virginia Tech 40 W&M 6.
Clemson at Georgia
Garcia Jr.: Here we go. One of two big-time matchups for the league pits two new quarterbacks against each other. Both will be better than we think, and Clemson's defense may actually be better than last season's solid unit. ACC looks legit in a 24-21 upset between the hedges.
McAllister: Maybe the most nationally relevant game to kickoff the start of the ACC season. Both teams are replacing key contributors from a season ago, but Georgia is deep and talented on both sides of the ball. It is too early for Clemson who don’t know exactly what they have at the quarterback position. Give the Bulldogs the edge because of their home field advantage. Georgia 27 Clemson 17.
Elon at Duke
Garcia Jr.: Duke has been battered with injuries, but Jamison Crowder is still in good shape. He and Anthony Boone will pad the stat sheet early and often, as the Blue Devils dominate at home to build on 2013's momentum. Duke 42, Elon 17.
McAllister: Few teams have suffered as many training camp injuries as the Duke Blue Devils. Still, they face an underwhelming opponent and still pack offensive fire power. Look for Duke to put up a ton of points in this one. Duke 52 Elon 16.
Liberty at North Carolina
Garcia Jr.: UNC dealt with injuries, suspensions and everything in between this offseason, and an FCS opponent comes to Chapel Hill to take the brunt of their frustration. Another talented Larry Fedora roster makes things look simple on this Saturday, as multiple running backs (Logan and Francis) hit the century mark. 42-10, Tar Heels.
McAllister: North Carolina is an intriguing pick to come out of the Coastal division. Their talent is not the question but they seem to be one that routinely underperforms. This could be the year they get over that hump and will start with an easy win. UNC 45 Liberty 17.
Garcia Jr.: The defending champs will be tested plenty to kick things off, but it has too much speed and depth for the Big 12 bunch with the home-field advantage in nearby Dallas. Noles make it happen as running back Karlos Williams (Pictures above) becomes a star before our eyes, 38-21.
McAllister: Oklahoma State always has a strong offense that can put up points in a hurry. The problem is, they won’t be able to stop Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston and the powerful ‘Noles offense. The defense does enough to shut down the Cowboys and pulls out a harder than it looks victory. Florida State 41 Oklahoma State 24.
Garcia Jr.: The Teddy Bridgewater bowl (he flipped from The U to UofL in high school) lacks star power on Louisville's side with DeVante Parker injured, and Miami is trotting out a true frosh QB in Brad Kaaya, but this will be a running back duel either way. 2010 national champ Michael Deyer has one final shot at career redemption for the Cardinals while Miami's Duke Johnson is still the best kept secret in college football. Each hits big numbers, but NFL-bound Johnson does a bit more, and has a bit more behind him in a fun 24-20 Hurricane triumph.
McAllister: This should be a fun one between two teams with a lot of questions marks. The difference is, Louisville has a new staff and system to adjust to while Miami does not. Look for the ‘Canes to utilize Duke Johnson frequently in this one as they expose a Cardinals defense that could have some growing pains this season. Miami 27 Louisville 20.