After just a few days off, we’re previewing ACC football action once again as week two begins with a Thursday night matchup of Big East teams. Week one wasn’t exactly the best scenario for the conference — 9-5, including the two intra-conference games — but not the worst result either, all things considered. Still, it’s only one game, and we still have plenty more to learn about every squad. Picks for this week’s matchups are below. Agree/disagree? Share your opinions down in the comments.
Game of the Week
Miami Hurricanes (1-0) (1-0) at Kansas State Wildcats (1-0): What a difference a week makes. Things looked to be in complete disarray in Miami prior to kickoff last week. One monster debut by Duke Johnson later, we’re still unsure about the ‘Canes, but once again, they bring plenty of intrigue. Miami’s defense struggled to stop BC quarterback Chase Rettig last week, and will meet an even bigger test with K-State QB Collin Klein on Saturday. If they can keep the dual-threat passer in check, they’ve got a shot. Otherwise, things could come crashing back to earth very quickly in Coral Gables. Prediction: Kansas St. 33, Miami 26
The Rest of the Slate (in order of start time):
Pittsburgh Panthers (0-1) at Cincinnati Bearcats (0-0): Cincinnati had the week of to start the year, and by the looks of last Saturday’s effort, so did Pittsburgh. After a startling loss, the Panthers are hoping to rebound quickly and save their season from spiraling. The Bearcats, on the other hand, want to start off their year on the right foot as they try and replace a ton of lost talent from the 2011 edition. With suspended players returning, Pitt will field a much better team than they did previously. However, that defense proved they’re not stopping the run anytime soon, letting Youngstown State rack up 204 yards on the ground. That’ll be an issue against Cincy QB Munchie Legaux, whose ability to tuck and run with the ball may just torture them all night. Prediction: Cincinnati 36, Pitt 24
NC State Wolfpack (0-1) at Connecticut Huskies (1-0): While the Wolfpack got browbeaten by Tennessee to start off their year, UConn was able to take a nice tuneup jog through the UMass defense. On Saturday, we’ll figure out which tactic was the wiser option. Against the Minutemen, the Huskies played a nice all-around game, though their receivers failed to truly dominate. Enter David Amerson, who will be playing with an enormous chip on his shoulder after being embarrassed so badly last week. If he and QB Mike Glennon get back on track, the Wolfpack should be well on their way to righting this ship. Prediction: NC State 31, UConn 23
Maryland Terrapins (1-0) at Temple Owls (1-0): We’re obviously dealing with a steep learning curve for Terps QB Perry Hills, but he shouldn’t expect opposing defenses to care. Throwing three interceptions (regardless of fault) against a FCS team is unacceptable, and he’s got to work to deliver passes with more authority. Both teams likely remember what transpired in College Park last year. Unfortunately for Maryland, their inexperience on offense may doom them to repeating that regrettable result. Prediction: Temple 26, Maryland 16
Penn State Nittany Lions (0-1) at Virginia Cavaliers (1-0): Penn State was embarrassed on Saturday, ruining the ongoing desire of the sports media to tear them down off the field, just to write charming soliloquies about them later on after they go 9-3 anyway. The Nittany Lions proved they can’t play effective pass defense, nor can they run a consistent offense. Conversely, Hoos QB Michael Rocco showed himself to be extremely proficient in throwing the football (with 311 yards), while their defense relegated the Richmond ground game to a sidenote. We’ll be seeing more of the same from UVa, en route to another nice win. Prediction: Virginia 30, Penn State 20
Ball State Cardinals (1-0) at Clemson Tigers (1-0): Prior to the opener, the big concern around Clemson was centered around what they’d do without all-world receiver Sammy Watkins. The team quickly addressed that by simply writing up a phenomenal gameplan without him, distributing the ball around while also running the ball quite well and making some clutch plays on defense, too. Watkins or no Watkins in this offense, Ball State won’t really know what hit them, and most observers fully expect the Tigers to run away with this contest. I am most observers. Prediction: Clemson 45, Ball St. 17
Our predictions continue in Part Two!