As excited as we are about yesterday’s big Notre Dame-related news, it is nice to get back to discussing on-the-field happenings again. Non-conference play is still in full swing, so we’ll be splitting these previews up into two articles for yet another week. And if you’re curious about when and where these games are televised this Saturday, please consult our handy viewing schedule, too.
Game of the Week
Virginia Cavaliers (2-0) at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (1-1) (0-1): Virginia comes into this matchup still undefeated after a very close (lucky) call with Penn State last week. Given the proficiency of Tech’s rushing attack, chances are they won’t experience the same good fortune down in Atlanta. The Hoos rank pretty well in run defense this season, but those stats are likely to lie based on their competition. Their big keys will be Michael Rocco passing the ball more more efficiently, and not allowing the Yellow Jackets to control the line of scrimmage. Virginia can’t score a ton of points, so they must capitalize on their chances in the red zone in order to win. Georgia Tech, conversely, needs to play their game and guide the tempo early. If they make UVa play catch-up, there’s little opportunity for a comeback. Prediction: Georgia Tech 30, Virginia 22
The Rest of the Slate (in order of start time):
Bethune-Cookman Wildcats (2-0) at Miami Hurricanes (1-1) (1-0): The ‘Canes defense is obviously struggling, so what better way to boost their confidence than to knock around an FCS squad like Bethune-Cookman? On the offensive end, Duke Johnson also had a rough outing last week, and could also use some time here to get back the mojo we saw in week one. Stephen Morris, while shockingly accurate, could also take some time to deliver crisper, harder-thrown balls (and maybe some touchdowns to pad the resume — he only has one scoring pass in two games). Don’t expect the starters to be pulled all that early here with Miami trying to erase last week’s result from folks’ memories. Prediction: Miami 59, BCU 13
Virginia Tech Hokies (2-0) (1-0) at Pittsburgh Panthers (0-2): Looking at the results of the first two games for each team, this appears to be a mismatch. But I have this sneaky feeling that Pitt may come to play on Saturday. Remember, we’re not that far off from the Panthers being a potential conference darkhorse behind a strong running game and solid defense (admittedly, non-existent so far). Ultimately, Tech should be able to ride its defense to a win, regardless of this offense’s slovenly nature. Should VPI get too comfortable, Pittsburgh could hang around for much longer than expected. Prediction: Va. Tech 20, Pitt 16
Wake Forest Demon Deacons (2-0) (1-0) at Florida State Seminoles (2-0): Wake put together a great game against UNC last week, en route to a big upset victory, but unfortunately saw star DT Nikita Whitlock injured in the process. It doesn’t appear to be long-term, but there’s a fair shot he misses this weekend against FSU. With more time to throw the ball, ‘Noles QB EJ Manuel gets the green light to create from the pocket. It pays huge dividends for a Florida State team that’s fully aware of the ghosts of Demon Deacons’ past. Prediction: Florida St. 37, Wake 20
Connecticut Huskies (1-1) at Maryland Terrapins (2-0): The Edsall Bowl takes on some new intrigue after Perry Hills and the Maryland offense began to understand what it is they were supposed to be doing last weekend. Connecticut’s defense is assuredly better than the group from Temple they faced on Saturday though, so unsure if Hills can still launch the same frozen ropes to Stefon Diggs at will. Strangely, I feel like the Terps will continue their unlikely March toward the Big East title with another improved showing. Yes, I know what I did there. Check out this comment thread to find out just how close William & Mary could’ve been to joining the Big East football league; which would make UM 3-0 in that conference with a win. Prediction: Maryland 26, UConn 24
Be sure to check out the rest of our predictions in Part Two!