ACC Football 2012 Previews & Predictions: Week Five

Duke Johnson and the Miami Hurricanes Look to Extend Their Surprising Start with Another ACC Win

Byes aplenty this week, as the ACC has just 10 teams in action amidst what ends up being a fairly dull slate of games nationwide, somehow. In fact, the guys over at Shutdown Fullback will tell you it’s downright awful (like Ibis-on-a-jet-ski-plus-explosions awful). Still, we trek on and highlight the best of ACC action, in the hopes that it surpasses the pure boredom that will be College Gameday this week (OSU-MSU). The B1G: Where they can’t field a postseason-eligible team that could finish in the top 15.

Game of the Week

NC State Wolfpack (3-1) (0-0) at Miami Hurricanes (3-1) (2-0): Both of these teams have fared poorly in their big non-conference tests thus far. For the Wolfpack, they were run off the field by Tennessee to open the season and Miami was embarrassed by Kansas State in week two. Since those losses, however, both teams appear rejuvenated, relying on some unexpected skill players to show them the way, in freshmen Duke Johnson (Miami) and Shadrach Thornton (NC State). If the ‘Canes can generate an efficient rushing attack with Johnson and veteran back Mike James, they’ll have a shot against the Pack. But, given how porous the Miami defense is, Thornton and senior QB Mike Glennon may be all NC State needs to win their first conference game of the year. Prediction: NC State 24, Miami 21

The Rest of the Slate (in order of start time):

Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders (2-1) at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (2-2) (1-2): Middle Tennessee State allows over four yards per carry, which is going to be a bit of a problem against Georgia Tech’s triple-option. Despite their loss to Miami last week, the Wreck still ran for 287 yards; no small number, and they’re likely to equal or surpass that figure this week. So the Blue Raiders obviously have an uphill battle ahead. The only saving grace may be their own respective ability to move the ball on the ground — but it’s also against some pitiful competition. Tech’s looking to bounce back after their disappointing result on Saturday, and will definitely do so. Prediction: Georgia Tech 45, MTSU 17

Duke Blue Devils (3-1) (0-0) at Wake Forest Demon Deacons (3-1) (1-1): As has been detailed ad nauseum, Wake has beaten Duke in 12 straight meetings — which is more amazing when you consider that they’ve played each and every season since 1967. The Blue Devils, obviously, are looking to get to 4-1 here, and inch themselves closer to that bowl bid which has alluded them since 1994. For the Deacs, the key advantage will be in pass defense, as they’ve held opponents to just 211 yards per game through the air this season. If Duke can manage to run the ball a bit (has not been a strong point under David Cutcliffe), maybe there’s hope. But otherwise, we could be looking at a very rough afternoon against the Wake DBs. Prediction: Wake Forest 26, Duke 21

Idaho Vandals (0-4) at North Carolina Tar Heels (2-2) (0-1): Idaho is really struggling on both side of the ball in 2012, and this game won’t likely make things any easier for the Vandals. While North Carolina has been fairly inconsistent on offense, the theory is that QB Bryn Renner has continued to take in more and more while operating on a steep learning curve, and the numbers (nearly 1,200 passing yards and 11 TDs) surely reflect that. The best way to ensure that trend continues is returning a healthy Giovani Bernard, too. After missing two games with a knee injury, the sophomore was efficient on limited touches last weekend. As he continues to get back up to speed, he’ll regain his game-changing form and help ease the pressure on Renner, too. Prediction: UNC 52, Idaho 14

Clemson Tigers (3-1) (0-1) at Boston College Eagles (1-2) (0-1): It’s tough to get a read on Boston College just yet, given they’ve only played two games, and their two losses have both come by just nine points apiece. Despite some breakdowns toward the end of both the Miami and Northwestern games, there’s an obvious change in the air for the Eagles too — especially given the new-look offense under offensive coordinator Doug Martin. Averaging 317 passing yards per game, the BC offense could put a scare into Clemson. But in spite of the Tigers’ defensive woes, there are just too many weapons for BC defensive backs to keep up with all game. Prediction: Clemson 38, Boston College 28

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (3-0) at Virginia Cavaliers (2-2) (0-1): This was not the year for UVA to schedule a “cupcake” like Louisiana Tech, since the Bulldogs are currently 3-0 and averaging nearly 55 points per game. The Hoos, on the other hand, appear to be moving in the opposite direction. Losers of two straight, Virginia has yet to score over 20 points on a FBS opponent, and one of their largest strengths (the running game) has turned into a glaring, persistent issue. Plus, there’s the obvious quarterback controversy between Phillips Sims and Michael Rocco. No wonder Tech is favored here. Prediction: Louisiana Tech 42, Virginia 36

Virginia Tech Hokies (3-1) (1-0) vs. Cincinnati Bearcats (2-0) (in Landover, Md.): Tech came into 2012 with higher expectations, sure. But this game is rife with potential for an upset. The Cincinnati defense has been a force, and even ran right through Pitt, the team that handed the Hokies their only loss (so, Tech, you’ve been transitive’d). It’s tough to see Virginia Tech suddenly fix its offensive woes overnight, which means the onus once again falls directly on Logan Thomas. If he can stay upright against the Bearcats’ defense, obviously VPI stands a better chance of winning. I’m unsure if that’s realistic, however, which is why I’m picking another loss for a Virginia school. Prediction: Cincinnati 23, Virginia Tech 20

Florida State Seminoles (4-0) (2-0) at USF Bulls (2-2): As has consistently been the case under head coach Skip Holtz, the Bulls find themselves on shaky ground early on in the season. This is never a positive, but that fact is especially magnified when the number-four team in the country, Florida State comes to town. With game-changers as nearly every position on the defensive side, the ‘Noles will not be intimidated by USF’s passing game; flushing quarterback B.J Daniels out of the pocket and forcing him to make tough throws to the outside. On the other side of the ball, FSU quarterback EJ Manuel looks like a new man after last weekend’s big Clemson win. There’s little doubt he’ll be carving up the Bulls’ secondary in much the same way he tore through the Tigers’ on Saturday night. Prediction: Florida St. 49, USF 24

Last Week: 9-2; 2012 Season: 36-11

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8 thoughts on “ACC Football 2012 Previews & Predictions: Week Five

  1. Well, Georgia Tech failed miserably today. Lost to MTSU by 21.

    Hopefully Virginia Tech and Virginia will do a lot better. North Carolina is taking care of business against (pitiful) Idaho right now.

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