ACC Football 2012 Previews & Predictons: Week Six

Miami’s Offense Put On a Show Last Week; Can They Repeat the Performance Against Notre Dame?

Everybody’s back in action for week six, as ACC play is now in full swing. Below we give our respective opinions on the players, coaches, issues and injuries that may end up having an impact on this weekend’s football action. There’s also a good chance that we arrive at completely different results for completely different reasons. So just be prepared for that as well.

Game of the Week

Miami Hurricanes (4-1) (3-0) at Notre Dame Fighting Irish (4-0) (in Chicago): Once a chronicle of everything “right” and “wrong” about college football, Notre Dame and Miami have not met in the regular season since 1990. Obviously the teams of 2012 are much different, even if the media relentlessly reminds you of “Catholics vs. Convicts.” Notre Dame comes into this one favored by nearly two touchdowns after their strong defensive performances to start off the season. However, they’ve yet to face a team of playmakers quite like Miami’s. If the Irish can pressure Stephen Morris into making some mistakes, they’ve got a chance. But if forced to win with offense, there’s no guarantee Notre Dame can keep up with the Hurricanes’ firepower or big-play capabilities. Despite the home crowd, this could be the day’s biggest upset. Prediction: Miami 31, Notre Dame 26

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

Pittsburgh Panthers (2-2) at Syracuse Orange (1-3): In their final meeting as Big East foes, Pitt and Syracuse appear to be moving in opposite directions. Syracuse’s special teams have been a significant issue all season, and along with their porous run defense, the Orange must continue to work on more fundamental tackling. Pitt, while suited to exploit these weaknesses, has also shown a distinct need for a balanced attack — something that may elude them on Friday night. If Syracuse can put a pass-rush on QB Tino Sunseri, and do a better job of stopping the run game, they stand a chance. Prediction: Pitt 27, Syracuse 21

Boston College Eagles (1-3) (0-2) at Army Black Knights (0-4): Army once again has a strong running game, but it hasn’t done them any good in the win column, as they still sit at 0-4. And while BC may not have the strongest run defense, I’m still tempted to believe they hold the upper hand here. Behind Chase Rettig and Alex Amidon, the Eagles’ passing attack should be more than enough to beat the Black Knights, whose pass defense is 67th in the nation in terms of yards per game. Prediction: Boston College 35, Army 20

Virginia Tech Hokies (3-2) (1-0) at North Carolina Tar Heels (3-2) (0-1): Virginia Tech has no offense to speak of. North Carolina has a questionable defense whose numbers are inflated by two shutouts versus overmatched opponents. Will the Hokies finally be able to break through? I’m not so sure anymore. The offseason issues about the inexperienced O-line and freshman running backs are impacting results, and there’s far too much pressure on QB Logan Thomas and the defense. Despite UNC’s obvious offensive advantage, I believe Tech’s the better team — albeit slightly — and will be able to pull this one out with a defense that forces errors. Prediction: Virginia Tech 27, UNC 24

Virginia Cavaliers (2-3) (0-1) at Duke Blue Devils (4-1) (1-0): A lot of our assessment here must rest on Duke QB Sean Renfree being healthy, since up to this point, we have no indication that he won’t start (he has been practicing with the team). As we saw last week, Virginia’s pass defense needs work, and the Blue Devils’ aerial attack isn’t likely to do them any favors in that department. The wildcard — beyond Renfree’s health — is UVA passer Phillip Sims, however. Getting his first start for the Cavaliers, coach Mike London is hoping Sims’s play-making ability is a nice change of pace for an offense that’s grown stagnant. While I see a bright future for Sims, I just don’t think it starts by winning this game. Prediction: Duke 38, Virginia 31

Wake Forest Demon Deacons (3-2) (1-2) at Maryland Terrapins (2-2) (0-0): Due to a slew of injuries, Wake’s been difficult to read all season. Now that they’ve lost top receiver Michael Campanaro for an extended period too, at least we know they’re going to struggle. Against a Maryland defense that’s quietly put in some great work this year, the Deacs’ inconsistent offense will have a hard time moving the ball. While on offense, the Terps will rely on budding pass-and-catch combo Perry Hills and Stefon Diggs to guide them to victory. They’ll deliver. Prediction: Maryland 33, Wake Forest 20

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (2-3) (1-2) at Clemson Tigers (4-1) (1-1): A few weeks ago, this game would’ve had the Tigers on upset alert — especially after the Wreck manhandled them last year. But following two straight disastrous defensive performances by Georgia Tech, it seems virtually impossible they’ll be able to stop the Clemson offense at all. Miami’s Stephen Morris put up just under 450 yards against this group. There’s no way they’ll contain Tajh Boyd and all the weapons he has in Chad Morris’s offense. Prediction: Clemson 48, Georgia Tech 36

Florida State Seminoles (5-0) (2-0) at NC State Wolfpack (3-2) (0-1): NC State may have showed that their offense was back last week, but the defense is another story entirely. The Seminoles’ attack is high-powered and balanced — something that will prove lethal for the Wolfpack, who rank dead-last in pass defense in the ACC. If EJ Manuel gets a rhythm going early, this contest could very well be over by midway trough the third quarter. Halftime, even, if the running backs perform as well as they have recently. Prediction: Florida State 50, NC State 24

Last Week: 5-3; 2012 Season: 41-14

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3 thoughts on “ACC Football 2012 Previews & Predictons: Week Six

  1. Various comments …

    If you predicted that at any point in this season, Maryland, Miami and Duke would be the leaders in the divisions (the remaining unbeatens in conference play), then you’re nuts … but you’re right. I don’t expect any of them (other than perhaps Miami) to be on the top by the end of the season, but … who knows.

    I went to the Terps game on Saturday. Decent crowd (40K) that was definitely loud at times (usually when the Maryland defense was on the field). The game was a bit rough but that’s what seems to happen with a really young offense. Maryland’s defense is pretty good though (other than a few of mistakes, one big coverage error that directly led to an early Wake TD).

    It looks like Virginia Tech will finally have a real off-year.

    Apparently FSU is now out of the national title race … bummer. Hopefully they’ll still do well in a bowl game (and I hope the entire conference redeems itself once bowl season arrives).

    • I’m not so sure we’ve seen the last of FSU. If NC State and Clemson continue to play at a high level, that only bolsters the Seminoles’ resume. Plus, they have a date with Florida at the end of the regular season that may be a matchup of top-7 teams as well.

      We’ve seen this before, where teams fall out of the race early and then everyone counts them out. With FSU and USC, I think their losses came early enough that they can definitely rebound. If we get a crazy year like 2007, we could see a team like Florida State make a huge leap at the end of the season, too.

      • I suppose it’s possible for FSU to get to the national title game, but with a loss to NC State combined with a weakened schedule (two FCS teams), I don’t think they have a shot unless everyone in front of them not only stumbles but stumbles badly (e.g. those teams lose to a weak team). Losing West Virginia from the schedule hurts Florida State’s argument.

        I think FSU still has a good shot at the ACC championship, and maybe has a shot of a top-5 finish, but I’d be quite surprised if they made it into the top two. (I still hope they do, but I’m trying to be realistic here.)

        I forgot to mention Boston College before. OMG. If they don’t fire Spaz soon then I don’t know what’s going on over there.

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