ACC Football 2012 Previews & Predictions: Week Seven

Struggling All Season, Will Miami’s Defense Be Able to Stop Bryn Renner and UNC’s High-Powered Offense?

One week after Florida State’s fall, I’ve chosen to move on and celebrate conference parity, as opposed to mourning the loss of the ACC‘s only national title contender. Before the season, I never bought into the league having an undefeated team, but rather, would have a collection of three or four teams in the range of 9-11 wins. This is still very possible, and still indicative of a conference that can experience football success. It’s not the end of the world. Just another roadbump. At least we always win the conference realignment championship?

Game of the Week

North Carolina Tar Heels (4-2) (1-1) at Miami Hurricanes (4-2) (3-0): It’s a matchup of dynamic offenses, and only one competent defense when the Heels head down to Miami on Saturday. Despite how even these two may look on paper, I don’t anticipate a close game. The ‘Canes allowed the decidedly UN-dynamic Notre Dame offense to run right through them last weekend, so it’s hard to believe they’ll be able to stop Larry Fedora’s fast-paced spread attack. Miami’s ranked 103rd in the country in opposing passing yardage per game, allowing nearly 287 yards through the air every contest. UNC, led by junior QB Bryn Renner, averages about the same amount. Miami’s offense should keep it closer, but it’ll be hard to pull out a win. Prediction: UNC 42, Miami 30

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

Louisville Cardinals (5-0) at Pittsburgh Panthers (2-3): Pitt’s one-point loss to Syracuse last Friday was a difficult pill to take for this team, but they’ve been down before. The key to rebounding, though, is simply running the ball better. For all the playmakers in their backfield, the Panthers only amassed 27 yards on the ground — not the type of numbers that result in wins. Louisville has a fairly staunch run defense too (allowing 130 yards per game), but the team’s now littered with questions after slogging through a supposedly easy non-conference schedule. It’ll be a tight contest, but the Cardinals should eek out the victory. Prediction: Louisville 24, Pitt 21

Syracuse Orange (2-3) at Rutgers Scarlet Knights (5-0): Much of Rutgers’ 5-0 record is the product of an easy schedule thus far. Much of Syracuse’s could be attributed to a difficult slate featuring four BCS-conference opponents in their first five games. But regardless, the Scarlet Knights have won all of their games, while SU hasn’t, so here we are. Neither team’s been all that proficient in pass defense (Syracuse ranks 62nd, while Rutgers is 98th), so despite the Knights’ methodical style, this may just turn into a shootout — which is exactly what the Orange want. ‘Cuse has more reliable playmakers in the passing game, and over the course of the season, has shown it has the ability to put up points (though not recently). Homerism aside, I’ve got Syracuse pulling one out. Prediction: Syracuse 36, Rutgers 29

Duke Blue Devils (5-1) (2-0) at Virginia Tech Hokies (3-3) (1-1): The Blue Devils have been one of the biggest surprises in the country, while the Hokies’ inability to play defense anymore may also count as a shock to most. Tech will have to rely, once again, on quarterback Logan Thomas to be the sole playmaker — a strategy that hasn’t necessarily worked up to this point. Duke, on the other hand, will be able to construct a complete gameplan against them, with Ross Cockrell leading the way on defense and some combination of Sean Renfree and Anthony Boone under center on the offensive side. I know the line’s at -10 in favor of VPI, but can the Hokies really contain the Duke offense long enough to come out with a win? Last year’s contest — between a much better Tech team and a poor Duke team — came down to a four-point margin. Expect the same this year, with the opposite outcome. Prediction: Duke 30, Virginia Tech 26

Maryland Terrapins (3-2) (1-0) at Virginia Cavaliers (2-4) (0-2): Week two of UVa’s Phillip Sims experiment has to pan out better than the first. But don’t be surprised if it doesn’t. This Terps group managed to contain West Virginia‘s offense a few weeks back, so given the Cavaliers’ issues on that side of the ball thus far, it could end up another nightmarish Saturday afternoon. On the flip side, Maryland’s had their own offensive problems, though, mostly stemming from the relative youth and inexperience of its top weapons. Up against the Hoos’ shoddy secondary though, I don’t see Perry Hills and Stefon Diggs struggling to connect. Prediction: Maryland 27, Virginia 17

Boston College Eagles (1-4) (0-2) at Florida State Seminoles (5-1) (2-1): Which Florida State team is going to show up this Saturday? The one that trudged through the past two games, or the unstoppable force that kicked off the year at 4-0? Based on the disappointment of the NC State upset, I’m tempted to think the latter, though Jimbo Fisher’s play-calling may be the deciding factor. And what of BC”s passing game? The Eagles have faced just one decent defense thus far (Northwestern), and they were largely held in check. What happens when they go up against one of the top five units in the country? Sorry Boston College fans. FSU’s not about to suffer two straight shocking upsets. Prediction: Florida St. 45, Boston College 20

Last Week: 3-4; 2012 Season: 44-18

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2 thoughts on “ACC Football 2012 Previews & Predictions: Week Seven

  1. Ouch! I know VT has struggled, but picking them to lose to Duke – at home? That’s a slap in the face! Look for the Hokies to have plenty of locker-room material for this game, which should make it uncomfortably physical for the Blue Devils.

    • If the Hokies come out swinging, and the defense resembles what we’ve seen from them in the past, I’m all for it. However, it’s just been too easy for Duke to score this season, and their defense has played extremely well (Stanford game aside). Of course I could be wrong about that game. Just hard to pick in favor of Tech based on what I’ve seen this season.

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