Nice start for the ACC this season — now let’s see if the conference can keep it up. Just like normal, we’re running down the list of every ACC (plus Louisville) game and predicting outcomes that will almost undoubtedly be wrong. As is customary when the games are primarily of the out-of-conference variety, we’re splitting things up into two posts to make things more easily digestible. You’re welcome, and happy football season!
Game of the Week
Florida Gators (1-0) at Miami Hurricanes (1-0) (0-0): The in-state rivals meet again, though maybe for the last time for the foreseeable future. Still, Saturday’s matchup ends up being one of the marquee early non-conference contests, as both squads are in the top 25. The Gators’ strength is their strong defense, while the offense continues to sputter along, similar to last season. Obviously a defensive struggle doesn’t suit this high-scoring Miami team, but it may be the only way to beat Florida. Against an aggressive secondary and pass-rush, there’s no guarantee Stephen Morris will be able to pass the ball effectively, which puts productivity on Duke Johnson‘s shoulders. Florida’s got a strong run defense, but I believe Johnson can allow Miami to control the clock and pull out a big (and atypical) win. Prediction: Miami 20, Florida 17
The Rest of the Slate (in order of start time):
Wake Forest Demon Deacons (1-0) (0-0) at Boston College Eagles (1-0) (0-0): Messy first halves for both teams last week gave way to much stronger second halves and ultimately wins against FCS schools. So which versions of Wake and BC are we going to see tomorrow night? From what we’ve observed so far, it looks like defense will be guiding force for both, which means a low-scoring affair. But who has the edge? The Deacons’ secondary forced six turnovers against an overmatched Presbyterian team, while the Eagles notched four against Villanova. Wake held the Blue Hose to a lot less yardage, but the Wildcats are definitely the better of the two FCS opponents. It’ll be close, though it’ll be the Deacs’ offense that comes up with the late play for the victory. Prediction: Wake Forest 21, Boston College 17
Eastern Kentucky Colonels (1-0) at Louisville Cardinals (1-0): Louisville had made the conscious decision to just be a death machine this season, and I don’t really see the problem with it. After flying right through Ohio last week, it’s very unlikely Eastern Kentucky gives them many — if any — problems at all. Teddy Bridgewater should make short work of the Colonels’ secondary, and is likely to be pulled by mid-way through the third. Expect a lot of points. Prediction: Louisville 70, Eastern Kentucky 7
Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (1-0) at North Carolina Tar Heels (0-1) (0-0): Middle Tennessee allowed 24 points to Western Carolina last week, so you can only imagine what’s going to happen this week against a very powerful Tar Heels offense. UNC is undoubtedly a bit disappointed with last week’s loss to start the season, which should mean a lot of fireworks in this one to make up for it. As long as the offensive line looks better (and it should), QB Bryn Renner should have plenty of time to throw, keeping this offense chugging along. After a lackluster effort from the run game too, expect both A.J. Blue and Romar Morris to receive plenty of carries to shake off any remaining rust in prep for the rest of the season. Prediction: North Carolina 48, MTSU 17
South Carolina State Bulldogs (0-1) at Clemson Tigers (1-0) (0-0): SC State suffered a tough loss to Coastal Carolina to start their season, so one can only imagine what’s in store for them when heading down to Clemson. Tajh Boyd should have a field day against the Bulldogs’ secondary, taking advantage of a severe height and speed difference in favor of his receivers. The Tigers’ defense should also have an opportunity to try out some new things, which they could not do against an elite opening opponent like Georgia. Expect turnovers and another strong game from defensive end Vic Beasley, who should add a few more sacks to his already league-leading total. Prediction: Clemson 68, SC State 14
Looking for the rest? Go check out part 2!