Welcome to part two of this week’s previews and predictions! Here’s part one if you missed it.
Western Carolina Catamounts (0-1) at Virginia Tech Hokies (0-1) (0-0): The Hokies are hungry to put last week’s disaster behind them, and rightfully so. Despite holding Alabama to just 206 yards of offense, special teams and their own offensive mistakes ultimately doomed them to a lopsided loss. Logan Thomas isn’t the only reason the offense was completely ineffective on Saturday — plenty of receivers dropped passes — but it still appears that he hasn’t progressed past last season’s struggles. He’ll have an opportunity to shake that feeling this weekend, however, against the incredibly overmatched Catamounts. The 41.5-point line on this one sounds a bit aggressive, but there’s no reason why Tech shouldn’t win handedly. Prediction: Virginia Tech 41, WCU 7
Oregon Ducks (1-0) at Virginia Cavaliers (1-0) (0-0): Virginia’s defense bailed them out last week, as the offense still attempts to get its bearings with David Watford at the helm. This week, it’s unlikely they’re so lucky, though. The Ducks will have two Heisman candidates (Marcus Mariota, De’Anthony Thomas) on the field on nearly every offensive play, plus more team speed than the Hoos can possibly compete with all at once. It shouldn’t be seen as a sign of a season dead in the water for Virginia, but Oregon is going to run away with this one. Improved defense or not, there’s just very little UVa can do about it. Prediction: Oregon 49, Virginia 13
Old Dominion Monarchs (0-1) at Maryland Terrapins (1-0) (0-0): Maryland looks like a team reborn after last week’s offensive showing (43 points), while Old Dominion actually doesn’t look too shabby themselves after putting up 38 in a loss to East Carolina. But the Terps should have very little trouble in this game. The defense, though young, looks like it may be able to measure up to last season’s standards, and as long as everyone stays healthy (no guarantee), the offense should continue firing on all cylinders. C.J. Brown should have plenty of protection when operating out of the pocket, and given ODU’s status still transitioning to the FBS, he’ll probably be able to take advantage of a size discrepancy while on the run as well. Prediction: Maryland 52, ODU 20
Duke Blue Devils (1-0) (0-0) at Memphis Tigers (0-0): Duke looked impressive last week, but against a team like N.C. Central, you really don’t have much choice in that regard. Given the scrimmage-type nature of the game though, it’ll be tough to gauge what type of offense we’ll see from the Blue Devils on Saturday. Last week’s gameplan was very run-heavy, utilizing a ton of ball-carriers to rack up 257 yards on the ground. Anthony Boone played limited snaps at quarterback, but was highly accurate (16-for-20), while Brandon Connette also managed to toss a couple touchdown passes. I think we’ll see a return to the pass against the Tigers, though if they can establish a dominant running game, this offense does really take on a whole new appearance in comparison to last year’s one-dimensional attack. Prediction: Duke 36, Memphis 17
Richmond Spiders (1-0) at NC State Wolfpack (1-0) (0-0): Both Richmond and NC State both came out in a flurry of offense last week, so one would think that’ll be the prevalent factor in this contest between the two teams. Spiders’ QB Michael Strauss is a big passer (6’3″ and 209 pounds), though his expertise lies in preying on FCS defenses. Still, it’ll be interesting to watch how he deals with State’s inexperienced secondary. The Pack, on the other hand, give backup passer Pete Thomas his first start for the team, though he played plenty in the opener. Though marginally accurate in game one, he was still effective, while even deferring to the run game, which you’d assume will once again be the case. Richmond may stick around for a bit, but NC State should be able to put this one away by the third quarter or so. Prediction: NC State 39, Richmond 21
Syracuse Orange (0-1) (0-0) at Northwestern Wildcats (1-0): It was a rough start for SU against Penn State, as the defense played extremely well, while the offense appeared to lack any direction at all. That will be an issue against Northwestern, who gets by on offensive firepower and is likely to try and drag the Orange into a shootout much like last season’s contest between the teams (won 42-41 by NU). For the ‘Cuse, the key is to prevent big plays and force mistakes (they had four takeaways against the Nittany Lions). On the other side of the ball, Syracuse can’t allow the Wildcats to get a ton of pressure on QB Drew Allen, who’s still learning the playbook and appeared very green to most observers on Saturday and may not be able to course-correct that quickly. Prediction: Northwestern 30, Syracuse 21
Last Week: 12-2; Season: 12-2