ACC Football 2013 Previews & Predictions: Week 7

Logan Thomas and the Virginia Tech Hokies Aim for Win No. 6 vs. Pitt

Logan Thomas and the Virginia Tech Hokies Aim for Win No. 6 on the Season vs. Pitt

As the country wraps up non-conference schedules for the most part and dives head-long into league play, we get this final middle of the road week of ACC football. It’s not that the matchups are bad, of course. We just know that next week’s slate is chock-full of more interesting story lines and a likely ACC showcase for College Gameday. Just like normal, we’re running down the list of every ACC (plus Louisville) game and predicting outcomes that will almost undoubtedly be wrong. Have some picks of your own? Predict away in the comments!

Game of the Week

Pittsburgh Panthers (3-1) (2-1) at Virginia Tech Hokies (5-1) (2-0): Both of these teams were pummeled in their respective season openers, and yet both have also managed to rebound nicely and factor into the early Coastal Division race. Of course, Tech’s five wins have been against a bit heftier competition than Pitt’s had over the last month, so it’s tough to consider them “equal” at this time. The Panthers’ wideouts have played out of their minds of late, but can they do so once again when facing the ACC’s top defensive unit? If the Hokies’ corners can keep containment along the outside, it’ll certainly be a tough task — especially since Pitt doesn’t have much of a running game. Their own defense will also pose a challenge to Virginia Tech, however, testing Logan Thomas to keep up his mistake-free ways. If he can do that, you have to believe the Hokies pull off yet another conference victory. Prediction: Virginia Tech 26, Pittsburgh 17

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

Rutgers Scarlet Knights (4-1) at Louisville Cardinals (5-0): Don’t be fooled the same way some poll voters have. SUNJ’s 4-1 record is mostly a mirage, built on the backs of college football bottom-feeders and a narrow escape against SMU last week. Formidable teams have been able to score at will on the Scarlet Knights this year (twice allowed 50 points or more), and that makes Louisville’s job rather easy. Teddy Bridgewater should have no problem spreading the field against this defense, and even if the running game fails to get going early, they’ll be plenty of time for handoffs later. Louisville’s not overlooking this one as it might be their “toughest” game all year, so don’t expect them to sleepwalk through. Prediction: Louisville 42, SUNJ 20

Navy Midshipmen (3-1) at Duke Blue Devils (3-2) (0-2): Navy’s rushing defense (85th in the country) is a problem for the Midshipmen right off the bat, so don’t be surprised to see Duke quarterback Brandon Connette running even more than normal. Lost in the shuffle of his many interceptions, Connette’s actually collected a pretty stellar set of statistics both on the ground and through the air (1,246 total yards and 17 scores), and should continue to rack up more against a so-so Navy D. Duke’s defense hasn’t been much better against the ground game, but they do have the excuse of facing Georgia Tech. The line’s close on this one (-3 for Duke), but I see the Blue Devils winning comfortably. Prediction: Duke 35, Navy 20

Virginia Cavaliers (2-3) (0-1) at Maryland Terrapins (4-1) (0-1): Two teams that suffered embarrassing losses last week face off for the final time as conference rivals. It’s tough to get a read on who will rebound quicker — mostly because C.J. Brown‘s status is still uncertain for the Terps — but despite the 63-0 bludgeoning, I do still believe Maryland’s the better team of these two. As long as whoever’s at quarterback can get the ball to Stefon Diggs and Deon Long, they stand a good chance against a UVa team that’s had trouble scoring all season. We’ll also get to see the Terrapins’ new-look secondary in action, now that Dexter McDougle‘s out for the season. I’ll think they’ll do just fine. Prediction: Maryland 30, Virginia 21

Syracuse Orange (2-3) (0-1) at NC State Wolfpack (3-2) (0-2): Like Maryland, the Wolfpack also have QB uncertainty heading into this one, as we wait to find out if original starter Brandon Mitchell is healthy enough to re-take over the reins. As more of a true dual-threat, Mitchell could pose some problems for a Syracuse team that’s struggled to contain mobile passers in the past. SU also faces a challenge in the already questionable secondary, after losing corner Keon Lyn for the year. The key will likely be in the trenches, however, with the Orange pass-rush, largely manned by its linebackers, causing havoc for whomever’s throwing the ball for the Pack. It’ll be a tight game, but nervously picking Syracuse to eek this one out. Prediction: Syracuse 27, NC State 24

Boston College Eagles (3-2) (1-0) at Clemson Tigers (5-0) (3-0): Boston College has had a rough time against nationally-relevant programs this season (two losses were to USC and Florida State), and Clemson falls in that same category. The Tigers have a ton of speed on the outside and the Eagles’ offensive line will be thoroughly tested while trying to block Vic Beasley. Clemson’s one-dimensional attack could potentially pose an issue, though as we saw against Syracuse last week, that didn’t much matter at all since they just proceeded to pass the ball more. Another Tiger blowout clinches Gameday for next week. Prediction: Clemson 48, Boston College 21

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (3-2) (2-2) at BYU Cougars (3-2): Georgia Tech’s two recent losses are deceptive, only in that they’re against the top two teams in the Coastal Division. Obviously at this point, the Wreck aren’t one of those two, so it’s no shock to see them drop both. In the other three contests, however, they’ve looked like a pretty well-oiled offensive machine and the defense has truly taken steps forward from last season. The rushing D is currently ranked among the nation’s top 30, which will come in handy against a BYU team that likes to run the ball quite a bit. There’s also the East Coast-West Coast (-ish, they’re on Mountain Time) travel weirdness that always seems to happen in games like this. Georgia Tech will have their hands full, but they’re capable of getting enough containment on Taysom Hill to come away with this one — albeit barely. Prediction: Georgia Tech 38, BYU 34

Last Week: 6-2; Season: 53-7

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