Week 2: ACC Previews & Predictions

Pittsburgh (1-0) at Boston College (1-0) Sept. 5, 7:00, ESPN

Here’s The Deal: A couple of former Big East rivals, who are now members of the ACC, will renew acquaintances for the first time in a decade. Pitt and Boston College won as heavy opening day favorites over Delaware and Massachusetts, respectively. But now the programs are going to get a much better idea of where they stand in 2014. While the Panthers coasted, 62-0, the Eagles were unable to shake the Minutemen until late in the second half.
Why Pittsburgh Might Win: Okay, it came against the Blue Hens, but Pitt played exceptionally well in the opener. The line created massive holes for James Conner and the rest of the backs, QB Chad Voytik was comfortable in his new role and the D pitched a shutout. The O-line should enjoy another banner effort against an Eagle defensive front sorely lacking in playmakers.
Why Boston College Might Win: Sure, the Panther D-line survived its first game without Aaron Donald, but Delaware is not BC. Steve Addazio’s Eagles operate with a physical mindset, bullying opponents with C Andy Gallik and an otherwise salty front wall. Pitt is liable to get exposed this week by running backs Myles Willis and Tyler Rouse, and shifty QB Tyler Murphy.
Who To Watch Out For: Boston College has a major problem at wide receiver, which will allow Pitt to narrow the field. The Panthers, on the other hand, boast a superstar in Tyler Boyd. But will the sophomore receiver be ready to go? He suffered a dislocated finger that could limit his effectiveness and availability.
What’s Going To Happen: Paul Chryst’s third team at Pitt already looks different than the first two versions. The Panthers are a lot more physical, particularly along the offensive line. Boston College is tough under Addazio, but the Eagles are light on playmakers, which will cost them Friday. Conner will again roll, while Voytik outplays Murphy in the battle of the undersized multi-dimensional quarterbacks.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 30 … Boston College 22
Line: Pitt -4.5; O/U: 50
Must Watch Factor: (5: Hacked and Leaked Photos of Kate Upton … 1: Hacked and Leaked Photos of Kate Upton and Justin Verlander) … 2

Georgia Tech (1-0) at Tulane (0-1) Sept. 6, 4:00, ESPNEWS

Here’s The Deal: There’s nothing like debuting a brand-new $73 million facility to erase the memory of a squandered opportunity. Tulane let Tulsa off the ropes in Week 1, falling in a game it led throughout. Excitement and optimism, though, will be in the air on Saturday, as the Green Wave unveils Yulman Stadium. A crucial season for Georgia Tech and head coach Paul Johnson started with a 38-19 win over Wofford that was much closer than the final tally indicated.
Why Georgia Tech Might Win: Remember when the Yellow Jackets had a dangerous downfield element to their trademark triple-option ground game? Yeah, they could be tapping back into that wrinkle in 2014. First-time starting QB Justin Thomas was dynamic in the opener, throwing for 282 yards and two scores to go along with his team-high 71 rushing yards. Tulane was torched through the air by Tulsa last week.
Why Tulane Might Win: Excitement abounds concerning the Green Wave attack. The new backfield in New Orleans is brimming with potential. Redshirt freshmen Tanner Lee and Sherman Badie are off to fast starts, throwing three touchdown passes and rushing for 215 yards, respectively. Georgia Tech did not look good versus the run, allowing 271 yards to ground-based Wofford.
Who To Watch Out For: The next big thing—literally—at wide receiver on the Flats is DeAndre Smelter, a former Yellow Jacket baseball player. The 6-3, 225-pound late-bloomer was Thomas’ favorite target last week, turning five grabs into 132 yards and two touchdowns. He’ll be an interesting draw for the ball-hawking Tulane secondary.
What’s Going To Happen: There’ll be a fresh energy in Yulman Stadium that was never palpable in the cavernous Superdome. The Green Wave is going to feed off it. Sure, Tulane will bow to the Georgia Tech rushing attack. But the Green Wave has the emerging stars needed to keep pace. It’ll christen its new building with a momentous upset of the Yellow Jackets.
Prediction: Tulane 33 … Georgia Tech 32
Line: Georgia Tech -10; O/U: 52.5
Must Watch Factor: (5: Hacked and Leaked Photos of Kate Upton … 1: Hacked and Leaked Photos of Kate Upton and Justin Verlander) … 2

San Diego State (1-0) at North Carolina (1-0) Sept. 6, 8:00, ESPNEWS

Here’s The Deal: San Diego State makes a rare trip out East to play in Chapel Hill for the first time in school history. The Aztecs, which are hoping to contend in the Mountain West this season, opened the year with a lay-up over Northern Arizona. No. 23 North Carolina, too, defeated an FCS opponent, Liberty, in Week 1, but needed a third-quarter outburst to pull away. The Heels want to build momentum during the non-conference slate, with an eye on eventually winning the ACC Coastal.
Why San Diego State Might Win: Rocky Long’s frenetic defense will cause problems for a Carolina O-line breaking in three new starters. The Aztecs will bring the heat whenever it’s feasible. On offense, San Diego State are balanced, thanks to the running of Donnel Pumphrey and the big-play catches from Ezell Ruffin. The Heels must still address questions about their run defense.
Why North Carolina Might Win: San Diego State will attack, but will Long accept the results? The Aztecs have three newcomers in the secondary, and banged-up linebackers Josh Gavert and Jake Fely are missed. The Tar Heels have plenty of options for emerging QB Marquise Williams, including speedy RB T.J. Logan and receivers Quinshad Davis, Bug Howard and Ryan Switzer. All of these Heels are capable stretching out the San Diego State D.
Who To Watch Out For: The Carolina secondary is getting a big boost from the returns off suspension of Des Lawrence, Donnie Miles, M.J. Stewart and Brian Walker. Walker and Lawrence will start at cornerback, challenging Aztec QB Quinn Kaehler to complete more than just dump-offs and short tosses.
What’s Going To Happen: Carolina’s quest to make a statement in 2014 begins with this visit from San Diego State. The Aztecs will attack, but Williams has the poise to capitalize on a one-speed defense, making the right reads when the pocket is compromised. He’ll build more distance on backup Mitch Trubisky by accounting for four touchdowns in a comfortable Tar Heel win.
Prediction: North Carolina 41 … San Diego State 24
Line: North Carolina -15; O/U: 60
Must Watch Factor: (5: Hacked and Leaked Photos of Kate Upton … 1: Hacked and Leaked Photos of Kate Upton and Justin Verlander) … 2.5

South Carolina State (1-0) at Clemson (0-1) Sept. 6, 12:30, ACC Network

Here’s The Deal: Clemson put up a valiant effort for about three quarters in Athens, but eventually wilted in the face of RB Todd Gurley and the Georgia linebackers. It was a learning experience for the Tigers, who have just this game with South Carolina State before travelling to Tallahassee for a make-or-break game at Florida State. South Carolina State, one of the MEAC favorites, opened with a 63-0 blanking of Division II Benedict.
Why South Carolina State Might Win: The Bulldogs are strong on both lines, bolstered by a handful of all-league candidates. The Justin Taylor-led backfield is deep, which will give South Carolina State fresh legs in the second half on a sultry day.
Why Clemson Might Win: The Tigers are flush with quality athletes, many of whom are itching to get past last week’s frustrating loss Between the Hedges. The defense is the best the Bulldogs will see all year, and WR Mike Williams and RB C.J. Davidson are itching for breakout games.
Who To Watch Out For: Is there a brewing quarterback controversy in Death Valley? Cole Stoudt is the starter for now, but the future belongs to true freshman Deshaun Watson, who threw a touchdown pass in his debut. In this type of game, the rookie should see extensive action, especially in the second half.
What’s Going To Happen: Last week, South Carolina State was the hammer. This week, it’ll be the nail. The Bulldogs are a solid FCS program, but they won’t match up well with a hungry bunch of Tigers playing their home opener.
Prediction: Clemson 52 … South Carolina State 10
Line: No Line
Must Watch Factor: (5: Hacked and Leaked Photos of Kate Upton … 1: Hacked and Leaked Photos of Kate Upton and Justin Verlander) … 1.5

Richmond (1-0) at Virginia (0-1) Sept. 6, 3:30, ESPN3

Here’s The Deal: Richmond and Virginia renew a rivalry of teams separated by a short drive west on I-64. The Cavaliers earned a moral victory with their effort versus No. 7 UCLA, falling 28-20, but if Mike London can’t cop a win versus his former employer this weekend, his fate could be sealed in Charlottesville. Richmond is perennially one of the top programs out of the CAA. The Spiders beat up on Morehead State, 55-10, to kick off the new year.
Why Richmond Might Win: The Spider passing game is a handful, even for the talented UVa secondary. QB Michael Strauss, a Cavalier castoff, has next-level aspirations, and Stephen Barnette headlines a talented corps of receivers. Richmond has the better quarterback in this game, which gives the underdog a shot.
Why Virginia Might Win: The Cavs are the best defense that the Spiders will face all season. Virginia held UCLA, which is led by a Heisman-contending quarterback, to just one offensive touchdown, getting banner days out of S Anthony Harris and linebackers Max Valles, Daquan Romero and Henry Coley.
Who To Watch Out For: Who’s your quarterback, coach? London started Greyson Lambert before turning to Matt Johns, who threw two touchdown passes. The coach better get this decision right, especially since both of Richmond’s quarterbacks began their careers in C’ville.
What’s Going To Happen: Danger lurks ahead for Virginia, which won’t be caught off guard this weekend. Richmond can absolutely win this game, especially if the Cavaliers are suffering a UCLA hangover. The Cavs will survive a nail-biter on the back of a very good D.
Prediction: Virginia 24 … Richmond 22
Line: No Line
Must Watch Factor: (5: Hacked and Leaked Photos of Kate Upton … 1: Hacked and Leaked Photos of Kate Upton and Justin Verlander) … 1.5

Gardner-Webb (0-1) at Wake Forest (0-1) Sept. 6, 6:30

Here’s The Deal: Dave Clawson endured an inauspicious debut as the Wake Forest head coach, losing 17-10 at Louisiana-Monroe. Clawson knew he was facing a steep climb, one that’ll measure progress in ways that’ll transcend box scores and standings. The Deacons will get a welcome visit this weekend from Gardner-Webb, the Big South contender that opened with a 13-3 loss to No. 18 Furman.
Why Gardner-Webb Might Win: No, it wasn’t evident in Week 1, but the Runnin’ Bulldogs could have more offensive weapons than the Demon Deacons, which tallied just five first downs and 94 yards last week. WR Kenny Cook, RB Juanne Blount and TE Mike Estes are all gifted playmakers.
Why Wake Forest Might Win: The defense, particularly the secondary, will keep the Deacons in games this year versus mediocre opponents. Wake Forest has the stoppers to contain Cook, while LB Brandon Chubb is coming off an impressive 18-tackle performance in the loss to the Warhawks.
Who To Watch Out For: Patience will be the buzzword this fall when the subject is the Wake Forest offense. QB John Wolford is just a few months removed from Bishop Kenny (Fla.) High School, so it’s important for his confidence not to be shattered. It’s also important for the Deacons to develop players to support the young hurler.
What’s Going To Happen: This is a game Wake Forest can win, and it won’t squander the opportunity to hand Clawson his first victory in Winston-Salem. Style points will be non-existent, as the Deacons lean on their D to set the tone.
Prediction: Wake Forest 23 … Gardner-Webb 16
Line: No Line
Must Watch Factor: (5: Hacked and Leaked Photos of Kate Upton … 1: Hacked and Leaked Photos of Kate Upton and Justin Verlander) … 1

The Citadel (0-1) at Florida State (1-0) Sept. 6, 7:30, RSN

Here’s The Deal: The nation’s top-ranked team remained in the pole position. But it was tougher than everyone expected. Florida State had its hands full with Oklahoma State on Saturday night, getting out of Texas with a hard-fought 37-31 victory. The Seminoles will use this week’s visit from The Citadel to fine-tune the offense and defense before ACC play kicks off with a visit from Clemson. The Bulldogs open their season with back-to-back highly-ranked opponents; this week’s Tallahassee trip precedes a 31-16 loss to FCS No. 5 Coastal Carolina.
Why The Citadel Might Win: Unlike a year ago, the Noles are not invincible. The defense showed creases against the run, and the offense lacked pop when the ball wasn’t in WR Rashad Greene’s hands. The Bulldogs are going to pound it on the ground, attempting to slow down the game by taxing the legs of QB Aaron Miller and backs Tyler Renew, Jake Stenson and Vinny Miller.
Why Florida State Might Win: After yielding 434 yards to the Chanticleers, The Citadel cannot feel confident about facing the Seminoles. The Noles will use the Bulldogs as an opportunity to get the ground game humming, and to locate more weapons in the passing game for Jameis Winston. At the point of attack, Florida State will dominate this game.
Who To Watch Out For: With an upcoming break before Clemson visits, Florida State will go full throttle for the first 30 minutes before turning the game over to the backups. Jimbo Fisher wants to see more hunger from his players, which is bad news for the Bulldogs.
What’s Going To Happen: 
Prediction: Florida State 61 … The Citadel 10
Line: No Line
Must Watch Factor: (5: Hacked and Leaked Photos of Kate Upton … 1: Hacked and Leaked Photos of Kate Upton and Justin Verlander) … 1.5

Old Dominion (1-0) at NC State (1-0) Sept. 6, 6:00, ESPN3

Here’s The Deal: The good news is that NC State’s eight-game losing streak is over. The bad? It was only made possible by a visit from Georgia Southern. The Pack needed a frenetic fourth-quarter rally to avert disaster, a comeback second-year coach Dave Doeren hopes can be a turning point for his inconsistent team. Old Dominion began life as a Conference USA member by outclassing Howard, 41-28. A trip to Raleigh provides a chance for a first-ever win over a Power Five team.
Why Old Dominion Might Win: The Monarchs harbor the better quarterback in this game, and possibly the better overall attack. Taylor Heinicke is a proven playmaker, who will not be rattled by an ACC team. The Pack did not get to the quarterback last weekend, a concern with Heinicke coming to Carter-Finley.
Why NC State Might Win: The ODU offense is FBS-Caliber. The D, though, most certainly is not. Remember, this Monarch defense is a slightly older version of the one that yielded 80 to North Carolina to close 2013. The Pack will pick up where it left off in Week 1 behind the running of Shadrach Thornton and the passing of Jacoby Brissett to Matt Dayes and rookie Bo Hines.
Who To Watch Out For: Pack DT T.Y. McGill played well versus Georgia Southern, but now he has to turn more pressures into sacks. Old Dominion will give the senior that opportunity since they’ll throw about three times more than GSU did on Saturday.
What’s Going To Happen: Roster-wise, Old Dominion is still kind of an FCS team, with one special player. Heinicke will keep things close for a while, but the Monarch D won’t pull its weight, as NC State builds on last week’s strong finish.
Prediction: NC State 38 … Old Dominion 27
Line: NC State -16; O/U: 64
Must Watch Factor: (5: Hacked and Leaked Photos of Kate Upton … 1: Hacked and Leaked Photos of Kate Upton and Justin Verlander) … 1.5

Murray State (1-0) at Louisville (1-0) Sept. 6, 7:00, ESPN3

Here’s The Deal: Louisville’s debut as an ACC member was a positive one, beating Miami, 31-13, in front of a delighted home crowd on Labor Day night. The game also marked the start of Bobby Petrino’s second tour of duty with the Cardinals, one loaded with anticipation and excitement. Murray State is an Ohio Valley Conference team headed in the right direction, though, not too much can be taken from a Week 1 obliteration of NAIA Union (KY).
Why Murray State Might Win: The Racers are catching the Cardinals on a short week, and in between games with ACC opponents. Louisville is liable to be gassed and unfocused, which could provide an opening for Murray State QB CJ Bennett to consistently move his team downfield.
Why Louisville Might Win: The Cards are far from a finished product, but Monday’s win over Miami showed that the team is flush with speed … on both sides of the ball. The retooled defense was a pleasant surprise, particularly Lorenzo Mauldin and Deiontrez Mount off the edge, keeping the Canes’ more incendiary weapons from ever doing much damage.
Who To Watch Out For: Will Gardner and the Louisville passing game need time to bloom, especially as WR DeVante Parker heals. In the meantime, the offense can count on balance coming from RB Dominique Brown, who carried 33 times for 143 yards and a score on Monday.
What’s Going To Happen: It’ll take a quarter or so for Louisville to get cranking, but once it does it’ll zip past the Racers for an easy win. This is a good for Gardner to get more comfortable with his receivers, who dropped too many balls last week.
Prediction: Louisville 51 … Murray State 16
Line: No Line
Must Watch Factor: (5: Hacked and Leaked Photos of Kate Upton … 1: Hacked and Leaked Photos of Kate Upton and Justin Verlander) … 1.5

Florida A&M (0-1) at Miami (0-1) Sept. 6, 7:00, ESPN3

Here’s The Deal: A Labor Day loss to Louisville was evidence that Miami still has a long way to go, even as it pertains to the ACC Coastal race. The Hurricanes are young, most notably at quarterback, and the defense is a recurring problem when LB Denzel Perryman is out of the play. Miami gets a much-needed break on a short week with a visit from Florida A&M of the MEAC. The Rattlers fell in their opener with Jackson State, 22-17, on a 49-yard Hail Mary.
Why Florida A&M Might Win: The Canes right now look like a middling ACC team, one coming off just five days of rest. Their offense is unbalanced, the O-line blocked poorly and the D was soft at the point of attack. The Rattlers’ veteran secondary is capable of frustrating rookie Miami QB Brad Kaaya.
Why Miami Might Win: If necessary, RB Duke Johnson will put the Canes on his pads and carry them this Saturday. The junior showed a lot of bounce and acceleration in his return from last year’s broken ankle. He and WR Stacy Coley, among others, possess the explosiveness to ignite a spark beneath the slogging Miami offense.
Who To Watch Out For: It was a rough start for Kaaya, but that’s no surprise. He was in high school just a few months ago, and his line did an awful job of protecting him. The quarterback gets this game and next week’s visit from Arkansas State to prepare for a Sept. 20 trip to Nebraska.
What’s Going To Happen: It’s back to the film room for Miami, which has plenty of work to do between now and the resumption of ACC play. A return home to face an FCS team will help the Canes address their issues on offense, defense and special teams.
Prediction: Miami 48 … Florida A&M 9
Line: No Line
Must Watch Factor: (5: Hacked and Leaked Photos of Kate Upton … 1: Hacked and Leaked Photos of Kate Upton and Justin Verlander) … 1.5

Duke (1-0) at Troy (0-1) Sept. 6, 7:00, ESPN3

Here’s The Deal: Duke began defense of its Coastal Division crown by easily disposing of Elon, 52-13. The Blue Devils face a tissue-soft first month of the season before kicking things off with a Sept. 27 trip to Miami to open ACC play. Troy’s pursuit of its first winning season since 2010 is off to a rocky start. The Trojans were schooled by UAB, 48-10, a result that heaps even more pressure on venerable coach Larry Blakeney.
Why Duke Might Win: The Trojans got trucked by lowly UAB last week in every phase of the game. They do not match up well with the Blue Devils, who have a huge edge behind center. Anthony Boone is a veteran with weapons, while Troy rookie Brandon Silvers will struggle with a ball-hawking Duke secondary.
Why Troy Might Win: Duke has holes in the front seven, especially after all-league LB Kelby Brown was lost for the season. Troy is going to lean hard on its backfield depth, softening the Blue Devils with a collaboration of Brandon Burks, Jordan Chunn and Khary Franklin.
Who To Watch Out For: Sophomore QB Thomas Sirk is auditioning to be the new Brandon Connette in Durham. Connette transferred to Fresno State, bringing his change-of-pace athleticism with him. Enter Sirk, who rushed eight times for 54 yards and two scores on Saturday.
What’s Going To Happen: Once-proud Troy is a program in disarray. Duke will capitalize with a second blowout in as many weeks, adding defensive scores to the offense’s production.
Prediction: Duke 42 … Troy 16
Line: Duke -19; O/U: 64
Must Watch Factor: (5: Hacked and Leaked Photos of Kate Upton … 1: Hacked and Leaked Photos of Kate Upton and Justin Verlander) … 1