ACCBlogger.com picks week one in the ACC…
08/31/12 NC State vs. Tennessee (-3) (Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Ga.) / 7:30 p.m. ET / ESPNU
The Lead: Game one of the Atlanta weekend doubleheader features two under-the-radar teams in the SEC and ACC, where one or the other can make an early statement before a national audience.
Watch 4: Back-and-forth affair hinging on NC State’s running game
Not exactly the most comforting of thoughts for a Wolfpack fan, but the Vols’ vulnerability was in rush defense last season and replace its most starters on the d-line. My fear for NC State is they try to force the pass and it’s not there – Glennon struggles, and Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray counters with a solid game to pull away. Before Bray’s thumb injury last season, Tennessee ranked 10th in passing offense four games in and he passed for 14 touchdowns to two interceptions. Facing David Amerson and co. will be a challenge though – it’s up to the Wolfpack run game to keep the Vols’ D off-balance to come out of the ATL with a win.
The Picks: Brandon Rink – UT 27-24 ; Griffin Wong – UT 24-20; W. Gustin Vandiford – NCSU 27-21; J.J. Greenstein – NCSU 21-17.
09/01/12 Miami (-2.5) at Boston College / 3:30 p.m. ET / ABC (Regional)-ESPN2
The Lead: The rivalry renewe…okay, it’s just Miami-Boston College on the opening week, but for teams each picked towards the bottom of the divisions, it could serve as a nice confidence builder.
Watch 4: Miami to run until BC stops it
Before injuries plagued the 2011 BC d-line, the Eagles had finished in the top-15 nationally in rush defense the previous four seasons…and a middle-of-the-road 59th last year. The ‘Canes ran over 40+ times in its first two games last year, on the road at Maryland (32-24 loss) and at home against Ohio State (24-6 win). They feature a solid three-man rotation of Mike James, Eduardo Clements and Duke Johnson and with a big day – BC’s offensive injuries aplenty during fall camp will make it hard for the Eagles to win any type of high-scoring game.
The Picks: Rink – UM 20-17; Wong – UM 27-17; Vandiford – UM 34-10; Greenstein – UM 23-17
Clemson (-3) vs. Auburn (Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Ga.) / 7 p.m. ET / ESPN
The Lead: ACC v. SEC. Tigers v. Tigers. Rubber match of a three-game, three season series. New coordinators. Suspensions. Drama. Watch.
Watch 4: Clemson’s veteran QB to be the difference
The ACC Tigers’ o-line features three new starters and another switching from guard to left tackle, and the SEC Tigers’ o-line replace two starters and a third due to suspension. Where I see the edge is in the QB battle, with All-ACC junior Tajh Boyd versus former five-star and Auburn first-year starter Kiehl Frazier. Frazier isn’t exactly green, playing a limited role in all 13 games last season, but he’s also learning a new offensive system (Scot Loeffler, former Temple OC). Boyd finds a couple new favorite targets in Sammy Watkins’ absence to take game two of the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff for the ACC.
The Picks: Rink – CU 27-23; Wong – CU 31-20; Vandiford – AU 27-7; Greenstein – CU 35-31
FIU at Duke (-3) / 7 p.m. ET / ESPN3
The Lead: After a thriller in South Fla. last season (31-27 Blue Devils win), FIU makes the return trip to Durham, seeking a second-straight season with a road BCS win.
Watch 4: Injured Blue Devils to find a way
You should probably pick FIU. One, they return 19 starters off from a team that went 4-2 on the road (one, at Louisville, 24-17) and won 8 games last season. Two, Duke is hurting, really, really hurting. Oh, and Duke openers of late…23-21 Richmond in ‘11, 41-27 over Elon in ’10 and 24-16 Richmond in ’09 (well, maybe they just shouldn’t play Richmond). That said, the experienced o-line (88 starts) is still intact and third-year starter Sean Renfree still has his top target (Conner Vernon, All-ACC WR) after a strong game against the Golden Panthers last season (28-43 for 335 yards and two touchdowns). The key is the Duke defense holding FIU in check enough that’s it’s not a shootout.
The Picks: Rink – Duke 28-24; Wong – Duke 17-7; Vandiford – Duke 21-10; Greenstein – Duke 24-21
09/03/12 Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech (-7.5) / 8 p.m. ET / ESPN
The Lead: The battle for Tech and Coastal supremacy highlights your Labor Day in Blacksburg, in a series that’s entertained since Paul Johnson took over in Atlanta.
Watch 4: Hokies’ D to hold GT in check
The spread option effect on a game can negate a lot of road factors – Georgia Tech at 9-7 in ACC play under Paul Johnson (only Virginia Tech has had that kind of road success in the ACC at 12-4). In two previous trips to Blacksburg, Johnson’s Jackets have covered the spread, but not been able to breakthrough – and he has his best shot come Monday facing a Hokies’ squad looking for answers at several spots offensively. But as we pointed out Wednesday, the key to this game could very well be VT’s green RBs versus a rebuilt GT d-line. If Logan Thomas and co. can get a running game going, obviously – the pass will open up and it may not matter how effective the spread option is on the road. Virginia Tech hasn’t lost a divisional game since October 2009 (20-17 to UNC at Lane), and though it’ll be close, I don’t see that changing here.
The Picks: Rink – VT 31-24; Wong – VT 28-14; Vandiford – VT 24-17; Greenstein – VT 28-24
ACC v. FCS
- 09/01/12 Elon at UNC / 12:30 p.m. ET / ACC Network
The Picks: Rink – UNC 45-17; Wong – UNC 28-10; Vandiford – UNC; Greenstein – UNC 28-10
- Richmond at Virginia / 3 p.m. ET / RSN
The Picks: Rink – UVA 45-10; Wong – UVA 24-7; Vandiford – UVA 34-27; Greenstein – UVA 31-10
- William & Mary at Maryland / 3 p.m. ET / ESPN3
The Picks: Rink – MD 27-10; Wong – MD 24-13; Vandiford – MD 36-10; Greenstein – MD 17-14
- Murray State at Florida State / 6 p.m. ET / ESPN3
The Picks: Rink – FSU 56-10; Wong – FSU 41-10; Vandiford – FSU; Greenstein – FSU 52-10
- Liberty at Wake Forest / 6:30 p.m. ET / ESPN3
The Picks: Rink – Wake 38-17; Wong – Wake 28-13; Vandiford – Wake 41-16; Greenstein – Wake 31-14