ACC Weekend Football Preview: Week 3

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NC State (1-1) vs. Clemson (1-1)

Why NC State can win: For some match-ups there just aren’t too many
scenarios where you can see one team winning over the other. This is the case
with NC State on the road against Clemson. Starting QB Russell Wilson returns to
lead the 116th rated offense. Russell is going to have to produce a monster
game in order for the Wolfpack to keep pace with Clemson. Limit the turnovers to
zero, because State has no room for error. With RB’s Toney Baker and Jamelle
Eugene still out due to injury, the rushing game will fall squarely on Andre
Brown’s shoulders, and he is averaging 72 ypg. NC State has been pleasantly
surprised by their defense, which is currently ranked 61st. LB Nate Irving leads
the ACC in tackles and will get plenty of chances on Saturday to add to his
total. The Wolfpack have not faced an offense as skilled as Clemson in their
first two contests, so we will see how they hold up against better competition.

Why Clemson can win: Clemson has beaten NC State the last four times
these teams have squared off. Just last season Clemson piled up 608 yards of
offense, 340 of which were on the ground. While it doesn’t appear this Tiger
team is hitting on all cylinders, it’s hard to see them not having much
success with RB’s Davis and Spiller once again leading the charge. Look for QB
Cullen Harper to build off his 14-18, 192 yard performance from last week
against The Citadel. Defensively the Tigers have not been strong; giving up 427
yards to The Citadel is borderline embarrassing with the talent on that side of
the ball. State does not provide any offensive firepower and Clemson should have
no problem making them one dimensional, either by scoring early and often or by
shutting down the Pack’s run game.

Clemson 31, NC State 6

Chattanooga vs. Florida State

Why Chattanooga can win: They can’t. The Mocs, yet another Southern
Conference foe for FSU, recorded two (that’s right TWO!) first downs against
Oklahoma in the first week and 36 total yards. Obviously, FSU is not at Oklahoma’s
level, but this appears to be a mismatch. Western Carolina, against whom FSU
just pasted 69-0, kept it close last season against Chattanooga, losing 39-21,
but Chattanooga only returns nine starters from that team. Not sure what FSU has
to gain by playing back to back games against this level of non-competition. The
Mocs will be led by RB’s Bryan Fitzgerald and Errol Wynn on offense and LB
Joseph Thornton who recorded 17.5 tackles for loss last season which led the
Southern Conference.

Why Florida State can win: Even with multiple starters still out due to
suspensions, Florida State will roll. It appears another week will go by without
learning much about this 2008 FSU outfit. First time starter, QB Christian
Ponder put up some nice stats, going 11-17 for 196 yards and 3 TDs. The
Seminoles look to have a 2nd option at QB in sophomore D’Vontrey Richardson,
who appears to have some wiggle in his game outside the pocket (4 carries for 68
yards and 2tds last week). It will be interesting to watch how they use his
skills once the “real” games begin. For comparison sake, lets see how FSU
does defensively compared to what the Sooners accomplished against The Mocs in
week one.

Florida State 49, Chattanooga 0

California (2-0) vs. Maryland (1-1)

Why California can win: The #23 ranked Cal Bears will travel to College
Park for their first ever game against the Maryland Terrapins. Cal has faced two
BCS teams in their first two weeks, which is unprecedented these days. The Bears
are led by their outstanding ground attack behind center Alex Mack and a very
good offensive line. RB’s Jahvid Best is averaging 155 ypg with an 8.2 ypc,
while his backup Shane Vareen is averaging 90 ypg with a 10.2 ypc. They have
combined to bust three touchdown runs of over 80 yards. The Bears should find
plenty of holes in this Maryland defense for chunks of yardage on the ground.
The Bears defense is strong up front and will be focused on stopping Maryland
tailback Da’Rel Scott because the Terps passing game has been bad, completing
50% of their passes with five interceptions and only one TD.

Why Maryland can win: Maryland has won their last two against ranked
opponents (Rutgers and BC last year). On top of that, this will be Cal’s first
trip to the East Coast since the 2001 season and the game starts at noon. Will
the Terps catch Cal sleeping early? Maryland RB Da’Rel Scott leads the ACC
with 160 ypg rushing, but this will be Maryland’s stiffest test yet. Can they
continue to have success on the ground? QB Chris Turner will probably get the
nod again, and he needs to have a big game to keep up with the Bears scoring.
Michigan State did pass for over 300 yards against the Bears secondary, so there
will be opportunities for WR Darrius Heyward-Bey to cash in on. The Terps’
defense will need to create turnovers to keep this game close. QB Kevin Riley
will be starting just his fourth game and only his second on the road.

California 37 Maryland 20

UVA vs. Connecticut

Why UVA can win: The Cavaliers will be without starting QB Peter Lalich,
and sophomore Mark Verica will get his first collegiate start against UCONN. The
Cavs are only averaging 61 ypg on the ground and that will have to improve
drastically to defeat the Huskies. The Cavs get a pass against USC, but less
than 100 yards against Richmond points to an offensive line that is not creating
many creases. Not sure what UVA can expect from Mark Verica in the passing game,
they would love to get out early and try to play field position and control the
clock. UVA’s defense will be looking to continue UCONN’s trend of turning
the ball over, with four interceptions by QB Tyler Lorenzen and three fumbles in
only two games.

Why Connecticut can win: UVA was inept on offense prior to losing their
starting QB. Any improvement over the last two weeks would be a surprise on the
road with a green QB. UCONN will give UVA nothing in the running game, daring
them to throw.

RB Donald Brown was expected to share the duties with Andre Dixon, but due to
an early Dixon injury he has been carrying the full load. He is averaging 180
ypg with five touchdowns. Tyler Lorenzen expects to get the services of WR Brad
Knauch and speedster Jordan Todman back, and not a moment too soon, because he
has struggled mightily against sub-par competition.


Heavy Hors d’oeuvres

Navy (1-1) vs. Duke (1-1)

Why Navy can win: The Midshipmen have beaten Duke the last four games,
winning a shootout last season 46-43. They return 13 starters from last season
and have been without two-yr starting QB Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada for the first
two, but expect to have him return for the Blue Devils. Nothing has changed post
Paul Johnson; Navy still runs the option exclusively. Slot backs Shun White and
Jarod Bryant will lead the way, with FB Eric Kettani taking a load off them from
time to time. The Midshipmen have been solid at stopping the run (allowing 96
ypg), which is something Duke has been doing well early this season. Navy’s
pass defense is a definite problem area, allowing both Towson and Ball State to
surpass 300 yards. Can they control the clock and game with their run?

Why Duke can win: Despite the loss last weekend, Duke outplayed
Northwestern and seems to be improved from years past. They will knock off an
ACC team this year. Duke’s offense should have a field day against this Navy
defense. QB Thaddeus Lewis threw for over 400 yards against them last year. WR
Eron Riley is probable, but Freshmen Johnny Williams leads the team in
receptions (13) and yards (154). The big surprise early on is Duke’s running
game; they average 198 ypg and RB Clifford Harris is their top tailback
averaging 90 ypg. The Duke defense has been good against the run, which is
helpful because they will see plenty of it this week. Duke needs to finish off
this game; it is there for the taking.

Duke 35, Navy 24

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