Around the ACC: Opening Weekend

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There aren’t a lot of big games in the ACC this week, and in fact there
aren’t a lot of big games in college football in general. Saturday night
features LSU-Oregon and Georgia-Boise State, but overall it’s not a particularly
entertaining weekend of football. We’ll have to wait until Monday night for the
first truly big ACC game.

The ACC comes out of the gate with a big conference matchup on Monday night,
but no compelling non-conference games.

Day Game Time TV


Western Carolina at Georgia Tech


Wake Forest at Syracuse


Northwestern at Boston College


Appalachian State at Virginia Tech
ACC Network


James Madison at UNC


Troy at Clemson


Louisiana-Monroe at Florida State


Liberty at NC State


William & Mary at UVA


Richmond at Duke


Miami at Maryland

Thursday Night

Western Carolina and Georgia Tech begin the festivities in Atlanta tonight in
what should be an easy win for the Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech has lost some
significant talent over the last couple of years, but Paul Johnson’s system
should be enough to easily beat a 1-AA defense on a Thursday night.

The big game of the night for the ACC is in fact not a big one at all. This
Wake Forest-Syracuse matchup would be a conference game if Donna Shalala had her
way back in 2003. Fortunately, she did not. The fact that this game is available
on really tells you exactly how valuable that Syracuse television
market is to college football.

Wake Forest returns a lot of starters, but they have to contend with Syracuse
quarterback Ryan Nassib, who was very good last season, and underrated tailback
Antwon Bailey.

Thursday Picks: Georgia Tech and Syracuse


Saturday features a slate of eight ACC games. By default, the most appealing
one is Northwestern at Boston College, which begins at noon on Saturday. This is
a battle of two bowl teams from a year ago, and could be one of college
football’s best matchups on Saturday.

Even though the game is at Boston College, Northwestern might have the
advantage in this game. They return 16 starters, including a proven quarterback
in All-Big Ten performer Dan Persa. Persa set a Big Ten record by completing
73.5% of his passes last season. He is bolstered by several solid options in the
passing game.

Meanwhile, Boston College still has question marks at quarterback, and
All-ACC running back Montel Harris will miss this game with a knee injury. The
Eagles will have to rely on their defense to win this one.

Only two other ACC teams face off against 1-A opponents on Saturday. FSU
hosts Louisiana-Monroe, a Sun Belt team. Clemson hosts Troy, the perennial Sun
Belt power.

The rest of the ACC is facing off against 1-AA opponents, albeit very good
1-AA opponents. Tech faces #2 Appalachian State, UVA takes on #3 William &
Mary, UNC plays #15 James Madison, Duke hosts #16 Richmond, and NC State will
play #22 Liberty.

Certainly we know that good 1-AA teams are capable of knocking off 1-A teams.
We saw that last year in Blacksburg. UVA lost to William & Mary two years
ago, and the Tribe also gave Carolina a run last season.

I think the ACC will get those wins this year, however. Not that we should
ever have to worry about it.

Saturday picks: Northwestern, Virginia Tech, UNC, Clemson, Florida State, NC
State, UVA and Duke.


The big game in the ACC is Monday night, when a depleted Miami team has to
take on the Maryland Terrapins in College Park on ESPN.

Miami will be without the following players due to suspension: defensive end
Olivier Vernon, safety Ray Ray Armstrong, tight end Dyron Dye, quarterback
Jacory Harris, linebacker Sean Spence, wide receiver Travis Benjamin, defensive
tackle Marcus Forston and defensive end Adewale Ojomo.

The Canes are hit particularly hard on defense. Vernon, Armstrong, Spence and
Forston are all starters, while Ojomo is a key backup in the two-deep who would
play a lot. Offensively, Harris was expected to start at quarterback, while
Travis Benjamin is the best deep threat on the team.

Miami will also be breaking a in a brand new coaching staff, with head coach
Al Golden taking over. Will this be Golden’s only year in Miami? I’m not sure
I’d want to sit around and try and get through the stuff that could potentially
be coming Miami’s way. They could have severe sanctions.

Of course, Maryland has a brand new coaching staff as well, with Randy Edsall
taking over. Both guys are very good coaches. Golden won at Temple, and Edsall
built UConn’s program. Those were two very tough jobs. With two new staffs,
there is a lot of unknown in this particular game.

This is a game that Miami really needs to win. They can’t afford to start 0-1
in the ACC. If they do, their chances of winning the Coastal Division get tossed
out the window. The Canes have road trips to Virginia Tech, Florida State and
North Carolina later in the season, and they also play Georgia Tech and Boston
College. Chances are, they will drop at least one of those later road games, so
they really need to get off to a good start.

Miami is still big and bad on offense. None of their offensive linemen are
involved in the scandal, while Lamar Miller and Mike James are very good running
backs. I think they’ll ride their running game to a win, despite their defensive

Monday pick: Miami

Weekend Thoughts

This certainly won’t be an exciting weekend of ACC football. That doesn’t
make the ACC any different from other leagues. However, boring college football
is better than no college football, and finally it’s time for college football
to begin.

Week two will be a little more entertaining, with UNC vs. Rutgers, VT vs. ECU
and NC State vs. Wake Forest.

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