Thursday, September 12, 2013
ACC predictions: Week 3
By Andrea Adelson
Both Miami and BC got us last week, sending us to 8-2 records in Week 2 and 20-3 marks overall. This week will be different, though. We finally disagreed.
OK, so it was only one game, but it's progress. On to the picks!
Virginia Tech (1-1) at East Carolina (2-0), noon, FSN. Heather put the Hokies on upset alert headed into this game for legitimate reasons. Virginia Tech has underwhelmed on offense again; East Carolina has proven problematic in the past; and Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium is a pretty tough place to play. The Pirates have been solid on offense behind quarterback Shane Carden, who has seven touchdown passes, zero interceptions and is completing nearly 80 percent of his passes. East Carolina has run 140 plays so far this year – the same number as Oregon. But its first two games came against Old Dominion and Florida Atlantic. Not exactly powerhouses. The Virginia Tech defense will find a way to slow down the high-tempo attack, and the Hokies will do enough on offense to win a close game.
AA picks: Virginia Tech 20, East Carolina 13
HD picks: Virginia Tech 31, ECU 28
ULM (1-1) at Wake Forest (1-1), 12:30 p.m., ESPN3. #ULMvsWAKE. Believe it or not, this is the first Saturday game for the Deacs all season, after they opened on a Thursday night and then played BC last Friday. ULM is not a pushover. The Warhawks won eight games a season ago and return a veteran quarterback in Kolton Browning and veteran running back Jyruss Edwards. ULM also just ran for over 300 yards in a win over Grambling. No need to remind Deacs fans about the way the Eagles ran the ball last week. Still, what Wake Forest needs to do in this game is be more effective running the ball. That has been a major area of concern dating back to last season. ULM has not done particularly well at slowing down the run, so Wake could have a breakthrough.
AA picks: Wake Forest 24, ULM 20
HD picks: Wake Forest 28, ULM 17
New Mexico (1-1) at Pitt (0-1), 12:30 p.m., ESPN3. #UNMvsPITT. The Panthers take the field for the first time since losing to Florida State in the opener, with an eye on making major defensive improvements. The good news is there is no Jameis Winston on the other side of the ball. The bad news is that New Mexico runs an entirely different offense based on the option, requiring much better tackling than the Panthers had against the Seminoles. Running back Kasey Carrier had 291 yards rushing in a win over UTEP last week. Offensively, Pitt has an opportunity to get its running game going against one of the worst rush defenses in the nation. No question, the Panthers need to do a better job on first down.
AA picks: Pitt 34, New Mexico 13
HD picks: Pitt 35, New Mexico 7
Boston College (2-0) at USC (1-1), 3 p.m., Pac-12 Network. #BCvsUSC. As tempting as it is to pick the upset in this game, given the horror show that was USC last week, it is tough for me to see the Trojans losing back-to-back games at home to inferior opponents. USC has too much talent to keep falling on its face, even with Lane Kiffin as its head coach. While I have been impressed so far with the job coach Steve Addazio has done with the Eagles, I think the Trojans bounce back in a low-scoring slugfest. USC has a terrific defense (No. 12 in the nation right now in total D) and I do not think Andre Williams will have nearly the same success he did against Wake Forest. BC does not have a reliable second option at receiver, either. USC will get just enough out of Cody Kessler and Marqise Lee to win.
AA picks: USC 17, Boston College 10
HD picks: BC 14, USC 10: Forget about the disaster that is the Kiffin era. This Boston College team has gotten back to its roots under Addazio. They are a well-coached, fundamentally sound, physical team that can run the ball, and that’s a recipe for beating teams they’re not expected to. Yes, USC’s defense is very good -- hence the low-scoring game -- but there are intangibles at work here. The Eagles are all-in on Addazio’s playbook, while the Trojans don’t even seem to be on the same page.
Nevada (1-1) at No. 10 Florida State (1-0), 3:30 p.m., ESPN. #NEVvsFSU. Act II of the Jameis Winston show begins Saturday against a Nevada team that gave up 58 to UCLA two weeks ago. So that clearly means the Seminoles will score 116, right? All joking aside, the most interesting aspect of this game is watching the revamped FSU defense defend the vaunted Pistol offense. The Noles need to get a better performance out of its defensive front than they got against Pitt in the Week 1 opener. The Wolf Pack do have a talented quarterback in Cody Fajardo, but clearly the defense is a work in progress. Jameis Time again.
AA picks: FSU 45, Nevada 17
HD picks: FSU 58, Nevada 10
Georgia Tech (1-0) at Duke (2-0), 3:30 p.m., ESPNU. #GTvsDUKE. The Jackets enter a critical four-game stretch against Coastal Division rivals, a make-or-break month that will have a large impact on their season. They have owned the series against Duke of late, winning nine straight while averaging 37 points per contest. Duke appears to be playing better on defense this year -- Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said, "They look like the old Pittsburgh Steelers." But the truth is, neither team has played a quality opponent yet. We will know plenty more about both teams after this game ends. I do think Duke is better defensively, but not good enough yet to slow down the Georgia Tech offense.
AA picks: Georgia Tech 34, Duke 20
HD picks: Georgia Tech 35, Duke 28
Wagner (1-1) at Syracuse (0-2), ESPN3. #WAGvsCUSE. No Big Ten team on the schedule this week for the Orange, but there is no time to relax. Not when there are so many issues that need to be fixed on offense and defense. Where to begin? Syracuse has to take better care of the football, as it stands at minus-3 in turnover margin right now. Drew Allen has to find a way to cut down on his mistakes. The ground game needs to get supercharged. And the defense has to do a better job up front. Wagner did win its conference last year, a point Syracuse coach Scott Shafer has hammered home this week, so this could be closer than some expect.
AA picks: Syracuse 35, Wagner 17
HD picks: Syracuse 42, Wagner 3
Maryland (2-0) at UConn (0-1), 7:30 p.m., ESPN3. #MDvsUCONN. The Randy Edsall Bowl closes the ACC schedule for Week 2, and the truth is, this game should not even be close. The Huskies had myriad issues at just about every position on the field in their loss to Towson, an FCS team, gaining just 290 yards in total offense. The Terps are hot right now, particularly on offense. Both the running game and passing game have worked well so far, giving them the No. 1 offense in the ACC. The defense has also been strong, ranking No. 4 in the league in total D. The heart of the Huskies the past two years was their defense, but they lost their coordinator to BC and their best players to the NFL. Maryland romps.
AA picks: Maryland 38, UConn 10
HD picks: Maryland 28, UConn 7