ACC: Eugene Jarvis
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Here are 10 things to keep an eye on in the ACC this Saturday:
- Clemson's offensive line: Enough with the questions already. Let's see if these guys can hold their own against Alabama. The Tigers had to replace four of five starters, but these guys are not inexperienced and they're eager to prove it.
- Boston College offense: Quarterback Chris Crane will be making his first start as leader of this young group and another torch will be passed to freshman running back Josh Haden. For the first time in a while, the Eagles' receivers will be the ones bringing everyone else along.
- East Carolina upset over Virginia Tech: With possibly no Macho Harris in the mix (ankle), this becomes even more of a possibility. Odds are the Hokies get a good scare in the first half before sneaking out of Charlotte with the win.
- Virginia's quarterback: Finally. We'll find out which one of the mystery trio will start against USC. We haven't heard much about who's leading the race between Peter Lalich, Marc Verica and Scott Deke.
- Brian Toal's comeback: The BC linebacker was missed last season, and he was out for a few days last week with a pinched nerve in his trapezius, but Toal is finally 100 percent. Will he be used again in those short-yardage situations?
- Clemson freshman Da'Quan Bowers: How much of an impact will he have in his debut with the Tigers? About 25-30 snaps against Alabama will give him a chance to show us.
- Maryland's offense: With James Franklin running the show and Jordan Steffy at quarterback, how much different can this offense be? And how much will the Terps really show against Delaware?
- Virginia Tech's wide receivers: When it comes to experience, depleted is an understatement. True freshmen will have to grow up quickly. Now that we know who the Hokies' quarterback will be, let's find out who Sean Glennon's favorite target is.
- North Carolina's defense: This is the first chance we get to see the impact of first-year coordinator Everett Withers, particularly his work in the secondary. It's also the first opportunity to see how the Tar Heels replaced Hilee Taylor and Kentwan Balmer.
- Duke's first win: You wouldn't want to miss that, would you? James Madison could very easily win this game, but the excitement around that program and the high expectations of David Cutcliffe make 1-0 a real possibility.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Well, here it is. Warning: I have a tendency to be either dead-on for these things or waaay off. Let's rock.
Miami 34, Charleston Southern 10: Despite the suspensions and a freshman starting at quarterback, Miami will have the upper hand against this small school that went 5-6 in the Big South Conference last year. The Buccaneers do have more experience at quarterback, though, as former Clemson backup Tribble Reese attempted 11 passes with the Tigers.
Georgia Tech 41, Jacksonville State 17: JSU might be favored to win the Ohio Valley Conference, but not this game. With three sophomores on the offensive line, the Yellow Jackets' defensive line will be too much even for Ryan Perrilloux to overcome.
Wake Forest 31, Baylor 14: Who will start at quarterback for Baylor is a mystery, and it could be Miami transfer Kirby Freeman. Regardless, the Demon Deacons have the edge at quarterback. Four starters return to Baylor's offensive line, but that's not necessarily a good thing considering the Bears ranked 113th in the nation in rushing last year with 77 yards per game.
Clemson 24, Alabama 21: In a game of experience versus youth, the Tigers have the edge. Alabama has only five starters returning on defense and its receiving corps took a hit. Third-year starter John Parker Wilson was a record-setter last year, and they've got the more experienced offensive line, but Tommy Bowden has the veteran team.
Duke 26, James Madison 17: JMU has 15 starters back from its 8-4 playoff season, and is 37-13 over the past four seasons under coach Mickey Matthews. There are no guaranteed wins for a team that won one game last year, but Duke has a new energy this season and home field advantage, not to mention one of the best quarterbacks in the ACC. I say Duke will beat the Dukes.
Maryland 23, Delaware 10: This is not Joe Flacco's Delaware team. Still, Maryland has a tendency to underperform in these types of games and keep things interesting. The Terps have a better offensive line and are stacked at linebacker. Jordan Steffy should have a successful comeback.
UNC 38, McNeese State 10: Brandon Take, Hakeem Nicks and T.J. Yates (not to mention Greg Little and Deunta Williams) are reason alone to pick the Tar Heels. With expectations soaring in Chapel Hill this year and a sold-out home crowd for this game, there's no question UNC will take care of business.
South Carolina 20, NCSU 10: These teams have enough in common it should be close. Both teams have an inexperienced quarterback, a starting running back out, and both were terrible against the run last year. I'm going with the home team. The program has a .775 winning percentage in home season openers.
USC 42, Virginia 21: There's a reason the Trojans are the favorite in the Pac-10. Starting at quarterback, the Trojans win this game, even if Pete Carroll goes with backup Aaron Corp. USC's defense is loaded, and should be just as good as it was last year, when it ranked second in the country.
Virginia Tech 21, East Carolina 17: This shouldn't be much different from last year. If there was an upset watch this week, this would be it. Both teams have named their starting quarterbacks but Sean Glennon is the more experienced of the two, and East Carolina lost its top running back, Dominique Lindsay.
Boston College 24, Kent State 17: The Eagles are eager to prove the naysayers wrong, and BC's defense will carry will this team through the first few games. There is no doubt, though, that Kent State running back Eugene Jarvis will get his yards on these guys.
FSU is off.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Boston College coach Jeff Jagodzinski talks about the Kent State offense almost as if it were his own.
There's a reason for that.
When Boston College faces Kent State on Saturday, there will be a certain level of familiarity because of the coaching ties on both staffs. Both Kent State coach Doug Martin and Jagodzinski were assistants together at East Carolina in 1991 under current Boston College offensive coordinator Steve Logan.
Like Boston College, Kent State will be multiple in its formations and motions, but the Golden Flashes don't use personnel groups as much and are more of a single-back team.
"We expect them to run their back who's a very talented player," Jagodzinski said of Eugene Jarvis, who is the nation's leading returning rusher with a school-record 1,669 yards and nine 100-yard rushing performances. "You watch him play against Iowa State and Ohio State and he gets yardage against those teams. We're looking for a challenge to our run defense from him. As far as their quarterback play, I'm not real sure."
Again, the same thing can be said for Jagodzinski's offense, but Kent State's uncertainty stems from the fact that starter Julian Edelman was injured most of last season. Chris Crane has matured as the leader of the Eagles' offense, but Jagodzinski said he's not quite sure if the entire group is where he needs it to be.
"It's hard to gauge," Jagodzinski said. "That's a great question. Last year I felt the same way. I wish I had a crystal ball to look forward, but our defense is ahead of our offense. Hopefully we can start playing into the way we want it to look."
• Jagodzinski said senior Kevin Akins has switched between linebacker and corner this summer, and where he's used during the season will depend on how healthy everyone is. "It's very fluid right now as to where we're going to play him, but he will be on the field one way or another."
• Wes Davis won the starting job at safety, but the competition with Marty Bowman this summer created some depth. Still, Jagodzinski said he expects Davis to "step up and replace Jamie Silva."
• Linebacker Brian Toal, who had a pinched nerve in his trapezius (a shoulder muscle) last week and missed a few practices, will be "full go" on Saturday.