Week 3 ACC - Virginia Tech at ECU & More

Posted Sep 12, 2013

Week 3 Fearless Predictions - Virginia Tech at East Carolina & More, Part 1

- Virginia Tech at East Carolina & More. Part 1
- Georgia Tech at Duke & More, Part 2

Virginia Tech (1-1) at East Carolina (2-0) Sept. 14, 12:00, Fox Sports 1

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Having lost nine of the last 10 meetings with Virginia Tech, East Carolina is looking at this week's visitor the way a hungry man eyes a Thanksgiving bird. The Pirates have a legitimate shot of knocking off the Gobblers in front of the Dowdy-Ficklen faithful, which might even put the school on the outskirts of the BCS-buster map. ECU has used a high-powered offense to jet past Old Dominion and Florida Atlantic in the first two games. Virginia Tech rebounded from its Week 1 loss to Alabama with a win to even its record. Unfortunately, the victim was Western Carolina, so there's no way of knowing just how competitive the Hokies will be in the ACC Coastal. This is a team that could go in either direction this fall, with Saturday afternoon looming as a possible crossroad.
Why Virginia Tech Might Win: The D is exceptional, and certainly a few rungs above East Carolina on the defensive ladder. Forget Western Carolina. The Hokies set the tone with their performance against the Crimson Tide, taking it to the defending national champs at the point of attack. Tech is fast and physical, boasting a slew of playmakers, from DE James Gayle and LB Jack Tyler to CB Kyle Fuller. This is by far the toughest defense the Pirates will face all season.
Why East Carolina Might Win: Okay, so the Pirates won't turn the game into a track meet, but it won't take an eruption to outscore the Hokies. While Tech lacks consistency and execution, especially in the passing game, East Carolina sports diversity with the passing of Shane Carden and the running of Vintavious Cooper. Sure-handed Justin Hardy will be the most reliable receiver on either team this weekend. In a tough spot late in the game, Carden might actually be the safer bet than his counterpart from Blacksburg, Logan Thomas.
Who To Watch Out For: As is often the case with the Hokies, pass-fail depends on the play of Thomas. If he's good, Tech rolls. If he's sailing throws, Tech is eminently vulnerable.

- Do not sleep on the ECU D. Yeah, it's not the school's calling card, but the unit already has eight sacks, three from DE Lee Pegues, four picks and three forced fumbles. The Pirates are feisty.

- One of Thomas' issues, besides mechanics, is that his targets are really, really young and raw. The East Carolina secondary may not be ACC-caliber, but it is comprised of three seniors who've played a lot of football in Greenville.

- The fact that the Pirates have allowed five sacks so far qualifies as a bad omen. Virginia Tech is so much quicker off the snap than ECU's first two opponents, Old Dominion and Florida Atlantic.

What Will Happen: Virginia Tech is vulnerable. East Carolina is geeked. It's a formula for a Week 3 upset. The Pirates won't beat the Hokies' defense the traditional way, with long drives or explosive plays. Tech is too stingy for that to happen. No, ECU will use turnovers and special teams to put points on the board, wreaking havoc on Thomas to send the locals into a tizzy. Unless Thomas can become the leader of his program, the Hokies are going to be ripe for the picking, especially outside Blacksburg.
Prediction: East Carolina 27 … Virginia Tech 24
Line: Virginia Tech -7.5 o/u: 51
Must See Rating: (5 Boardwalk Empire – 1 Teen Beach Movie) … 3.5

ULM (1-1) at Wake Forest (1-1) Sept. 14, 12:30, ESPN3

Why You Should Give A Hoot: The record may say .500, but Wake Forest is trending south after playing poorly in Friday night's 24-10 loss to Boston College. Since the Eagles have been lagged behind the rest of the ACC in recent years, the Demon Deacons may be in danger of supplanting them for 2013. Wake—and head coach Jim Grobe—need to top the bleeding now, because the rest of the schedule is littered with landmines. Louisiana-Monroe recovered from its opening day loss to Oklahoma by dispatching of Grambling, 48-10. This is the first meeting between these two schools.
Why ULM Might Win: The Warhawks boast the better backfield in this one, led by veteran QB Kolton Browning. Browning has a track record of playing well against opponents from major conferences, and now he has more support in the running game. Jyruss Edwards, DeVontae McNeal and Nathan Meadors all averaged more than nine yards a carry on Saturday.
Why Wake Forest Might Win: The team is off to a rough start, but the D is doing its best to keep things together. Fueled by the pass rush of NG Nikita Whitlock and DE Zach Thompson, and the coverage of CB Kevin Johnson, the Deacons have yielded just 31 points in two games. When faced with a tough defense in the opener, the Warhawks were blanked in Norman.
Who To Watch Out For: Wake Forest absolutely, positively has to start running the ball better, an offseason mandate. It's averaging just 2.6 yards per carry, and now must deal with LB Cameron Blakes, who's been everywhere for UL-Monroe.

- It's the battle of the veteran left-handed quarterbacks, Browning and Wake's Tanner Price. The pair has combined for more than 100 career touchdowns between them.

- Price has the better weapon, Michael Campanaro, one of the top wide receivers in the ACC. He returned from injury last week to catch five balls for 86 yards and a touchdown, while carrying the ball four times as well.
What Will Happen: This is a toss-up game for good reason—there's not much separation between either team. However, Wake Forest is home, with the better D in the game. Plus, Campanaro will do something special late to help propel his Deacons to a much-needed second win.
Prediction: Wake Forest 27 … ULM 23
Line: Wake Forest -3 o/u: 56
Must See Rating: (5 Boardwalk Empire – 1 Teen Beach Movie) … 1.5

New Mexico (1-1) at Pittsburgh (0-1) Sept. 14, 12:30, ESPN3

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Bob Davie leads New Mexico into Western Pennsylvania, a familiar region for the former Notre Dame head coach. Davie's Lobos are coming off an emotional win, beating UTEP in overtime to snap a 15-game losing streak within the Lone Star State. While New Mexico lacks the talent to compete with the best of the Mountain West, Davie has the team playing with a lot of fight and confidence. Pitt has had an extra week to prepare and to get over its Labor Day loss to Florida State. Now that the Panthers have tangible proof that they won't be winning the ACC in 2013, they're hoping to lay the building blocks of a postseason run.
Why New Mexico Might Win: The Lobos are going to run the ball with Kasey Carrier, who just might be the best player in the building on Saturday afternoon. The underrated senior erupted for 291 yards and four scores on 41 carries in the UTEP win, hoisting the Lobos on his back. He operates behind a physical, veteran line led by Lamar Bratton, Dillon Farrell and Darryl Johnson.
Why Pittsburgh Might Win: Now that the Panthers have squared off with the Florida State D, it'll be in a much better position to solve a far more manageable New Mexico defense. The Lobos have had problems with the run, which should entice Pitt to feed Isaac Bennett and Malcolm Crockett liberally. A successful ground game will create good looks for QB Tom Savage to find WR Devin Street on play-action.
Who To Watch Out For: The Lobos beat the Miners last week with a backup quarterback, Clayton Mitchem. Mitchem might get the call again, as starter Cole Gautsche deals with the lingering effects of a concussion.

- The Pitt defensive tackles, Aaron Donald and Tyrone Ezell, versus that unheralded Lobo O-line is an interesting matchup that'll go a long way to determining the final score. Donald, in particular, has a knack for changing a game's tempo.

- There's absolutely no reason why the Panthers won't press up their linebackers and safeties to stop a New Mexico offense that lacks balance and is heavily reliant on a single player.
What Will Happen: Can New Mexico beat an ACC opponent on the road, with the primary support of just one player? Doubtful. Carrier will get his yards, but he'll also absorb a lot of contact near the line of scrimmage. The Pitt offense, meanwhile, will showcase the run-pass combo needed to earn the program's first victory of 2013.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 37 … New Mexico 14
Line: Pittsburgh -21 o/u: 52
Must See Rating: (5 Boardwalk Empire – 1 Teen Beach Movie) … 2

Boston College (2-0) at USC (1-1) Sept. 14, 3:00, Pac-12 Network

Why You Should Give A Hoot: After two weeks, Boston College has more wins than USC. Yup, these are desperate times at Troy. The Trojans are coming off a most embarrassing home loss to Washington State, in which they managed just seven points. The quarterbacks are under fire, the coach, Lane Kiffin, is on his heels and the program appears headed down the wrong direction for the second straight season. USC is a media magnet again, but for all of the wrong reasons. The Eagles, on the other hand, head West with the wind at their back for a change. Their 2-0 for rookie head Steve Addazio, toppling Wake Forest on national TV last Friday night. If BC can steal a win in the Coliseum, even against a floundering foe, it could send Addazio's rebuilding plan into overdrive.
Why Boston College Might Win: The defense isn't quite salty yet, but it sure looks to have fewer holes than the past few editions. The Eagles have only yielded 24 points in the first two games, and the pass rush has already generated more sacks than the 2012 edition did in 12 games. BC is getting a push from DE Kasim Edebali and LB Kevin Pierre-Louis, which ought to worry an underachieving USC front wall. After failing to solve the Wazzu defense, Troy is in the midst of an all-out offensive crisis.
Why USC Might Win: Completely lost in last week's collapse to the Cougars is the fact that Clancy Pendergast has done a tremendous job with the Trojans' defense. USC is allowing less than a yard per carry, while generating seven turnovers and a whopping 20 stops for loss. USC is teeing off on opponents with the likes of ends George Uko and Leonard Williams and outside linebackers Morgan Breslin and Devon Kennard. A decent Boston College O-line won't be enough to keep the Trojan attackers out of QB Chase Rettig's face.
Who To Watch Out For: With all of the talk centering on defenses, it's easy to forget that each team houses an all-star receiver, USC's Marqise Lee and BC's Alex Amidon. Amidon is off to another great start, while Lee's production has been limited by the inconsistent play of the quarterback.

- Cody Kessler is Kiffin's starting quarterback this week. Will it make a difference? Who knows at this point?

- Looking to soften up the USC run defense will be Boston College graybeard Andre Williams. Healthy again, the senior is off to a great start, rushing for 204 yards last week.

- The Trojans are hoping to have access to RB Silas Redd, who missed the first two games with a knee injury. If he's a scratch, though, USC won't hesitate to lean on 220-pound RB Tre Madden, who rushed for a career-high 151 yards last week.
What Will Happen: Where are the Trojans' heads after the tumultuous past week? Sure, they've got more talent than Boston College, but where'd that get them last Saturday? It'll be a defensive tussle, sans a lot of execution from either offense. USC is home, adequately motivated and playing with the better defense. It should be enough to avoid a second-straight collapse, even if the offense keeps struggling.
Prediction: USC 27 … Boston College 9
Line: USC -17.5 o/u: 41.5
Must See Rating: (5 Boardwalk Empire – 1 Teen Beach Movie) … 2.5 - Virginia Tech at East Carolina & More. Part 1
- Georgia Tech at Duke & More, Part 2