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2009 ACC Fearless Predictions - Week 3
Posted Sep 16, 2009

Last week Demaryius Thomas and Georgia Tech came back to beat Clemson in a thriller, but getting by Jacory Harris and Miami tonight will be tougher. It's a huge week for the ACC, with Florida State going to BYU and Virginia Tech hosting Nebraska. Check out the Previews and Predictions for the Week 3 ACC Games.

2009 ACC Fearless Predictions

Week 3 ... Sept. 19 Games

- Boston College | Clemson | Florida State | Maryland | NC State | Wake Forest

- Duke | Georgia Tech | Miami | North Carolina | Virginia | Virginia Tech

ACC Fearless Predictions
- Week 1 | Week 2, Part 1

- Week 3, Part 2 (FSU at BYU, Nebraska at Virginia Tech and More)

Game of the Week  

Georgia Tech (2-0) at Miami (1-0),7:30 EST, ESPN, Thursday, September 17

Why to watch: The two hottest teams in the ACC hook up in primetime in a game that’ll have major implications in the race for the Coastal Division, league title, and BCS bowl bid. While it’s been two weeks since Miami held on to beat Florida State in an epic thriller, the energy from that win has endured. Just one game into the season, the young ‘Canes have begun to scale the Top 25 and show signs of shaking their five-year malaise. For a second straight game, the program has a chance to showcase its progress under Randy Shannon. Georgia Tech has started to make headlines as well. Although it nearly squandered a 24-point lead last Thursday, the Yellow Jackets recovered in time to beat Clemson, 30-27, for a pivotal conference win. Regardless of what happens in Blacksburg, the winner of this game is going to wear the yellow jersey in the ACC.
Why Georgia Tech might win: As the triple-option goes, so go the Jackets. Far more than just Jonathan Dwyer anymore, Tech is loaded with backs capable of snapping off the long ball. Dwyer is the best of the group, but Roddy Jones is a home run hitter and Anthony Allen has been a revelation, turning his first eight carries with the program into 148 yards and a score. This is not your typical Miami D, which can choke the spark from an offense. The Seminoles showed that in the opener, rolling up more than 400 yards of total offense.
Why Miami might win: Even in losing, Clemson’s Kyle Parker exposed an unexpected weak spot on the Tech defense—it’s vulnerable through the air. The freshman threw for 261 yards and three scores, which should have the ‘Canes salivating. Jacory Harris is coming off a huge day of his own, and receivers Travis Benjamin, Aldarius Johnson, and Leonard Hankerson are just athletic enough to make a handful of plays downfield. The Yellow Jackets’ problems on the offensive line are not going away. Miami will stack the box with linebackers Sean Spence and Colin McCarthy, challenging the cracks in that front wall and knowing that erratic QB Josh Nesbitt won’t hurt it through the air.
Who to watch: Who’s going to get a hat on No. 91? If Miami is going to be successful offensively, tackles Jason Fox and Matt Pipho, in particular, better know where Georgia Tech DE Derrick Morgan is at all times. If not, the junior is capable of blowing up the Hurricanes’ gameplan and flushing Harris from the pocket all night. He already has five sacks in two games, and treated the Clemson line like a turnstile a week ago.
What will happen: For the third time in 10 days, the ACC gets a much-needed national spotlight to show off some of its better programs. Something just hasn’t felt right about Georgia Tech’s first two games. Yeah, it won them, but it’s also looked sloppy on both sides of the ball. It’ll catch up to the Jackets this week in Miami. The Hurricanes will jump out to a quick lead behind Harris, and hold on against an opponent not designed to thrive in a comeback mode.
CFN Prediction: Miami 31 … Georgia Tech 24 ... Line: Miami -4.5
Must See Rating: (Melrose Place 5 … Toddlers & Tiaras 1) … 4
- Free Expert Football Predictions 

Boston College (2-0) at Clemson (1-1),12:00 EST, ESPN360, Saturday, September 19

Why to watch: Clemson has had more than a week to digest its excruciating loss to Georgia Tech, losing 30-27 after charging all the way back from a 24-0 deficit. Still, there were plenty of positives to be culled from the game, such as the comeback and the play of QB Kyle Parker, and the Atlantic Division remains very much up for grabs. A stumble here, however, would be devastating for the Tigers. What do we really know about Boston College? Well, it can destroy lesser opponents, like Northeastern and Kent State, but after that, the Eagles are a mystery. For the first time this season, the curtain is going to be pulled back on Frank Spaziani’s kids, an eclectic group that underwent plenty of change from a year ago.
Why Boston College might win: The Eagles are a blue-collar team determined to slow down the game, neutralize Clemson’s team speed, and win the game in the trenches. And it has the linemen to get it done. On offense, they’ll lean heavily on Montel Harris, who’ll be running behind a physical line comprised of all-leaguers Anthony Castonzo, Thomas Claiborne, and Matt Tennant. Defensively, feisty DT Damik Scafe is one of the leaders of a unit that’s allowed just one touchdown in two games and has been especially stout against the run. Yeah, the schedule has been a factor, but BC is gaining confidence on this side of the ball, especially with its young linebackers.
Why Clemson might win: Is this the week that Boston College’s uncertainty at quarterback catches up with the program? Spaziani has played a shell game with Justin Tuggle and David Shinskie, neither of whom has conjured up memories of Matt Ryan. If the Eagles pose no threat through the air, it’ll allow Clemson to press up LB Brandon Maye and DeAndre McDaniel, among others, to stop the run. As air-tight as the BC defense has been, it has yet to see anywhere near the threats that the Tigers pose. RB C.J. Spiller and WR Jacoby Ford are two of the fastest players in the ACC, while 230-pound Jamie Harper brings some pop between the tackles.
Who to watch: After a heated offseason battle with Willy Korn, Parker has looked like the right choice to lead the Clemson offense. Just a redshirt freshman, he showed tremendous poise in leading the Tigers back last Thursday, finishing 15-of-31 for 261 yards, three touchdowns, and two picks. That game should have him better prepared to face an Eagle secondary yielding just over three yards an attempt.
What will happen: Does Boston College have enough offense to beat a quality team on the road? It’s not likely. While the Eagles will be noticeably one-dimensional, the Tigers will be able to challenge the defense with the running of Spiller and the passing of Parker, a key advantage in this game. Neither team will gain much of an advantage at the point of attack, making the battles at the line of scrimmage worth a good, hard look.
CFN Prediction: Clemson 27 … Boston College 17 ... Line: Clemson -7
Must See Rating: (Melrose Place 5 … Toddlers & Tiaras 1) … 3
- Free Expert Football Predictions 

Duke (1-1) at Kansas (2-0),12:00 EST, Versus, Saturday, September 19

Why to watch: Insert obligatory basketball reference in this space. Yes, both institutions are better known for their indoor exploits, but Duke and Kansas are also trying to make their marks on grass. The Jayhawks have gotten off to a 2-0 start at the expense of Northern Colorado and UTEP, yet might not be truly challenged until the end of October. Don’t expect any apologies from the program, especially as some in the Big 12 North have stumbled out of the starting gates. For the Blue Devils, beating Army has never meant so much. After dropping the opener with Richmond, Duke knew what an 0-2 would mean to its postseason hopes. The school responded with a pivotal 35-19 victory that has spawned a quarterback controversy in Durham. Redshirt freshman Sean Renfree came off the bench to spark the win, though senior Thaddeus Lewis remains the starter. Stay tuned.
Why Duke might win: The combination of Lewis and Renfree gives the Blue Devils two viable quarterbacks, who can attack one of Kansas’ biggest concerns—pass defense. Lewis remains one of the ACC’s top quarterbacks, while Renfree was near perfect in his debut, going 7-of-8 for 106 yards and two touchdowns. Receivers Johnny Williams, Austin Kelly, Donovan Varner, and Conner Vernon give Duke the depth and versatility to attack an unproven back seven. The rebuilt Jayhawk offensive line will be tested by DT Vince Oghobaase and underrated Devil front seven.
Why Kansas might win: Duke has just a single sack in the first two games. That’s going to be a problem against this Jayhawk offense. If you can’t pressure Todd Reesing, he’ll pick you apart with his multitude of weapons, especially now that star WR Dezmon Briscoe has served his suspension. The running game is in great hands, with Jake Sharp and Toben Opurum, and Briscoe’s return means lots of breathing room for complimentary receivers Kerry Meier and Johnathan Wilson. The Blue Devils don’t have the pass defenders to keep this group in check.
Who to watch: Although the true litmus tests won’t come for a while, the Kansas defense has performed well in the first two weeks, allowing just 10 points and one nonsense touchdown. Part of the success can be traced to the pressure being generated by the defensive line, namely ends Jake Laptad and Max Onyegbule. The pair has combined for seven tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks, a concern for an average set of Duke offensive tackles.
What will happen: After misfiring on occasion in the first two games, this will be the week that the Kansas offense starts to fully hum up to its potential. The Jayhawks will strafe an overmatched Blue Devil defense with a combination of Reesing’s passes and the running of Sharp and Opurum. Unlike a week ago, David Cutcliffe won’t be able to go to his bench to spark his team to a comeback win.
CFN Prediction: Kansas 38 … Duke 14 ... Line: Kansas -21
Must See Rating: (Melrose Place 5 … Toddlers & Tiaras 1) … 2
- Free Expert Football Predictions 

East Carolina (1-1) at North Carolina (2-1),12:00 EST, ESPN, Saturday, September 19

Why to watch: Separated by only 100 miles, East Carolina and North Carolina meet for the 12th time in an intriguing in-state match up. The Tar Heels are aiming for their first 3-0 start since 1997, though getting to this point required some heavy lifting. Carolina was shut out for the first 49 minutes at Connecticut on Saturday, getting an unorthodox safety in the final minutes to survive, 12-10. Butch Davis knows his team needs to get much better on offense in order to remain competitive in the well-stocked ACC Coastal. The Pirates’ bid to upset West Virginia for a second straight September didn’t quite materialize in the second half. After basically playing the Mountaineers even for the first 30 minutes, they failed to score after halftime. A trip to Chapel Hill affords East Carolina a chance to make some national noise at the expense of a ranked team.
Why East Carolina might win: As soon as the Carolina offense faced some adversity, it wilted in Hartford, managing just 35 yards rushing and one play over 25 yards, while surrendering six sacks. The Pirates won’t make QB T.J. Yates’ life any simpler this week. They have a terrific defensive line, led by end C.J. Wilson, and one of the better defensive backfields in Conference USA. If the passing game is quiet, bank on East Carolina stacking the box with LB Jeremy Chambliss and S Van Eskridge in order to shut down RB Shaun Draughn.
Why North Carolina might win: Thank goodness for the defense. The Tar Heels have been as stingy as expected so far, giving up just 16 points and one touchdown through the first eight quarters. This unit is growing up in a hurry, boasting next-level linemen, like Marvin Austin, Can Thomas, and Aleric Mullins, and full-throttle linebackers Quan Sturdivant and Bruce Carter. East Carolina might present a tougher test, but how much? The Pirates are having problems with the passing game and line play has been spotty.
Who to watch: One of the few Carolina players stepping up on offense has been TE Zack Pianalto, a junior with a future at H-back on Sundays. Unfortunately, he dislocated his right foot, which heaps pressure on the other receivers if he can’t go this weekend. He had a huge part in last week’s win, catching a career-high seven passes for 87 yards and the lone touchdown. With the young receivers maturing slowly, No. 17 was going to be Yates’ most reliable target.
What will happen: North Carolina doesn’t quite have the offensive firepower to pull away here, but then again, neither does East Carolina. This has the potential to get ugly, with the defenses, special teams, and turnovers playing a particularly big role in the outcome. While it won’t be a Picasso, the Tar Heels will remain perfect, using a defensive score and three Casey Barth field goals for the win.
CFN Prediction: North Carolina 23 … East Carolina 14 ... Line: UNC -6.5
Must See Rating: (Melrose Place 5 … Toddlers & Tiaras 1) … 2.5
- Free Expert Football Predictions 

Middle Tennessee (1-1) at Maryland (1-1),12:00 EST, ESPN360, Saturday, September 19

Why to watch: Maryland is a wounded turtle in dire need of a quick turnaround. A week after getting blasted by Cal, the Terrapins needed a late rally and a field goal in overtime to beat back James Madison. It is not a pretty site in College Park these days, which has begun to chip away at head coach Ralph Friedgen’s patience. The team is young in key areas, which, in theory, could mean it improves as the season progresses. Middle Tennessee arrives with few concerns about facing an ACC program—it defeated Maryland in Murfreesboro just last year. The Blue Raiders are coming off a one-sided, pivotal win over Memphis, which looked like a toss-up before kickoff. An upset here could be just the jolt they need to make a serious run in the Sun Belt Conference.
Why Middle Tennessee State might win: The Blue Raiders sport the sort of spread offense that’s given Maryland problems in the past. And as if things can’t get worse for the dilapidated Terrapin D, top cornerback Nolan Carroll is done for the year with a broken leg. Gulp. Maryland is in no position to be facing dual-threat QB Dwight Dasher or five-wide sets, especially after being carved up for 87 points and six touchdown passes in the first two games. Plus, Middle Tennessee State is more than just Patrick Honeycutt and Malcolm Beyah at receiver, spreading the ball to 10 different players a week ago.
Why Maryland might win: The Terps will have no choice but to go old school on the Blue Raiders. Line up, run straight at the defense, and leverage their size advantage in the trenches. While Maryland doesn’t have a great O-line, it does have plenty of girth, which should help create space in the ground game for Da’Rel Scott and Davin Meggett. Scott will arguably be the best player in the stadium, and needs to be treated as such. If the Terps can establish the run, QB Chris Turner’s ability to find Torrey Smith and Adrian Cannon downfield improves dramatically.
Who to watch: In James Madison’s Drew Dudzik, Maryland faced a similar athlete to Dasher. After allowing him to rush for 112 yards, throw for 141, and account for three scores, are the Terps better prepared for this challenge or in deep trouble? Dasher is coming off one of the best games of his career, going 18-of-26 for 231 yards and two touchdowns, adding 89 yards on the ground. It’ll be up to the Maryland linebackers, mainly Alex Wujciak and Adrian Moten, to prevent him from taking the game over.
What will happen: Forget the conference they call home. Maryland and Middle Tennessee State are near equals, and it’ll show throughout the afternoon. In a see-saw battle dominated by the offenses, Scott will outduel Dasher, wearing down the Blue Raider D with 25 carries for 125 yards and a pair of scores.
CFN Prediction: Maryland 31 … Middle Tennessee 21 ... Line: Maryland -6
Must See Rating: (Melrose Place 5 … Toddlers & Tiaras 1) … 2
- Free Expert Football Predictions 

- Week 3, Part 2 (FSU at BYU, Nebraska at Virginia Tech and More)