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2009 ACC Fearless Picks - Week 4
Virginia Tech QB Tyrod Taylor
Virginia Tech QB Tyrod Taylor
Posted Sep 24, 2009

Previews and Predictions for the Week 4 ACC Games.

2009 ACC Fearless Predictions

Week 4 ... Sept. 26 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 | Week 3

- Week 4, Part 2 (TCU at Clemson, Pitt at NC St and More)

Game of the Week  

Miami (2-0) at Virginia Tech (2-1),3:30 EST, ABC, Saturday, September 26

Why to watch: Yeah, it’s extremely early, but this could be the game of the year in the ACC. At a minimum, the winner instantly becomes the favorite to win the Coastal Division, if not the entire league. Both teams enter the game ranked and have a rich history together, dating back to their days as Big East members. Miami has been one of thestories of the early going, bolting out of the gate with impressive victories over Florida State and Georgia Tech. A third straight win over a ranked ACC foe would essentially put the division in a headlock before September ends. Heck, if the ‘Canes clear this hurdle in Blacksburg, next week’s visit from Oklahoma might have national championship implications. Virginia Tech narrowly avoided a 1-2 start with a miraculous come-from-behind win over Nebraska that wasn’t supposed to happen. The Hokies drove the length of the field for the game-winner in the final minute after being squelched all afternoon. They haven’t looked great versus teams not named Marshall, so there’s plenty to prove this weekend.
Why Miami might win: The Huskers suffocated the Hokies for 59 minutes by stacking the box and daring Tyrod Taylor to beat them. The ‘Canes have the blueprint—and the defensive speed—to shut Tech down. Until Taylor makes Miami pay for it, it’ll press up S Randy Phillips and linebackers Sean Spence and Colin McCarthy to bottle up RB Ryan Williams. And it’ll work because Taylor continues to have problems throwing on better defenses. The Hokies, on the other hand, are allowing 200 yards a game on the ground, which is an invitation for Miami to lean a little heavier on the talented tandem of Graig Cooper and Javarris James to set up the pass.
Why Virginia Tech might win: When Miami has the ball, the Hokies must control the line of scrimmage and force Jacory Harris out of his comfort zone. It hasn’t happened much in the first two games. While the Hurricane line has played real well, it’s certainly not above being beaten by the speed of ends Jason Worilds and Nekos Brown, and the range of linebackers Barquell Rivers and Cody Grimm. Harris will struggle for the first time through the air, navigating a feisty Tech secondary that’s yielded just a single touchdown pass and 164 yards a game.
Who to watch: The health of Virginia Tech’s Stephan Virgil, who missed the last two games with a knee injury, has never been more critical. The Hokies’ boundary corner and best cover guy allows the defense to take more chances and sell out to support the run. He’s a defensive difference-maker, especially against a Miami receiving corps that features so much athleticism with Travis Benjamin and LaRon Byrd.
What will happen: Why not? Yes, few win at Lane Stadium and Taylor has a knack for finding a way, but Miami is simply playing better and has already proven it can handle hostile environments. Harris won’t be as prolific as the first two weeks, but he won’t have to be. The ‘Canes will have success on the ground with Cooper and James, controlling the clock and wearing down the defense. Until the Hokies show they can block much better up front, they’ll have problems on offense, trading too many potential touchdowns for field goal attempts. Unlike a week ago, there’ll be no miracle finish on this Saturday for Virginia Tech .
CFN Prediction: Miami 23 … Virginia Tech 17 ... Line: Miami -2
Must See Rating: (I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell 5 … Tyler Perry’s I Can Do Bad All By Myself 1) … 5
-Free Expert Football Predictions

North Carolina (3-0) at Georgia Tech (2-1),12:00 EST, ESPN Gameplan, Saturday, September 26

Why to watch: As deep and as talented as the ACC Coastal has become, every game between its members is going to have a significant impact on the divisional race. With Miami squaring off with Virginia Tech later in the afternoon, this game in Atlanta will have a semifinal undercard sort of feel to it. Visiting North Carolina hasn’t been all that pretty the last two weeks, but wins over Connecticut and East Carolina have gotten it to 3-0 for the first time in 12 years and bumped it up in the polls. A quality, in-conference road win would begin to raise the Heels’ identity to a national audience. Georgia Tech may have gotten exposed Thursday night, losing badly in Miami and possibly losing top back Jonathan Dwyer to a shoulder injury. It’s fork-in-the-road time for the Yellow Jackets, which haven’t played a complete game all year. If this week’s hurdle isn’t cleared, you can forget about Tech reaching fulfilling its lofty preseason expectations.
Why North Carolina might win: Miami quieted Tech’s triple-option with terrific athletes and sideline-to-sideline speed. The Tar Heels have a very similar defense. Carolina ranks seventh nationally against the run and has consistently created pressure with one of the nation’s premier front sevens. As bad as the Jacket offensive line has been performing, it’s liable to get whipped by tackles Marvin Austin and Can Thomas, DE Robert Quinn, and linebackers Quan Sturdivant and Bruce Carter. Even if Dwyer gets the green light, Georgia Tech will have problems moving the sticks, especially since QB Josh Nesbitt has become impotent as a passer.
Why Georgia Tech might win: It’s way too early to get carried away about the Carolina offense. Yeah, the Heels produced 31 points, but that was at home and against East Carolina. Georgia Tech in Bobby Dodd presents a much stiffer challenge. North Carolina has an average offensive line that’ll have its hands full with DE Derrick Morgan and the quick Yellow Jacket linebackers. Sporadic QB T.J. Yates is coming off a solid game, which means he’s due to go south, especially with his inexperienced receivers getting blanketed by CB Jerrard Tarrant and rover Morgan Burnett.
Who to watch: Those Carolina receivers may be young, but they’ve begun to shed the training wheels. Against Conference USA’s best defensive backfield, true freshman Erik Highsmith had six grabs for 113 yards and a score, while classmate Jheranie Boyd had a gorgeous 59-yard touchdown reception. Although the learning is still steep, the future is bright at the position in Chapel Hill.
What will happen: Something is wrong at Georgia Tech, and it doesn’t appear to be going away. It’s played very poorly over the last six quarters, all against ACC opponents. This is a tall order on the road for such a youthful Carolina team, but it’ll ride the backs of the defense and RB Shaun Draughn to a critical upset win. The Heels will stack the box, daring Nesbitt to complete passes, keeping Paul Johnson’s offense on the ropes.
CFN Prediction: North Carolina 23 … Georgia Tech 20 ... Line: Georgia Tech -2.5
Must See Rating: (I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell 5 … Tyler Perry’s I Can Do Bad All By Myself 1) … 3.5
-Free Expert Football Predictions

South Florida (3-0) at Florida State (2-1),12:00 EST, Saturday, ESPNU, September 26

Why to watch: How ironic? When South Florida arrives in Tallahassee to face Florida State for the first time, it’ll be without QB Matt Grothe, one of the seminal figures in the school’s rise to national notoriety. Grothe tore his ACL in last week’s 59-0 rout of Charleston Southern, prematurely ending his college career about 10 games too soon. The B.J. Daniels era was going to start eventually, but Jim Leavitt never imagined it would be in 2009. Good luck reading the tea leaves on Florida State going forward. The same Seminole team that needed to rally to beat Jacksonville State at home a week earlier went up to Provo and absolutely strip-searched No. 7 BYU in a 54-28 shocker. Will the real ‘Noles kindly stand up? If last weekend’s performance was the genuine article, an ACC title remains there for the taking.
Why South Florida might win: Until the offense locates its sea legs, the defense will have to carry the Bulls. It’s more than capable of delivering. Sure, the competition has been mealy, but 20 points allowed in three games is still impressive. South Florida has all-conference types at every level. DE George Selvie and DT Terrill McClain are disruptive types capable of getting penetration and making stops behind the line. LB Kion Wilson already has 20 tackles resting early in the blowouts. And CB Jerome Murphy and S Nate Allen have next-level potential.
Why Florida State might win: Daniels is a dangerous dual-threat, with a tremendous future in Tampa, but this is going to be a very tough spot for a redshirt freshman starting his first game. The ‘Noles have done a solid job against the run, South Florida’s strength, which will force the young quarterback to the air more often than he’d like. The Florida State offense may have turned a corner in Utah last week. QB Christian Ponder had one of the best games of his career, going 21-of-26 for 195 yards and two touchdowns, adding 77 yards and another score on the ground. He’s also starting to get more help from a pair of sophomores, RB Ty Jones and 6-3, 223-pound WR Jarmon Fortson.
Who to watch: Turnovers play a big part in every game. Advantage ‘Noles. Florida State leads the ACC in turnover margin, thanks in part to dynamite true freshman CB Greg Reid, who has two picks and will be a nuisance to Daniels. One of those interceptions occurred last Saturday, a 63-yarder for a touchdown that broke the back of BYU.
What will happen: Even with Grothe, this figured to be a difficult test for South Florida. Without him, the Bulls lose too much leadership and playmaking ability to wipe the smile off Florida State’s face. Plus, while USF hasn’t even been challenged past halftime, FSU has already played in three competitive games. That’s a big difference in terms of preparation. Ponder will stay hot with three more touchdowns, getting handed a couple of short-field chances from the defense.
CFN Prediction: Florida State 30 … South Florida 16 ... Line:Florida State -14.5
Must See Rating: (I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell 5 … Tyler Perry’s I Can Do Bad All By Myself 1) … 3
-Free Expert Football Predictions

Wake Forest (2-1) at Boston College (2-1),2:00 EST, Saturday, September 26

Why to watch: The ACC portion of the schedule gets going in earnest with a meeting between schools that would like to think they’re in the Atlantic Division chase. Wake Forest has dusted itself off after losing the opener to Baylor, coming from behind to beat Stanford and outclassing Elon. However, the Demon Deacons have yet to venture outside Winston-Salem and still have ample room for improvement on both sides of the ball. After two weeks of toying with Northeastern and Kent State, Boston College got exposed in a big way by Clemson, losing 25-7 in Death Valley. With upcoming games against Florida State and Virginia Tech, the Eagles’ season could begin to unravel if Frank Spaziani can’t correct his team’s problems right now, specifically on offense.
Why Wake Forest might win: If Boston College can’t score, how can it expect to win? The passing game is an abomination, getting 25 yards on 21 attempts from Justin Tuggle and David Shinskie a week ago. The ground game is in fine hands with Montel Harris, but you won’t know it when the Deacons stack the box with LB Jonathan Jones and CB Brandon Ghee. Wake, on the other hand, can take comfort in having a fourth-year starter, Riley Skinner, behind center, who’s coming off his sharpest game of the season.
Why Boston College might win: Defense. While the Eagle offense labors, the D has picked up the slack, allowing 32 points all year. Even as the competition ramped up a week ago, Boston College held firm, limiting Clemson to just 253 total yards and six field goal attempts, while collecting three turnovers. Plus, LB Mike McLaughlin, a heart-and-soul type in the middle, is expected to rejoin the team after rehabbing an offseason Achilles injury. If he can seamlessly join a corps of linebackers that’s played well without star Mark Herzlich, Wake Forest will have a rugged time establishing the run.
Who to watch: What can you possibly say about Boston College’s Luke Kuechly that hasn’t already been said? Thrust into the lineup before his time because of injuries, the 18-year old rookie has responded beyond anyone’s expectations. He has 10 more tackles than anyone else on the team, including 13 stops last weekend in his first road or ACC game. He has the potential to be the next Herzlich for the program before he’s done in Chestnut Hill.
What will happen: You might want to get to know the placekickers in this one because Boston College’s Steve Aponavicius and Wake’s Shane Popham will be instrumental in the outcome. Somewhat lost in last week’s defeat at Clemson is how well the Eagles are playing on defense. That trend will continue, with BC shutting down running lanes and forcing field goals when a touchdown is needed.
CFN Prediction: Boston College 20 … Wake Forest 17 ... Line: Georgia Tech -2.5
Must See Rating: (I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell 5 … Tyler Perry’s I Can Do Bad All By Myself 1) … 3
-Free Expert Football Predictions

- Week 4, Part 2 (TCU at Clemson, Pitt at NC St and More)