Stuart Barefoot’s ACC Football Preview/Predictions

Courtesy of Stuart Barefoot, UNCG graduate, covering ACC Football for….

According to ESPN Jadaveon Clowney asked to sit out of last week’s 35-28 win over Kentucky. That’s about as extensive as their coverage of college football has been lately, but as it turns out, teams outside of the SEC play football too. Quietly going about their business has been ACC teams, many of whom face off on Saturday.

Duke vs. Navy
Despite a government shutdown, Duke welcomes the Naval academy to Durham. Before having a bye week last week, the Blue Devils beat Troy 38-31 on September 28. Although Duke is 3-2 both of their losses were against ACC opponents and the defense is a major concern. After a 58-55 loss to Pitt they gave up 31 points in a win over Troy and 38 in a loss to GT.

Navy sports a 3-1 record but has played a considerably lighter schedule than Duke. The Midshipmen have beaten Indiana, Delaware and Air Force, most notably pounding Delaware 51-7. Their lone loss was a 19-7 contest against Western Kentucky.

Duke will probably win this game. Granted their defense has been sluggish, they put up points often. Brandon Connette, despite having thrown six interceptions already, has amassed over 1000 yards and leads the team in rushing TD’s with six. If Duke wind it’s because he has a good game.

Prediction: Duke-38 Navy-31

N.C State vs. Syracuse
Both teams are winless in ACC play and against BCS opponents. The Wolfpack were stunned by Wake Forest last week in Winston-Salem, dropping a 28-13 contest to the Demon Deacons. Syracuse, much to the ire of Jim Boeheim, is now a member of the ACC and received a welcoming 49-14 beat down from Clemson. The Orange, much like State, has beaten up on small FCS teams but have ben ripped by BCS teams, and it hasn’t been close.

They were crushed 48-27 by 18th ranked Northwestern and lost a competitive game to Penn State 23-17. This is a game where either team can go from being among the worst BCS teams to being mediocre, and it could be State but who knows? Perhaps a big game changer is that Syracuse has done a poor job defending the pass, allowing over 270 yards per game and teams have scored 12 times against them this year. State weridly has a good passing game, Pete Thomas has racked up close to 1,300 passing yards, but only has three touchdown passes. The Pack has rushed for 10 touchdowns, while Syracuse has defended the run pretty well. Still, if State spends a lot of time in Syracuse territory, they may wear down a pretty mediocre defense, which could be the difference maker.

Prediction: N.C State-28 Syracuse-17

3. Clemson vs. Boston College
The Third ranked Tigers should continue in cruise control for another week until they face sixth ranked Florida State. But before the best regular season ACC matchup, Clemson still has to get past Boston College, who are 3-2 overall and 1-1 in the ACC.

By now you should know about Tajh Boyd. The media has given him his due credit. As he continues to make his Heisman case, he and his cohorts will battle an improved BC defense that helped the Eagles beat Army 48-27. While they defend the run pretty well, thanks to a talented defensive line and linebacker core led by Kevin Pierre-Louis they have struggled against good passing teams, having allowed over 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns already. They also sport a solid offense anchored by running back Andre Brown who has rushed for 768 yards and seven touchdowns.

Obviously Boyd Accounts for a lot of Clemson’s offense. Aside from leading the team in passing yards, which of course is a given, he is second in rushing yards behind Roderick McDowell with 158. He leads the team with four rushing TD’s. His main receiver is the talented Sammy Watkins, and unless Clemson decides to utilize their run game a little more this week, those two could be bane of BC’s existence next week.

Prediction: Clemson-48 BC-24

24 Virginia Tech vs. Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh has started off well in the ACC sitting at 2-1 in conference play and 3-1 overall. The Hokies have cracked the top 25 after wins over Georgia Tech and UNC. They remain unbeaten in the ACC at 2-0 and are 5-1 this season, their only loss being at the hands of top ranked Alabama.

The Virginia Tech offense has been playing well in tine for conference play, turning in two good performances the last two weeks and the defense has been even better. Against GT they held the high-powered Yellow Jacket offense to less than 300 yards and just 10 points. Last week they stifled the UNC running game to a measly 99 yards and held Carolina’s backup QB Marquise Williams to 277 yards. Logan Thomas has been more efficient on offense, completing 19 of 28 passes against UNC and 19 of 25 against Georgia Tech. Maybe he doesn’t have eye popping numbers, but both games translated into wins which counts for something, right?

Pittsburgh is quietly an all around solid team. They sport a pretty nice offense led by QB Tom Savage, who has gathered 1,025 yards and 10 touchdowns so far. As a team the Panthers average just over 33 points a game and over 400 yards. While those are good numbers, they will have to deal with one of the nation’s top defenses in the country. The Hokies, on average allow just over 161 passing yards per game and 102 rushing yards. Given that the only ranked team Pitt has played was Florida State when they lost 41-13, they’ll probably struggle against VT.

Prediction: Virginia Tech- 24 Pittsburgh 14

Other ACC Games
Maryland will try to recover from that 63-0 drubbing by Florida State last week when they take on Virginia. The cavaliers were embarrassed last week as well when they lost to Ball State 48-27.

Curiously Georgia Tech and BYU will face off. At 3-2 the Yellow Jackets have played just one non-conference game, a 70-0 win over Elon. And are 2-2 in the ACC Having lost their last two to Virginia Tech and Miami, GT will travel to Utah. The Cougars have done nothing interesting aside from beating Texas 40-21.

UNC and Wake Forest are both off this week, but have tough opponents on deck. The Heels play 13th ranked Miami on Thursday and Wake will host Maryland on the 19th.