Stuart Barefoot’s ACC Football Preview

Special to from Stuart Barefoot, local resident, UNCG grad, who does wear shoes……

#10 Miami 27- UNC -23

A very big weekend for ACC football began when the tenth ranked Miami Hurricanes beat North Carolina 27-23, thanks largely to a Dallas Crawford touchdown with just 16 seconds left in the game. Crawford’s touchdown was part of a 14-3 fourth quarter that sealed win for Miami and protected their perfect record and top-10 status. The 14 point fourth quarter was necessary as Miami overcame a 20-13 halftime deficit and a dreadful performance by their quarterback, Stephen Morris, who was 19 for 35 with no touchdowns and four interceptions.

Miami did, however, lose their best rusher in Duke Johnson who left early on with an injury, and the defense is now a serious concern. As they had trouble adjusting to the spread offense. The Canes gave up a season high 500 yards to he heels, who despite a sub par performance from Bryn Renner, presented Miami with the best quarterback they’ve seen yet this year. Renner is god, but that can’t be a comforting statistic for a team that still has to face Virginia Tech and Florida State.

UNC actually scored their first touchdown when backup QB Marquise Williams tossed a 71-yard pass to Eric Ebron to put the Heels on top 7-6 after two Miami field goals. Miami took the lead back in bizarre fashion when they nixed a Carolina field goal attempt. From 33 yards out, Ladarius Gunter blocked a field goal attempt from Thomas Moore and returned it 67 yards for the touchdown. The Heels would close the half with two successful field goals and a Renner touchdown pass to Quinshad Davis. UNC led 20-13 at halftime.

The third quarter was pretty lame. UNC pushed a field goal through the uprights to extend the lead to 23-13. Before Crawford’s heroics in the closing seconds, he scored another touchdown with 11:39 to play to cut UNC’s lead to 23-20. Miami narrowly maintained their perfect record at 6-0 and UNC, despite one of their best games all season, fell to 1-5 on the season and 0-3 in the ACC.

#3 Clemson vs. #5 Florida State
So this is going to be the best ACC regular season game of the year, at least on paper anyway. Two top five teams, two awesome quarterbacks with Tajh Boyd and Jameis Winston and a conference rivalry are all on the table here. Even if the game somehow turns out to be not awesome, there are still some huge implications on the line. First, and most importantly, the winner will be in contention for a regular season title. With both teams being in the Atlantic Division this is in sense, like a semi final game.

For Tajh Boyd, it’s an opportunity to cement his case as a Heisman candidate. Okay, his candidacy is already cemented, but a win over a top five team could separate Boyd from other candidates like Marcus Mariota at Oregon, Johnny Manziel and even Teddy Bridgewater.

Clemson edged Boston College 24-14 last week in a surprisingly close game. The Tigers trailed 14-10 going into the fourth quarter before they scored two unanswered touchdowns. Against their only other ranked opponent this year Clemson beat Georgia 38-35.

For Florida State this is a litmus test of sorts. Their freshman quarterback has proven he can cut it at the Division I level, and to beat a Heisman candidate head-to-head would lay to rest any questions people have about his legitimacy. Of course until two weeks ago the Seminoles hadn’t really played any good teams, but after completely eviscerating 25th ranked Maryland 63-0, it’s hard to take them lightly.

FSU is favored in this game as a three-point favorite coming into this game. They have nine consecutive wins over ACC opponents and Clemson is coming off a subpar game against BC and 63 points against a Top-25 defense can’t be ignored.

Prediction: Florida State-38 Clemson-35

Wake Forest vs. Maryland
At 3-3 Wake Forest is doing about as well as anyone could reasonably hope. After beating N.C State 28-14 on October 5 the Demon Deacons have better conference records than any of their in state conference rivals. Duke, Carolina and State are all winless in conference play. Maryland kind of sort of got back on track after being derailed by FSU when they beat Virginia 27-26 a week ago.

Maryland is 5-1 on the year and made a cameo in the Top-25 before the afore mention beat down they suffered at the hands of FSU. The Terps are in position to be bowl eligible in November but they need to be Wake Forest. Their upcoming schedule includes third ranked Clemson, 19th ranked Virginia Tech and Boston College, who has proven to be a menace.

Wake’s defense has been good enough to keep every game manageable and against a well rounded Maryland offense anchored by QB C.J Brown, they’ll need t continue that trend. Offensively they’ve lived by their passing game. Tanner Price has hurled the ball well, raking up nine touchdowns so far and his main target Michael Campanaro has four of those touchdown passes.

Maryland is a seven-point favorite, and even that 63-point loss to Florida State has done little to sway public opinion here. This should be a and really needs to be a win for the Terps who are trying to fight for bowl eligibility.

Prediction: Maryland 27 Wake Forest 20

Duke vs. Virginia
Both teams are winless in conference play so something has to give. It would be hilarious if this ended in a tie, just for the sake of parity, but since that is highly unlikely (though possible, just ask Donovan McNabb) one team well move a little closer to getting out of the cellar.

The Cavaliers played a talented Maryland team very closely last wee but ultimately fell 27-26. They are 0-2 in the conference as they also lost 14-3 against Pittsburgh Duke just finished a weird two game stretch where they beat Troy 38-7 and Navy 35-7. They are 4-0 outside of the ACC but have lost both conference matchups, including a 58-55 loss to Pittsburgh.

The good news for Duke is they will have their starting QB, Anthony Boone again. Boone has played in just three games this year because he broke his collarbone during their second game against Memphis. In his return Boone tossed three touchdowns and collected 295 yards in a 35-7 win over Navy. The Blue Devils are four point favorites here and given the return of their QB and their recent two game surge they have the chance to put the Pitt game behind them and get in the conference win column.

Prediction: Duke-30 Virginia- 23

Other ACC matchups
Syracuse vs. Georgia Tech

Pittsburgh vs. Old Dominion: A weird side not here. Old Dominion has three ACC teams on their schedule. They lost to Maryland and play Carolina on November 23. Not sure what’s up with that.