Stuart Barefoot’s ACC Football Preview and Predictions

Courtesy of Stuart Barefoot, UNCG-grad, local sports fan, who does wear shoes….

# 2 Florida State vs. NC State

As evidenced by their 51-14 thwarting of Clemson, Florida State is an amazing football team. Jameis Winston is among the top three candidates in the Heisman race and their defense is good enough to contain Tajh Boyd. Unfortunately for N.C State they are scheduled to play the Seminoles this week. The Wolf Pack are winless in conference play and are coming off of a bye week after losing 24-10 to Syracuse. FSU, as you already know, has destroyed every team in their path so far. They are 6-0 overall and are ranked second in the nation.

The good news for the Pack is that their intended starting quarterback Brandon Mitchell will be making his return after getting hurt in the opening game against Louisiana Tech. The problems on offense can’t just be blamed on Mitchell’s absence since the team averages only 24 points per game and 5.38 yards per play. Defensively, they’ve done a better job but still rank 85th in the nation. They also lost their entire secondary from a year ago, and given that even experienced defenses have struggled with Winston, that is worrisome for the Pack.

Everything has gone right for FSU this year. The only downer for the Seminoles going into this one is that they will be without RB James Wilder Jr. who suffered a concussion against Clemson. Other than that it’s business as usual for FSU who has been phenomenal this year. The defense that held Boyd to just one touchdown and 136 yards, and intercepted two of his passes, will be facing a Wolf Pack offense and a quarterback who has thrown just three passes this year. Granted, Mitchell has completed all three passes.

Prediction: FSU-45 N.C State-10

#9 Clemson vs. Maryland

After a crushing defeat to Florida State, Clemson looks to recover against Maryland, who has lost 34-10 to Wake Forest last week. The Terps will be without their starting QB C.J Brown who has a concussion and their leading rusher, RB Brandon Ross who has a bad shoulder. In Brown’s place is Caleb Rowe who has completed 44 of 85 passes and has a pair of touchdowns this year.

Not helping matters is the fact that the Terps will also be without TE David Steinbough and LB L.A Goree. Since cracking the Top-25 when they jumped out to a 5-0 start and beat West Virginia 37-0, Maryland has struggled mightily. A Clemson team with a chip on their shoulder probably isn’t a good thing for the Terps.

Clemson had been on fire leading up to their loss last week. They still sit at 6-1 on the season though a conference title is very unlikely at this point. Still, they are in position to finish in the Top-10 and a prestigious bowl game appearance is certainly in the cards.

Prediction: Clemson-34 Maryland-14

#7 Miami vs. Wake Forest

Miami can breath easy now that they wont be facing tough sanctions. After winning 27-23 in the closing seconds against North Carolina, the Hurricanes will welcome Wake Forest in hopes of sustaining their perfect record. Wake has been better than expected, sitting at 4-3 on the year and 2-2 in the conference.

Wake’s offense is anchored my WR Michael Campanaro who has caught 55 passes, five of them for touchdowns, this season. The Deacons have gotten plenty of good play from their QB Tanner Price, who has amassed 10 touchdowns to just three interceptions this year. Aside from allowing 56 points to Clemson, Wake has done well defensively. On average, their opponents average just 20 points a game and their secondary has been particularly effective. Both Merrill Noel and Kevin Johnson have tallied three interceptions this year. Giving that Stephen Morris has struggled for Miami at times, throwing eight interceptions, Wake might have a better chance than many think.

Miami narrowly beat UNC last week, maintaining a perfect 6-0 record. Their biggest win came against Florida with a 21-16 win. Their high-powered offense is rooted in their running game. Duke Johnson has 92 carries already, and has rushed for four touchdowns. Dallas Crawford, who is more of a short yardage running back, has dashed his way into the end zone nine times for the Canes so far. Giving that the Deacs have such a strong secondary, Miami will likely utilize their speed on the ground, which is nothing out of the ordinary for them. Their defense has allowed just 17.2 points per game and has forced 15 turnovers so far.

Prediction: Miami-30 Wake Forest-17

North Carolina Vs. Boston College

The Tar Heels desperately need to win another game. At 1-5 overall and 0-3 in the conference 2013 has been a huge letdown. Nearly beating Miami last week was promising and the emergence of Eric Ebron as a dominant Receiver was a welcome sight to Chapel Hill Fans. Their Opponents, The Boston College Eagles, are 3-3 overall and 1-2 in ACC play.

UNC played their best game of the season against Miami, narrowly losing 27-23. Ebron played really well, racking up 199 yards and catching a touchdown pass, and if the Heels aspire to win any more this year, he’ll need to keep putting up performances like that one. The rest of the UNC offense is still trying replicate their output from a year ago, but have struggled in every department. Gio Bernard is badly missed in Chapel Hill right now. The Heels, however, have progressed this season, leading Georgia Tech at halftime, and as mentioned above, came within seconds of beating Miami.

BC has two losses in conference play, one to Florida State and another to Clemson. They beat Wake Forest 24-10 for their lone conference win. Their one non-conference loss was against USC. A pleasant surprise for the Eagles has been QB chase Rettig. The 6’3 senior has hurled 10 touchdowns and has completed over 60 percent of his passes. His main target is WR Alex Amidon, who 37 receptions this season, three of them for touchdowns.

Another big contributor to the Eagle offense has been RB Andre Williams who has carried the ball 157 times this year for 832 yards and seven touchdowns. Defensively they allow about 422 yards per game and hold teams to just over 26 points per game.

The Eagles secondary hasn’t been stellar and given UNC’s veteran QB and the recent play of Eric Ebron, and the must win situation facing the Heels, Carolina should have he edge in this game and can pick up their first conference win.

Prediction: UNC-28 Boston College-21

#16 Virginia Tech vs. Duke

The Hokies are one of four teams representing the ACC in the Top-25, and barring some unforeseen incident; they should maintain that status this weekend. VT is 6-1 on the year and undefeated since losing to top ranked Alabama. Duke is coming off a 25-22 win over Virginia. They continue their surge under David Cutclife and sit at 5-2 on the season but are 1-2 in the ACC.

Virginia Tech sports a very talented defense. Their secondary has an incredible 13 interceptions, led by Freshman CB Brandon Facyson who has picked off four. They defend the run pretty well too, allowing just 2.5 yards per carry.

Logan Thomas has struggled under center at times for the Hokies. The Senior QB has thrown nine touchdowns and six interceptions but has kept his team in every game. He’s also played well on the ground, rushing for three touchdowns. As a whole, the offense averages 328 yards per game and 4.8 per play. Basically their offense is solid but they’ll be leaning on their defense this weekend and the rest of the season.

Duke has won their last three games, albeit two were out of conference. In their 35-22 win over Virginia the Blue Devils got another good game from starting QB, Anthony Boone who missed the last three games. Boone threw 21 for 39 and tallied a pair of touchdowns. Duke relies heavily on their offense and this will be the best defense they’ve faced all year. The odds are stacked against the Blue Devils here, and despite yet another winning season so far, they will drop to 1-3 after this weekend.

Prediction: Virginia Tech-24 Duke 14

Other ACC Games

Georgia Tech will go to Charlottesville to play Virginia while Pittsburgh will step out of conference play to play Navy.

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