Courtesy of Stuart Barefoot, covering Atlantic Coast Conference football this season for GreensboroSports.com……
The Jameis Winston situation took an unbelievable turn when it was reported that investigators encouraged the woman who accused Winston of sexually assaulting her not to testify. Who knows how this story will develop, but unless Winston is charged with anything, he’ll still be starting under center for the Seminoles, who don’t appear to be distracted by this. Which brings us to this week’s preview, which features some weird matchups and unusual storylines.
#25 Duke vs. Wake Forest
There are a lot of surprising records this year. The Chiefs are 9-1, the Panthers have won five straight, and the Pacers are in first in the Eastern Conference. Not to be outdone, the now 25th ranked Duke Blue Devils are 8-2 at football! At 4-2 in the conference they now have the chance to win the Coastal Division and face Florida State in the championship.
Standing in the way of that accomplishment, are two teams, the first of whom is Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons are 4-6 on the season and 2-5 in the ACC. Any chance they had at salvaging their season was dashed when top receiver Michael Campanaro was injured and ruled out for the rest of the year. Last week the Deacs lost 59-3 to FSU and managed only 166 yards of total offense.
Duke continues to amaze, and are fresh off a 48-30 win over Miami. The Blue Devil’s biggest asset is their high-powered offense anchored by Anthony Boone and Brandon Connette at QB. Connette is one of the best backup QB’s in college football, primarily used in short yardage situations, as evidenced by his four rushing touchdowns against Miami. Their defense, while struggling at times, ranks 34th in the nation in points against.
The Demon Deacons are solid on defense and rank 43rd in points against, but average just 17 points per game. It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which that trend improves this week, when you consider that they don’t have mush a rushing game to rely on now that Campanaro is out. To their credit Wake has been pesky at times, and beat a decent Maryland team 34-10. Still the edge has to go to the Blue Devils.
Prediction: Duke-40 Wake Forest-21
#2 Florida State vs. Idaho
In what really ought to be an easy game for FSU, the Jameis Winston saga will weigh heavily on the back of everyone’s minds. There’s no point in even speculating about what may or may not have happened until all of the facts come out. That’s the only way to be fair to all parties involved/
As far as the actual game goes; The Idaho Vandals are 1-9 on the season and in the midst of a five game losing streak. They rank a respectable 70th in the nation in passing yards, but their defense allows a dismal 45 points per game and ranks 119th in the FBS in that category. The likelihood that Winston plays far into the second half is small, and it will give back up Sean McGuire a chance to take a lot of snaps.
Idaho’s offense does an okay job at passing the football but their lack of a run game keeps them out of the Top-100 in total offense. Offensively their best game came during a 45-35 loss to then 20th-ranked Northern Illinois.
FSU is, not surprisingly, expected to win this game. It will be a chance to let the second and third strings to get some time on the field and for Idaho to take home a lot of guaranteed money.
Prediction: FSU-59 Idaho-3
North Carolina vs. Old Dominion
Old Dominion’s basketball team might be able to beat UNC’s, but the revamped Tar Heel football team has many reasons to feel confident going into Saturday’s game. For one thing, their offense has returned to their old ways of scoring points, gaining yards and other basic things football teams ideally would do well. For whatever reason, Bryn Renner had a disappointing senior season, and in his defense; it’s hard for college seniors to have great seasons in any sports. But with Renner hurt and Marquise Williams under center, the Tar Heel offense has put up 45 and 34 points in each of their last two contests.
Williams is a quarterback who can run the ball well and is especially a threat in short yardage situations, as evidenced in his four rushing touchdowns in limited playing time this year. He even leads the team in rushing yards this year. When he does choose to pass, he still has Eric Ebron and Quinshad Davis who have played well as of late.
Old Dominion is 8-3 and has won their last four games. While few of us know much about these guys, one thing is certain; they can put points on the board. Starting QB Trey Heinicke has thrown 32 touchdowns this year to eight interceptions. Against Howard on September 14th he threw for 406 yards and four touchdowns. The Monarchs have also rushed for 28 touchdowns. Led by Colby Goodwin who has 11. The UNC defense that allows a respectable 25 points per game will have their hands full. All the same, this is a Tar Heel team that has held three of the last four teams they’ve played under 20 points. Old Dominion may be competitive at times but likely to no avail.
Prediction: UNC-40 ODU- 24
N.C State vs. East Carolina
The Wolf Pack have lost six straight and will take on an ECU team that is 8-2 and vying for their fifth straight win. The Prates do everything well. While keeping their opponents to a manageable 21.5 points per game they put 41.5 on the boards themselves. ECU is led by QB Shane Carden, who has thrown 29 touchdowns and rushed for another seven so far. The rest of the offense is well balanced, with Vintavious Cooper rushing for nine touchdowns and Justin Cooper catching seven, among many other talented players.
State will start Brandon Mitchell who has seen limited time due to injuries though the Wolf Pack may rely more heavily on their run game. Shadrac Thornton has put up big numbers overall, including two games where he rushed for over 100 yards. Still, given State’s struggles and how well ECU had done this year, the Pirates may take down another in-state rival as they’ve already crushed UNC 55-31.
Prediction: ECU-38 N.C State- 31
ACC newcomers Pittsburgh and Syracuse will face off while Clemson will host in-state rivals the Citadel. Likewise, Georgia Tech will play an oddly scheduled out of conference game against Alabama A&M While Boston College and Maryland stay in conference to face one another. Miami, who hast lost their last three will try to salvage their season with a win over Virginia.