With no games in the ACC worth singling out for a feature, this will be the first full ACC preview.
The impressive runs put together by North Carolina State and Miami have picked up the falls of Louisville and Florida State. While the Atlantic Division seems pretty straightforward because of the dominance of Clemson, the Coastal has four teams that could emerge as the division champion. Halfway through the year, neither Miami (especially after Mark Walton’s season-ending leg surgery), Georgia Tech, Virginia or Virginia Tech have separated themselves from the pack, which should make for a crazy final few weeks.
But for now, let’s focus on Week 7.
#2 Clemson at. Syracuse-
The Tigers are primed to take a run at another National Championship, but doubts about Kelly Bryant are starting to creep in. He’s hampered with a leg injury this week, which could make this game less of a blowout. He’s their leading rusher, but Clemson has plenty of backs ready to shoulder the load against a Syracuse defense that allows over 130 rushing yards a game.
We’re all still looking for Deon Cain’s breakout game, will it be against ‘Cuse?
Syracuse should put up points, with Eric Dungey and Steve Ishmael leading the air raid for Syracuse. The Orange have been competitive in every loss this season, but this one will be ugly.
#20 North Carolina State at. Pittsburgh-
Remember the name Max Browne? The savior of USC football before Sam Darnold? He plays for Pittsburgh now, so that’s good. He’s put up okay numbers for the Panthers, and could have another good day against NC State’s horrid pass defense.
This seems like the type of game Pittsburgh could win, with their grind it out style, but they won’t get the one or two stops they’ll need to turn the ACC on it’s head.
Ryan Finley keeps the Wolfpack on the map, while Bradley Chubb (above) gets a taste of playing in an NFL stadium (something he’ll become accustomed to), as this one is played at Heinz Field. But put NC State on a slight “upset alert”.
Florida State at. Duke-
The demise of Florida State is well documented, but they’re way better than their 1-3 record shows. The defense is still legit; they just can’t put points on the board. They could be on a “loss to Miami hangover”, following Malik Rosier’s heroics.
Duke started off strong at 4-0, with two out of conference Power Five victories, but have dropped the last two. Daniel Jones hasn’t made quite the improvements I thought he would have, and he’s holding this team back. Duke’s defense has been good all year, giving up less than 300 yards a game.
Give me the Blue Devils in low scoring affair.
Boston College at. Louisville-
Last year, Lamar Jackson wrapped up the Heisman race in Chestnut Hill, scoring seven touchdowns.
In 2017, Jackson is still putting up big numbers, but isn’t getting national media attention because Louisville has fallen short of expectations, despite not having any bad losses. If Jackson has another big day on Boston College’s defense, this could be the end for Steve Addazio at BC.
The offense is just non-existent for the Eagles. The most points they’ve scored in a game is 28… against Central Michigan. Even the defense hasn’t been stellar, giving up 416 yards a game. With Louisville’s attack putting up over 550 yards on average, expect that number to rise.
It was a good decent (?) run, Steve.
Georgia Tech at. #11 Miami-
“Is the U back?” is the question being asked by college football fans across America following their thrilling victory over in-state rival Florida State. Malik Rosier (featured) made a big time throw in a big time game, despite playing an awful first half of football. He, along with the defense, showed an incredible amount of mental toughness and grit.
However, the Hurricanes will be without Mark Walton, and potentially without Ahmonn Richards in this one.
With Georgia Tech’s triple option racking up almost 400 yards a game on the ground, Miami’s defense will be tired late, and without weapons, the Hurricanes could be in trouble. Put the ‘Canes upset alert this week, big time.
Virginia at. North Carolina-
Virginia is a surprising 4-1, with a victory over Boise State in Albertsons Stadium, the blue turf field, to boot. Virginia’s offense has been above average, but the defense has been outstanding, especially against the pass.
The Cavaliers give up less than 200 yards a game through the air, thanks to future NFLer Quin Blanding (above). He’s one of the just three seniors starting on defense for Bronco Mendenhall, (15/10 name) who has changed the culture in Charlottesville in just his second season.
Meanwhile, North Carolina is having a difficult time transitioning from Mitchell Trubisky, as the Chazz Surratt era is off to a 1-5 start. The defense has been terrible, yielding 470 yards a game, and 241 on the ground.
I’m going to go against ESPN’s FPI and pick Virginia in a blowout.
Cover Photo via Zimbio
Other Media via VirginiaSports.com and SportsNewsGist.com