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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Week 1: ACC Predictions

The ACC, which is currently living in fear of an SEC invasion, has a very easy week ahead of them to start off the 2011-2012 college football season. Along with every other major conference in college football, the majority of their games this week will be David vs. Goliath moments with little excitement (save for those rare James Madison upsets).

Will Jacory Harris be allowed to play at Miami this year?
Georgia Tech vs. Western Carolina
Prediction: Georgia Tech 35, Western Carolina 7
Georgia Tech starts off their season on the early day this year (Thursday, September 1) with a game against Western Carolina. This game will be decided by size, with Western Carolina losing the battle in the trenches. Georgia Tech's lines will overpower the Caramounts on both sides of the ball, while Tech's QB Washington gets all the time he needs to make big plays. This game will be the start of the Tech program's turnaround after a lackluster 2010 season.

Wake Forest @ Syracuse
Prediction: WF 14, Syracuse 21
I expect this game to be a low scoring, grind-it-out sort of affair. The Wake Forest offense will ultimately fall to an under appreciated Syracuse football team. Ultimately, the road test will fall flat for the Demon Deacons. I still expect a better season for Wake Forest, and a great season for Syracuse by its standards.

Boston College vs. Northwestern
Prediction: Boston College 31, Northwestern 24
You know your conference isn't trying too hard when the biggest out of conference opponent you face in Week 1 is Northwestern. This should be the most entertaining game of the week for the ACC, with Boston College notching a good win over the Big Ten. Home field advantage will be the key, with Boston College pulling it out in the fourth quarter. Mistakes by either side could sway the result, but don't expect a blowout from either side.

Virginia Tech vs. Appalachian State
Prediction: Virginia Tech 42, Appalachian State 10
Probably more interesting than it sounds given the context of Virginia Tech's last season, but a Division 1-Division 2 battle none the less. Virginia Tech will look to overcome their defeat to James Madison last year, against an Appalachian State team whose win against Michigan six years ago is considered one of the greatest upsets of all time. The game shouldn't be close after halftime, giving Virginia Tech fans a welcome reprieve from last year's debacle.

Florida State vs. UL Monroe
Prediction: Florida State 42, UL Monroe 0
Florida State has a few games to work up to their battle with Oklahoma later in September. UL Monroe shouldn't pose any threat to them in the first week. Expect the Florida State defense to jump all over UL Monroe, notching one of the few shutouts this week.

North Carolina vs. James Madison
Prediction: North Carolina 35, James Madison 7
Before last year I probably would have given North Carolina an even bigger blowout prediction, but things change in college football and you learn never to underestimate an opponent. Virginia Tech losing to James Madison last year isn't something that will happen again anytime soon, so expect the Tar Heels to jump out and make a statement early. Coaching changes shouldn't effect their ability to win this game handily.

Virginia vs. William And Mary
Prediction: Virginia 28, W&M 10
Virginia could easily blow this game out of the water with some early ambition but W&M is a scrappy bunch who will come out fighting if given the opportunity. Expect a close game at halftime, and a defensive battle in the second half to determine the winner. A dangerous game for Virginia if they don't come out ready to fight early on.

Clemson vs. Troy
Prediction: Clemson 31, Troy 17
Clemson will be starting highly recruited QB Tajh Boyd on Saturday in a game against the Sun Belt champs Troy. Expect some early jitters from Boyd against a capable Troy defense, but talent will prevail in the later stages of the game with Clemson pulling away. Boyd will look good in his debut while also giving coach Dabo Swinney a much needed win.

NC State vs. Liberty
Prediction: NC State 40, Liberty 7
Should be an easy game for NC State, who will dominate for three quarters before allowing a Liberty score late. NC State has the potential to be a big time spoiler in the ACC this year, and a game against Liberty will be the calm before the storm.
Duke vs. Richmond
Prediction: Duke 31, Richmond 24
Duke will be fighting for the bottom of the barrel in the ACC this year with Virginia and Wake Forest, but a winnable game vs. The Richmond Spiders is a good place to start. For Duke, home field advantage will be the only deciding factor in a game of evenly matched teams. Duke won't win many games this year, at least in football, but Richmond will be a good test for them.

Miami @ Maryland
Prediction: Miami 17, Maryland 35
Simply too many distractions for the Hurricanes coming into this game. The possibility of losing as many as 13 players for an away opener against an ACC opponent will sink them early. Maryland needs to defeat Miami in the first half while the Hurricanes try to work an offense that will ultimately fall flat. If Jacory Harris does play you can expect the score to be closer, yet still in Maryland's favor.

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