Contenders in the Atlantic and Coastal divisions of the Atlantic Coast Conference are beginning to emerge. Florida State and North Carolina State are early favorites in the Atlantic division. As Virginia Tech continues to turn things around, look for the Hokies to compete with Miami for the Coastal division title.
BOSTON COLLEGE AT NC STATE (NOON, ESPN3)
Both teams could really use a win here. Boston College (2-2, 0-1) has lost its past two contests. After benching quarterback Dave Shinskie, replacement starter Chase Rettig went down with an ankle injury in the second quarter against Notre Dame and his status is still uncertain. Rettig’s backup threw two picks, and the Eagles netted just five yards of rushing throughout the entire game.
Meanwhile, the Wolfpack (4-1, 1-1) blew a 17-point lead against Tech last weekend. Despite throwing for 362 yards, NC State quarterback Russell Wilson tossed up three picks in the game — all to corner Jayron Hosley. His final interception came when the Wolfpack were down, 34-30, and had the ball with just more than a minute left.
Yet, I really can’t see Boston College winning this game with its ongoing offensive struggles.
Predicted winner: NC State
CENTRAL MICHIGAN AT VIRGINIA TECH (NOON, ESPNU)
In theory, this should be a relatively easy game for the Hokies (3-2, 2-0), who look to continue building momentum after their 0-2 start.
Tech is beginning a four-game home stand after garnering consecutive ACC road wins. Although running back Ryan Williams has been out with a hamstring injury, Darren Evans is coming off a 160-yard, two touchdown performance against NC State.
Central Michigan (2-3) is a substantially different team than their 2009 edition that went 12-2, and is feeling the loss of NFL-drafted quarterback Dan LeFevour.
But look for a competitive game here as the Chippewas have only lost by eight combined points to Northwestern (5-0) and Temple (4-1).
Predicted winner: Virginia Tech
VIRGINIA AT GEORGIA TECH (3:30 P.M., ESPNU)
As predicted last week, the Virginia Cavaliers (2-2, 0-1) suffered a bad home defeat to Florida State and have yet to beat an FBS opponent. Evidently there is a lot of work left to be done in Charlottesville if the Cavaliers are going to be bowl eligible this year.
Although the Yellow Jackets (3-2, 2-1) have been far from impressive in any of their three wins, their game-winning touchdown drive against Wake Forest may provide a much-needed spark. Give credit to quarterback Joshua Nesbitt for his most consistent performance of the season — 11-21, 130 passing yards and two touchdowns.
Georgia Tech can get itself into the mix in the Coastal Division by improving its conference record to 3-1.
Predicted winner: Georgia Tech
CLEMSON AT NORTH CAROLINA (3:30 P.M., ABC/ESPN3)
This should be a great matchup as each team searches for its first conference win. Clemson (2-2, 0-1) has fallen on hard times of late, dropping consecutive games to then-No. 16 Auburn in overtime and then-No. 16 Miami.
The Tar Heels (2-2, 0-1) have overcome adversity to show that they can still win football games. A 28-3 second half domination against East Carolina along with their come-from-behind win against Rutgers has built up some confidence in a wavering program. With UNC still missing many of its players, Clemson is the better team and can pull off the road victory.
Predicted winner: Clemson
NAVY AT WAKE FOREST (6:30 P.M., ESPN3)
This game is very intriguing from a statistical standpoint, if nothing else.
Neither team can throw the ball, as the Demon Deacons (2-3, 1-2) rank 114th nationally with 126 pass yards per game and the Midshipmen (2-2) are standing at 115th and 119.8 yards per game.
In addition, Navy is averaging 17.5 points per game, good for 110th in the nation. On the opposite side of the ball, Wake Forest’s defense gives up 36.8 points per game, which ranks 111th nationally.
There is no reason this shouldn’t be a close game, but look for Wake Forest to pull through. Navy is having a down year, even Maryland beat them — and no the Terps aren’t actually good.
Their four victories have come over teams with a combined four wins.
Predicted winner: Wake Forest
NO. 23 FLORIDA STATE AT NO. 13 MIAMI (8 P.M., ABC/ESPN3)
Easily the ACC game of the week. The winner here will come away with the pride of the conference and even some national respect.
Florida State (4-1, 2-0) is looking to run away with the Atlantic Division and avenge a 47-17 loss to then-No. 10 Oklahoma.
Meanwhile, Miami (3-1, 1-0) looks to knot things up with Virginia Tech in the Coastal Division and garner their first victory over a ranked opponent this season. The Hurricanes lost to No. 2 Ohio State 36-24 in week two.
I would say this game depends on Miami quarterback Jacory Harris’ control of the ball, but the Canes’ defense has been able to overcome his four combined picks in wins at Pittsburgh and Clemson.
However, Florida State has a very balanced attack, averaging 224.6 passing yards per game compared to 208.6 rushing yards per game. Tailbacks Jermaine Thomas and Ty Jones virtually split carries and yardage. Senior quarterback Christian Ponder and the Seminoles’ balanced offense will successfully pick apart Miami’s defense and lead them to the upset.
Predicted winner: Florida State