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Lauren Brownlow

Aside from FSU, lots of questions in ACC

Posted August 29
Updated August 30

For years, I've followed ACC football and cared about the outcome of the games. I've covered the ACC for fewer years than that but still a lot of years and STOP ASKING ME SO MANY QUESTIONS IT'S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS HOW OLD I AM. But all of that means I'm used to the disappointment, frustration, even rage that's caused by ACC football.

But over the years, I learned that humor is the best way to deal with that. If we laugh at ourselves, then no one can really laugh at us. I think my parents told me that back when all the kids laughed at me growing up. But there's some truth to it. We ACC folk are the finest in the land when it comes to deprecating humor, and I'd like to think my GIF-tastic weekly ACC previews are just a small contribution that great oeuvre. I just hope you smile in between nodding vigorously after reading one of my excellent pieces of cogent analysis.

GEORGIA SOUTHERN AT N.C. STATE
Time: 12:30 p.m.
TV: WRAZ (ACC Network)

KEY FOR N.C. STATE
Make Georgia Southern complete a forward pass? That’s something Florida failed to do in last year’s regular-season finale loss to the Eagles. Seriously. Georgia Southern was 0-of-3 passing.

But the Eagles bring in a brand-new head coach this year in Willie Fritz as they join the Fun Belt and FBS football officially. While Fritz is not scrapping the option entirely, he’s incorporating other elements into it. Like, you know, the pass. It’s worth noting, by the way, that as good as Georgia Southern had been as an FCS program over the years, it was having a down year by its standards in 2013. So a team that was rather meh brings in a new head coach and a relatively new offense while already not having the type of talent that dominated the FCS level, much less this level.

In all seriousness, NC State needs to use its physical advantages that it will assuredly have on both sides of the ball, particularly on both lines, and not try to get too fancy. The NC State starters on both lines are experienced and talented, and both groups need to play up to their potential to prevent this game from getting more interesting than it needs to be. Yes, it would be nice to see NC State rack up a million yards of offense, but it’s not necessary. Don’t get cute, stay the course and…a thousand points of light. Or something.

THIS GUY
Kevin Ellison. Georgia Southern’s quarterback has had to re-familiarize himself with the wonders of the forward pass, but the redshirt sophomore, as Fritz put it, “throws the ball much better than I thought."

So that’s good news for the Eagles. How often Georgia Southern throws, though, remains to be seen. It will depend on how effectively NC State stops the run, which, if last year was any indication, was not always very well. And Ellison was excellent as a runner, piling up 886 yards and eight touchdowns (7.0 yards per carry). And he did complete 41-of-76 passes for 756 yards, out of passes that he attempted against teams not named Florida.

HERE’S A GUY
Jacoby Brissett. It’s finally time to see the Florida transfer quarterback in action. Since he got to campus early last year, it’s been set in stone that he was going to be the guy. And he hasn’t disappointed his teammates or the coaches in that regard, taking the reins as seamlessly as one could possibly imagine. Considering how much NC State struggled at that position last year, it has to be an upgrade.

How significant of one remains to be seen, of course. Some doubters would wonder how significant it could possibly be, considering Brissett could not beat out Jeff Driskel at Florida, as poorly as he played. But Brissett has grown up a lot since then and has presumably improved. And he wasn’t given much of a chance in 2012. Anyway, it’s been 651 days since he played a snap of college football, so it will be exciting for him and for everyone to see how he fares.

STATS ARE FOR LOSERS
NC State has just 33 juniors and seniors this year, the fewest number on an NC State team since 1995. The Wolfpack also have the second-highest number of freshmen on their roster this year (52), just behind Pitt’s 53. … NC State is one of two teams from a Power 5 conference that returns its placekicker, punter and long snapper to start together for a fourth straight season. … This will be NC State’s first meeting with Georgia Southern. … Fritz and NC State head coach Dave Doeren are both from the same place: Shawnee Mission, Kansas. … Georgia Southern leaves FCS as the winningest team with more than 50 games played at that level (a .718 winning percentage) to go with six national championships. … Georgia Southern is 55-24-1 all-time against teams from North Carolina, but the only other FBS opponent on that list is North Carolina (who the Eagles lost to in 2009).

NARRATIVES
NC State Win: So NC State beats a team that beat Florida last year and so transitively NCState is better than last year’s Florida team which only ended the year with one more win than NC State and now my head hurts

Bill Murray -- Got that going for me

NC State Loss: (Insert “lesson learned” GIF)
Lesson Learned

PREDICTION
NC State, 44-16. Because I like even numbers.

ELON AT DUKE
Time: 6:00 p.m.
TV: ESPN3

KEY FOR DUKE
I mean, is “showing up” too insulting to say? No offense to the Phoenix, who have been a very respectable FCS program at times, but this isn’t one of those times for them.

Elon does have a new head coach in Rick Skrosky, which just sounds like a great football name. That, or someone that men would sit around a table and tell tales of his legend. Skrosky was the offensive coordinator at Ball State the last three years, and he’s a good hire for the Phoenix. But just as the mythical phoenix dies in fire before it can rise from the ashes, Elon’s program is still smoldering right now.

Elon does return 14 starters, but that’s from a dreadful team that went 2-10. Maybe a past Duke team would have struggled too much with Elon. But this is not your slightly older brother’s Duke team. The Blue Devils will be itching to get on the field and prove that last year is no fluke, and Elon has the misfortune of being their first victim. Though it will be interesting to watch as Duke continues to work out the kinks that come with replacing the contributions of two of their best players, tight end Braxton Deaver and linebacker Kelby Brown (both lost for the season with ACL injuries suffered in training camp).

THIS GUY
Mike Quinn. The fifth-year senior had to fight to keep his job under the new regime, even though he started all 12 games last year. It took until later in fall camp, but eventually, Quinn won the job. Last year, he completed 62.2 percent of his passes for 2,618 yards, 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions. In his only game against an FBS team last year (at Georgia Tech), Quinn was 17-of-30 for 136 yards, no touchdowns and three picks. He had a nice stretch of the season from games two through nine, where he threw 14 touchdowns to just one interception, but he closed out the year in the final three games with three touchdowns and five interceptions. Quinn won’t be intimidated by the moment, but it’s clear he has plenty of work to do to establish himself as a consistent signal-caller for the Phoenix.

HERE’S A GUY
Thomas Sirk. Duke will have to replace backup quarterback Brandon Connette, who transferred to Fresno State to be closer to his ailing mother, in its goal-line packages. He led Duke with 14 rushing touchdowns a year ago, and that’s going to be tough to replicate. Both head coach David Cutcliffe and Sirk himself have insisted that he and Connette are different - Sirk is probably more speed, where Connette was more power - but Sirk is finally getting his shot at playing a big role on this offense. His teammates have a lot of faith in him, and so does his head coach, who said he thinks Sirk is the fastest quarterback he’s ever coached. Cutcliffe is an offensive guru for a reason, and he’s fantastic at adjusting to the strengths of his personnel. But we have yet to see the various wrinkles that will be installed to best suit Sirk’s skill set, and it will be fascinating to watch, even if we probably won’t see some of the best stuff (which Duke will no doubt save for a worthier opponent).

STATS ARE FOR LOSERS
Duke is now 10-2 with Anthony Boone as the starting quarterback, with the only losses coming to Florida State in the ACC title game and Texas A&M in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. … As bad as Duke has been historically, they do lead the series with Elon all-time 6-0-1, with the tie coming in that unforgettable season of football back in 1921. … Duke won the last meeting in 2010, but Elon made things interesting and the final score was 41-27. … Duke tailback Josh Snead is averaging 5.45 yards per carry over his career, the fourth-highest total in Duke career history. … This is the fifth straight year that Elon will open its season at an FBS opponent. As you might imagine, Elon has not won any of those games. … Elon’s opponents last year averaged the same amount of points (32.8) as Duke averaged last year on offense. … Elon has a physical disadvantage at most positions, but interestingly enough, the Phoenix’s tight ends actually average 6-6 in height, an inch taller than Duke's tight ends. BIG, IF TRUE!

NARRATIVES
Duke Win:

P&R Dust your shoulders off

Duke Loss: …

Woman screaming

PREDICTION
Duke, 54-6. Blue Devils roll. We’re done here.

LIBERTY AT NO. 23 NORTH CAROLINA
Time: 6:00 p.m.
TV: ESPN3

KEY FOR NORTH CAROLINA
Um…so….the secondary thing. That’s going to be a thing, even against Liberty. North Carolina announced earlier this week that it would be suspending four defensive backs – Des Lawrence, Donnie Miles, M.J. Stewart and Brian Walker – for the season-opener for a violation of team policy that could possibly stem from this alleged incident. Either way, though, that group includes two starters and two prominent reserves. Quarterback Josh Woodrum is entering his third year as the starter for Liberty, and the Flames have some weapons at receiver and a pretty experienced offensive line. Carolina already struggled against the run a year ago and was opportunistic against the pass; missing those DBs could be an issue against a Liberty team that can move the ball through the air. Look, UNC should still probably win this game, and fairly easily. But there will be more than a few tense moments early on, at the very least. Let Liberty hang around long enough and who knows?

THIS GUY
Darrin Peterson. Missing so many defensive backs, the scariest words UNC could see next to a Liberty wide receiver are “deep threat.” But that’s Peterson, according to Liberty beat writer Chris Lang. The 6-2, 190-pound junior had 58 catches for 825 yards and seven touchdowns last year (over 14 yards a catch). He had four 100-yard receiving games as well. If you’re in Chapel Hill this weekend and see a Liberty player streaking down the sideline as a UNC defensive back chases after him, it’s probably Peterson. He’ll make at least one big play, probably, and who knows? If he and his teammates can get loose a few times for some big-play touchdowns, they'll at least make UNC sweat early.

HERE’S A GUY
Elijah Hood. Even if North Carolina were locked in a tight game with Liberty, there’s no question that the dynamic freshman tailback would see action in his first collegiate game on Saturday. How much time he sees, and how effective he’ll be, who knows. A top-10 running back in the 2014 class, Hood is a big-time addition to a UNC backfield that’s already crowded. But he’s too good not to play, and UNC head coach Larry Fedora has said as much. Plus he’s strong, powerful - “a bull in a china closet,” per Fedora, which just sounds uncomfortable for everyone involved - and fast, too. Fedora said Monday that he just wants the freshman to get into the game and take care of the ball, but it will be the first time fans and observers alike get to see what Hood can do on this level. It can take freshmen backs some time to “get it,” but Hood might just be the rare one who adjusts right away.

STATS ARE FOR LOSERS
UNC ended the 2013 season by winning six of its last seven games to bounce back from a 1-5 start. Similarly, Liberty won its final five games last year to finish 8-4 and take home a share of the Big South title. … This will be Liberty’s fourth game against an ACC team, and while Liberty is 0-3 in those games (two against N.C. State and one against Wake), it has not lost by more than 21 points (in 2011 at N.C. State). It lost by 20 at Wake in 2006 and just three at Wake in 2012 in Turner Gill’s first game as head coach. … Speaking of Liberty coaches, former UNC quarterback Joe Dailey is the Flames’ passing game coordinator. … UNC has just six scholarship seniors on the roster (as of the start of training camp), but the Tar Heels return 93 percent of their scoring from last season.

NARRATIVES
North Carolina Win: Um…congrats?

Weird clapping

North Carolina Loss:

Horrified Corky

PREDICTION

North Carolina, 70-20. Seems about right.

FRIDAY, AUGUST 29

VILLANOVA AT SYRACUSE
Time: 7:30 p.m.
TV: ESPN3

THE SKINNY
Villanova is an FCS team, but a generally frisky one. Just ask Boston College, which struggled to shake the Wildcats early in last year’s matchup. But Syracuse, which returns its starting quarterback, some solid running backs and a much-improved offensive line, should be just fine. The Orange also return a lot on defense, but this won’t be an easy game by any stretch. And that’s not just coachspeak. It’s a nice first game for Syracuse in that it won’t be easy necessarily, but Syracuse should still win relatively easily. And if that doesn’t happen, just blame me.

REMEMBER MY NAME
Poppy Livers. Villanova has a receiver named Poppy Livers. This is awesome. Mr. Livers is Villanova’s best receiver from a year ago (53 catches for 580 yards), and though Villanova returns some experience at other positions, this is the only name you need to know because it is incredible. He’s also a great story - he was a walk-on in 2012, but has become one of the team’s more indispensable players. Presumably, head coach Andy Talley kept him on the roster when he realized his name was Poppy Livers. So he shouldn’t get too much credit because we’d all do the same thing.

Terrel Hunt. Syracuse’s junior starting quarterback had an up-and-down season last year in his first year as the starter. That’s to be expected. But what’s to be expected this year, then, is a more steady version of Hunt, and one that’s more like the Hunt from the end of last season as opposed to the one who went five games without a touchdown pass. Hunt’s weapons are a year older, his offensive line will be better and it’s all right there for him. But it starts with the opener, and though Hunt dominated FCS or lower-tier FBS opponents last year, it would be nice to see him start out with a good game against a team Syracuse should beat handily.

NARRATIVESSyracuse Win:

Scrubs shrug smile

Syracuse Loss: YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO BE ONE OF THE NOT TERRIBLE ONES THIS YEAR, SYRACUSE!

Pantry Fail

PREDICTION
Syracuse, 45-21. The final score will be closer than the game itself.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 30

NO. 7 UCLA AT VIRGINIA
Time: 12:00 p.m.
TV: ESPN/WatchESPN

THE SKINNY
WEEEEEEELP. Is a one-word preview sufficient? No? OK then. Um, Virginia will host UCLA instead of traveling all the way to Los Angeles, so it has that going for it. Which is nice. Even though Virginia fans aren’t interested. UCLA features a Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback in Brett Hundley, a very good defense and a top-10 national ranking. Virginia will actually have a pretty decent defense, but the offense features a ton of question marks (except for running back Kevin Parks) and an offensive line very much in flux. And as good as Virginia’s defense might be this year, it won’t be anything Brett Hundley hasn’t seen before. Even though UVa quarterback Greyson Lambert insists that his defense is as good or better than UCLA’s, that’s probably not actually the case.

REMEMBER MY NAME
Myles Jack. We love a good story in college football, and the rare player who plays on both sides of the ball (and well, mind you) is a good story. If you catch this broadcast, you’ll likely hear quite a bit about Jack’s prowess on both sides of the ball as a running back and a linebacker. He started at linebacker for the Bruins, where he posted the second-most tackles by a freshman in UCLA history, and then averaged seven yards a carry and scored seven touchdowns when he added on offensive duties in November. Not too shabby. There’s a lot of hype around the sophomore, and he’s earned it. He’ll be fun to watch.

Greyson Lambert. For once, Virginia named a starter in the preseason instead of playing quarterback roulette in the preseason and through the bulk of the season itself. Whether or not Lambert keeps the job all season remains to be seen, but it has to be useful on some level that Virginia has known the sophomore quarterback is going to be the guy since April. But none of this will matter at a lick if Lambert can’t avoid turnovers. That’s been Virginia’s biggest problem at the quarterback spot over the last few years. Lambert has the size and the physical skills to be a very good pocket passer, but can he take care of the ball? And does he have reliable enough weapons not named Kevin Parks? It all remains to be seen, and UCLA is a tough, tough way to test that out.

NARRATIVES
Virginia Win:

Price is Right OMG

Virginia Loss: What is this life? What are we all even doing? What is football? Is it any more real than this enormous foam hand?

Sad UVa fan

PREDICTION
UCLA, 41-13. Good job, good effort, Virginia.

DELAWARE AT PITTSBURGH
Time: 12:00 p.m.
TV: ESPN3

THE SKINNY
FCS teams are often at a significant disadvantage on both lines of scrimmage when facing off against FBS foes, and if not there than certainly in terms of overall depth. But it’s hard to imagine Delaware being at a huge disadvantage up front when the Blue Hens have the ball, particularly since Aaron Donald is no longer there. And there are so many questions about Pitt’s defense in general and on the back end that an experienced Delaware offense might just find some early success moving the ball. But Pitt’s offense should rule the day here; the Panthers have a lot coming back on that side and should be able to score points a bit more consistently this year. And Delaware lost two defensive players to the NFL.

REMEMBER MY NAME
Michael Johnson. Not the sprinter, although Delaware’s wide receiver is plenty fast. But calling Johnson a wide receiver is not thorough enough. He’s a runner and a returner too, and he’s one of the best players in FCS. He had 60 catches for over 1,000 yards last season (17.2 per reception) with nine touchdowns, but he also had 13 carries for 159 yards (12.2 per) and 29 kickoff returns for 606 yards. In other words, he’s fast. And reliable. And Pitt’s secondary right now is a bit of a mess; the Panthers only have one corner who had game experience left on the roster and not many corners, period. Regardless of experience. So that lack of experience, combined with an unproven defensive line, could lead to some big plays for Johnson and company early.

Chad Voytik. This is his show now, and the sophomore quarterback had a promising end to last season in Pitt’s bowl game win over Bowling Green. Voytik’s mobility will also give him an advantage Tom Savage didn’t have last year as he can buy himself time or evade incoming defenders better, and while Pitt’s offensive line will be improved, it still likely won’t be great. But Pitt has enough at the skill positions - tailback James Conner, wide receiver Tyler Boyd, etc. - that the offense will be just fine. And it had better be, because the defense will need some time.

NARRATIVES
Pittsburgh Win:

Cat yawning

Pittsburgh Loss:

Gas disaster

PREDICTION
Pittsburgh, 52-24. Delaware will probably score some points. But Pittsburgh will probably score a lot more. Science and math dictate that Pitt will win.

WOFFORD AT GEORGIA TECH
Time: 12:30 p.m.
TV: RSN/ESPN3

THE SKINNY
Not only has Wofford had a whole offseason to prepare for Georgia Tech’s MAGICAL OFFENSE…..but it also RUNS THE SAME OFFENSE! So Wofford should win easily, right? Isn’t that what happens to Georgia Tech opponents with time to prepare? Oh, that’s just FBS opponents. No, but seriously, Wofford hasn’t beaten an FBS team since 2000, and even then it was Louisiana-Monroe. And none of the recent games have been particularly close. And Georgia Tech is pretty familiar with this offense, seeing as they see it a lot in practice. You know, since they run it.

REMEMBER MY NAME
Will Gay. Wofford lost its leading rusher from a season ago in Donovan Johnson, but Gay did pretty good work in limited action (70 carries for 498 yards, or 6.9 per). Gay also was the third-leading receiver for the Terriers in 2013 with nine catches for 205 yards, or a team-high 22.8 (!!) yards per catch. Georgia Tech’s defensive line will be a bit of a new-look group after Jeremiah Attaochu moved on to the NFL, and while they shouldn’t struggle too much with the Terriers, Gay is going to be Wofford’s workhorse back, most likely.

Tim Byerly. In a game like this, Georgia Tech’s backups should see plenty of time. And right now, Byerly - a transfer from Middle Tennessee State - is Justin Thomas’ backup at quarterback. Paul Johnson has insisted that this won’t be a 2012 situation where the quarterbacks (Tevin Washington and Vad Lee) ended up rotating, but one would think that Byerly will see some time this season. It will be interesting to see what Byerly can do in whatever action he gets.

NARRATIVES
I’m only going to do this once, in honor of college football being back again. Because otherwise, it will get old fast.

Georgia Tech Win:

Paul Johnson

Georgia Tech Loss:

Paul Johnson

PREDICTION
Georgia Tech, 63-7. Seems about right.

BOSTON COLLEGE AT UMASS
Time: 3:00 p.m.
TV: ESPN3

THE SKINNY
Here’s all you need to know about the 2014 iteration of UMass: the headline of {{a href=:external_link-5"}}Bill Connelly’s preview of the Minutemen at SB Nation{{/a}} reads, “it won’t get any worse.” With former NFL and Miami offensive coordinator Mark Whipple taking over a team that went 2-22 over the last two seasons, that’s probably true. But it’s probably not getting much better in a hurry, either. This game will be at Gillette Stadium, where UMass plays its home games for some reason. In spite of the fact that it can barely get a respectable basketball crowd to come see a game there, much less a football crowd. Anyway, main takeaway here is that UMass is terrible.

REMEMBER MY NAME
Tyler Murphy. Yes, there’s a Florida transfer starting at an ACC school not named Jacoby Brissett. (That would be weird if he were starting for two teams.) Murphy graduated from Florida last year after starting six games for the Gators (going 2-4 in his starts) before injuring his shoulder. He was going to sit behind Jeff Driskel this year, and he knew that. Besides, the man who recruited him to Florida in the first place - Addazio - is now the head coach at Boston College. So it worked out. It’s tough to know what Murphy can really do, because no quarterback had a lot of success at Florida last year. But ideally, Boston College will diversify its offense a bit more this year, especially with Heisman Trophy finalist Andre Williams now in the NFL. We’ll start to get a taste of whether Murphy can help make that happen.

Blake Frohnapfel. Speaking of transfer quarterbacks, UMass has one too. And one whose last name sounds like a mild sedative. But seriously, Frohnapfel is a transfer that a lot of programs wouldn’t mind having. He was a backup to Rakeem Cato at Marshall for the last two years, and Frohnapfel wanted a chance to start. So he transferred to UMass and beat out the incumbent starter, A.J. Doyle. At 6-6, 230 pounds, Frohnapfel is a dual-threat quarterback who has very efficient numbers in limited action at Marshall. His weapons might not be the best, but he’ll likely test Boston College’s aggressive defense some.

NARRATIVES
Boston College Win: Boston College grad Amy Poehler likes what you’re doing, dudes.

Amy Poehler train

Boston College Loss:

I'm Done

PREDICTION
Boston College, 48-12. Nothing to see here, folks.

WILLIAM AND MARY AT VIRGINIA TECH
Time: 3:30 p.m.
TV: ESPNEWS/WatchESPN

THE SKINNY
William and Mary might be an FCS team, but they haven’t played like it when it comes to their match ups with FBS teams. In the last five meetings with FBS teams - four of which came against ACC teams - William and Mary has lost by 7, 1, 37, 4 and won by 12 (at Virginia in 2009). Virginia got revenge in 2011 with the 37-point win, but the Tribe led North Carolina on the road late in a 2010 matchup and nearly stole an ugly game from Maryland in 2012 before losing by just 7 at West Virginia (and leading that game in the third). So, yeah. Virginia Tech’s offense still has a lot of questions, and it had better be ready to come out and, you know, score some points. Because this is not going to be easy by any stretch.

REMEMBER MY NAME
Mike Reilly. The Preseason CAA Defensive Player of the Year, William and Mary’s senior defensive end anchors a line that has a lot of experience (two other seniors and a junior). Reilly himself had a very good year in 2013, finishing with 11.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss to go with four forced fumbles. And he’s not afraid of the big stage, either. Last year against West Virginia in a game that was close until the end, Reilly had two sacks and a forced fumble. Virginia Tech’s offensive line was not great last year, and certainly not good enough to make anyone assume that they’ll impose their will on the Tribe’s line, especially at the beginning of the game.

Michael Brewer. It took a while for the Virginia Tech coaching staff to do it, but they finally named the Texas Tech transfer as the starter last week. He won the job from last year’s backup, Mark Leal. (ACC Preseason Player of the Year dark horse candidate Brenden Motley was effectively eliminated from the competition with a back injury.) Brewer didn’t transfer to Virginia Tech to sit on the bench. But from the team stats Virginia Tech has provided from its scrimmages, it would seem neither quarterback really set the world on fire. If Brewer has a good game against a defense that’s not half bad, there might be hope yet. If not, it might be a long year.

NARRATIVES
Virginia Tech Win: Okay.

Bored Nicki Minaj

Virginia Tech Loss: Exclusive footage of Virginia Tech’s offensive game plan:

Austin Powers stuck

PREDICTION
Virginia Tech, 27-3. The Hokies are just more physically gifted than the Tribe, obviously, and that defense should be able to do enough to put the offense in good situations to score points. Besides, Virginia Tech beat the Tribe 44-3 in 2007 in spite of gaining just 287 total yards. Only one team gained fewer yards against William and Mary all season. Seriously.

NO. 16 CLEMSON AT NO. 12 GEORGIA
Time: 5:30 p.m.
TV: ESPN/WatchESPN

THE SKINNY
Where Clemson lost a lot of key skill guys - Tajh Boyd, Roderick McDowell, Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant - Georgia returns most of theirs, except for quarterback Aaron Murray. Georgia has some question marks on the offensive line, though, after losing three starters. And Clemson’s defensive line is arguably one of the best in the country, led by Vic Beasley. So that matchup will be very interesting to watch. And Georgia returns a lot up front on the line and at linebacker, so that defense should be a stiff test for Chad Morris’ high-powered offense with a brand-new quarterback in Cole Stoudt. Clemson’s offensive line is going to have to be effective enough to avoid negative plays or turnovers against that front and give Stoudt time to find receivers, since Georgia’s secondary is still nearly as questionable as it was last season. But that will be a key matchup, too.

REMEMBER MY NAME
Todd Gurley. The fence that the North Carolina coaches have all attempted to build around the state must have a hole in it, since Gurley managed to escape and go to Georgia. He is pretty elusive, so it’s understandable. The junior running back averaged six yards a carry last year and scored 10 touchdowns, amassing nearly 1,000 yards in 10 games. And he can catch the ball out of the backfield too, leading the team with six touchdown catches (37 catches for 441 yards). He is going to be a handful for Clemson, even with the talent the Tigers bring back on the line. He had a career-high 154 yards and two touchdowns on the ground at Clemson a year ago.

Ammon Lakip. Yes, a kicker. Clemson’s kicker will be taking over for Chandler Catanzaro, a steady mainstay of the Clemson’s special teams for seemingly at least a decade. Not really. Anyway, at least Lakip has actual field-goal attempts in a game - both came against Virginia last year in a blowout win. He was 1-for-2, missing one under 40 yards and making a 41-yarder. If this game ends up coming down to the end and Clemson needs the redshirt junior to make a kick at Georgia, though, Catanzaro is confident that he can do it.

NARRATIVES
Clemson Win: A-C-CEEEEEEEEEEE! WOOOOOOOOOOO! Oh, and nature wins again.

Tiger chews

Clemson Loss: It’s not really that bad, but people will say it is.

Messy salad

PREDICTION
Georgia, 24-20. Clemson will show up and acquit themselves - and the ACC - quite well, I think. But this is probably too tall an order with a brand-new quarterback in his first game.

NO. 1 FLORIDA STATE VS. OKLAHOMA STATE (COWBOYS STADIUM)
Time: 8:00 p.m.
TV: ABC/ESPN3

THE SKINNY
Oklahoma State has been built into one of college football’s perennial powers, and the Cowboys have been one of the steadiest teams out there. There’s plenty of talent on that roster. But Oklahoma State lost more lettermen than any other Division-I team in the country. That’s…well, it’s not ideal. Oklahoma State has always been known for its high-powered offensive attack and sometimes-shaky defenses, but the defense was very good last year, actually. There are just a lot of questions about this team, questions you don’t want to attempt to answer against a Florida State team whose only real issue is its punter. No, seriously.

REMEMBER MY NAME
J.W. Walsh. Mike Gundy finally officially named a starter, and he’s the closest thing Oklahoma State has to an incumbent in Walsh. Why he waited this long remains to be seen, but Walsh will be behind a new-look offensive line and throwing to a new set of skill-position guys. Against a Florida State defense that has one of the best pairs of corners in the country in Ronald Darby and P.J. Williams, not to mention a very good front seven, he might be in for a long night. But Walsh at least has some real game experience and almost certainly won’t be rattled by the moment, anyway. Still, if he panics, Oklahoma State is finished in this game.

Nile Lawrence-Stample. So much of what Florida State did defensively was influenced by the dominant force that was Timmy Jernigan at nose guard. Don’t get me wrong, the Seminoles had (and have) plenty of talent at every other position, but Jernigan was just so beastly and controlled the games so much, seemingly on his own. He was a force. Now, he’ll be replaced by Nile Lawrence-Stample, who started 2013 as a starter before FSU decided to go with a smaller (and quicker) defense. A junior, Lawrence-Stample had shoulder surgery in the offseason and has been somewhat limited in camp, but he feels like he’s ready. He doesn’t have to be Jernigan, but he has to be good.

NARRATIVES
Florida State Win:

Caesar, meh

Florida State Loss: So….um…..well….

House explosion

PREDICTION
Florida State, 51-20. GO ACC! (Sort of)

MONDAY, SEPT. 1

MIAMI AT LOUISVILLE
Time: 8:00 p.m.
TV: ESPN/WatchESPN

KEY FOR MIAMI
Hey, so, you have a defense that has a lot of talented players on it, Miami. Maybe now is the time, with a freshman quarterback making his first start in a raucous environment, to show up? Just throwing that out there. The defense will absolutely have to carry the day. There’s been some talk that the Miami players are motivated by Louisville supposedly running up the score on them in last year’s Champ Sports Bowl (Louisville won 36-9). Okay. It wasn’t motivating enough to hold the Cardinals under 550 yards that night, seemingly, but I digress. This isn’t the same offense, same personnel or even the same head coach they’ll be facing now. All we know is that Miami now has what should be the right combination of talent and experience all over the defense to live up to what this program is capable of doing on that side of the ball. Miami’s defense has been downright embarrassing the last few years, particularly considering what kinds of defenses that program has had in its history. The time is now, Miami.

KEY FOR LOUISVILLE
How quickly will Bobby Petrino’s offense work? What’s old is new again in Louisville, and Petrino’s return to town has meant excitement about what the Cardinals’ offense could look like this season. Petrino has been known to make short work of any offensive turnaround, but could everything click into place so soon, against a very good opponent, even at home? Or will there be hiccups? Louisville’s offense doesn't lack for talent, even without DeVante Parker (who gashed the Hurricanes for 142 yards on nine catches in last year’s bowl game). But Miami does have an unproven defense with high upside that showed at times last year it can be opportunistic. Louisville will have to take care of the football and make life as difficult as they can for the Hurricanes. Make Miami beat you - don’t let it be the other way around.

REMEMBER MY NAME
Brad Kaaya. All that’s really known about Miami’s freshman quarterback is that his mom was Felicia in “Friday." So get ready for #ByeFelicia to start trending on Twitter. And that he beat out transfer Jay Heaps for the starting job, which really only means one of two things: he’s really good, or Heaps is really bad. His teammates have had plenty of praise for his poise beyond his years, and lord knows he’s going to need plenty of it getting his first start at Papa John’s Stadium. Life will be made a lot easier on him by the fact that he has plenty of weapons at receiver, a very good offensive line - oh, and one of the best running backs in football in Duke Johnson. So, you know, that helps. He just needs to avoid mistakes, which is at times easier said than one for a freshman.

Will Gardner. Speaking of quarterbacks. It’s time to see what Gardner can do. Credit to him for sticking things out patiently at Louisville, even when his head coach left and a new one came in (well, sort of new in Petrino, anyway). And Louisville sent out an odd release this week officially naming Gardner the starter, when everyone assumed that he was going to be the starter to begin with, so yeah. But Petrino also likes freshman Reggie Bonnafon, who’s going to see time too. Gardner has received nothing but praise so far for his work learning Petrino’s system, though, and he threw for 542 yards in the spring game. But will he execute when it matters most? That remains to be seen, but all signs point to yes so far.

NARRATIVES
Miami Win: Oh…..I see you, Miami.

Now you have my attention

Miami Loss: WHY CAN’T YOU JUST LET US LOVE YOU, MIAMI????? WHY?

I loved you through everything

Louisville Win: Hey you won a home game against a team starting a freshman quarterback that’s enough to convince me the Petrino era’s going to work out just fine!

Gervais weird thumbs up

Louisville Loss: THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU MOVE UP TO THE BIG-BOY LEAGUE, LOUISVILLE! And NO it doesn’t matter that you beat this same exact team at a neutral site less than a year ago! BIG BOY SMASHMOUTH ACC FOOTBALL IS HERE AND YOU’D BETTER GET USED TO IT!

Tropic Thunder pout

PREDICTION
Louisville, 30-20. Just don’t ask me to predict the why or how of this game, though.

9 Comments

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  • GunnyGoesArrrgh Aug 31, 8:15 a.m.

    "STATS ARE FOR LOSERS"

    Tell that to the winners.

    — Posted by T Cobb

    + a million!

  • T Cobb Aug 30, 11:15 p.m.

    "STATS ARE FOR LOSERS"

    Tell that to the winners.

  • T Cobb Aug 30, 11:14 p.m.

    Anybody but FSU & 'Bama.

  • hokiesvt94@gmail.com Aug 30, 10:33 p.m.

    FSU doesn't have a real leader in their QB. He doesn't have the maturity; writer.

  • Leave it to Beaver Reruns Aug 30, 5:54 p.m.

    Pretty good predictions so far...

  • babylaceycarpenter Aug 30, 3:52 p.m.

    FSU may have a chance at a second BCS Championship bid, but only if Winston isn't protected from... View More

    — Posted by babylaceycarpenter

    I heard Jimbo say on the radio the other day, presumably with a straight face, that Winston was... View More

    — Posted by Hammerhead

    That would be a miracle. For the sake of his future life, I hope he has learned his lesson and will grow up to be a role model, a good role model. For the sake of college football, I hope he really stinks this year. I do not want the crystal football, to remain in Tallahassee. And I was born and raised in Tallahassee.

  • Hammerhead Aug 30, 1:28 p.m.

    FSU may have a chance at a second BCS Championship bid, but only if Winston isn't protected from... View More

    — Posted by babylaceycarpenter

    I heard Jimbo say on the radio the other day, presumably with a straight face, that Winston was the team leader both on and off the field.

  • babylaceycarpenter Aug 30, 8:04 a.m.

    FSU may have a chance at a second BCS Championship bid, but only if Winston isn't protected from further prosecution. We all know that he will be arrested before the end of the season. It seems to happen about every 4 months. If karma means anything, Jimbo will be bailing out Winston once again.

  • jmcdow2792 Aug 30, 6:21 a.m.

    Ok, I will check it out next week.

TV
  • World Series: Kansas City vs. San Francisco

    Tonight at 7:30 on FOX50

Scoreboard
Local
Final
ATL 117
CHA 114
8:00pm Tonight
WIN
CAR
 
8:07pm Tonight
KAN
SFG
Final
CLE 107
CHI 98
Final
WAS 84
NOP 88
Final
ATL 117
CHA 114
Final
NYK 107
MIL 120
Final
BRK 99
PHI 88
Final
DAL 108
MEM 103
Final
SAN 106
SAC 99
8:00pm Tonight
MIA
HOU
 
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
IND
 
8:00pm Tonight
OKC
UTA
 
9:00pm Tonight
DEN
POR
 
10:00pm Tonight
PHO
LAL
 
10:30pm Tonight
GSW
LAC
 
8:00pm Tonight
LALAF
ARKST
 
Final
EDM 3
TAM 2
7:00pm Tonight
NJD
NYR
 
7:00pm Tonight
BOS
SJS
 
7:00pm Tonight
NYI
TOR
 
7:30pm Tonight
MON
DET
 
8:00pm Tonight
NAS
ARI
 
8:00pm Tonight
WIN
CAR
 
8:30pm Tonight
CHI
PHI
 
8:30pm Tonight
DAL
VAN
 
9:00pm Tonight
COL
FLA
 
9:00pm Tonight
CAL
TAM
 
Final
PIT 30
HOU 23