ACC Football Outside The Triangle: Week 3 Previews
Boston College (1-1, 0-1) at Northwestern (2-0)
Mascot facts: As with many other teams, the Wildcats nickname came from a sportswriter’s account of an early football game. Wallace Abbey wrote in 1924 after a close loss to Chicago that the team played like wildcats, and it stuck. But before that, inspired by the Chicago Bears, they tried out a bear mascot named Furpaw, a live bear cub from the Lincoln Park Zoo. After a losing season in 1923, they decided to try something different.
Prediction: Northwestern, 41-30. Boston College is averaging 38.5 points a game, more than 20 points better than last season (18.2). The Eagles hit 30 points just once in 2011 and already have two 30-point games this year. Northwestern beat Vanderbilt 23-13 a week after an exciting 42-41 victory over Syracuse. This has the potential to be a high-scoring affair, but the Eagles have had issues with turnovers and Northwestern will make them pay.
No. 11 Clemson (2-0) vs. Furman (0-2)
Mascot facts: From Furman’s website, a “Paladin” is defined in the American Heritage College Dictionary as a “paragon of chivalry; a heroic champion; a strong supporter or defender of a cause; and any of the 12 peers of French emperor Charlemagne’s court.” While the same dictionary does not specifically describe a knight as a Paladin or vice-versa, it sounds enough like a knight for Furman.
Prediction: Clemson, 62-24. Clemson beat Ball State 52-27 a week after a 26-19 win over Auburn. So, in other words, Ball State’s offense is eight points better than Auburn’s. See why the transitive property doesn’t work? (Or does it? Auburn’s offense is a disaster.) The Paladins lost 24-21 at Samford and 47-45 in triple-overtime at home. Unless the Tigers are looking ahead to FSU, Furman won’t keep this remotely close.
Georgia Tech (1-1, 0-1) at Virginia (2-0)
Mascot facts: Both of the mascots have been covered in this space, but Virginia’s “Wahoo” (which is a fish, pictured above) hasn’t. Legend (and by legend I mean Wikipedia) has it that in the 1890s, Washington and Lee baseball fans referred to Virginia’s players as “a bunch of rowdy wahoos” and derisively started a “wa-hoo-wa” chant. It caught on at Virginia.
Prediction: Georgia Tech, 27-23. Georgia Tech got back to business last week with a 59-3 throttling of Presbyterian. Virginia looked great dominating Richmond in Week 1, but certainly got a wake-up call in Week 2 in a 17-16 squeaker over Penn State. The Cavaliers committed four turnovers and were lucky that the Penn State kicker missed four field goals. Virginia’s defense has played very well and will have to have a repeat performance against a much different-looking offense.
Maryland (2-0) (!) vs. Connecticut (1-1)
Mascot facts: We talked about the Husky last week, but it’s worth pointing out that before establishing their mascot, UConn simply stole Rhode Island’s ram mascot in 1934.
Prediction: Connecticut, 17-9. UConn couldn’t move the ball at all last week on a pretty good NC State defense, and even struggled offensively against Massachusetts at times in Week 1. But the UConn defense has allowed ten points through two games and let opponents cross the UConn 20-yard line once. Considering Maryland had trouble scoring against William & Mary but a lot less trouble scoring on Temple, who knows?
Miami (1-1, 1-0) vs. Bethune-Cookman (2-0)
Mascot facts: As for the history of Wil D. Cat, or why the Wildcat is their mascot, I’ve got nothing. I’m sorry. So we’ll look at Sebastian the Ibis: Miami selected the bird not only because it’s native to the region, but also because it is known for its bravery as a hurricane approaches, and that other birds look to it for leadership. It’s the last to take shelter before a hurricane and the first to reemerge after it.
Prediction: Miami, 41-17. The young Hurricanes were beaten down 52-13 at Kansas State last week, which prompted this epic NSFW rant from former player and current radio host Dan Sileo. Nothing like a game against Bethune-Cookman to get your confidence back (the Wildcats haven’t beaten anyone of note, just Alabama State and South Carolina State). But if the young Hurricanes struggle in this game, watch out.
No. 13 Virginia Tech (2-0, 1-0) at Pittsburgh (0-2)
Mascot facts: Pitt used to be known as “Western University of PIttsburgh”, so their teams were known as the “wups”. But they adopted a Panther as the mascot in 1909. Side note: if you go to Pitt’s official athletic site, you can get an AIM icon! Um, what?
Prediction: Virginia Tech, 38-12. Pitt has a total of three touchdowns this season in two games against Youngstown State and Cincinnati while giving up 65 points. But their field goal kicker has made two field goals, so there’s that. Virginia Tech beat Austin Peay last week, 42-7. No idea how Youngstown State and Austin Peay compare, but we’ve learned by now the transitive property doesn’t exist. Virginia Tech will win easily.
Wake Forest (2-0, 1-0) at No. 5/6 Florida State (2-0)
Mascot facts: Before Wake Forest had a costumed Demon Deacon mascot, a student named Willis “Doc” Murphrey became kind of a de facto head cheerleader who riled up the crowd. Murphrey enrolled in 1946 on a football scholarship, but didn’t play much. By his own account, this is what happened next:
“We were playing against Carolina, and the fans started hollering, ‘we want Murphrey, we want Murphrey.’ Peahead (Walker) got tired of it and hollered, ‘Murphey come here.’ And I said ‘coach, who did I go in for?’ And he said ‘no damn body. They want you and I don’t want you, so get up there with them.’ I started right then and there being a cheerleader, not really a cheerleader, but just a guy who would get up when you needed somebody to rally the troops.”
Prediction: Florida State, 38-13. In 2006, Jim Grobe was getting Wake Forest cranked up while Bobby Bowden’s Florida State program was starting to decline. But no one expected Wake to thump FSU 30-0, handing Bowden his first home shutout loss and giving Wake its first win at FSU since 1959. Since and including that win, Wake is 4-2 against Florida State.
It’s early enough in the season for upset potential, particularly since FSU has not played anyone and Wake is coming off of a thrilling 28-27 win over Carolina. Florida State has to play with the discipline that has eluded them in past Wake Forest games. FSU beat writer Ira Schoffel (@IraSchoffel) tweeted Friday that in FSU’s four losses to Wake in the last six years, their turnover margin has been -15 (20 lost, just five gained). And Wake Forest is the type of team that thrives on their opponent’s mistakes.
Wake Forest will be without All-ACC noseguard Nikita Whitlock, and backup Godspower Offor will replace him. (Seriously, that’s his name. Probably the best name in college football. Or of all time. And he has a brother named Wisdom and a sister named Loveth. But the longer the Deacons can stick around, the better chance they have. They’re not going to be able to mount some crazy comeback against this FSU defense. But if they can keep pace offensively, they’ll be there at the end.
Amazingly, FSU players admitted they “overlooked” teams, even Wake, last season. The Seminoles will likely never be the dominant force they were under Bowden, but they can be a consistent national power and they’re closer to that than ever now. But this year’s FSU team seems to understand that they have to earn that respect back. As silly as that sounds, it starts with beating Wake Forest.
Last week: 9-2 (0-1 ACC)