ACC Football Outside The Triangle: Week 4 Previews
Maryland (2-1) at No. 8/7 West Virginia (2-0)
Mascot facts: Basically, the Mountaineer originated when people started dressing up like it at West Virginia games in the late 1920s. That’s continued ever since. But in some ACC-related trivia, this former Mountaineer (1952-53) said he liked to engage in pranks, including “tugging the unhappy wolf mascot of North Carolina State around by his tail”.
Prediction: West Virginia, 59-23. West Virginia beat Marshall 69-34 in Week 1, took a week off and then beat James Madison 42-12. Maryland has actually acquitted itself well this season defensively, but it’s way too much to ask after slowing the William & Mary, Temple and Connecticut offenses to slow down the West Virginia train.
Virginia (2-1, 0-1) at No. 17/16 TCU (2-0)Mascot facts: TCU’s horned frog mascot goes as far back as 1896, when legend has it that the field the team first practiced on “teemed with horned frogs”. A little bit of a letdown to learn a horned frog is actually a lizard, though.
Prediction: TCU, 23-16. Virginia has struggled offensively in its last two games, and that’s not a good sign as they will face a TCU team that’s traditionally among the nation’s best defenses. It’s difficult to know how good the Horned Frogs are, though: TCU has beaten Grambling State and Kansas. Virginia put up 184 yards rushing in Week 1 against Richmond, and in the last two games combined, the Cavaliers have just 130 yards on 53 carries. There’s been a quarterback controversy between Michael Rocco and Phillip Sims, but Sims wasn’t put in last week until the fourth quarter when Virginia trailed 49-7. Head coach Mike London insists Rocco is his starter, but if the offense continues to struggle, it’s only a matter of time.
Virginia Tech (2-1, 1-0) vs. Bowling Green (1-2)
Mascot facts: A sportswriter named Bowling Green the Falcons in 1927. And that was only because he was reading a book on falconry at the time, and he thought falconry was awesome. I think that’s awesome.
Prediction: Virginia Tech, 37-12. Calling Virginia Tech’s loss at Pitt last weekend disappointing doesn’t do it justice. That aside, the Hokie offense has struggled. Against FBS opponents, quarterback Logan Thomas has complete 35-of-69 passes (a hair over 50%) for 495 yards and three touchdowns, and has run the ball 22 times for 68 yards. He has as many carries in those games as starting running back Michael Holmes. This isn’t a great recipe. The Hokie offense needs to get back on track, and fast. And it won’t necessarily be easy: Bowling Green hung tough with Florida before beating Idaho in Week 2 and falling 27-15 at Toledo.
Wake Forest (2-1, 1-0) vs. Army (0-2)
Mascot facts: Army might be known as the Black Knights, but the mascot for the army itself is a mule (or mules: the Army Mules. But they didn’t officially adopt the Black Knight nickname until 2000: before, they were known as the Cadets.
Prediction: Wake Forest, 27-9. Wake Forest is somewhere in between the team that struggled with Liberty and got blown out 52-0 by Florida State and the team that beat North Carolina. Fortunately for the Deacons, though, Army isn’t very good. The Black Knights lost 42-7 at San Diego State and followed that up with a 41-40 loss at home to Northern Illinois.
Miami (2-1, 1-0) at Georgia Tech (2-1, 0-1)
Moment in Miami-Georgia Tech history: Hard to mention these recent games without talking about former Georgia Tech quarterback Reggie Ball. He had his share of struggles as the starter, but he began the Georgia Tech streak of four straight against Miami (from 2005-08) in 2005 with a 14-10 upset of No. 3 Miami. In 2006, Georgia Tech won despite Ball completing 3-of-16 first-half passes. (This was before the triple-option) But when Googling Reggie Ball, I came across this gem from Spencer Hall at SB Nation:
It is difficult to compare Tevin Washington to Reggie Ball, and deeply unfair. Washington played a fine game, and made one really ill-advised throw in a clutch situation at the end. Really, all they will ever have in common is an alma mater, a position, and breathing oxygen. Then again, somewhere in NASA, there is an aerospace engineer who makes a mathematical mistake, forgets to carry a one, and then places his head in his hands as an errant rocket crashes into the Pacific instead of soaring into orbit. And at that moment, a circuit panel pops out, and a Georgia fan hiding behind that panel yells out, “JUST LIKE REGGIE BALL GO DAWGS.” It just happens now in these situations, and there is nothing Tevin Washington or the world can do about it.
Prediction: Georgia Tech, 49-17. Did I mention that Miami isn’t very good? Yeah. And the Yellow Jackets are feeling it. Miami’s defense will be better as it grows up, but facing the triple-option isn’t the week that starts to happen.
No. 10/9 Clemson (3-0) at No. 4 Florida State (3-0, 1-0)
Moment in Clemson-Florida State history: Um, how about Bobby Bowden being ballsy enough to call for a fake punt – or “puntrooskie”, if you will – with 1:30 to go, at FSU’s 21-yard line, in a tie game? And evidently, Clemson knew about the play beforehand and still couldn’t stop it. So much Clemsoning involved with a team thought to be a national title contender in 1988.
Prediction: Florida State, 44-24. Considering FSU hasn’t exactly faced offensive juggernauts to date, it’s reasonable to think that an explosive Clemson offense will put up points. Andre Ellington has been dominant on the ground, and the Seminoles have yet to face a running game like this. Tajh Boyd has been efficient and crisp, completing 73.3% of his passes. DeAndre Hopkins has four touchdowns receiving, and Sammy Watkins returned last week with four catches for 52 yards.
The Clemson defense was much better last week: after allowing Auburn to score 19 and Ball State to put up 27, it held Furman to 7. But FSU is a completely different animal. The Seminoles are averaging as many points as their basketball team typically holds opponents to (58.7), and racking up 543.7 yards per game in the process. E.J. Manuel is averaging 175 yards per game but leads the league in pass efficiency and is completing 71.2% of his passes.
The difference should be FSU’s defense, which has been downright dominant, allowing one point per game and just 103.3 yards. Florida State looked like the Florida State of old last week in its 52-0 beatdown of Wake Forest, and they should have far too much on both sides of the ball for Clemson to handle.
Last week: 9-1 (1-0 ACC)
Season: 18-3 (1-1 ACC)