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ACC Weekend Primer

By Carlos Pineda
SouthernPigskin.com
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This weekend in the ACC features seven games, including three in-conference matchups.

The Virginia Tech Hokies' fifth-ranked defense gave Georgia Tech its first loss of the season with a 17-10 win in primetime Thursday night. While that figured to be the ACC game of the week, this weekend features seven games, including three in-conference matchups.

No. 8 Florida State (3-0, 1-0 ACC) at Boston College (2-1, 1-0)

When: 3:30 p.m. ET

Where: Alumni Stadium (44,500), Chestnut Hill, Mass.

TV: ABC/ESPN2

Series: Florida State leads the series 7-4 (5-3 since BC joined the ACC), and has won the last three games, including a 51-7 blowout last year in Tallahassee.

Florida State has had a relatively casual schedule through the first quarter of the season. It has scored at least 41 points in each game and has allowed 8.7 points per game. Freshman quarterback Jameis Winston leads the nation in completion percentage at 78.1 percent and has accounted for 10 of Florida State's 19 offensive touchdowns. The defense continues to be dominant, ranking first in the league in scoring defense and second in total defense (251.0 yards per game).

Boston College is coming off a bye week following its first loss of the season two weeeks ago against Southern California. Senior running back Andre Williams has led the team in rushing touchdowns each of the last two seasons and leads the ACC in rushing, averaging 118.7 yards per game. He rushed for 204 yards against Wake Forest in the second game of the season. Despite his efforts, the Eagles rank last in the ACC in total offense.

The Seminoles will win this game with ease before facing a Maryland team that will be FSU's first real challenge of the season.

Prediction: Florida State 40, Boston College 13

No. 15 Miami (3-0) at South Florida (0-3)

When: Noon ET

Where: Raymond James Stadium (65,787), Tampa, Fla.

TV: ESPNU

Series: Miami leads 4-1, including the last two meetings.

The Hurricanes are coming off of a 77-7 win against Savannah State last Saturday and are 3-0 for the first time since 2004. Stephen Morris is expected to start at quarterback in Miami's final non-conference game of the year versus the Bulls, despite injuring his ankle in the first quarter of last week's game. The Hurricanes have won five in a row dating back to last season and rank in the top third of the ACC in scoring offense (44.0 points per game), rushing offense (225.7 yards per game) and scoring defense (9.7 points per game).

Sophomore Duke Johnson is tied for 11th in the country in all-purpose yards (168.3 yards per game) and has rushed for 304 yards. He's also scored at least once in seven straight games dating back to the Virginia Tech game last season.

Miami entered the season with one of the most explosive offenses in the country, but through three games, has struggled to put it all together. Last week, the team was able to pour it on against lowly Savannah State with 637 total yards of offense. The Hurricanes will have another opportunity to fine-tune their offense against winless South Florida.

UM has a big conference opener versus Georgia Tech next week. The defense has been stellar this season, allowing only three touchdowns in three games.

Prediction: Miami 35, South Florida13

Wake Forest (2-2, 0-1) at No. 3 Clemson (3-0, 1-0)

When: 3:30 p.m. ET

Where: Memorial Stadium (81,500), Clemson, SC.

TV: ESPNU

Series: Clemson leads the series 60-17-1, including winning four in a row and six in a row at home.

Clemson shook off a shaky start last week to beat N.C. State on the road and avoided an early season upset. In last year's game, quarterback Tajh Boyd threw five first-half touchdowns in the Tigers 42-13 against the Demon Deacons. Boyd is averaging 227.7 passing yards per game, throwing for six touchdowns and no interceptions. Receiver Sammy Watkins ranks fourth in the ACC in receptions per game with 6.3 catches. He's averaging 80.7 receiving yards per game.

The Tigers are looking the part of a national title contender so far this season. They won in Raleigh last week with grit in a hard-fought game. This week's game won't be as nearly grueling as the N.C. State game. Wake Forest bounced back from two straight losses with a 25-11 win at Army. The Deacons rushed for a season-best 228 yards, including 96 yards and a pair of touchdowns from senior running back Josh Harris.

Clemson is 22-2 all-time against Wake Forest when ranked. It will pick up win No. 23 and improve to 4-0 on the season.

Prediction: Clemson 38, Wake Forest 16

Quick Hits

Virginia (2-1, 0-0) at Pitt (2-1, 1-1)

When: 12:30 p.m. ET

Where: Heinz Field (65,500), Pittsburgh, Pa.

TV: RSN

Series: Pitt leads 3-2; Virginia won last meeting in 2007.

The Panthers won a high scoring affair in Durham last week, 58-55, to win its first ACC game. Quarterback Tom Savage threw for 424 yards and six touchdowns which tied an ACC record. Receivers Devin Street and Tyler Boyd combined for 320 yards on 14 catches and five touchdowns against Duke.

The Cavaliers won their second game of the season with a shutout of VMI last week. For the second season in a row, Virginia opens up league-play on the road. UVa has lost six of its last seven ACC road openers. The Cavaliers boast the No. 2 passing efficiency defense in the nation.

Pitt continues its winning ways on Saturday. Virginia's all-time record in road openers (43-75-3) doesn't help much, although this one should be close.

Prediction: Pitt 31, Virginia 22

East Carolina (2-1) at North Carolina (1-2)

When: 12:30 p.m. ET

Where: Kenan Stadium (63,000), Chapel Hill, N.C.

TV: ACC Network

Series: North Carolina leads the series 12-2-1

Without a doubt, North Carolina enters Saturday's game following a disappointing 28-20 loss at Georgia Tech last week. The Tar Heels led 20-7 before The Yellow Jackets scored 21 straight points. These two Carolina schools played last season, with UNC winning 27-6. Bryn Renner passed for 321 yards and two touchdowns in that game. Renner passed for 218 yards and two scores last week in Atlanta and became the third players in UNC history to reach 7,000 career passing yards. Tight end Eric Ebron had six catches for a career-high 108 yards and a TD.

Like last season, the Tar Heels have a 1-2 record. But maybe that's not such a bad thing. After a 1-2 start in 2012, UNC won seven of its next nine games.

Prediction: North Carolina 31, East Carolina 18

Central Michigan (1-3) at N.C. State (2-1)

When: 3:30 p.m. ET

Where: Carter-Finley Stadium (57,583), Raleigh, N.C.

TV: ESPN3

Series: N.C. State is 1-0

The Wolfpack kept Clemson close last Thursday, which could be a sign of the team's growth under first-year coach Dave Doeren. N.C. State had 378 yards of total offense against the Tigers, with quarterback Pete Thomas passing for 213 yards. Linebacker Robert Caldwell is the ACC's leading tackler with 10.0 tackles per game.

Chippewas' linebacker Justin Cherocci ranks third in the NCAA with 46 tackles.

This games serves as a buffer for the Wolfpack before playing six consecutive league games.

Prediction: N.C. State 30, Central Michigan 16

Troy (2-2) at Duke (2-2)

When: 3:00 p.m. ET

Where: Wallace Wade Stadium (33,941), Durham, N.C.

TV: ESPN 3

Duke fell to Pitt last week, 58-55. Quarterback Brandon Connette became the first player in school history to pass for over 300 yards and rush for over 100 yards in game. He had 323 passing yards and 101 rushing yards, while adding six total touchdowns. Receiver Jamison Crowder continued to display his all-around athletic abilty by totaling 279 all-purpose yards -- the fifth highest single-game total in program history. He had an 82-yard punt return for a score, his sceond return for a touchdown of the season.

The Blue Devils should get a win here and then in two weeks when they host Navy. By then, the magic number is two to be bowl eligible.

Prediction: Duke 32, Troy 17

Carlos Pineda - Carlos Pineda is a featured writer for Southern Pigskin. He covered the UCF Knights football team for Florida Today in 2010. Carlos' work has been published in the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Miami Herald, Orlando Sentinel and Orlando Business Journal. He attended the University of Central Florida. Follow Carlos on Twitter @CarlosFPineda.