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ACC Weekend Primer

By Carlos Pineda
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The Atlantic Coast Conference enters the week with four ranked teams in the AP top 25 poll for the first time since 2011.

The Atlantic Coast Conference enters the week with four ranked teams in the AP top 25 poll for the first time since 2011. No. 25 Maryland is ranked for the first time in Randy Edsall's tenure in College Park and is looking to play the role of spoiler in Florida's capital city. No. 14 Miami opens up ACC play by hosting Georgia Tech.

Atlantic Division Game of the Week

No. 25 Maryland (4-0, 0-0) at No. 8 Florida St. (4-0, 2-0)

When: Noon ET

Where: Doak Campbell Stadium (82,300), Tallahassee, Fla.


Line: FSU -15.5

Series: Florida State leads 21-2

Florida State faced its stiffest test of the young season last week at Boston College. The Seminoles won 48-34 won after a slow start and have now won eight in a row over ACC teams. This week's matchup should raise the bar as FSU takes on unbeaten Maryland on Saturday.

Despite trailing early against BC, the team bounced back as quarterback Jameis Winston passed for 335 yards and four touchdowns. One of his touchdowns was a 55-yard strike to Kenny Shaw as time expired before halftime to give the Noles the momentum.

The Terrapins may have lost six in a row to FSU, but this season has been different with a fully healthy C.J. Brown under center and a defense that has allowed only 41 points in four games. Maryland's 37-0 blowout against West Virginia two weeks ago was the team's first shutout victory since 2008.

The ACC's top scoring offense in Florida State (51.2 points per game) will face the league's top scoring defense in Maryland (10.2 points per game). The Seminoles are the all-around better team. They had an unexpected wake up call last week in Chestnut Hill after being on autopilot for much of the 2013 season. The Terps, on the other hand, haven't exactly played the nation's toughest schedule. Florida State wins this game.

Prediction: Florida State 35, Maryland 17

Coastal Division Game of the Week

Georgia Tech (3-1, 2-1) at No. 14 Miami (4-0, 0-0)

When: 3:30 p.m. ET

Where: Sun Life Stadium (74,916), Miami Gardens, Fla.


Line: Miami -5.5

Series: Georgia Tech leads 10-8

Had Georgia Tech not lost last Thursday night, this game would be getting national attention. Regardless, this is an important game in the Coastal Division. Miami is without a doubt the more talented of the two teams from top to bottom, but facing the spread option is always a challenge.

The Hurricanes have won four in a row in this series, and have outscored the Yellow Jackets 57-20 in the last two games in Miami. Quarterback Stephen Morris should be close to 100 percent, Golden said this week, and the offense gets to play a full game for the first time in three weeks after playing Savannah State and South Florida the last two games.

The Ramblin' Wreck offense was somewhat futile against Virginia Tech. They trailed early and didn't score a touchdown until late in the third quarter. GT is obviously looking to rebound, but face an older, more experienced UM defense.

Miami was undoubtedly the favorite to represent the Coastal Division heading into the season. This is the early-season litmus test for the Hurricanes.

Prediction: Miami 41, Georgia Tech 24   

Quick Hits

North Carolina (1-3, 0-1) at Virginia Tech (4-1, 1-0)

When: 12:30 p.m. ET

Where: Lane Stadium (65,632), Blacksburg, Va.

TV: ACC Network

Line: VT -7.5

Series: Virginia Tech leads 18-11-6

North Carolina rolled past Virginia Tech last year behind the play of running back Gio Bernard. Key words there are "last year." Unfortunately for the Tar Heels, things unraveled last weekend in Chapel Hill after suffering a deflating 55-31 loss to East Carolina. Just the week before, things looked promising as UNC jumped out to an early lead against Georgia Tech before dropping the game.

While UNC seems to be falling apart, the Hokies have been winning ugly. A win on the road against Georgia Tech last week put them in great position in the Coastal. The defense continues to anchor an otherwise sluggish team as it held GT to only 129 rushing yards.

The key lies in the Heels' ability to put up points. The team has struggled significantly since being shutout in the second half against the Yellow Jackets.

Prediction: Virginia Tech 31, North Carolina 13

No. 3 Clemson (4-0, 2-0) at Syracuse (2-2, 0-0)

When: 3:30 p.m. ET

Where: Carrier Dome (49,262), Syracuse, N.Y.


Line: Clemson -14

Series: Syracuse leads 1-0

Syracuse has bounced back after starting the season 0-2, and is now searching for its first league win in its first ACC game. The Orange have run a balanced-attack, averaging 423.5 yards of offense per game. Running back Jerome Smith has six rushing touchdowns this season.

Clemson takes its first real road game of the season, traveling outside of the Carolinas. Last week the Tigers scored 21 first-quarter points en route to a 56-7 rout of Wake Forest. Quarterback Tajh Boyd had 380 yards of total offense and Sammy Watkins had six receptions for 113 yards.

Prediction: Clemson 38, Syracuse 18

N.C. State (3-1, 0-1) at Wake Forest (2-3, 0-2)

When: 3:30 p.m. ET

Where: BB&T Field (31,500), Winston-Salem, N.C.


Line: N.C. State -7.5

Series: N.C. State leads 63-37-6

N.C. State bounced back from a loss to Clemson with a 48-14 win against Central Michigan last week. Quarterback Pete Thomas passed for a season-high 244 yards with a touchdown in that game, but it's the running game that's making a splash. The Wolfpack are averaging 207.2 yards on the ground. The last time the Pack finished a season with more than 200 rushing yards per game was in 1992. Also, receivers Rashard Smith and Bryan Underwood have been a spectacular tandem.

Wake Forest has lost three of its last four games, including a 56-7 demolition at the hands of Clemson last week. Unfortunately for them, things don't get much better this week. The offense has struggled to find its strength, which has been a big challenge for the Demon Deacons.

Of note, the home team has won this game the last six times, but that streak comes to an end this Saturday.

Prediction: N.C. State 30, Wake Forest 20

Army (2-3) at Boston College (2-2)

When: 1 p.m. ET

Where: Alumni Stadium (44,500)


Line: BC -11.5

Series: Boston College leads 24-13

Boston College had Florida State on the ropes for the better part of a quarter before it gave up 21 straight points. Hosting its first homecoming in decades, the Eagles look to bounce back against Army in a game that won't be cancelled by the government shutout. They are led by senior running back Andre Williams, who leads the ACC in rushing attempts (103), rushing yards (515) and rushing yards per game (128.8).

Army's offense is averaging 325 rushing yards per game, which gives the Eagles defense quite the challenge.

Prediction: Boston College 25, Army 15

Ball State (4-1) at Virginia (2-2)

When: Noon ET

Where: Scott Stadium (61,500), Charlottesville, Va.


Line: Virginia -5

Series: First meeting

In its two losses this season, Virginia mustered a combined 13 points. Despite having a defense that allowed less than 200 yards of total offense in its last two games and that ranks 16th in the country in total defense, the offensive woes could be troublesome on Saturday. Ball State is averaging 40 points per game and over 470 yards per game, including a passing attack that ranks 10th in the nation.

This game could be a black eye for the league if the Cavaliers end up on the wrong side of the scoreboard.

Prediction: Ball State 20, Virginia 13

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.