Wake Forest

ACC Football: Way Too Early Week 1 Predictions

The ACC is kicking off several new coaching eras, but it also has a few massive statement showdowns it has to win. Who’ll win the Week One games? Check out the way-too-early picks for each ACC game.

Thursday, September 1

Charlotte at Louisville

7:00 PM ESPN3 Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, Louisville, KY

Charlotte returns full of veterans on both sides of the ball. The defense is loaded with experience, and Kalif Phillips might be one of the most entertaining running backs you haven’t seen. This should be a bit of a breakthrough season for the 49ers – and they’re going to get mauled by Louisville. The Cardinals start the ACC season a week later at Syracuse, and they’ll use Charlotte for the prep work.

Line: Louisville -38
June Prediction: Louisville 45, Charlotte 13

Tulane at Wake Forest

7:00 PM ESPN3 BB&T Field, Winston-Salem, NC

So really, how quickly will the Willie Fritz offense be able to work for the Green Wave? They have plenty of backs to trying running the triple-option attack, and they have eight starters back on defense, but there’s still plenty of reloading to do. Will that be enough to slip past a Wake Forest team looking for a breakthrough season? It will be to keep the game close. The Demon Deacons are better, but they’re still young, and they’ll have problems at times against the quirky O.

Line: Wake Forest -17
June Prediction: Wake Forest 31, Tulane 23

William & Mary at NC State

7:30 PM ESPN3 Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh, NC

William & Mary was strong enough to get into the second round of the FCS playoffs, and it’s got just enough firepower returning to give NC State problems. The Wolfpack have work to do with a new starting quarterback and a slew of underclassmen playing key roles on both sides of the ball. The Tribe pushed Virginia hard last year, and lost. This year’s NC State team is better than last year’s Cavaliers – it’ll get by after a fun first half.

Line: No Line
June Prediction: NC State 35, William & Mary 24

Saturday, September 3

Georgia Tech at Boston College

7:30 AM ESPN2 Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland

Georgia Tech’s ground game wasn’t up to its normal snuff last season, but it still finished eighth in the nation averaging 256 yards per game. But it didn’t have to face Boston College and the nation’s No. 2 run defense that allowed just 83 yards per game. It’s obviously a different year and two different teams, but they’re going to both look roughly the same. Played in Dublin, Ireland, it’s going to have an interesting feel for an ACC opener. Georgia Tech will do just enough to slip past the Eagles and their improved offense – points will be tough to come by.

Line: Georgia Tech -3
June Prediction: Georgia Tech 17, Boston College 10

Liberty at Virginia Tech

12:30 PM ESPN3 Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, VA

Coming off a nice season, Liberty has a chance to try catching Virginia Tech looking ahead to showdown against Tennessee in Bristol. New Hokie head coach Justin Fuente will give the team a little bit of a new look and a new style, and it needs this week against Turner Gill’s club to get everything in place for the Vols. It could take a little bit to get into a groove, though.

Line: No Line
June Prediction: Virginia Tech 40, Liberty 16

Villanova at Pitt

1:30 PM ESPN3 Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA

Pitt is welcoming in Villanova from one side of Pennsylvania in the opener to prepare for Penn State from another side of the state the week after. This is the light game in a tough first month for the Panthers with road trips to Oklahoma State and North Carolina to follow the showdown with the Nittany Lions, but Villanova won’t be much of a pushover. The Panther D will keep the Wildcats from dreaming of an upset, but it could be a rocky day for the O.

Line: No Line
June Prediction: Pitt 38, Villanova 14

Richmond at Virginia

3:30 PM ESPN3 Scott Stadium, Charlottesville, VA

Could the Spider team that got knocked out of the FCS playoffs by North Dakota State really be good enough to ruin Bronco Mendenhall’s debut? Richmond had a great run in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year, and now it comes back loaded with eight starters back on each side of the ball. The Cavaliers will slip by, but they’ll have to work for it.

Line: No Line
June Prediction: Virginia 27, Richmond 24

North Carolina vs. Georgia

5:30 PM ESPN Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA

Fine, so I’m way too high on Georgia and not giving North Carolina nearly enough credit, but the Tar Heel team that got steamrolled over by Baylor in the bowl loss is probably more like what this year’s version will be – but maybe not that bad. Georgia’s defense will come out rocking in Kirby Smart’s debut, while the power Bulldog ground game will grind out long scoring drives and keep the UNC attack off the field. This will be Smart’s big early statement.

Line: Georgia -3.5
June Prediction: Georgia 40, North Carolina 13

NC Central at Duke

6:00 PM ESPN3 Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham, NC

For those counting the days before NC Central got a rematch after losing to Duke 55-0 last season, your dreams are about to come true. The Eagles rebounded from a 1-3 start with seven straight wins and a great year in the MEAC, but it’ll be more of the same this time around, too, against a Blue Devil team needing the tune-up before kicking off the ACC season against Wake Forest.

Line: No Line
June Prediction: Duke 45, NC Central 9

Florida A&M at Miami

6:00 PM ESPN3 New Miami Stadium, Miami, FL

There’s easing into the season, and there’s giving Mark Richt a 2-0 start before going to Appalachian State for an interesting road trip. Miami doesn’t need a warm-up for Florida Atlantic, but it’ll get one in a horrible matchup against a bad Florida A&M team that’ll try keeping the game interesting for a quarter.

Line: No Line
June Prediction: Miami 65, Florida A&M 0

Colgate at Syracuse

7:00 PM ESPN3 Carrier Dome, Syracuse, NY

Will Colgate be good enough to take the Patriot League title again? After getting on a roll winning close game after close game after close game before finally bowing out in the quarterfinals of the FCS playoffs, the Raiders come back every bit as strong. Even if Syracuse comes out hot in the opener of the Dino Babers era, Colgate is good enough to keep this from getting out of hand.

Line: No Line
June Prediction: Syracuse 38, Colgate 20

Clemson at Auburn

9:00 PM ESPN Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, AL

Clemson fans got mad at me all throughout last season when I kept screaming that their team was overrated. I kept picking against the Tigers, and they kept proving me wrong, capped off by covering the spread late against Alabama in the national championship. I haven’t received enough hate mail lately – I wish I knew how to quit picking against you, Clemson.

The home part of this is a really, really big deal. Auburn is desperate to come up with a big performance to kick things off, and the defense will crank up the performance needed to get it done. The Auburn O won’t be the juggernaut that rolled through the 2013 season, but it won’t be nearly as horrible as it looked throughout spring ball. Expect a thriller.

Line: Clemson -8
June Prediction: Auburn 31, Clemson 27

Monday, September 5

Florida State vs. Ole Miss

8:00 PM ESPN Florida Citrus Bowl, Orlando, FL

It’ll be an easy assumption that a veteran Florida State team will come out making a statement against a reloading Ole Miss program rocked by off-season scandal, but this should be more of a dogfight than a shootout. Both defenses will control the game from the start, and neither offense will get into any sort of a groove – expect mistakes to be the difference. The Seminoles will hang on with a good fourth quarter when the experience will start to shine through.

Line: Florida State -6
June Prediction: Florida State 23, Ole Miss 20