Friday, September 16, 2005

ACC/SEC Week 3 Preview

# 5 Tennessee (1-0) @ #6 Florida (2-0) -6.5 8:00EST CBS
One week after Texas/Ohio State, we get another heavyweight matchup this week. But this time it is a conference matchup and one that may go a long ways to deciding who wins the SEC East. Tennessee enters this game with two quarterbacks seeing time early. Neither Sophomore Erik Ainge nor Senior Rick Clausen was able to grab the job in the first game of the year against UAB. ``Rick will start and we'll rotate probably,'' Vols coach Phillip Fulmer said last week. ``I want somebody to take the job and it be it.'' The Vols will more than likely rely on their ground game with Gerald Riggs, Jr leading the charge. Florida will be in its third game under Urban Meyer’s system, but will face their first serious test after two warm-ups. The Gators struggled in the running game against Wyoming, but rebounded against Louisiana Tech last week. ``DeShawn packs a little more power,'' Meyer said. ``We need that in this offense. We need a downhill runner.'' Historically, the winner of the rushing battle has won this game. This statistic would seem to favor the Vols, but in Meyer’s system QB Chris Leak will be expected to run as well as the running backs. The keys to the game will be whether or not Tennessee can find a quarterback they can count on, whether Florida can run the ball, and how Tennessee will defend the spread offense. Of course, turnovers and special teams will play a big part as well. Prediction: Florida 28 Tennessee 27

#8 Florida State (2-0) -1 @ #17 Boston College (2-0) 7:45EST ESPN
FSU Quarterback Drew Weatherford hopefully regained some confidence against The Citadel last week after a performance to regret against Miami. The Seminoles running game looks strong after two games and will be relied on to move the chains. Boston College comes into this game with something to prove; they have labeled as one point underdogs at home. This is BC’s first ACC game and it is an intra-division game as well against one of the favorites. ``Everyone's been talking about Florida State since last year,'' said Eagles running back Brian Toal. ``A couple of guys, including myself, were looking ahead a little bit.'' Defensive End Mathias Kiwanuka has yet to register a sack, but look for him to be in Drew Weatherford’s face most of the afternoon. This will be the most speed Boston College has seen on the field since they played Miami two years ago. ``I'm excited about this group, excited as I can be,'' said the 75-year-old Bowden, the all-time leader with 353 coaching victories. ``They got speed, they got talent.'' The keys to the game will be Drew Weatherford’s play, the Eagles offensive line giving QB Quinton Porter enough time to throw, and BC’s ability to stop the run.
Prediction: FSU 20 BC 17

#13 Miami (0-1) -7 @ #20 Clemson (2-0) 3:30EST ABC
Miami has had a week off to think about its loss to FSU and to prepare for the Tigers. Clemson is coming off another come from behind victory against Maryland. So far this season, the Tigers have leaned on their running game to win games. ``I think the team right now has the mentality that if we play hard for 60 minutes, something can happen to swing it our way,'' Bowden said. ``That's hard to instill in a team.'' The Hurricanes struggled with the run last season and against Florida State. QB Charlie Whitehurst is a better passer than Drew Weatherford and should be able to keep the ‘Canes defense from putting eight men in the box. Special Teams really hurt Miami against FSU and they will have to improve to win at Clemson. Meanwhile, the Tigers special teams have been a bright spot with great field goal kicking and return game so far. The keys to the game will be whether or not the Tigers can put pressure on Kyle Wright like FSU did, can the Tigers run the ball on Miami, and will Miami play better on special teams. Wright was sacked nine times in the FSU game, including a crucial second-and-goal play near the end of the game. Miami would start 0-2 and possibly drop out of the Top 25 for the first time since 1999 if it loses to Clemson. ``It's a game we need to win,'' Coker said. ``It's a very, very important game for us, but to say it's do-or-die, I wouldn't say that at this point.'' Prediction: Miami 24 Clemson 22

Alabama (2-0) -2 @ South Carolina (1-1) 3:30EST CBS
The Gamecocks face another tough SEC opponent this week as Alabama travels to Columbia for an early season tilt that may have major bowl implications later on. The Gamecocks had chances to upset Georgia last week, but the kicking game cost them. Quarterback Brodie Croyle relied on the passing game to lead Alabama from behind last week, but Alabama will look to run the ball a lot this week after seeing how UGA carved up South Carolina’s defense on the ground. The Gamecocks QB Blake Mitchell has played better than most everyone expected, but a running game will have to find life for South Carolina to make a move this year in the SEC. The keys to the game will Mitchell’s play against another good defense, Alabama’s ability to run the ball, and the South Carolina kicking game.
Prediction: South Carolina 18 Alabama 17

Arkansas (1-1) @ #1 USC (1-0) -30.5 10:15EST FSN
After losing a heartbreaker at home last week, things do not get any easier for the Razorbacks as they head west to face the Trojans. Arkansas looks to have a solid running game, but has not faced a defense remotely close to USC’s caliber. This may be a long night for Houston Nutt as the Trojans are loaded at every position. Arkansas will have to force turnovers, make some big special teams plays, and play mistake free for 60 minutes to come close to beating USC. Oh yea, USC had a week off to prepare in case they need it. This one could get ugly Razorback fans. Prediction: USC 49 Arkansas 10

Ole Miss (1-0) @ Vanderbilt (2-0) -2.5 12:30EST JP
Don’t look now, but Vandy could be going for 3-0, 2-0 in the SEC. Ole Miss had the week off after a thrilling 10-6 victory over Memphis, in which new coach Ed Ogeron displayed a vastly improved defense over a year ago. The Commodores have played some soft defenses in their first two games. Nevertheless, QB Jay Cutler is playing his way onto a possible All-SEC Team. The Rebel offense did not impress in their first game and will need to improve against Vandy, who is giving up 234 yards per game on the ground.
Prediction: Ole Miss 13 Vanderbilt 10

Wisconsin (2-0) -3 @ UNC (0-1) 7:00EST ESPN2
The Badgers Head Coach Barry Alvarez probably began preparing for the Tarheels at halftime last week of Wisconsin’s romp over Temple. UNC now has a game under their belt albeit a loss. UNC showed an ability to pass the ball, but once again the defense seems to be a thorn in their side. For the first three quarters, Georgia Tech was able to do whatever they wanted against the Tarheel’s ‘D’. Wisconsin’s Brian Calhoun looks to be another in the line of good running backs in Madison and is averaging 150 yards per game this season. The Badgers will need to rely on him, as the passing game is still anemic at times. This is a very important game for the Tarheels if they want to reach a bowl game again this season. The keys to the game will be whether or not UNC can slow the running game of Wisconsin and if UNC can run the ball themselves. Prediction: Wisconsin 38 UNC 31

West Virginia (2-0) @ Maryland (1-1) –3 12:00EST JP
Ralph Friedgen’s group looks to recover from a tough loss last week against the Mountaineers at home. Maryland TE Vernon Davis is coming off a 140-yard performance against Clemson and will look to have another big day. West Virginia’s Rich Rodriguez employs a spread offense, but has new faces at many of the skill positions. The Mountaineers do lead the nation in total defense, but their previous competition may be the reason for this. The Terrapins sloppy play cost them last week’s victory and the have to cut down on mistakes to win this game. Prediction: Maryland 28 West Virginia 21

UCONN (2-0) @ #16 Georgia Tech (2-0) -15 6:45EST ESPNU
Connecticut brings a strong defense into Atlanta this week for a tangle with the undefeated Yellow Jackets. So far this season, UCONN has outscored opponents 97-0. Those opponents were lowly Division I-A Buffalo and even lower Division I-AA Liberty. The Huskies have racked up 511 yards per game of offense while only yielding 143 yards per game. UCONN’s big player is running back Cornell Brockington, who led the Big East in rushing last season. Too bad, the Huskies strength plays right into Tech’s defensive strength. Tech looks to have a more balanced attack on offense this season with Reggie Ball’s decision making improved so far and multiple receivers making catches. One weakness for Tech this season has been the cornerbacks. Kenny Scott and Dennis Davis are left on islands many times and have struggled somewhat in man-to-man coverage. The Huskies have a new starter this season at Quarterback and Tech effectively shut down 4th round pick Dan Orlovsky last season in a 30-7 Yellow Jacket win. Prediction: Georgia Tech 24 UCONN 10

UL-Monroe (0-2) @ #7 Georgia (2-0) –38
Georgia should beat UL-Monroe no problems. The Bulldogs have not had great success in game where they are favored heavily, but Georgia should roll easily as UL-Monroe is one of the worst teams in Division I-A. Prediction: Georgia 52 UL Monroe 7

#25 Virginia (1-0) -7.5 @ Syracuse (1-1) 12:00EST ESPN2
UVA looks to improve after a week off from a lackluster performance against Western Michigan against Syracuse. The Cavaliers will likely be with tailback Wali Lundy, so expect Alvin Pearman to start in his place. Virginia’s attack is centered around quarterback Marques Hagans’ ability to run and throw. The Orange offense did not impress anyone with their performance against West Virginia two weeks ago, only racking up 103 yards in total offense. Syracuse hopes to take advantage of the Carrier Dome, which can be a very tough place to play for opponents not used to playing in a Dome. Virginia should be able escape Syracuse with a victory though. Prediction: Virginia 21 Syracuse 17

Ball State (0-2) @ Auburn (1-1) –35 2:30EST
The Tigers should beat Ball State with ease at home. Don’t expect them to be looking ahead to Western Kentucky next week despite their #2 ranking in Division I-AA either. Prediction: Auburn 49 Ball State 3

East Carolina (1-0) @ Wake Forest (0-2) –13 6:30EST
Wake Forest has played bad in two games in a row, yet they are favored by almost two touchdowns at home versus a team that just defeated Duke. The Demon Deacons have shown a sound running game, but that is about it. Wake should have the advantage at home, but this one will be close. Prediction: Wake Forest 35 East Carolina 27

Ohio (1-1) @ #4 Virginia Tech (2-0) -33.5 3:30EST ESPNU
Virginia Tech will begin preparing for Georgia Tech about midway through the third quarter. Hokies win in a blowout. Prediction: VT 35 Ohio 3

Kentucky (1-1) @ Indiana (2-0) -2.5 6:45EST
A good better suited to be played in basketball as two rivals square off. Kentucky looked good against, but then had to come from behind against Idaho St. The Wildcats have won 9 of the last 10 in this series. Both teams are allowing over 400 yards per game so look for a shootout. Prediction: Kentucky 34 Indiana 31

Mississippi State (1-1) -2.5 @ Tulane (0-0) 8:00EST CSTV
Tulane will be playing its first game of the year after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina forced them to Jackson, Mississippi and later to Dallas. The game will be played in Shreveport, but will be a home game for the Green Wave. The Bulldogs will try to bounce back from being shutout at Auburn. It is hard to imagine Tulane having their mind on football lately, but tragedies can bring teams together. It would hopefully bring some joy to New Orleans and Tulane University if their game can pull it together for 60 minutes.
Prediction: Tulane 28 Miss St 24

Eastern Kentucky (0-2) @ NC State (0-1) 6:00EST
The Wolfpack will be able to rebound from a heartbreaking loss to Virginia Tech two weeks as they get a tune up with Eastern Kentucky this week.
Prediction: NC State 42 E. Kentucky 14

VMI (1-1) @ Duke (0-2) 1:00EST
VMI may have a chance in this game because Duke has looked that bad so far this season. The Blue Devils should be able to muster a victory in this uninspiring contest in Durham.
Prediction Duke 20 VMI 3

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