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ACC Week 2 Predictions

Mike London

Mike London

The ACC didn’t pickup a key non-conference win in any of its marquee matchups, and the league slate for Week 2 isn’t full of enticing games. Notre Dame-Virginia is arguably the best matchup this Saturday, and the Fighting Irish are a heavy favorite over the Cavaliers. Elsewhere in the ACC this week, Louisville turns to true freshman Lamar Jackson at quarterback against Houston, while Florida State hosts South Florida in Everett Golson’s second start under center for the Seminoles.

Wake Forest-Syracuse is the only league matchup on the schedule in Week 2.

Athlon Sports offers its ACC Week 2 predictions from four editors: Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven), David Fox (@DavidFox615), Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch) and Braden Gall (@BradenGall)

ACC Week 2 Game Power Rankings & Predictions

1. Notre Dame at Virginia

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ABC

David Fox:

The start of Virginia’s schedule may be tougher than the Cavaliers anticipated as UCLA’s Josh Rose and Notre Dame’s Malik Zaire quickly take charger of their respective quarterback positions. The Cavs will look to shut down Notre Dame’s weakened run game, but the Irish defense could be dominant.

Notre Dame 31–13

Braden Gall:

Virginia isn't all that bad but made Josh Rosen look like a Heisman Trophy candidate last week. This is a game where Notre Dame should do what it wants on both sides of the ball if it wants to be taken seriously in the playoff conversation. Notre Dame 34-13

Steven Lassan:

It’s a light slate of games in the ACC when Notre Dame-Virginia is the No. 1 matchup. The Cavaliers’ brutal non-conference slate continues against a Fighting Irish team with momentum on their side after last week’s win over Texas. Virginia’s defense keeps it close for a half, but will the offense generate enough points?

Notre Dame 30-13

Mitch Light:

The Cavs’ ridiculously tough non-conference schedule continues with a home date against Notre Dame. Last week, they faced one of the nation’s top young players in UCLA true freshman quarterback Josh Rosen. Now, they play a Fighting Irish team that dominated Texas in every phase. 

Notre Dame 30-14 

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2. Houston at Louisville

Kickoff: Noon ET

TV Channel: ESPN3

David Fox:

Prepping for Gus Malzahn, Houston coach Tom Herman and the Clemson offense in the first three weeks has to be tough on Louisville defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. Underwhelming quarterback play has to be tough on Bobby Petrino. Upset alert?

Louisville 21–17

Braden Gall:

Louisville's defense is better than advertised, and Tom Herman put up big numbers in his debut for Houston. Look for the Cardinals to pull away late in a battle of former Big East and C-USA rivals. Louisville 31-17

Steven Lassan:

This matchup is an intriguing, under-the-radar game in Week 2. Louisville lost its opener against Auburn, but true freshman quarterback Lamar Jackson is a future star under coach Bobby Petrino. New Houston coach Tom Herman had a successful debut, and dual-threat quarterback Greg Ward will give Louisville’s defense a few problems.

Louisville 34-20

Mitch Light:

A rebuilt Louisville defense limited a powerful (we think) Auburn offense to 327 total yards. That bodes well for the rest of the season — beginning with this week’s game against Houston. 

Louisville 33-17

3. USF at Florida State

Kickoff: 11:30 a.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN

David Fox:

USF has won six total games in 2013-14 by a combined margin of 26. The Bulls beat Florida A&M in their opener by 48. They’re better but not good enough to challenge Florida State.

Florida State 42–14

Braden Gall:

Florida State started slow last week but Everet Golson rallied the troops. Much of the same this time around. Florida State 40-13

Steven Lassan:

Both quarterbacks in this matchup – Florida State’s Everett Golson and USF’s Quinton Flowers – were sharp last week. While Flowers is a promising player for the Bulls, the Seminoles are the better overall team, and Golson should continue to progress with another week of learning coach Jimbo Fisher’s offense.

Florida State 38-13

Mitch Light:

The Bulls take on a team from Tallahassee for the second straight week. Florida State will be far more formidable than the Rattlers from Florida A&M. 

Florida State 38-10

4. Appalachian State at Clemson

Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN3

David Fox:

Appy State’s run of seven consecutive wins, including two shutouts, ends here.

Clemson 49–10

Braden Gall:

The depth for Clemson was impressive in Week 1 and I expect more of the same in Week 2. Just keep Deshaun Watson healthy, please. Clemson 51-10

Steven Lassan:

This is Clemson’s last tune-up before the ACC opener against Louisville next Thursday. Appalachian State should be a better test for the Tigers than Wofford, as the Mountaineers enter this matchup on a seven-game winning streak. Clemson will miss receiver Mike Williams (sidelined with a neck injury), but there’s plenty of playmakers to keep this offense performing at a high level.

Clemson 41-17

Mitch Light:

Appalachian State rolled up 663 yards — 376 on the ground, 287 through the air — in a Week 1 win over Howard. Don’t expect similar results when they visit the home of Howard’s Rock. 

Clemson 41-13 

5. Wake Forest at Syracuse

Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN3

David Fox:

Syracuse quarterback Terrell Hunt is out for the season with a torn Achilles. He’ll be replaced by a freshman. In a matchup of the two worst teams in the ACC, that’s huge.

Wake Forest 24–17

Braden Gall:

This might be the only chance for either team to get a win in the ACC. Cuse is at home but without it's starting quarterback. Give me John Wolford on the road. Wake Forest 28-24

Steven Lassan:

This is the first conference game of the year in the ACC. And the winner of this one probably avoids the cellar in the Atlantic. Syracuse lost quarterback Terrel Hunt last week, but freshman Eric Dungey played well. Wake Forest’s offense also showed signs of life in Week 1.

Wake Forest 24-20

Mitch Light:

Both teams feasted on overmatched FCS foes in Week 1. Syracuse, however, lost the services of quarterback Terrel Hunt, who is sidelined with a torn Achilles tendon. Freshman Eric Dungey will make his first start against a stout Wake Forest defense. 

Wake Forest 17-7

6. Miami at FAU

Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET (Friday)

TV Channel: Fox Sports 1

David Fox:

A nice game for those of us appreciate bizarre road trips and all things Howard Schnellenberger, the architect of both programs. FAU was done in by four turnovers in an OT loss to Tulsa last week.

Miami 38–31

Braden Gall:

The Howard Schnellenberger Bowl SHOULD be an "easy" win for The U. Miami 38-20

Steven Lassan:

The Hurricanes make the short trip to Boca Raton for this one, as FAU hopes to pull off the upset as a 17-point underdog. The Owls have a talented quarterback in Jaquez Johnson, but I’m not sure the defense will be able to slow Miami’s offense. Quarterback Brad Kaaya won’t have Stacy Coley or Braxton Berrios to throw to, but the Hurricanes pull away in the second half.

Miami 38-17

Mitch Light:

FAU gave up 618 yards (7.2 per play) in last week’s overtime loss at Tulsa. The Owls will have a tough time slowing down Brad Kaaya & Co.

Miami 47-24

7. Pittsburgh at Akron

Kickoff: 6 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN3

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David Fox:

Pittsburgh lost to Akron at home last season. By 11. The Panthers get Tyler Boyd back but lost James Conner for the season. They may get revenge here, but the long-term prospects are questionable.

Pittsburgh 21–14

Braden Gall:

No James Conner, no problem for Pitt. At least, not this week against the Zips. Qadree Ollison and Tyler Boyd are more than enough. Pitt 34-17

Steven Lassan:

The Zips stunned Pittsburgh at Heinz Field last season. Another upset coming? Possibly. Akron’s defense is solid, but the offense struggled mightily against Oklahoma last week. Even though running back James Conner is out for the year, the Panthers should be able to run the ball, and receiver Tyler Boyd is back from suspension this Saturday.

Pittsburgh 31-20

Mitch Light:

Pittsburgh has the nation’s second-leading rusher — but it’s not James Conner, who was lost for the season with a torn ACL. Redshirt freshman Qadree Ollison stepped in and rushed for 207 yards on 16 carries against Youngstown State last week. 

Pittsburgh 37-24

8. Tulane at Georgia Tech

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN3

David Fox:

Don’t overthink it: Georgia Tech won its opener 69–6. Tulane lost its opener 37–7.

Georgia Tech 41–14

Braden Gall:

Tulane was terrible against Duke and Georgia Tech is virtually unstoppable on the ground. Tech please. Georgia Tech 51-14

Steven Lassan:

The Yellow Jackets were very impressive last Thursday. Of course, the opponent – Alcorn State – had a lot to do with the outcome. Expect Georgia Tech to dominate once again, as coach Paul Johnson’s team gets another tune-up before next week’s showdown against Notre Dame.

Georgia Tech 45-10

Mitch Light:

Tulane was overmatched at home in a Week 1 loss at home to Duke. Now, the Green Wave hit the road to face a potent Georgia Tech ground attack. The Yellow Jackets have one more tune-up before they head to Notre Dame. 
Georgia Tech 48-13

9. Eastern Kentucky at NC State

Kickoff: 6 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN3

David Fox:

Eastern Kentucky is one of the better teams in the FCS, but NC State shouldn’t have a ton of trouble.

NC State 41–20

Braden Gall:

Jacoby Brissett, Jacoby Brissett and more Jacoby Brissett. NC State 42-17

Steven Lassan:

The Wolfpack cruised in their Week 1 victory against Troy. Coach Dave Doeren’s team continues the momentum with an easy win over Eastern Kentucky. With matchups against Old Dominion and South Alabama up next, we won’t find out much about NC State until the Oct. 3 game against Louisville.

NC State 45-7

Mitch Light:

Jacoby Brissett was outstanding in the Pack’s 49–21 win over Troy, completing 21-of-23 for 196 yards, two TDs and no interceptions.

NC State 38-17

10. Furman at Virginia Tech

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN3

David Fox:

The Hokies need to find out of Brenden Motley can pass.

Virginia Tech 21–10

Braden Gall:

The Paladins are no match for Tech (more specifically its defense) even without Michael Brewer. Virginia Tech 28-3

Steven Lassan:

With Michael Brewer out indefinitely with a collarbone injury, Brenden Motley will start at quarterback for the Hokies. However, freshmen Chris Durkin and Dwayne Lawson may also see snaps. Either way, Virginia Tech wins big this Saturday.

Virginia Tech 41-3

Mitch Light:

Virginia Tech’s season took an unfortunate turn when quarterback Michael Brewer went down with a broken collarbone. Brenden Motley will do his best to keep the ship afloat until Brewer returns. 

Virginia Tech 28-0

11. North Carolina A&T at North Carolina

Kickoff: 6 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN3

David Fox:

How will Marquise Williams recover from a disastrous game against South Carolina?

North Carolina 41–21

Braden Gall:

Marquise Williams needs and will get a bounce back game after a lot of summer hype. His play against South Carolina cost his team a win. North Carolina 50-17

Steven Lassan:

Marquise Williams and the rest of North Carolina’s offense gets back on track after a sluggish performance against South Carolina

North Carolina 50-13

Mitch Light:

Mistakes in the red zone cost UNC last Thursday night against South Carolina. Marquise Williams can’t make those mistakes if this team is going to be a factor in the ACC Coastal Division. 

North Carolina 48-3

12. North Carolina Central at Duke

Kickoff: 6 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN3

David Fox:

Duke won’t get to a bowl by playing Ohio State in the non-conference.

Duke 38–10

Braden Gall:

Duke is always going to be sneaky good and the non-conference schedule should afford a bunch of easy wins. Duke 42-10

Steven Lassan:

The Blue Devils were quietly impressive in their Week 1 blowout win over Tulane. The momentum keeps rolling here against North Carolina Central.

Duke 48-10

Mitch Light:

Duke topped 200 yards rushing and 300 yards passing in its win at Tulane last weekend. Expect more of the same.

Duke 48-10

13. Howard at Boston College

Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN3

David Fox:

With Maine and Howard, Boston College has two de facto exhibition games before Florida State next week.

Boston College 38–7

Braden Gall:

Where is Howard again? Boston College 41-7

Steven Lassan:

Boston College shouldn’t have much trouble here after Howard was soundly defeated by Appalachian State last week. Another opportunity for the Eagles to get their revamped offensive line and quarterback Darius Wade valuable game reps.

Boston College 41-7

Mitch Light:

Boston College plays its second FCS foe of the young season when Howard — the same team that gave up 663 yards to App State — visits Chestnut Hill. 

Boston College 38-0