ACC Week 3 Predictions

Predictions for every ACC game in Week 3.

The ACC still has its share of one-sided matchups on the slate for Week 3, but there’s a handful of contests with national appeal. Notre Dame begins life without Malik Zaire this Saturday, as DeShone Kizer makes his first start under center against Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets have been one of the nation’s most impressive teams through the first two weeks of 2015. Elsewhere in the ACC, Clemson travels to Louisville for a showdown on Thursday night, while Florida State travels to Chestnut Hill to take on Boston College on Friday night. Miami hosts Nebraska in an intriguing non-conference affair that should see its share of points.

 

Athlon Sports offers its ACC Week 3 predictions from three editors: Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven), David Fox (@DavidFox615), and Braden Gall (@BradenGall)

 

ACC Week 3 Game Power Rankings & Predictions

 

1. Georgia Tech at Notre Dame

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: NBC

 

David Fox:

The Yellow Jackets’ offense is rolling, and Paul Johnson wouldn’t mind sticking it to Notre Dame defensive coordinator Brian Van Gorder, who wasn’t keen on the option when he succeeded Johnson at Georgia Southern. That, and Notre Dame is down four starters with injuries since the preseason.

Georgia Tech 35–24

 

Braden Gall:

Tech is really, really good and Justin Thomas is the best quarterback Paul Johnson has ever had. Notre Dame will be extremely physical too but is relying on a new starter DeShone Kizer — who isn't nearly as mobile as Malik Zaire. This could be a playoff elimination game and I'm taking the road team.

Georgia Tech 34-30

 

Steven Lassan:

Georgia Tech hasn’t faced much competition through the first two weeks of the season, but the Yellow Jackets have been very impressive. Notre Dame is battle tested after games against Texas and Virginia. However, is this game where the injuries catch up to Brian Kelly’s team? Interested to see how DeShone Kizer performs in his first start, as well as the Fighting Irish’s defense against the Yellow Jackets’ option attack.

Georgia Tech 31-27

 

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2. Clemson at Louisville

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN

 

David Fox:

The sense of optimism around the Cardinals has slowed. Louisville is giving up 100 more yards rushing per game than last season. That's before facing Clemson.

Clemson 38–20

 

Braden Gall:

Louisville hasn't gotten off to the start it has hoped for but the competition has excellent. Clemson hasn't been tested but has rolled big. The Cardinals play well at home on Thursday nights traditionally, but I'm taking the Tigers.

Clemson 38-24

 

Steven Lassan:

We should find out a little more about Clemson on Thursday night. The Tigers have been sharp in two games, but Louisville is the best team they will face so far. The Cardinals have already started two different quarterbacks and could turn to a third – Kyle Bolin – on Thursday night. However, the bigger question for both teams is how the offensive lines perform. The edge here goes to Clemson behind quarterback Deshaun Watson.

Clemson 27-24

 

3. Nebraska at Miami

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ABC/ESPN2

 

David Fox:

The Huskers are trying to find consistency on offense, but the emergence of Terrell Newby, who rushed for 198 yards and accounted for three touchdowns against South Alabama last week, is encouraging. Miami is also trying to figure out how to consistently move the ball. The team that avoids stalled drives will have the upper hand.

Nebraska 28–21

 

Braden Gall:

I have no good feel about this game but like the other Big Ten-ACC tilts this weekend, I like the home team. Joe Yearby and Brad Kaaya are forming a nice 1-2 offensive punch and Nebraska is still trying to find itself.

Miami 40-30

 

Steven Lassan:

Not sure what to expect in this game, as these two teams seem relatively even. Miami’s defense was shaky in the first half against FAU, but the Hurricanes allowed only three points in the final two quarters. Quarterback Brad Kaaya and running back Joseph Yearby is an explosive combination for Miami’s offense. Nebraska’s secondary has allowed 300 yards passing in back-to-back games and will be tested once again on Saturday. The Cornhuskers are going to score their share of points behind quarterback Tommy Armstrong and running back Terrell Newby (198 yards last week). This one is a toss-up.

Miami 38-34

 

4. Florida State at Boston College

Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET (Friday)

TV Channel: ESPN

 

David Fox:

Boston College tends to play Florida State tough, and this is not the Jameis Winston Seminoles. BC will threaten to upset before FSU finishes the job.

Florida State 27–21

 

Braden Gall:

The Noles struggle consistently in Chestnut Hill, and Everett Golson hasn't been the playmaker Jimbo Fisher envisioned. Boston College has rolled to two easy wins but won't be able to stop Dalvin Cook.

Florida State 35-21

 

Steven Lassan:

The competition has been low, but Boston College’s defense has been dominant through the first two weeks of the season. The strength of the Eagles’ defense is up front, and this will be a tough matchup for Florida State running back Dalvin Cook. This game should be controlled by the defenses, leaving it up to whichever quarterback makes enough plays in the second half.

Florida State 24-20

 

5. Illinois at North Carolina

Kickoff: Noon ET

TV Channel: ESPN2

 

David Fox:

Illinois has defeated two overmatched opponents by a combined score of 96–3. Time to find out if the Illini are legit. Illinois has played standout defense early this season. That unit will be tested on the road against North Carolina’s spread attack.

North Carolina 35–24

 

Braden Gall:

Illinois has been sneaky good behind the play of quarterback Wes Lunt (although, the ground game hasn't been great). North Carolina rebounded with an easy win over N.C. A&T. This is a great offensive matchup and I'll take the home team in a close one.

North Carolina 41-38

 

Steven Lassan:

Expect plenty of fireworks in this game. Both teams are averaging over 30 points per game and are led by solid quarterbacks in Wes Lunt (Illinois) and Marquise Williams (North Carolina). The Tar Heels have improved on defense under new coordinator Gene Chizik, and I think that’s the difference in this game. Lots of points, but North Carolina makes a critical stop or two in the second half.

North Carolina 38-31

 

6. Pittsburgh at Iowa

Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Big Ten Network

 

David Fox:

Defensive end Drew Ott (arm) and running back LeShun Daniels Jr. (ankle) are iffy with “fairly significant injuries.” Iowa hopes both will be back Saturday. Pitt has its own injury concerns, with running back James Conner out for the season. Pitt plans on rotating its quarterbacks without the security of Conner running the ball.

Iowa 24–14

 

Braden Gall:

Iowa clearly made the right choice at quarterback with C.J. Beathard. This team has looked good in two easy wins — one on the road against an archrival. Pitt has two wins but isn't at full strength and is on the road.

Iowa 31-24

 

Steven Lassan:

Iowa has quietly impressed through the first two weeks of the season, but there’s two potential injury concerns – defensive end Drew Ott and running back LeShun Daniels – for this game. Even though Pittsburgh lost James Conner due to injury, the rushing attack remains strong with Qadree Ollison, Darrin Hall and Chris James. The bigger question for the Panthers – will it be Chad Voytik or Nathan Peterman under center?

Iowa 24-21

 

7. Northwestern at Duke

Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN3

 

David Fox:

Duke’s Thomas Sirk has been a true dual threat, completing 67.7 percent of his passes while leading the Blue Devils in rushing. Northwestern’s pass defense has been stifling, but the Wildcats haven’t faced a team willing to open up its offense.

Northwestern 31–28

 

Braden Gall:

Love this game. Northwestern's defense is really good and Duke is extremely well coached. I'll take the home team.

Duke 30-24

 

Steven Lassan:

Not only is this a quality under-the-radar matchup of the week between two academic powers, it’s also one of the toughest games to predict. Northwestern has a good win over Stanford, while Duke has dominated two overmatched opponents. The Wildcats have the edge on defense, but I think quarterback Thomas Sirk is a rising star for the Blue Devils, and his play in the second half will be the difference in a tight game.

Duke 27-24

 

8. Virginia Tech at Purdue

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPNU

 

David Fox:

Purdue’s Austin Appleby returned from his collapse against Marshall to go 20-of-34 for 289 yards with four TDs against Indiana State. Now, the hope is that facing the Hokies won’t set him back.

Virginia Tech 28–10

 

Braden Gall:

Purdue is better this year but still not good enough to win games like this. Even at home.

Virginia Tech 31-24

 

Steven Lassan:

I was surprised to see this spread at only six points. Purdue is improving, but I don’t think it has the necessary pieces to upset Virginia Tech on Saturday. New starter Brenden Motley played well (16 of 24, 233 yards) against Furman for the Hokies last week, and faces a Purdue defense giving up 161.5 rushing yards per game. Virginia Tech’s defense will be too much for the Boilermakers.

Virginia Tech 31-13

 

9. Central Michigan at Syracuse

Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN3

 

David Fox:

Turnovers helped ‘Cuse, down to a backup QB, get a lopsided win over Wake last week.

Syracuse 28–21

 

Braden Gall:

Cuse gets its third win in three tires over CMU, matching its season total last year.

Syracuse 31-24

 

Steven Lassan:

It’s early, but this is a must-win game for Syracuse’s bowl hopes. True freshman quarterback Eric Dungey has played well since replacing an injured Terrel Hunt under center. Central Michigan gave Oklahoma State trouble in the opener, but Syracuse avoids the upset here.

Syracuse 30-20

 

10. NC State at Old Dominion

Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET

TV Channel: American Sports Network

 

David Fox:

I’m not sure why NC State is playing AT Old Dominion or AT South Alabama next week. Anything to make this paltry September schedule seem interesting.

NC State 35–10

 

Braden Gall:

The nation's leading rusher (Ray Lawry) will battle with Jacoby Brissett and NC State at home — which is interesting but unlikely to be close.

NC State 45-24

 

Steven Lassan:

NC State has looked good through the first two weeks of the season, but the competition level has been questionable. The theme continues on Saturday. Old Dominion running back Ray Lawry leads the nation with an average of 219 rushing yards per game in 2015. However, the Wolfpack have one of the ACC’s top backfields and are getting Shadrach Thornton back from a two-game suspension.

NC State 40-17

 

11. Wake Forest at Army

Kickoff: Noon ET

TV Channel: CBS Sports Network

 

David Fox:

Wake’s run game is still a mess, averaging 1.4 yards per carry last week. Army ran only 41 plays last week against UConn.

Wake Forest 21–14

 

Braden Gall:

Wake Forest needs a rebound after a tough road conference loss to Cuse last week. Army is one game it should win.

Wake Forest 30-20

 

Steven Lassan:

Wake Forest had a 17-13 halftime lead over Syracuse last week, but the Demon Deacons couldn’t overcome three turnovers. Regardless, this is an improved team in coach Dave Clawson’s second year. Army’s triple option is tough to stop on a short week to prepare, but the strength of Wake Forest’s defense rests with its front seven.

Wake Forest 27-20

 

12. William & Mary at Virginia

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN3

 

David Fox:

The Cavaliers’ brutal September schedule may get them only one win. This is it.

Virginia 31–14

 

Braden Gall:

Virginia's only break in the first month is a win. Finally.

Virginia 40-17

 

Steven Lassan:

Virginia has faced one of the toughest two-game stretches to start 2015. Things should be a little easier for the Cavaliers on Saturday.

Virginia 38-7

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