ACC Previews: Clemson-N.C. State highlights ACC slate

Yes, N.C. State football has become famous for upsetting top-10 teams at home, especially in night games. Just ask Florida State, who rolled into Raleigh undefeated last year and came out with an unexpected loss. 
But this N.C. State (2-0) team likely isn’t quarterbacked by a future NFL Draft pick like the last few Wolfpack teams to knock off top-25 opponents were. In 2003, it was Philip Rivers. In 2011, it was Russell Wilson. In 2012, it was Mike Glennon.
This year, it’s Pete Thomas, the backup to Brandon Mitchell (still out with a broken foot). He has yet to throw a passing touchdown, and he’ll be going up against a quarterback in Tajh Boyd who is a legitimate Heisman contender. 
Still, N.C. State’s upset culture is real, and the defense is good enough to give Clemson’s offense some trouble. The up-tempo offense has had its moments, and it could catch No. 7 Clemson’s defense sleeping. 
And the potential of “Clemsoning” has become a narrative yet again, which Clemson did in 2011 when it came to Raleigh ranked No. 7 in the country and left a 37-13 loser. The Tigers have to hope history doesn’t repeat itself this year.
If Clemson (2-0) can get by N.C. State, it has Wake Forest at home, Syracuse on the road and Boston College at home before Florida State comes to town on Oct. 19. Meaning, simply, that Clemson would likely be undefeated. 
Speaking of the Seminoles, FSU has only this week’s Bethune-Cookman game, a trip to Boston College and a home game against Maryland standing between now and that highly-anticipated showdown. 
What a special night it would be for the ACC if those two teams meet in what would likely be a top-10 matchup. But Clemson’s game Thursday night remains the toughest test for either team before that happens. 
Prediction: Clemson, 44-16.
North Carolina (1-1, 0-0 ACC) at Georgia Tech (2-0, 1-0 ACC)
When: Noon (Saturday)
Where: Bobby Dodd Stadium 
Breakdown: North Carolina’s defense is better than the one that let Georgia Tech put up 68 points in Chapel Hill last year. But Georgia Tech’s offense might be better too, and the Yellow Jacket defense (which allowed 50 points in that game) certainly is. Also, Atlanta is where UNC’s football hopes and dreams have gone to die since 1997. 
Prediction: Georgia Tech, 34-21.
West Virginia (2-1) vs. Maryland (3-0) 
When: 3:30 p.m. (Saturday)
Where: M&T Bank Stadium (Baltimore, Md.)
Breakdown: Maryland’s defense is as good as it was a year ago, but their offense has stepped up. West Virginia’s offense isn’t as explosive as it has been in recent years, not yet anyway. With some Maryland defensive starters out with injury, that could be dangerous. But Maryland has kept this game close in recent years, even when the Mountaineers were better. 
Prediction: Maryland, 38-27.
Pittsburgh (1-1, 0-1 ACC) at Duke (2-1, 0-1 ACC)
When: 12:30 p.m. (Saturday)
Where: Wallace Wade Stadium
Breakdown: Duke’s offense with Brandon Connette under center instead of Anthony Boone just isn’t quite the same, but Connette is a good player and he should get better from week to week as Boone’s broken collarbone heals. Pitt’s defense hasn’t been as stout as expected this season, and the offense is prone to turning the ball over. Duke’s defense should be able to take advantage.
Prediction: Duke, 27-24.
Marshall (2-1) at Virginia Tech (2-1)
When: Noon (Saturday)
Where: Lane Stadium
Breakdown: A lot of major-conference teams would struggle playing at East Carolina, and the Hokies were no different last weekend. But this week’s game is at home, and even though Marshall is dangerous, Virginia Tech should be able to somehow find enough offense to get the win.
Prediction: Virginia Tech, 44-27.
Wake Forest (1-2, 0-1 ACC) at Army (1-2)
When: Noon (Saturday)
Where: Michie Stadium
Breakdown: Hard to know what to think here. Army hung with Stanford last weekend at home, and Wake Forest hung around with Louisiana-Monroe at home the week before. Not quite the same. If Wake’s offense is ever going to get going, though, it’s this week. Army’s defense is not great. But Wake’s defense is going to have to step up and defend Army’s run-heavy attack.
Prediction: Army, 23-20
Tulane (2-1) at Syracuse (1-2)
When: 12:30 p.m. (Saturday)
Where: Carrier Dome
Breakdown: Tulane gave Syracuse trouble in their last meeting (in 2011), and the Green Wave are quarterbacked by Joe Montana’s son Nick. But Syracuse finally got a shot of much-needed confidence last weekend with a 54-0 win, Terrel Hunt looks like the real deal at quarterback and this game is in Syracuse. 
Prediction: Syracuse, 45-13.
Savannah State (1-2) at No. 16 Miami (2-0)
When: 7 p.m. (Saturday)
Where: Sun Life Stadium
Breakdown: Miami is favored by 60 points, which seems like a lot at first. Then you see Savannah State lost its first two games of the year by a combined score of 143-12. Which BCS programs did the damage, you might ask? Georgia Southern and Troy. Yep. 
Prediction: Miami, 77-0.

Bethune-Cookman (3-0) at No. 8 Florida State (2-0, 1-0 ACC)
When: 6 p.m. (Saturday)
Where: Doak Campbell Stadium
Breakdown: With the way teams like USF, FAU and FIU look, Bethune-Cookman might be the fourth- or fifth-best team in the state right now. They’re certainly better than FIU, who they beat 34-13 last weekend to go to 3-0 on the season. But Florida State is still Florida State. 
Prediction: Florida State, 57-7.
VMI (1-2) at Virginia (1-1)
When: 3:30 p.m. (Saturday)
Where: Scott Stadium
Breakdown: There are a lot of frisky FCS teams in the state of Virginia — Richmond, William & Mary, et cetera. VMI is not one of them. The Keydets haven’t had a winning season since 1981, and they have already lost at home to a Division II opponent this year. So, yeah. But, their mascot is a kangaroo, and that’s awesome. 
Prediction: Virginia, 48-12.
Week 3: 7-1 (1-0 ACC)
Overall: 27-4 (2-1 ACC)