As we now sit at the midway portion of the 2013 college football season (sad, I know), we’re beginning to really take a look at some of the teams that have caught our eyes as some of the surprises thus far. From the ACC, most did foresee Florida State and Clemson being undefeated at this point in the year. Other than those two, no one really knew what to expect from the other teams throughout the conference.
Well, one of those pleasant surprises have been the Maryland Terrapins who, at the moment, are sitting pretty with a 4-0 record, already matching their win total from all of 2012.
This weekend, the newly-ranked Terps will be put to a stiff test in their first piece of ACC action in their final year as a member of the conference.
With that, let’s begin to take a look at this week’s action within the Atlantic Coast Conference:
Maryland at Florida State, Noon on ESPN: The explosive 4-0 Terps begin their final ACC conference schedule by traveling to Tallahasse, FL to face off against the eighth-ranked Florida State Seminoles. All-time, Maryland is just 2-21 against the ‘Noles and have never won inside the confines of Doak Campbell Stadium, where they will be playing Saturday. But, so far, this Maryland team seems to be a different animal. They have a healthy CJ Brown at QB whose already thrown for over 1,000 yards, seven touchdowns and just one interception. They have a fantastic one-two punch on the outside at receivers with Stefon Diggs and Deon Long.
Florida State has been very dominant so far, but they have been getting off to some slow starts, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. They found themselves down 17-3 at one point last week to Boston College, but were able to recover. However, if this Maryland team is as potent as they’re showing so far, can the top ranked ‘Noles survive another slow start?
Ball State at Virginia, Noon on ESPN3: Ball State enters this game with a 4-1 record, averaging more than 40 points per game and is ranked no.10 in the country in passing offense. Virginia was wildly sluggish last week against Pitt and very well could have set themselves up for a potential letdown at home. The Cavaliers have been particularly dreadful in pass coverage, which makes this a prime candidate for an upset alert.
North Carolina at Virginia Tech, 12:30 PM ET on ESPN3: In a battle within the Coastal Division of the conference, you probably couldn’t find two teams on completely opposite ends of the spectrum. After a season which would have saw them competing in the ACC Title Game if not for self-imposed sanctions, the North Carolina Tar Heels are sitting right now at 1-3 and fighting for their proverbial lives. QB Bryn Renner has not looked like the top NFL prospect that he did last season, and this offense is missing versatile running back Giovani Bernard just a bit.
VT, on the other hand, has rattled off four straight victories since the opening week loss to Alabama. Logan Thomas is still unbelievably inconsistent at QB, but the rest of the team has been able to put some things together and keep themselves very much in the hunt for a possible return trip to Charlotte in December.
Army at Boston College, 1 PM ET on ESPN3: We should just count our lucky stars that this game is even taking place. Earlier in the week, the current government shutdown threatened this contest. Thursday morning, though, it was announced that the game would indeed take place.
Boston College is coming off a narrow 48-34 loss to Florida State, a game in which it looked early on as if Steve Addazio and his Eagles were ready to shock the world. Although it was ultimately a loss, there were a lot of positives that BC can take away from last week and use toward motivation the rest of the season.
But, one negative is that the Eagles have had a somewhat difficult time stopping the run. And, well, we all know what Army loves to do. Therefore, this one could get interesting as the Black Knights visit Chestnut Hill.
NC State at Wake Forest, 3:30 PM ET on ESPN3: Virtually every year since they shocked everyone by taking the entire conference in 2006, we seem to sit on the edge of our seats waiting in anticipation of how Wake Forest is going to amaze us next with some sort of impossible feat.
But, this is not one of those Wake Forest teams. The Demon Deacons are pretty much inconsistent–and just overall bad–in virtually every facet of the game.
NC State, on the other hand, seems to be beginning to find some sort of groove under new head coach Dave Doeren. Similar to BC’s case mentioned above, the Wolfpack have a lot of positives that they can take away from that one close loss they suffered to Clemson. QB Pete Thomas and Bryan Underwood are beginning to build a chemistry that can give teams headaches, and the defense improves with each week as well.
Clemson at Syracuse, 3:30 PM ET on ABC/ESPN2: The Syracuse Orange are ready to begin their run in the ACC, and you probably couldn’t have asked for a stiffer test than being pit up against the no.3 team in the country, the Clemson Tigers.
Since changing to Terrel Hunt at QB, Syracuse picked themselves up from an 0-2 start and are now sitting at 2-2.
Clemson is still in the “don’t screw up” mode as they still have their sights clearly set on a national title. They struggled a bit two weeks ago against NC State, but looked their usual dominant selves last week against Wake.
This game will teach us a lot about both programs. Is Syracuse really on the upswing just by switching their QB? How will Clemson handle a game inside the Carrier Dome? To answer that second question, they should not ask the 2012 Louisville Cardinals.
Georgia Tech at Miami, 3:30 PM ET on ESPNU: Florida State and Maryland undoubtedly have all eyes upon them, but this game is one of the more important of the weekend in the conference, if not the entire season.
In this Coastal Division showdown, both teams are still readily in the hunt as the Yellow Jackets sit at 3-1 and the ‘Canes at 4-0. Both teams rank in the Top 10 in the nation in overall D and scoring D, which may be the most surprising statistics of this entire game.
Although different styles, we’re going to learn a lot about both defensive units in this one as they match up against each other’s explosive offensive units.