By E. Marcel Pourtout, Editor
Game of the week:
Miami (3-2) at Georgia Tech (4-0): There’s genuine excitement in Atlanta for this one between two teams who can find themselves winning the wide-open Coastal division.
For Georgia Tech, its been about sophomore QB Justin Thomas. In his first-year as a starter, Georgia Tech ranks tenth nationally in rushing at 292.0 yards per game while Thomas is second among FBS quarterbacks in rushing (110.8 yards), gaining 302 yards on the ground in the last two games. Thomas is one of just eight FBS quarterbacks that lead their team in both rushing and passing.
While Georgia Tech’s defense has still not been stellar in giving up more than 24 points per contest, it’s created turnovers. Through four games, the Yellow Jackets’ defense has six interceptions from six different players, two of which have been returned for touchdowns. Meanwhile, all seven Tech takeaways have results in points and the Jackets own a +38-margin in points-off-turnover scoring (45-7).
The Hurricanes defeated Duke last week at home 22-10. Miami running back Duke Johnson carried 25 times for 155 yards and a touchdown while freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya completed 20 of 34 passes for 223 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Miami’s defense limited Duke to 264 total yards.
In the end, I don’t trust Miami’s rush defense on the road so we’re taking Georgia Tech in a close one.
Louisville (4-1) at Syracuse (2-2): The good news from Syracuse’s 31-15 loss to Notre Dame was that the Orange defense forced five turnovers. The bad news were those gray uniforms.
BTW, when did Nike make the executive decision that gray was going to be in all of its uniforms this year? Syracuse and Miami wore all gray uniforms last week and it was an abomination. Those teams have some of the most beautiful colors to work with on the pallete and they ruin it. So disappointing.
The other bad news is that Syracuse allowed Irish quarterback Everett Golson to throw for 362 yards and four touchdowns.
Louisville had to make a fourth-quarter comeback against lowly Wake Forest last week, scoring the final 13 points for the victory, including two field goals by John Wallace. Running back Brandon Radcliff rushed for 129 yards and two touchdowns.
The Cardinals also intercepted three Wake Forest passes, including safety Gerod Holliman’s nation-leading sixth of the season and his third in five games.
Its a Friday night contest and both teams struggle defensively. Expect a high-scoring affair but the road team to come out on top. Picking Louisville.
NC State (4-1) at Clemson (2-2): Last week, I suggested to Clemson that they stick with true freshman Deshaun Watson at quarterback and let him develop. Throwing for 435 yards and an ACC record-tying six touchdowns against North Carolina in a 50-35 win looks good to me.
Clemson finished the night with 528 total yards of offense with receiver Germone Hopper having a career-high 139 receiving yards and two touchdowns with Mike Williams close behind with a career-high of his own with 122 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
North Carolina State look poised to pull off the biggest upset of the season last week against Florida State, leading 24-7 after the first quarter. The Wolfpack ended up losing 56-41 but put the rest of the ACC on notice.
NC State quarterback Jacoby Brissett passed for 359 yards and three touchdowns, completing 32 of 48 attempts.
Both of these teams have already lost to Florida State so an Atlantic Division title looks unlikely. However, I’m expecting Clemson to do just enough at home to emerge with the victory.
Rest of the slate:
Virginia Tech (3-2) at North Carolina (2-2): The Tar Heels defense has given up an ACC-high 176 points so far this season. If I’m Hokies’ quarterback Michael Brewer, this game can’t come fast enough. Virginia Tech by double-digits on the road.
Wake Forest (2-3) at Florida State (4-0): If Jameis Winston is still in this game late in the third quarter and the game is in doubt, something isn’t right with this Florida State team in 2014. The Seminoles roll big in this one.
Pitt (3-2) at Virginia (3-2): This has the makings for a good comeback season for Virginia which won only two games last year. A victory over Pitt would give the Cavs sole possession of first place in the Coastal division. I’ll take Virginia at home.