It was a tough opening week for the ACC and the STL gambling blog. Florida State, Georgia Tech, NC State, and North Carolina all lost against power-five opponents and I went 2-5 on my predictions. Luckily both the conference and I get a chance at redemption come Saturday. The guaranteed perfect Week 2 picks:
Gametime: 12pm, ESPN
Spread: Louisville -10
Breakdown: Both of these teams experienced disappointing opening weeks. Louisville struggled to shake off the rust that contributed to last year’s late season slide and only managed to edge perennial Big Ten doormat Purdue by a touchdown. Naturally North Carolina felt the need to one-up that, losing as a double-digit favorite at home to a PAC12 team breaking in a brand-new coach. Well done Heels. The Tar Heels still seem shaky at the QB spot, with LSU transfer Brandon Harris throwing for two picks and freshman Chazz Surratt (what a lacrosse name) only averaging 5.8 yards per attempt. Until that changes, stay away from the Heels.
The Pick: Louisville -10
Gametime: 12pm, ESPNU
Spread: Northwestern -3.5
Breakdown: Duke pasted North Carolina Central 60-7 in Week 1, which tells us absolutely nothing, while Northwestern pulled away in the fourth quarter to beat Nevada 31-20. Both teams QBs looked great against weak defenses, but Northwestern really struggled to establish a ground game, rushing 50 times and averaging just 3.1 yards per carry. I feel confident Duke isn’t good, but they’re probably better than a Nevada team that went 5-7 in the Mountain West last year. I like the Devils getting points at home.
The Pick: Duke +3.5
#10 Florida State Seminoles vs. Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks
Gametime: 12pm, ACC Network
Spread: Florida State -34.5
Breakdown: One of the few teams that can contend with NC State for worst opener: Florida State. There’s no shame in losing to Alabama, literally everyone does it, but managing to also lose your Heisman-worthy QB in the process is disastrous. We really have no idea what the Noles look like without Deondre Francois under center or what their emotional state will be after such a letdown in Week 1. Add in the looming threat of miserable weather and I think this one stays closer than anticipated.
The Pick: Louisiana-Monroe +34.5
Gametime: 1pm, ACC Network
Spread: Boston College -1.5
Breakdown: Just bet the under. Last year BC won this matchup 17-14. The year before Wake won 3-0. 2014? BC wins 23-17. 2013? BC wins 24-10. Basically it would take a case of divine intervention for both teams to score 20 points in the same game. If you’re absolutely forced to bet the spread then go with BC. Defense travels and they beat a legit Northern Illinois team on the road last week while Wake pasted Presbyterian, which may actually just be the church team nearest to Winston-Salem. Don’t watch this game.
The Pick: Boston College -1.5
Gametime: 3:30pm, ACC Network
Spread: Indiana -3
Breakdown: There’s no question this game is key for the Hoos if they want a realistic shot at a bowl appearance. Sadly, unlike most years in recent memory, this Indiana team isn’t a pushover. The Hoosiers hung around against Ohio State in Week 1, taking a lead into the third quarter before falling apart. The key Saturday will be whether Indiana tries to revive a rushing attack that amassed only 17 yards against the Buckeyes or if they continue throwing the ball all over the place, they threw it 68 times for 420 yards in the opener. The UVa run defense left a lot to be desired against William & Mary and while the pass D was better, the loss of Tim Harris will definitely be felt against Indiana’s explosive offense. I don’t see the Hoos making enough stops to pull this one out.
The Pick: Indiana -3
Gametime: 3:30pm, ABC
Spread: Penn State -22
Breakdown: The lack of respect for Pittsburgh here is kind of amazing. The Panthers were one of just three teams (along with Michigan and USC) to beat Penn State last season. Yes they’re breaking in a new quarterback and needed overtime to defeat Youngstown State on Saturday, but Youngstown State made it to the FCS title game last year and are coached by everyone’s favorite hot-head Bo Pelini. They’d be at least a 3.5 point favorite against UVa. Penn State boasts two true Heisman candidates in RB Saquon Barkley and QB Trace McSorley, but giving over three touchdowns in an intrastate rivalry game is a hard cover for anyone.
The Pick: Pittsburgh +22
Syracuse Orange vs. Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders
Gametime: 3:30pm, ACC Network
Spread: Syracuse -9
Breakdown: This game is the cure to BC vs. Wake. Bet the over. Syracuse may or may not be good, but they can score. The Orange dropped 50 in their opener and Dino Babers’ offense is as high-powered as they come. Not to be outdone, Middle Tennessee State had nine games last year in which they scored more than 35 points and somehow managed to put up 77 points in a game against Florida Atlantic. While still entertaining the Blue Raiders appear slightly less formidable this year and struggled heavily with Vanderbilt in week 1. I think the Orange win by more than touchdowns.
The Pick: Syracuse -9
NC State Wolfpack vs. Marshall Thundering Herd
Gametime: 6pm, ACC Network
Spread: NC State -23.5
Breakdown: NC State may have had the worst opener of any ACC team. Sure they played South Carolina close in defeat but this was supposed to be the season the Pack were ready for the big-time. They were touted as both ACC and College Football Playoff sleepers and while the latter was always overkill, more performances like last Saturday will but conference aspirations out of reach quickly. Marshall isn’t great, they’re coming off a 3-9 season, but they edged past Miami (OH) in their opener and I’m not sure State should be a 20+ point favorite against anyone.
The Pick: Marshall +23.5
#5 Clemson Tigers vs. #12 Auburn Tigers
Gametime: 7pm, ESPN
Spread: Clemson -5.5
Breakdown: Yet again one of the marquee matchups of the week will pit the ACC against the SEC, this time in Death Valley. Both Tigers dispatched lowly competition in Week 1 with ease. Clemson held Kent State to 1 total passing yard and 2.7 yards per rush while Auburn kept Georgia Southern in check to the tune of 8 total passing yards and 1.5 yards per rush. Clearly this will be a stiffer test for both teams but, as in Week 1, expect the SEC to emerge victorious. It’ll be tough for Auburn to get a road win but their experience advantage at QB will pay dividends here. Baylor transfer Jarrett Stidham isn’t afraid of the big stage and Clemson’s junior signal-caller Kelly Bryant is completely untested. Auburn scores late to win.
The Pick: Auburn +5.5