ACC Week 4 Preview: UVA to host Boise State, Syracuse welcomes LSU
Clemson, Florida State, Miami and Pitt all have the weekend off
by Bubba Rosenbaum (@BubbaRosenbaum on Twitter)
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
With three of the league’s top teams (at least to this point)–Clemson, Florida State and Miami–having open dates this week, it will provide some of the ACC’s other clubs an opportunity to garner some national respect.
Below, we take a look at four of the nine games on the docket and what you can expect to see in each. Check back on Thursday and we will take a look at the other five contests involving ACC teams.
Boise State (2-1) @ UVA (1-2) — Scott Stadium (Charlottesville, VA) — ESPN — 8 p.m. (EST) (Friday, 9/25)
After suffering an 18-point defeat at UCLA to open their season, the Wahoos were only seconds away from shocking 9th ranked Notre Dame the following week in Charlottesville.
UVA (1-2), which held off feisty FCS foe William & Mary (35-29) a week ago, will look to even its record and earn a much-needed quality victory for head coach Mike London when it welcomes Boise State to town for Friday night’s nationally-televised (ESPN) contest–which is the inaugural meeting between these programs.
The Cavaliers’ offense, particularly the passing game, has performed well under junior signal-caller Matt Johns. Johns is completing 67 percent of his passes, has thrown for nearly 800 yards and has been sacked just three times.
His top target is Canaan Severin (19-264) while leading rusher Taquan Mizzell, who has 155 yards on 39 attempts, is second with 17 catches.
Defensively, UVA is allowing more than 32 points and 180 rushing yards per game.
The struggling unit will be facing a Broncos’ ground game that yields nearly 200 yards per contest and Boise State may very well turn to it even more now that starting quarterback Ryan Finley will be missing the next several weeks due to an injury he suffered in the Idaho State game.
The Broncos bring a 2-1 mark into the game with the blemish being a last-minute loss at BYU.
Expect this one to go down to the wire, but take Boise State–which has more experience winning close games–to pull out the road victory.
Boise State 27 Virginia 24
#8 LSU (2-0) @ Syracuse (3-0)–Carrier Dome (Syracuse, NY)–ESPN–Noon (EST)
While the Orange hasn’t exactly faced a challenging schedule to date (Rhode Island, Wake Forest and Central Michigan), they come into their fourth straight home game with an unblemished 3-0 mark after capturing a 30-27 overtime victory over the Chippewas last Saturday.
Syracuse, which will be without starting quarterback Eric Dungey–who became the starter when Terrel Hunt went down in game one against URI, is surrendering less than 50 yards per game on the ground. However, the Orange have not seen anything close to the vaunted rushing attack that the Bayou Bengals will bring to the Carrier Dome on Saturday.
LSU, which had its season opener against McNeese State cancelled due to severe weather, is coming off consecutive victories over SEC West foes Mississippi State (21-19) and Auburn (45-21). Les Miles’ club logged 677 rushing yards–including 411 against Auburn–in those games. Their rushing game certainly has several options, but it is led by the what most people believe to be the nation’s top back in sophomore bruiser Leonard Fournette. He is averaging 8.2 yards per carry (47-387) and has reached pay dirt six times.
SU may compete for awhile, but LSU will prove to be too talented and will win going away.
LSU 41 Syracuse 17
#20 Georgia Tech (2-1) @ Duke (2-1)–Wallace Wade Stadium (Durham, NC)–ESPN2–Noon (EST)
The lone conference game of the week will feature a pair of teams trying to get back on track after disappointing efforts in losses to quality opponents a week ago.
The Yellow Jackets, which opened the year by scoring a combined 134 points in routs of Alcorn State (69-6) and Tulane (65-10), made a plethora of mistakes in their 30-22 road loss at Notre Dame–a game that’s final margin is very deceptive as Georgia Tech scored 15 points in the game’s final minute.
Paul Johnson’s club was just 3-for-15 on third down against the Fighting Irish.
Meanwhile, Duke also had its share of offensive issues in a 19-10 loss to visiting Northwestern. The 23rd ranked Wildcats forced Duke to punt 11 times, held them to 3-of-17 on third down and produced three turnovers.
Last season, David Cutcliffe’s team topped Georgia Tech, 31-25, in Atlanta. Duke will need a similar formula–a solid ground attack (242 yards), forced turnovers (3) and minimize big plays–to upset the Yellow Jackets again.
The Blue Devils will compete, but Georgia Tech will get back on track with a narrow road victory.
Georgia Tech 31 Duke 27
Delaware (1-2) @ North Carolina (2-1)–Kenan Stadium (Chapel Hill, NC)–ESPN3–12:30 PM (EST)
Since dropping a heartbreaking 17-13 decision to the Gamecocks in their opener–a game in which they outplayed North Carolina, the Tar Heels have won back-to-back blowouts (53-14 over NC A&T and 48-14 over Illinois) at home.
Sophomore running back Elijah Hood has been stellar, as he is averaging more than 7 yards per attempt and has rushed for 323 yards.
Signal-caller Marquise Williams has dual threat ability (68%, 646 yds passing, 167 rushing), but he has been picked off 4 times and will look to improve his consistency in his team’s final tune-up before opening ACC play at Georgia Tech next week.
The Blue Hens, who are normally among the best teams in FCS, are averaging just 18 points per game in their 1-2 start.
UD is averaging more than 200 yards per game on the ground, but with redshirt freshman Joe Walker getting his feet wet at quarterback, the passing game is clearly a work in progress as he’s thrown it just 52 times in three games with only 20 of those being completed.
UNC will likely jump on outmatched Delaware early and not let up. In previous years, the Blue Hens would have been able to give the Tar Heels a game, but this team is too one dimensional to compete.
South Carolina 48 Delaware 13
PART 2 of our ACC Week 4 Preview will be released later Thursday.