Tuesday, October 1, 2013
ACC Upset Watch: Week 6
By Andrea Adelson
Both teams on our Upset Watch lost last week. Are there more upsets on the horizon in Week 6? Let us take a look at the teams that could face problems. Remember, these are not predictions. They are just guesses at which contests might offer the biggest surprises.
1. Ball State at Virginia. Given the way the Hoos have played on offense this season, there are no guaranteed wins. Ball State has the much better offense, having scored scored 200 points already -- the most in school history through the first five games of a season. Keith Wenning is one of two FBS quarterbacks to pass for 300 or more yards in each game so far, and Willie Snead ranks No. 3 in the nation in receiving yards with 611. Virginia, meanwhile, has produced stingy efforts in back-to-back games, holding VMI and Pitt to less than 200 yards of offense. UVa hasn’t done that in consecutive games since 1972. The passing defense has been solid, too -- UVa ranks No. 8 nationally in passing yards allowed (152.8) and No. 4 in team passing efficiency defense (82.84). So this leads to two questions -- can the Virginia defense shut down the Ball State offense? And will the Hoos be able to score more than a handful of points?
2. Georgia Tech at No. 14 Miami. Yes, we know Georgia Tech did not look great on offense in a 17-10 loss to Virginia Tech last week. Yes, we know Miami has won four straight in the series, too. But the reason we are waving a red flag here is because Miami has not played its starters for a full game since beating Florida, back on Sept. 7. In the ensuing weeks, the Hurricanes had a bye, then FCS pushover Savannah State and then FBS pushover USF. Stephen Morris is nursing a sore ankle, too. Georgia Tech, meanwhile, has had a crush of tough Coastal Division games the past three weeks and has been more recently tested. Say this about Georgia Tech -- its defense is much improved over from last season and should keep the Jackets in the game. The good news for the Jackets' offense is the Miami D is not quite as good as what they saw out of Virginia Tech. Even still, Miami is better defensively, too. How the Georgia Tech offense responds is the key to this game.
3. No. 25 Maryland at No. 8 Florida State. As Heather pointed out Monday, we really have no idea whether the Terps are for real. We do know they have never won in Tallahassee, which gives Florida State a big advantage right off the bat. But the Noles struggled last week to contain the run, and Maryland is much better running the ball this season. Maryland is averaging 226.8 yards on the ground thanks to the combined efforts of running back Brandon Ross (No. 4 in ACC in rushing) and quarterback C.J. Brown (No. 8 in ACC in rushing). Florida State, meanwhile, ranks an uncharacteristic No. 62 in rushing defense, its worst ranking since 2009. Coach Jimbo Fisher defended the performance of his defensive unit this week, but there's no question its performance against Boston College have left folks wondering whether the Noles are ripe for an upset.
4. No. 3 Clemson at Syracuse. We can hear Clemson fans complaining about how the Tigers always seem to be on this list. In Week 1, we had 'em on there because we believed they would upset Georgia (and they did). We had them on there against NC State, and the game ended up being too close for comfort. And now we have them on here this week for three main reasons. First, Clemson has never played in the Carrier Dome, a notoriously tricky place for visitors. Second, Syracuse has upset teams with top-shelf quarterbacks three years running (West Virginia and Geno Smith in 2010 and 2011; Louisville and Teddy Bridgewater in 2012). Third, Clemson was not great the last time it hit the road. So for those reasons, the Tigers have to be mindful of getting upset. Now, having said all that, we believe an upset in this game is the least likely out of all the contests listed.