A bold prediction for each ACC Week 1 game
Week 1 is here.
The ACC is set to play 12 games this weekend, with at least one game taking place every day between Thursday and Monday. Pittsburgh, Florida State and Clemson will all have the nation’s attention in primetime action.
So far, the ACC is 2-0 on the year after North Carolina and Florida State picked up wins over FCS opposition in Week 0.
Here’s one bold prediction for every ACC contest in Week 1:
Pittsburgh blows out West Virginia
Pittsburgh and West Virginia will renew the Backyard Brawl on Thursday night, kicking off the 2022 college football season in earnest. It’s the first time for these rivals to meet on the gridiron since 2011 when they were both members of the Big East. Pittsburgh is favored by more than a touchdown, but the line should be closer to 2 scores. The Panthers have a dominant defensive front, a capable quarterback in Kedon Slovis and a stacked WR room — even without Jordan Addison. West Virginia doesn’t have any of those things and they’ll be playing in a uniquely hostile environment at Acrisure Stadium.
Mitch Griffis will look the part
Mitch Griffis will be making his first career start on Thursday night vs. VMI. He’s received praise from teammates and coaches since it was announced that Sam Hartman will be out indefinitely with a medical issue. Griffis likely isn’t the superstar that Hartman is, but he’s been in this program for long enough to be able to run the system. Expect good things from the Demon Deacons’ offense on Thursday night.
The Brent Pry era gets off to a good start
The last time Virginia Tech made the trip to Old Dominion, it left with one of the most shocking upset losses in program history. In hindsight, that loss was the beginning of the end of the Justin Fuente era. Pry enters his time in Blacksburg with plenty of momentum and senior leadership. I don’t expect the Hokies to see any ghosts of 2018 on the field on Friday night.
Win column, Mike Elko
Another ACC head coach making his debut, Mike Elko should have enough to get past a bad Temple team on Friday night. Riley Leonard is the starter after picking up some quality experience a year ago. Look for Jordan Moore to be one of this team’s best playmakers.
Devin Leary throw for 5 TDs in a win at East Carolina
While some have put the Wolfpack on upset alert vs. East Carolina this weekend, I think NC State will make a point to not let that happen. Stumbling in Week 1 would be devastating for a NC State team that has College Football Playoff aspirations this season. NC State’s history at East Carolina is bad enough that no one should be sleepwalking past this game. Devin Leary gets TD’s against an ECU pass defense that ranked 48th nationally in passer efficiency rating allowed in 2021.
Zay Flowers has a career day
Boston College is hoping to make a leap beyond bowl eligibility this season, and a win over Rutgers in Week 1 would go a long way. Receiver Zay Flowers is someone to watch in this game. With quarterback Phil Jurkovec healthy, BC’s offense should be firing on all cylinders. Flowers’ current career high for yards in a game is 180. I think he clears 200 vs. the Scarlet Knights.
North Carolina has a nightmare at Boone
UNC got off to a good start in Week 0, but the Tar Heels are too young and too inexperienced to win this type of game on the road. App State’s two-deep is filled with 5th and 6th-year seniors. To make matters worse, UNC’s secondary looked vulnerable vs. Florida A&M last week. App State quarterback Chase Brice — a former Clemson QB — is one of the top passers in the Group of 5. UNC has the talent to keep things close but there’s also a chance it gets ugly.
Less than 30 pass attempts for Brennan Armstrong vs. Richmond
Brennan Armstrong is used to being a high-volume passer, but that could be changing with Tony Elliott at the helm. Elliott has already said he wants to bring a more balanced approach to Virginia’s offense this season. Armstrong hasn’t attempted fewer than 30 passes in a game since Dec. 5, 2020 against Boston College.
Miami shuts out Bethune-Cookman
After a noisy offseason in Coral Gables, Miami will have a chance to make a statement vs. Bethune-Cookman on Saturday. It’s Mario Cristobal’s first game as a head coach at his alma mater. Despite the FCS opponent, expect Miami to be fully locked in on both sides of the ball this weekend.
Louisville blows out Syracuse
Louisville is a consensus 4.5-point favorite at the Carrier Dome this weekend, but that’s probably not enough. The Cardinals return a lot of continuity, led by quarterback Malik Cunningham. Meanwhile, Syracuse will be debuting a new offensive system with former Virginia OC Robert Anae. How Anae’s offense meshes with the run-heavy personnel of Garrett Shrader and Sean Tucker will be fascinating to watch this season. I’m not expecting great results in Week 1.
Florida State upsets LSU in New Orleans
Even taking the opponent into account, Florida State looked great in Week 0. The Noles largely had an offseason free of turmoil and made sever savvy pickups in the transfer portal. Meanwhile, LSU has a new head coach to go with a quarterback controversy and major question marks at several key positions.
The beginning of the end for Geoff Collins
Clemson shouldn’t have any issue taking care of business on Monday night vs. Georgia Tech. The Tigers are favored by more than 3 touchdowns and could have a friendly crowd behind them in Atlanta. Georgia Tech coach Geoff Collins is entering his 4th season at the helm and it’s likely to be his last given the Yellow Jackets’ brutally-difficult schedule. That slate starts with Clemson on Monday night.