Around the ACC: Cross Picks Week Four’s Action

Ken Cross

September 20, 2016 at 7:37 pm.

Sep 17, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets quarterback Justin Thomas (5) runs in the first quarter of their game against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Photo Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 17, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets quarterback Justin Thomas (5) runs in the first quarter of their game against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Photo Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Clemson at Georgia Tech – This Thursday night offering on ESPN could be a trap game for the Tigers before hosting Louisville next week.  Clemson had little more than a controlled scrimmage in a 59-0 win over South Carolina State, as 92 Tigers played and 15 caught passes.  Some were surprised that the Yellow Jackets laid 38 points on Derek Mason’s Vanderbilt defense.  Georgia Tech will need a passing game though against Clemson’s speed defense, which can set up on the line of scrimmage and wait for Justin Thomas to run the triple-option with Dedrick Mills as his featured back. Tigers 38, Yellow Jackets 28.

Louisville at Marshall – Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson was officially welcomed to the Heisman race as he accounted for five touchdowns, four on the ground as the Cardinals’ 63-20 lambasting of Florida State, in what may have been the biggest win in school history.  The Cardinals gashed the FSU defense for 549 yards after putting up major numbers in its first two games in routs of Charlotte and Syracuse.  The Cardinals’ defense forced four three-and-outs and offensively, they were 7-of-9 in the red zone with all seven scores ending in touchdowns.  This could have been considered a trap game in Huntington as it falls between the match ups with FSU and Clemson.  Of course, that was before the Herd were demolished in a 65-38 loss to Akron on Saturday.  Cardinals 55, Herd 24.

Florida State at South Florida – Florida State had never given up 63 points in school history, but the Seminoles had never met Bobby Petrino boasting a team with better talent on both sides of the football.  The 63-20 beat-down in Louisville was resounding and may have shown a changing of the guard in the ACC.  The Bulls have athletes and they are playing at home after their 45-20 win at Syracuse.  It is telling how the Orange gave up three turnovers and still registered 549 yards on the Bulls defense.  Look for Jimbo Fisher and his staff to be very positive this week with freshman quarterback Deondre Francois, who needs success early in this game.  The Bulls are 3-0 for the first time in the Willie Taggert era.  Seminoles 35, Bulls 31.

Pitt at UNC – This is an excellent matchup between a physical Pittsburgh running attack behind James Conner and a North Carolina offensive speed game that is flourishing behind Mitch Trubisky after the Week One loss to Georgia.  The Panthers defense allowed 540 passing yards to Mason Rudolph and Oklahoma State last week in losing a 45-38 decision to a speed team in the Cowboys.  The key is ball control behind Conner to shorten the time that Trubisky is on the field.  He threw for 432 yards in North Carolina’s 56-27 win over FCS James Madison.  He set a program record of hitting 18 consecutive passes before Larry Fedora substituted in the fourth quarter. Tar Heels 42, Panthers 27.

Duke at Notre Dame – The (1-2) Fighting Irish are out of the national championship hunt after last week’s 36-28 home loss to Michigan State.  Possibly struggling Duke, fresh off a 24-13 loss at Northwestern, is a panacea for the Irish ills.  As Notre Dame has more talent and depth, Duke will have to rely on short fields, which means more Irish turnovers. Brian Kelly will try to kick start an Irish rushing attack behind Josh Adams which only had 57 yards on 25 carries against the Spartans. Fighting Irish 38, Blue Devils 10.

Wake Forest at Indiana – The Demon Deacons are 3-0 for the first time since 2008 after scoring 38 points, a high in the Dave Clawson era, in their 38-21 over FCS Delaware. The truth is the Deacons haven’t been tested with wins over Tulane, Duke and Delaware; however, these are games they would have lost in the past several seasons.  The Hoosiers have about the same start with wins over Florida International and Ball State.  IU quarterback Richard Lagow is yet to throw an interception and Indiana rushes for 4.5 yards per carry behind Devine Redding.  Hoosiers 37, Demon Deacons 20.

Central Michigan at Virginia – Bronco Mendenhall is still looking for win number one in his initial year at Virginia as he is stuck on 99 career wins, all at BYU.  He didn’t have the depth nor the athletes to beat AAC bottom-feeder UConn, and his kicker missing a 20-yard game tying field goal as time ran out in the 13-10 loss rubbed salt in those wounds.  The Chippewas have started the season at 3-0 with an eye-catching 30-27 win at Oklahoma State.  The Cavaliers had better be ready to defend the pass as Cooper Rush has completed 65 percent of his passes and four receivers have double digits in receptions.  Chippewas 48, Cavaliers 20.

Syracuse at UConn – If the Orange can get rid of the turnovers and run their offense with precision behind quarterback Eric Dungey, they should have a shot at UConn.  Dungey has completed 65.5 percent of his passes and Amba Etta-Tawo and Ervin Phillips come up big in the passing game.  Connecticut doesn’t have the firepower on offense to keep up with the Orange if the offense is efficient and operating at a high level.  Orange 31, Huskies 20.

Wagner at Boston College – The Eagles were dominated in a 49-0 loss at Virginia Tech and probably look forward to welcoming the FCS Seahawks, who have started at 2-0 against Division-II competition.  BC averages only 2.5 yards per rush and they have already registered six turnovers.  It should be a game against an overmatched opponent that will help the Eagles gain confidence and create chemistry. Denzel Knight leads a balanced Wagner offense with 125.5 yards rushing per game.  Eagles 42, Seahawks 7.

Check out Ken’s College Basketball web site,, which is chocked full of Podcasts with some of the nation’s top coaches.  The site will also feature lots of sidebars, stories and notes columns as the 2016-17 season comes upon us.