Around the ACC: Cross picks Week Three’s action

Ken Cross

September 14, 2016 at 12:20 pm.

Sep 9, 2016; Syracuse, NY, USA; Louisville Cardinals quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) leaps over Syracuse Orange defensive back Cordell Hudson (20) during the second quarter at the Carrier Dome. Photo Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 9, 2016; Syracuse, NY, USA; Louisville Cardinals quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) leaps over Syracuse Orange defensive back Cordell Hudson (20) during the second quarter at the Carrier Dome. Photo Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Florida State at Louisville – College GameDay makes a stop in Louisville and rightfully so as Cardinals quarterback Lamar Jackson has entered his name in the Heisman race, accounting for 13 touchdowns in the first two weeks of the season.  Jackson has enough wide receivers to spread out on a quick Seminoles secondary, get them in one-on-one situations and move the football.  For FSU, it means establishing running back Dalvin Cook and keeping Jackson off the field.  Louisville’s Brandon Radcliffe is an unheralded runner, but he is capable of putting up big numbers on the ground just like Cook can. Cardinals 34, Seminoles 28

Pitt at Oklahoma State – The Cowboys were literally robbed against Central Michigan, as the Chippewas were given an untimed down after an offensive penalty, threw a Hail Mary, and won.  Mike Gundy sat stunned, as did his team. Losing a game in such a fashion against a team over which they were an overwhelming home favorite caused the highest shock value. Pitt kept staving off Penn State runs – the final when Pitt corner Ryan Lewis intercepted Trace McSorley in the end zone late in the game to preserve the 42-39 Panthers win.  This game will be played in the mindsets.  Can OSU rebound after a wrong call gave them a home loss to a MAC opponent?  Can Pitt keep scoring and stave off opponents when it is pressured? Hard to see OSU losing two at home. Cowboys 37, Panthers 34

Boston College at Virginia Tech – Hokies Quarterback Jerod Evans proved he is ready for the big stage even if the Hokies weren’t in their 45-24 loss in the Battle at Bristol to Tennessee.  He was 20-of-28 for 214 yards with a touchdown pass.  Virginia Tech must clean up the turnovers against a Boston College team that will only have a shot in Blacksburg with several short fields.  The Eagles trailed UMass early before winning, 26-7. Quarterback Patrick Towles is the Eagles leading rusher, but he gives nothing close to the talent Tennessee does in the offensive backfield. Hokies 38, Eagles 13

South Carolina State at Clemson – Surprisingly, Clemson has had problems with the smoothness and fluidity of their offense and again Saturday that showed up in a 30–24 win at home against Troy.  DeShaun Watson had a big afternoon with 27 of 53 for 292 yards and three scores, but he was picked off twice. The Tigers’ focus has also been challenged when Ray-Ray McCloud dropped the ball a yard shy of the goal line and cost Clemson another score.  South Carolina State is a MEAC competitor at the FCS level and is basically playing one of those unnecessary “check writing games,” where an outmanned team shows up, gets drubbed and takes home in the mid-six figures. Clemson needs to put this game away early and then work on the pristine smoothness with which this offense operated a year ago.  Tigers 48, Bulldogs 10

Miami at Appalachian State – There’s a twinge of an upset in the air here as the Miami Hurricanes, yes, the Hurricanes, invade Boone for a noon date with the Mountaineers.  Appalachian outplayed unfocused Tennessee two weeks ago in losing a 20-13 decision in overtime.  Miami has blasted Florida A&M and Florida Atlantic, so this will be the first test for the ‘Canes.  Canes running back Mark Walton is the perfect complement for the quarterbacking prowess of Brad Kaaya.  Walton is the first Hurricane since 2012 to record a four-touchdown game and only the sixth in program history to record at least four rushing scores in a single contest.  Hurricanes 24, Mountaineers 19

Duke at Northwestern – This is an ugly matchup in Evanston as Duke comes off a 24-14 loss to Wake Forest and Illinois State actually held Northwestern to a single touchdown in a 9-7 loss to the FCS opponent.  Daniel Jones had another big passing game for the Blue Devils as he threw for 369 yards, but it was a putrid running game of only 37 yards on 30 carries and three turnovers that doomed Duke at home as an unlikely loser to Wake Forest.  The Wildcats were outplayed as they gave up 95 more total yards in the loss in falling to 0-2. If Duke controls the turnovers, the Devils should get out of Evanston with the win. Blue Devils 17, Wildcats 13

Vanderbilt at Georgia Tech – The Commodores got the offense rolling against Middle Tennessee State in a 47-24 win over the Blue Raiders. Ralph Webb ran for 212 yards and two scores on 29 carries, while Khari Blassingame scored twice as well. Throwing out Georgia Tech’s 38-10 win over Mercer and paying attention to the 17-14 win in Week One over Boston College, it was again the Eagles’ Towles who led the ground game against Tech.  Both teams will try to settle the run game to win.  Commodores 20, Yellow Jackets 17

Virginia at UConn  – Two struggling and rebuilding programs meet in Storrs after the Cavaliers played a decent game in a 44-26 loss at Oregon where the Ducks generally toyed with UVa in the second half, playing lots of different players.  UConn trailed Navy by 21 before rallying and losing a 28-24 decision when running back Ron Johnson was stopped on the half-yard line.  The Huskies will line up at home and power the ball at Virginia with quarterback Bryant Shirreffs, who has only 10 incompletions in two games and leads the Huskies in rushing.  Huskies 24, Cavaliers 17

South Florida at Syracuse – Orange coach Dino Babers saw one of the most athletic teams in the nation on both sides of the ball in Louisville’ 62-28 juicing of the Orange behind Lamar Jackson.  Now, South Florida brings its growing program under Wille Taggert to the ‘Dome.  The Orange is working under the up-tempo offense as taught by Babers with Eric Dungey.  South Florida comes off a 48-17 win over Northern Illinois and will use quarterback Quinton Flowers with Darius Tice and D’Ernest Johnson in the rushing attack to win a fairly easy contest. Bulls 41, Orange 24

James Madison at North Carolina – The Tar Heels trailed the Illini early before Mitch Trubisky’s hot hand completed 19 of 24 passes for 265 yards in leading North Carolina to an impressive 48-23 win at Illinois.  The Tar Heels have lots of complementary pieces which can supplement Trubisky in the passing game, such as Elijah Hood who ran for 88 yards on 15 carries with two scores in the win.  James Madison is good enough to beat several ACC opponents.  However, North Carolina is not one of them.  The Dukes have outscored Morehead State and Central Connecticut State by a margin of 136-28.  JMU has rushed for 405 yards per game behind Cardon Jones in those first two.  This game will be closer than expected.  Tar Heels 42, Duke 31

Old Dominion at N.C. State – The Monarchs are another FCS team, who like to balance things with  both the run and the pass.  They fell 31-7 at Appalachian State on Saturday.  The Wolfpack, meanwhile, had their usual tough time with East Carolina as the Pirates took a 33-30 win after blowing an early double-digit lead.  State has the Monarchs overmatched with athletes, especially on the offensive side of the ball, so barring turnovers, this will not be a tough outing.  Wolfpack 52, Monarchs 21

Delaware at Wake Forest – The ACC loves scheduling FCS competition as the Demon Deacons’ battle with the Blue Hens is the fourth such meeting this weekend.  Freshman Cade Carney rushed for 108 yards and three touchdowns as he is the first Demon Deacon to have three scores on the ground in a game since Chris Barclay in 2002.  Wake out rushed Duke 239-37 after having only 175 yards in the opener against Tulane.  In wins over Delaware State and Lafayette, the Hens have held those opponents to only 56 yards rushing per game.  This will be more of a challenge, but Delaware does have a good shot to win behind Wes Hills and its running attack, which rushes for 335 yards per game.  Demon Deacons 21, Blue Hens 20

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.