In the Crosshairs: ACC, Pac-12 picks for Week Two

Ken Cross

September 07, 2018 at 12:55 pm.

Sep 1, 2018; Clemson, SC, USA; Clemson Tigers linebacker Tre Lamar (57), linebacker Kendall Joseph (34), defensive end Clelin Ferrell (99), and defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence (90) look to the sidelines between plays during the first quarter at Clemson Memorial Stadium. Photo Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 1, 2018; Clemson, SC, USA; Clemson Tigers linebacker Tre Lamar (57), linebacker Kendall Joseph (34), defensive end Clelin Ferrell (99), and defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence (90) look to the sidelines between plays during the first quarter at Clemson Memorial Stadium. Photo Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Conferences in the Crosshairs

Week 1 is in the books with the usual plethora of surprises to start. Maybe the biggest one was Virginia Tech not only winning at Florida State, but beating the Seminoles with ease. The Bud Foster-led defense was on point all night and proved to play through the inexperience and show the talent on that side of the football.

So what happens next? Aggies over Clemson? Trojans over Cardinal? Or, Pitt over Penn State?  And … would any of those be a surprise?


Clemson 26, @Tex A&M (+12) 24 – Dabo Swinney and Jimbo Fisher once again cross paths, but this time with Fisher as the A&M head coach. Both teams had easy wins against FCS opponents as the Aggies could claim an early statement in this one win for Fisher. The key is the Aggies offensive line vs. the Tigers’ stellar defensive front after running back Trayveon Williams ran for 240 yards last week.

Penn State 31, @Pitt (+8 1/2) 24 – The Nittany Lions were very fortunate to get through their 45-38 overtime win over Appalachian State, as they were outplayed most of the afternoon. The Panthers rushed for 238 yards in their win over Albany and will need more of a passing game from Kenny Pickett to get the win.

@Northwestern (-3) 27, Duke 24 – Wildcats running back Jeremy Larkin, son of former Cincinnati Reds great Barry Larkin, will be the focal point of Duke’s defensive game plan as he ran for 143 yards in last week’s win over Purdue. The Blue Devils had a really balanced offense in their win over Army as quarterback Daniel Jones ran for one score and threw for another.  Basically an even matchup, so go with the home team.

@Indiana 24, Virginia (+6 1/2) 21 – The Cavaliers surprised by posting 42 points in the 42-13 opening win over Richmond. Quarterback Bryce Perkins had a successful debut and Olamide Zaccheaus had six catches for 101 yards. On the road at night vs. the Hoosiers equals another win for the home team in a toss-up.

@South Florida (-3 1/2) 30, Ga. Tech 26 – USF’s defense is light years away from an Alcorn State defensive unit that saw Georgia Tech track past them for 439 yards rushing. Bulls’ quarterback Blake Barnett threw for 305 yards and three scores in an easy win over Elon.

@Wake Forest 41, Towson 17 – Should be another great day for new Deacons quarterback Sam Hartman who threw for 396 yards and steadily led the Deacons past Tulane in overtime.

@NC State (-25) 38, Georgia State 10 – The Wolfpack breathed a huge sigh of relief after their 24-13 win over a James Madison team that has been in the FCS title game in each of the past two seasons. This one is a tune-up before West Virginia.

@Boston College 42 Holy Cross 10 – A huge day in the offing for ACC Preseason Player of the Year running back AJ Dillon.

@Va. Tech 31, William & Mary 13 – The Hokies’ 24-3 win at Florida State on Monday night was an eye-opening feat as they were in the role of an underdog. Tech’s supposedly inexperienced defense rose to the challenge.

@North Carolina (-16 1/2)  33, East Carolina 17 – Pirates coach Scottie Montgomery has to be feeling the heat after ECU lost to North Carolina A&T in Greenville on Sunday. The Tar Heels dropped a 24-17 decision against Cal and should cruise in their home opener.

@Miami 42, Savannah State 7 – The Hurricanes have to be worried about their defense as LSU physically controlled the line of scrimmage. Quarterback Malik Rosier was largely ineffective and N’Kosi Perry could be warming up in the bullpen.

@Florida State 35, Samford 10 – Willie Taggert had a disappointing opener in the Virginia Tech loss with the ineptitude of the offense as Samford comes along at the right time.

@Louisville 34, Indiana State 13 – Louisville gets a shot to see how much it learned in the 51-14 loss to Alabama. The Cardinals need to find a running attack after running for only 16 yards.


@Stanford 31, USC 21 – An interesting quarterback contrast in experienced Cardinal junior K.J. Costello and USC true-freshman JT Daniels. Costello pushed the Cardinal past San Diego State last week with 332 yards, while Daniel had a successful opener in throwing for 282 in the win over UNLV.

@Arizona State (+6 1/2) 34, Michigan State 31- Herm Edwards’ debut was a rousing success as the Sun Devils nailed UTSA, 49-7, behind four touchdown passes by Manny Wilkins. The Spartans will be charged with trying to shut down the ultra-talented N’Keal Harry who had 140 yards on six catches with two touchdowns. Michigan State was largely outplayed all evening by Utah State before finding a way to win in the fourth quarter.

@Oklahoma 45, UCLA (+30) 20 – The Sooners smoked FAU for 63 points and now face the wounded Bruins who were upset by Cincinnati, 26-17, in Chip Kelly’s debut. UCLA is a work in progress as this match-up needed to happen in about three years when Kelly has his system and program in place.

Colorado (+5) 30, @Nebraska 27 – The Buffaloes were impressive in blasting rival Colorado State, 45-13.  Steven Montez to Laviska Shenault, Jr. was an unbelievably strong combination as Shenault caught 11 balls for 211 yards. The Cornhuskers game against Akron was postponed due to lightning, so this is their season opener.

@Houston 38, Arizona (+4 1/2) 34 – The Wildcats were surprised at home by BYU in coach Kevin Sumlin’s opening game. Getting Khalil Tate more involved in the rushing attack is a must after he had 14 yards on only eight carries. Tate vs. massive Houston defensive lineman Ed Oliver is a match-up to watch.

@BYU (-4 1/2) 33, Cal 28 – Defensively, the Bears need the same type of effort as last week as they held North Carolina to 301 yards. Squally Canada could be a factor for BYU after rushing for three scores against Arizona.

@Washington State (-34 1/2) 44, San Jose State 14 – Mike Leach, the mad scientist of football, makes anyone he tabs to go under center look strong. ECU transfer Gardiner Minshew is the latest as he threw for 319 yards and four TD tosses in the Cougars’ 41-19 win over Wyoming.

Washington 54, North Dakota 6 – The Huskies played well enough to win in their 21-16 loss to Auburn last week in Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta. They were past midfield and driving when quarterback Jake Browning was sacked and fumbled versus an all-out Auburn blitz. Many people in purple jerseys will see the field in this one.

Oregon State 23, Southern Utah 16 – The rebuilding Beavers need a break after Ohio State ran up the score to the tune of 77-31 last week. The interesting thing was the lack of discretion by the Buckeyes after Coach Urban Meyer covered up the Zach Smith domestic violence charges and then was defiant regarding the allegations.