Every week, some or all of the Confidential’s correspondents will “roundtable” issues regarding the ACC, as well as recapping the week that was and previewing the week to come. As we are just hours away from the season starting, we are looking forward exclusively this week.
Q1: Which ACC team is the biggest risk for being an upset victim in Week 1?
Steve Callahan (Notre Dame): Pittsburgh Panthers. Many ACC teams play weak competition in week 1, with teams like Charlotte, Liberty, William & Mary, and Florida A&M lined up to face ACC teams. I’ll go with the Pittsburgh Panthers to possibly falling victim an upset to the Villanova Wildcats. Even though they are a FCS team, the Wildcats have talent on the offensive side of the ball and will looking to upset their in-state opponent to send a message in week one.
Harrison Huntley (NC State): Hard to say what is and isn’t an upset this early in the season, but we do know that Clemson is in a lot of playoff projections, and this isn’t a gimme with Auburn. This is an SEC team that runs the kind of offense that is tough to prepare for. Sure they had the whole offseason, but the Tigers probably have other things to worry about.
Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): Syracuse better be very, very ready for Colgate, an experienced team. Not a gimme. I disagree with Villanova only because I think Pitt under Narduzzi is the real deal. They may not win the Coastal, but this is not the typical mediocre Pitt coaching hire. So I will go with Tulane over Wake Forest. Assuming the former Georgia Southern coaches can implement some semblance of what they did before at Tulane, Wake Forest may get itself into a shootout. If so, could be trouble.
Q2: What are the three things your school’s team must do to win in Week 1?
Steve Callahan (Notre Dame): With Notre Dame kicking the season off at Texas, the Fighting Irish must take the excitement out of the crowd and score first. If they can build an early lead and have the Longhorns play catch up, they will be in better position to win. The second key to victory is to put pressure on true freshman quarterback Shane Buechele early and often. The third key is to get the ball in the hands of captain Torii Hunter Jr.’s hands, as he will set the stone for the otherwise young receiving corps the Irish have.
Harrison Huntley (NC State): 3 things? I hope it doesn’t take 3 things to beat William and Mary. They beat State in basketball, so I guess it isn’t out of the question, but there’s no reason this shouldn’t be a win. I’m a big FCS guy, and W&M isn’t North Dakota State. More than 3 things would have to go horribly wrong for this to be a loss.
Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): Syracuse is many years past where it could look past an FCS school. This is just reality. Villanova should have beaten Syracuse and Colgate may be more primed to pull an upset. Syracuse will need to avoid turnovers–which give instant life to an opponent. While most will be concerned about Syracuse looking past Colgate, what is even more important is that Syracuse use its superior athletes–bigger players should push around smaller players, faster players should play faster than slower players–and so on. Up to the coaches to use the size and speed advantages. And then, of course, fundamentals…block, tackle, hang on to the ball, avoid penalties…. amazing how often that matters.
Q3: What would have to happen for your school to lose in Week 1?
Steve Callahan (Notre Dame): The Fighting Irish would have to come out unfocused and nervous to lose in week one, as a defense with six starters should feast against a true freshman quarterback in his first start.
Harrison Huntley (NC State): There’s no QB1 or QB2 on the depth chart, so both would have to play terrible. Add on some injuries to the running game, and the defense would just have to implode.
Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): It would not take much, sadly. If Syracuse is turnover prone or allows a special teams touchdown, it could be game on. If Syracuse starts slow, Colgate will stay in the game that much longer. In the end, if you give an FCS team reason for hope, expect them to run with it. We have seen it far too many times at Syracuse–from Coach P losing to Rutgers/Temple when they were miserably awful… to Doug Marrone allowing Maine to hang in there… to Scott Shafer nearly losing to Villanova. And, of course, we see it every year during the Big Dance (looking at you, Middle Tennessee State).
Well, that is what these correspondents think. What do you think? Please feel free to share below. And if you are interested in being a correspondent, see here.