ACC Week 2 picks: Georgia Tech vs. Florida State & 3 more
It’s hard to describe the level of joy and excitement that I have from seeing a weekly recurring ACC schedule.
The SEC gets all the fame and notoriety, but the ACC produces the second-most draft picks, has a storied history, passionate fanbases, and typically a slightly different brand of football compared to the more traditional/professional sets you see in the SEC.
Let’s take a look at Week 2’s slate of games in the ACC, including the featured game of the week: Georgia Tech vs. Florida State.
Georgia Tech vs. Florida State
Sat, September 12 2020, 7:30 PM
Florida State Seminoles
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets have to be excited for the opportunity to redeem themselves from 2019. Last season, they finished 3-9 and last in the ACC.
They are picked by coaches to finish last again this year, but they should improve, having played significant numbers of underclassmen throughout last season’s struggle.
Georgia Tech heads to Tallahassee as underdogs against a team that most would agree offers far superior athletic talent.
For the Florida State Seminoles, recent years have been defined by turmoil. Willie Taggart was fired prior to last season’s bowl game, and former Memphis coach Mike Norvell has entered the scene with a new type of offense.
James Blackman has been named the starting QB yet again, and it will be critical to FSU’s success that he picks up on Norvell’s new playbook.
The strength of FSU’s roster lies in their defensive line, where projected first-round draft pick Marvin Wilson anchors the middle. On both sides of Wilson, however, are tremendous defenders, with Josh Kaindoh and Janarius Robinson both offering size, strength, and speed at the end positions.
Georgia Tech has not yet announced their starting QB. While this might contribute to some small element of surprise, what it tells me is neither option has differentiated themselves in practice with excellent play.
Against the strength of FSU’s team/defensive line, either sophomore James Graham or freshman Jordan Yates will likely find themselves overwhelmed in their first live-speed action of the year.
Wake Forest vs. Clemson
Sat, September 12 2020, 11:30 PM
Wake Forest Demon Deacons
ACC defending champion Clemson is the presumptive favorite to repeat, with much of the roster returning and highly-recruited replacements filling in for the departures.
Quarterback Trevor Lawrence returns and has made it very clear he is excited to play. Lawrence is a known commodity, an eventual top-five draft pick and a phenomenal talent that, at his best, can pick apart even the best of defenses.
Wake Forest’s strength appears to be its defense. However, with its top offensive playmaker, Sage Surratt, opting out of this season, Wake has even less hope than it normally would to stay caught up with Clemson.
Clemson will debut a lot of players on both sides of the roster, but they are almost all 4- and 5-star recruits that will have earned their roster spots against a long list of equally talented challengers.
Clemson defeated Wake Forest 52-3 last year and 63-3 two years ago. The Tigers will probably need to knock a little rust off in Game 1, but this is a major mismatch, and Clemson will be excited to treat it as such.
Syracuse vs. North Carolina
Sat, September 12 2020, 4:00 PM
North Carolina Tar Heels
Syracuse has come a long way since it ranked in the preseason top 25 just one year ago.
Dino Babers likes to play fast, and that is a disadvantage when outmatched. But, North Carolina head coach Mack Brown will also probably rely on the run game more than he should to keep the clock running in Game 1.
North Carolina severely outmatches Syracuse, but this has all the makings of an empty-stadium, early-start, sleepy-beginnings kind of ACC game.
Western Kentucky vs. Louisville
Sun, September 13 2020, 12:00 AM
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
Louisville enters their second season with head coach Scott Satterfield. The former Appalachian State coach should yield even more positive results in Year 2.
Quarterback Micale Cunningham is an efficient weapon and will excel in Satterfield’s offense, especially against non-Power Five competition. This game also has in-state competitive implications.
I expect an impassioned effort from the Cardinals.