Cleat Geeks

ACC Football Opening Weekend

College football is finally here and if you haven’t located your favorite tailgate chair, you’ve just about run out of time. Games start tonight and run everyday through Monday. Let’s take a look at the top ACC games this weekend

 

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Although Louisville opens soft against Charlotte, their ranking of 19, Thursday night opener, and breakout quarterback Lamar Jackson are all reasons to tune in and watch. The past couple of seasons the Cardinals haven’t found a permanent solution at quarterback. In both 2014 and 2015, three players earned a start. But that all ended late last season when Jackson emerged as the clear choice for QB1. In their bowl win over Texas A&M, Jackson threw for 227 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 226 yards (second most by a quarterback in FBS bowl history) and two touchdowns. He was 40 yards shy of rushing for 1,000 yards and had one 300-yard passing performance (307 against Florida State). Louisville should win big against the 49ers, so if you want to catch Jackson play tune in early.
Thursday 9/1        Image result for charlotte 49ers football logoCharlotte    at         Image result for louisville football logo #19 Louisville      7:00 PM ET on ESPN3

 

 

 

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In the first of three ACC/SEC match-ups defending Coastal champs North Carolina take on Georgia at the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Ga. Tar Heels fans are coming into this season with high expectations. Last season UNC averaged 40.7 points a game (school record), ranking them 9th in scoring offense and 18th in overall offense. Although the Heels will have a new starting quarterback, Mitch Trubisky, the offense will be returning eight starters. This includes one of the ACC’s top running backs Elijah Hood, who ran for 1,463 yards and 17 touchdowns last year.

With the offense set to pick up where it left off, it’s the defense that’s coming into the season with a black cloud. More specifically it’s the UNC’s run defense, which allowed 964 yards during their final two games last season, that needs to step it up. Gene Chizik, UNC’s defensive coordinator, spoke confidently earlier in the week about his plan to stop – or slow down – Georgia’s rushing offense. However, the last defensive plan Chizik prepared was demolished by Baylor as they rushed for 645 yards against UNC, setting a record for most running yards in a bowl game.

It seems UNC’s weakness is Georgia’s strength. Georgia is boasting one of the nation’s best running back duo with Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Fortunately for UNC, Michel has yet to be cleared to play Saturday after suffering a broken arm a little over two months ago. However, UNC will have to find a way to stop Heisman contender Chubb, who despite a season ending knee injury last October, has been cleared and is slotted to start on Saturday. Georgia isn’t without their own uncertainties and question marks – mainly at the quarterback position – and the odds-maker barely give them the nod with the spread in Georgia’s favor by a field goal.

 

Saturday 9/3            Image result for georgia football logo#18 UGA      vs          #22 UNC              5:30 PM ET on ESPN

 

 

 

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All eyes are ready to watch Deshaun Watson and the No. 2 Clemson Tigers as they open the season against Auburn on Saturday. Clemson fell one game shy of their goal to be the first team to win 15 games in a season when they lost to Alabama in the National Championship Game last year. Coach Dabo Swinney is looking to rectify that this year, starting with the Auburn Tigers.

Clemson’s offense is set to be just as explosive and dangerous as it was last year with Watson leading the way. The offense will be returning seven other starters, including five All-ACC players – RB Wayne Gallman, WR Artavis Scott, TE Tanner Legget, C TE Jordan Leggett, C Jay Guillermo, and K Greg Huegel. Clemson will also regain receiver Mike Williams who missed pretty much all of last season after a neck injury in the season’s opener. However they are replacing two lineman, and that could be trouble for Watson and the run game.

Although the biggest questions for Clemson stem from their defense. They are replacing eight spots from last year’s defense. Even with two of three returning starters being All-ACC players (DT Carlos Watkins, LB Ben Boulware), they’ll need some help from some of the new faces. This isn’t anything new for defensive coordinator Brett Venables. Last season he faced a similar challenge when he had to replace seven starters, but still ended the season with the Tigers having the 10th ranked total defense.

Auburn has the chance to give the young Clemson defense trouble. They are returning six starters on both offense and defense. Despite having six losses last season, in four of those Auburn kept it close only losing by eight or fewer. The key for Clemson in this game will be to let their offense do most of the work, because I don’t think Auburn’s defense will be able to keep up for four quarters. Clemson is a 7.5 point favorite for Saturday’s match up.

 

Saturday 9/3         #2 Clemson     at          Auburn          9:00 PM ET on  ESPN

 

 

 

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College football’s opening weekend concludes on Monday with the exciting match up between No. 4 Florida State and No. 11 Ole Miss at Orlando’s Camping World Stadium (formerly the Citrus Bowl). Both teams have their sites set on the College Football Playoff, and both have a shot at getting there, they just have to get through each other first.

The Seminoles return 17 starters from a team that went 10 – 3 last season. However, QB Sean McGuire will be the only returning offensive starter that will not start on Monday’s game. FSU will start redshirt freshman Deondre Francois, who solidified the top spot long before McGuire fractured a bone in his foot during the preseason. In the returning offense is Heisman candidate running back Dalvin Cook, who rushed for 1,691 yards and 19 touchdowns all while battling various leg injuries. Cook has rushed for 2,699 yards in just two seasons and is only 1,261 yards away from Warrick Dunn’s school record.

FSU’s defense is returning six starters from the squad that held opponents to 337 yards and 18 points a game and just 4.68 yards per play. But that doesn’t mean they won’t have their work cut out for them with the Rebels’ veteran quarterback Chad Kelly. Last season the Heisman candidate had 65 percent completions, 31 TD, 13 INT, and rushed for 500 yards. Even though the Rebels’ defense took a hit with losing the Nkemdiche brothers, they still have All-SEC linebacker DeMarquis Gates, who led the team in tackles last year while starting only four games.

The Rebels, who also went 10 – 3 last season, were on the wrong end of one miracle play by Arkansas from playing in the SEC Championship Game. They won the only other time these two teams have met in 1961 by a score of 33 – 0. But for Monday night’s game, the Rebels come in as a five point underdog.

 

Monday 9/5         Image result for ole miss football logo #11 Ole Miss      vs          #4 Florida State        8:00 PM ET on ESPN

 

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