ACC Football: Three impact coastal games in week 1

Nov 7, 2015; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar players celebrate with the Victory Bell after the game. The Tar Heels defeated the Blue Devils 66-31 at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 7, 2015; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar players celebrate with the Victory Bell after the game. The Tar Heels defeated the Blue Devils 66-31 at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports /

Which  ACC coastal games are the biggest of the week?

As I mentioned in my power rankings, this week is going to be huge. Take a look at the slate of games scheduled for week one:

  • Kansas St at #8 Stanford
  • #3 Oklahoma vs #15 Houston in Houston at NRG Stadium (home of the Texans)
  • Rutgers at #14 Washington
  • #16 UCLA at Texas A&M
  • #5 LSU vs Wisconsin in Green Bay at Lambeau Field (home of the Packers)
  • #20 USC vs #1 Alabama in Arlington at A&T Stadium (home of the Cowboys, aka Jerry’s World)
  • #2 Clemson at Auburn
  • #10 Notre Dame at Texas
  • #11 Ole Miss vs #4 Florida State in Orlando at Camping World Stadium

Look at that lineup.

That is 12 of the top 25 playing either a ranked team or a Power Five team in week one. Three ranked teams are playing true road games. While three more are playing virtual road games. And none of those stats even include the two ranked teams that come first on this list.

So without further ado here are Three Impact Games in the ACC Coastal:

North Carolina vs Georgia (Saturday September 3rd @ 5:30pm)

In what is the biggest game in the Coastal this week, #22 North Carolina takes on #18 Georgia in Atlanta.

Oh and in case you were wondering that makes 14 of the top 25 playing either a ranked team or a power five team (56%). The College Football Playoff rocks. Last season in an opener against a SEC East team, Fedora went away from the hot hand of Elijah Hood. Will he do that again this season if the game is close and the Heels need a late score to win?

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports /

Things going for the Tar Heels: The aforementioned Elijah Hood. Hood last season rushed for 138 yards in the opener. He just didn’t see the end zone. North Carolina is a veteran team with a veteran coach. Georgia is learning a new system, has a first time head coach, and might be starting a true freshman at quarterback.

Things going against the Tar Heels: Nick Chubb. I already talked about Chubb in my Georgia preview. Needless to say, but the Heels biggest question mark is Georgia’s strength. Also, the game is an hour away from Athens, Ga where the Bulldogs play. Plus Fedora is 1-7 against ranked teams while at UNC.

Both teams are ranked. Both teams are looking to start the season off strong. Georgia can probably lose this game and still be playoff viable. North Carolina less so. If Fedora learned from last year and leans on Hood, then the Heels have a great chance to pull the upset. If not Nick Chubb and the Bulldogs may give Kirby Smart a great start to his career.

Georgia Tech vs Boston College (Saturday September 3rd @ 7:30am)

No that is not a typo.

The game is being played in Dublin. Will either team be awake enough for the game to be any good?

Things going for the Yellow Jackets: The Georgia Tech rushing offense. Last year it ranked eighth overall with 256 yards per game. Senior quarterback Justin Thomas also gives Tech a veteran leader running the always dangerous triple option. Oh, and Boston College’s offense was abysmal last year. The Eagles finished 126 out 128 teams last year with a whopping 276 yards per game, which is only 20 yards more than the Jackets rushed last year.

Things going against the Yellow Jackets: The Boston College Defense. Not only did Boston College rank number one overall last year in total yards allowed, they also ranked second in rushing yards allowed. The Eagles defense was one of only four that allowed less than 100 yards rushing per game last year. The only team better? Alabama and they won a National Championship. The “weakness” in the BC defense is through the air, where they ranked eighth nationally. Unfortunately for Tech, that is not a strength as they finished 124th last season.

This game is really one strength versus the other. The key will be whether Boston College can muster up enough offense to match their killer D. If they can, then Georgia Tech will not be off to a strong start a year after having a letdown season. One other thing to keep an eye on is that both coaches are in a make or break season. So a win here could do wonders to cool either’s hot seat early.

Richmond at Virginia (Saturday September 3rd @ 3:30pm)

Virginia takes a different approach this season. After playing two straight games against UCLA, the Cavaliers welcome in an FCS opponent for the first time since 2012. The opponent that year? Richmond, who the Cavaliers thumped 43-19 on their way to a 4-8 season. Will history repeat itself in both score and final record?

Things going for the Cavaliers: Taquann Mizzell. The Virginia running back is an all-purpose machine. He should easily be able to take care of business against an FCS opponent.  Richmond is also 0-4 against their last four FBS opponents. This will also be the fifth time the Cavaliers have played the Spiders since 2008. Virginia is 4-0 during that span with an average score of 35-11.

Things going against the Cavaliers: Richmond is a really good FCS team. The Spiders are ranked fourth in the FCS Coaches poll to start the season. Last season they finished 10-4 overall and won their conference. The eventually lost to eventual Nation Champion North Dakota State in the semifinals. Also like several other schools in the Coastal, Virginia will be starting a new head coach.

Could Richmond pull the upset? Sure anything is possible. However, Virginia isn’t a typical bad team. They just don’t look as good because they play in a tough division. Think of the Coastal as a weaker version of SEC West. A couple of really good teams at the top, then solid teams to the bottom. There are no gimmes in the ACC Coastal. Virginia should win this game by a couple of scores. Otherwise, it will be an even longer season for the Cavs.

One to keep an eye on: Villanova at Pittsburgh (Saturday September 3rd @ 1:30 pm)

I’ll be straight with you. This week one may be awesome for College football, but not so much for the Coastal. This is why this makes the second straight FBS versus ranked FCS team. This one should be even less close than the Virginia Richmond bout.

A couple things to keep an eye on though. Last season, Pitt only beat FCS opponent Youngstown St by eight. That was the highlight of the Penguins season as they only won five games last year. Second, the Youngstown St game is also when James Conner got injured. Will Narduzzi be extra careful with his star running back this time around?

The rest of the Coastal games this week are FBS opponents versus under-qualified FCS opponents, and even though upsets happen, they are highly unlikely.  In other words, Duke, Miami, and Virginia Tech should all be 1-0 entering week two. So grab some popcorn, some friends, and your favorite chair, because it’s Game Week and there is nothing more exciting than that.