ITA Staff Picks: ACC Week One

Each week we’ll bring you the picks from our staff here at Inside The ACC. Managing editor Justin Cates, associate editor Mike McDaniel, longtime contributor Jeff Greenberg, plus special guest Joey Weaver. We also welcome our newest contributor Grant Atkinson into the fold.

Take a look at our picks and thoughts on all the contests featuring ACC teams throughout the season. This week, we have a couple of high-profile top 25 match ups sprinkled in among glorified scrimmages.

Presbyterian @ Wake Forest, Thursday 6:30 p.m. on ACCN

Justin Cates: Wake Forest wins. Wake should handle this one without trouble. There will be a study hall and Intro to Religious Studies class held in the second half.

Jeff Greenberg: Wake Forest wins. Clawson has the program back where these wins should be automatic.

Grant Atkinson: Wake Forest wins.Wake is one of the two teams that many experts expect to overachieve from the ACC this year. Clemson, FSU, and Louisville could provide trouble down the road, but this one should be a no-brainer for the Deacs.

Joey Weaver: Wake Forest wins. Wake Forest wins easily here. The question is who’s the bigger winner: John Walford as starting QB, or Kendall Hinton in relief?

Mike McDaniel: Wake Forest wins. You all didn’t think I was going to pick Presbyterian….did you?

Central Connecticut @ Syracuse, Friday 7 p.m. on ACCN

Justin Cates: Syracuse wins. The Orange will win with relative ease and begin the annual early-season padding of the win column with an early cupcake at home.

Jeff Greenberg: Syracuse wins. This could be a better year than people think in year two with Babers, starting with this win.

Grant Atkinson: Syracuse wins. Syracuse has great QB in Dungy, and they should have no issue starting this season 1-0.

Joey Weaver: Syracuse wins. Syracuse wins this one in a runaway. I’ll take the Orange and the OVER pick here, without even knowing what the total is.

Mike McDaniel: Syracuse wins. Syracuse might score 100.

Boston College (-2.5) vs. Northern Illinois, Friday 9:30 p.m. on CBSSN

Justin Cates: Boston College wins. The Huskies should pose a solid challenge, but BC just has too much talent on defense. We should get a decent idea of whether or not the Eagles will improve on offense this year however.

Jeff Greenberg: Boston College wins. I’m part of the minority that thinks BC will upset some teams this year. So they better win this one first.

Grant Atkinson:Boston College wins. This is certainly no cupcake for a BC team that had virtually no offense last year and has shown nothing to make me believe this year will be any different. However, their stout defense will help win a low-scoring grudge match.

Joey Weaver: Boston College wins. Boston College wins and covers, more because of my lack of belief in the Huskies than my belief in the Eagles. We might learn something about Boston College in Week 1, which is probably not good news for BC fans.

Mike McDaniel: Boston College wins. I was tempted to pick the upset here, but BC is the better team. They ought to be careful though, Northern Illinois is a weird place to play on a Friday night.

Kent State vs. #5 Clemson (-39.5), Saturday 12 p.m. on ESPN

Justin Cates: Clemson wins. Kent State was really bad last year and the Tigers are the national champions. That’s all you need for this preview.

Jeff Greenberg: Clemson wins. The Tigers will cover the points here too.

Grant Atkinson: Clemson wins. This is really Clemson’s only cupcake win to start the season, and it will be followed by tough matchups such as Auburn, at Louisville, and at Virginia Tech all in the season’s first month.

Joey Weaver: Clemson wins. Clemson wins and covers, thanks in part to a defensive score.

Mike McDaniel: Clemson wins. Win and cover here for a decisive start to the Kelly Bryant era…however long that will be.

Cal vs. North Carolina (-11.5), Saturday 12:20 p.m. on ACCN

Justin Cates: North Carolina wins. This sounds tougher on paper than it really is for the Tar Heels. Cal managed just a 5-7 record last year but they have a new coach which might help things down the line.

Jeff Greenberg: North Carolina wins. UNC’s new QB and improved defense will Tar Heel fans something cheer about in the opener.

Grant Atkinson: North Carolina wins. I think this game will be much closer than 11 points, which is where the spread currently stands. UNC will win, but only in a one-possession game.

Joey Weaver: North Carolina wins. UNC wins, but I’m taking Cal to cover here. This is an opportune time to be playing UNC, in week one with so many pieces to replace. If the Cal defense comes to play and forces a couple of turnovers, don’t be surprised if they come away with the win here.

Mike McDaniel: North Carolina wins. Too many question marks out at Cal to pick them here. New coaching staff makes this a slow rebuild for the Golden Bears. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Cal cover though.

Bethune-Cookman vs. #18 Miami, Saturday 12:30 p.m. on ACCN

Justin Cates: Miami wins. If the Canes don’t hang at least 55 points on the board, something is very wrong. This is a good game to break in a new quarterback or two.

Jeff Greenberg: Miami wins. This one could get ugly and get ugly fast.

Grant Atkinson: Miami wins. For the 10th year in a row, “The U is back!” This cupcake opener should give us a good look at the QB position for the Canes.

Joey Weaver: Miami wins. Miami dominates here, leading to lots of articles about how “The U is Back”.

Mike McDaniel: Miami wins. Miami….yeah.

Youngstown State vs. Pittsburgh, Saturday 12:30 p.m. on ACCN

Justin Cates: Pittsburgh wins. I fully expect Youngstown State to hang tough in this one. The Penguins went 12-4 last season under Bo Pellini. I also am looking forward to when these two head coaches with anger management issues get into a screaming match at some point.

Jeff Greenberg: Pittsburgh wins. The regional proximity of these two schools could make this one interesting in the first half.

Grant Atkinson: Pittsburgh wins. There is a new rule that coaches will get a 15 yard penalty for coming onto the field and arguing a call. The over/under for total yards given from that penalty between Pat Narduzzi and Bo Pellini is 450.

Joey Weaver: Pittsburgh wins. Pitt wins fairly easily here, but don’t sleep on Youngstown State — last year’s FCS runner-up. Concerns about Pitt’s defense would make me very intrigued to pick YSU to cover the spread, if there was one.

Mike McDaniel: Pittsburgh wins. Let’s hope that this goes better for Max Browne than last year’s opener when he was USC’s starting quarterback and got throttled by Alabama.

NC State vs. South Carolina, Saturday 3:00 p.m. on ESPN

Justin Cates: NC State wins. These teams are likely pretty evenly matched. The State defensive line will be SEC caliber and I don’t think Will Muschamp is a very good head coach. Advantage Wolfpack.

Jeff Greenberg: NC State wins. Could be the best game of the weekend outside of Bama and FSU.

Grant Atkinson: South Carolina wins. Frankly, I think people are way too high on NC State this year. Rather than waiting until divisional play to become a letdown, I see it happening week one vs. the Gamecocks.

Joey Weaver: NC State wins. The Wolfpack should beat the Gamecocks here, but I think it’s close. I’ll take USC to cover 5 here.

Mike McDaniel: NC State wins. Dave Doeren needs this season to get off to a good start, for the sake of his hot seat. NC State wins and covers.

William & Mary vs. Virginia, Saturday 3:30 p.m. on ACCN

Justin Cates: Virginia wins. I correctly picked the “upset” of Richmond over the Cavaliers last season. It’s tempting to do the same here, but William & Mary had a down year last season and the ‘Hoos should be better this year almost by default.

Jeff Greenberg: Virginia wins. Bronco will have his guys ready to win easy in their opener.

Grant Atkinson: Virginia wins. I don’t think this game will be a blowout, mostly because I don’t see Virginia scoring enough points to constitute a blowout. However, the ‘Hoos should avoid another nightmare like they had last year against the Spiders.

Joey Weaver: Virginia wins.Virginia wins easily here. UVA fans — enjoy it while it lasts!

Mike McDaniel: Virginia wins. The ‘Hoos are back!!!! lol.

North Carolina Central vs. Duke, Saturday 6 p.m. on ACCN

Justin Cates: Duke wins. While they’re in the same city, these teams aren’t on the same level and haven’t been for quite some time. The Bull City Classic will be far from memorable once again.

Jeff Greenberg: Duke wins. This game could be closer than Duke fans want if the offense isn’t sharp in the first half.

Grant Atkinson: Duke wins. I really respect Coach Cutcliffe and what he has done at Duke, and I don’t see him having any trouble with his in-city “rival,” if you can still them that.

Joey Weaver: Duke wins. The Daniel Jones hype train leaves the station here as the Blue Devils win without issue.

Mike McDaniel: Duke wins. I don’t think Duke is going to be great this year, but they’ll at least win this one.

#16 Louisville (-25.0) vs. Purdue, Saturday 7:30 p.m. on FOX

Justin Cates: Louisville wins. The Boilermakers are in rebuild mode and the Cardinals return the Heisman Trophy winner. Lamar Jackson should have a big day if he avoids trying to do too much against a weak opponent.

Jeff Greenberg: Louisville wins. The Cardinals shouldn’t have much of a problem here and the OL is what everybody will be watching.

Grant Atkinson: Louisville wins. Purdue doesn’t have a very strong defense, and I expect Heisman winner Lamar Jackson to be firing on all cylinders. The Cardinals should score a LOT of points in this one.

Joey Weaver: Louisville wins. If this were opening weekend 2018, I’d feel differently. For now, Louisville wins and covers 25.

Mike McDaniel: Louisville wins. Heisman winner Lamar Jackson is going to remind everyone how good he is.

#3 Florida State vs. #1 Alabama (-7.0), Saturday 8 p.m. on ABC

Justin Cates: Alabama wins. FSU may well win the ACC this season, but ‘Bama is still the benchmark by which all programs are measured. I don’t think the Seminoles are quite there yet, but this should be a great game.

Jeff Greenberg: Alabama wins. Hard to pick this one and flipped a coin to decide.

Grant Atkinson: Alabama wins. I have no doubt that Florida State will be a Top 10, maybe even Top 5 caliber team by the end of the season. However, Alabama is simply much more used to these types of games in the past few years.

Joey Weaver: Florida State wins. Timing is huge here. If it were a mid-October game, I think it turns out differently. In week 1, I’ve got FSU covering 7 and winning outright. The Seminoles will be really good this year, and I trust their ability to score more than a unit in Game 1 without Lane Kiffin.

Mike McDaniel: Alabama wins. Florida State had trouble all of last season keeping quarterback Deondre Francois upright. I have no reason to believe that they have remedied that issue on the offensive line, so I’ll take Alabama in a tightly contested game. ‘Noles should cover though.

#22 West Virginia vs. #21 Virginia Tech (-4.5), Sunday 7:30 p.m. on ABC

Justin Cates: Virginia Tech wins. This could be another strong contest. It’s a rivalry game, but one in which neither head coach or any player has ever participated in. The Hokies will once again have a world class defense and Mountaineer QB Will Grier hasn’t seen live action in quite some time. Bud Foster likes that a lot.

Jeff Greenberg: West Virginia wins. I’m going with the upset here because I wanted to pick at least one upset.

Grant Atkinson: Virginia Tech wins. One of these teams has a strong offense and a weak defense, and the other one is vice-versa. However, with a new QB at the helm for West Virginia, I see the Hokies’ defense being the difference in this one.

Joey Weaver: Virginia Tech wins. The single biggest sure thing in this game is the Hokies’ defense. The Mountaineers replace a lot on the OL and basically everyone on defense, while the Hokies rebuild on offense in a big way. Bud Foster’s defense makes the difference. Hokies cover 4.5.

Mike McDaniel: Virginia Tech wins. Hokies win and cover. Their defense should suffocate Will Grier in a game that I’m not sure will be decided by single digits. I like the Hokies by a touchdown and then some.

#25 Tennessee (-3.5) vs. Georgia Tech, Monday 8 p.m. on ESPN

Justin Cates: Tennessee wins. If Dedrick Mills was still playing for Georgia Tech, I’d be tempted to call for the upset. Without him there are a few too many questions about the Yellow Jackets for me, however I have no idea why the Volunteers are ranked.

Jeff Greenberg: Tennessee wins. Another coin flip for me but it’s do-or-die for the Volunteers this season and they need to win this opener.

Grant Atkinson: Tennessee wins. My colleague Justin said he would pick Georgia Tech in an upset if they still had Mills. I would even venture to say it wouldn’t be much of an upset, because the line would be close to even. However, with Mills gone, the Jackets just have too many holes for me to feel confident enough to pick them here.

Joey Weaver: Tennessee wins. As a Georgia Tech guy, I have no clue what to make of this game. Both teams are looking to fill huge shoes from departures and injuries. It feels like a tribute to “The Replacements” (starring Keanu Reeves) right now. I’ll avoid getting my hopes up and take Tennessee to win, but Georgia Tech to cover.

Mike McDaniel: Georgia Tech wins. I’m taking Georgia Tech. I don’t trust the Volunteers, especially with all that they lost on offense. Even without Dedrick Mills, the Yellow Jackets have plenty of talent on offense to get the job done, and will have the benefit of going up against a defense that NEVER sees the option offense.

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