ITA Staff Picks: ACC Week Two

For the second consecutive season, serious autumn weather is encroaching upon the southeast in the form of a hurricane. As Irma bears down on Florida, Miami has cancelled its game against Arkansas State and Florida State has cancelled its tilt against Louisiana Monroe.

Still, we have a full plate of ACC teams in action after a fairly successful week of picks for the staff. Before we get into the picks, here’s how the staff performed with their picks last week:

Grant Atkinson: 13-1

Justin Cates: 12-2

Jeff Greenberg: 11-3

Mike McDaniel: 11-3

Joey Weaver (Guest Picker): 11-3

Pretty successful week for our staff with Grant in the early lead in our picks for the year. On to Week Two, here’s who we got:

#17 Louisville (1-0) (-10) @ North Carolina (0-1), Saturday 12 p.m. on ESPN

Justin Cates: Louisville wins.

The Cardinals had a tougher time than one might have guessed against Purdue, but Lamar Jackson was great. He’ll do it again against a Tar Heel squad reeling from a home loss to California.

Jeff Greenberg: Louisville wins.

Last week didn’t go exactly as planned for either team. The Heisman Trophy winner gives Louisville the edge here.

Grant Atkinson: Louisville wins.

Louisville did not look very good on Saturday against Purdue, but UNC looked even worse. Lamar should have no problem tearing apart this weak Tar Heel defense.

Mike McDaniel: Louisville wins.

North Carolina’s front seven is not good enough to exploit the biggest weakness on Louisville’s team: their offensive line. Give me Lamar Jackson and the Cardinals…big.

Northwestern (1-0) (-3) @ Duke (1-0), Saturday 12 p.m. on ESPNU

Justin Cates: Duke wins.

The Blue Devils will get a good test, and this should be a close game. I think Duke has the edge because of QB Daniel Jones and playing at home doesn’t hurt.

Jeff Greenberg: Northwestern wins.

The Blue Devils are the underdog at home. I can see them winning this game but will go with the favorite from the Big 10.

Grant Atkinson: Duke wins.

This past week, Duke looked pretty solid against NC Central, whereas Northwestern looked underwhelming against Nevada. With a good coach and the advantage of being at home, I see Duke winning a tight one.

Mike McDaniel: Duke wins.

I’m giving the edge in a true toss-up game to Duke at home with the best player on the field in quarterback Daniel Jones.

Jacksonville State (1-0) @ Georgia Tech (0-1), Saturday 12:30 p.m. on ACCN

Justin Cates: Georgia Tech wins.

The Yellow Jackets may well be a force in the Coastal division if the opener against Tennessee was any indication. TaQuon Marshall is the real deal at quarterback, they just have to clean up the turnover issue.

Jeff Greenberg: Georgia Tech wins.

Georgia Tech will roll big in this one and just hope that nobody gets hurt in the process.

Grant Atkinson: Georgia Tech wins.

Despite losing, Georgia Tech was one of the more impressive teams in the ACC this weekend. First year starting QB TaQuon Marshall put up incredible numbers on the national stage, and I expect him to have another huge day against a much easier opponent.

Mike McDaniel: Georgia Tech wins.

I’m very excited to see TaQuon Marshall work again at quarterback for Georgia Tech. Despite the loss in the opener to Tennessee, he was fantastic in his debut and should be able to propel the Yellow Jackets to an easy victory against Jacksonville State on Saturday.

Wake Forest (1-0) @ Boston College (1-0) (-1.5), Saturday 1 p.m. on ACCN

Justin Cates: Boston College wins.

This is a fairly even match up, but Boston College has the better defense. Wake is better statistically to this point, but those numbers came against Presbyterian. We’ll see if BC’s offense can keep improving.

Jeff Greenberg: Boston College wins.

This could be a great game this weekend in Boston. I think home field will carry the day for Steve Adazzio’s crew.

Grant Atkinson: Wake Forest wins.

I really have no idea how BC is favored in this one. They are admittedly at home, but it’s not like they usually have a sellout crowd by any means. I guess Vegas is smarter than I am, but I see Wake winning by at least a touchdown here.

Mike McDaniel: Boston College wins.

Boston College is at home and has a better defense against a team in Wake Forest that has a shaky offense. That’s good enough for me in a low-scoring, ugly contest.

Pittsburgh (1-0) @ #4 Penn State (1-0) (-22), Saturday 3:30 p.m. on ABC

Justin Cates: Penn State wins.

Pittsburgh got all they could handle against Youngstown State, and this week they take on a top five squad. The Nittany Lions have far too many weapons and should win comfortably in the latest chapter in this Keystone state rivalry.

Jeff Greenberg: Penn State wins.

Pitt will have to play better than last week to have a chance in Happy Valley. I’m not sure they have an answer for Saquon Barkley.

Grant Atkinson: Penn State wins.

Last year, Pitt beat Penn State in an instant classic, which turned out to be a huge, resume building win. This year, Pitt needed overtime to beat a lowly Youngstown State team in week one, and I believe Penn State is much improved. The Nittany Lions should have no problem here.

Mike McDaniel: Penn State wins.

I’m trying to figure out a scenario in which Pittsburgh covers the 22-point spread, but unless they pick up first downs and keep the Penn State offense off the field, I don’t see how it ends up happening. Give me Penn State to win and cover with Saquon Barkley and the rest of their weapons on offense.

Delaware (1-0) @ #18 Virginia Tech (1-0), Saturday 3:30 p.m. on ACCN

Justin Cates: Virginia Tech wins.

The Hokies need to avoid a hangover from the big win over West Virginia. Emotions need to be controlled for young players in their first home game as well.

Jeff Greenberg: Virginia Tech wins.

This game is over before the Hokies even put the Blue Hens to sleep with Enter Sandman.

Grant Atkinson: Virginia Tech wins.

The Hokies were the only ACC team to win a big primetime matchup this weekend, taking down West Virginia and breaking the FedEx Field curse. They need to be careful not to overlook the next few games in lieu of a week 5 matchup with Clemson, but as long as they stay focused, they have no reason not to have a big day against the Blue Hens.

Mike McDaniel: Virginia Tech wins.

Turns out that the Hokies are 39.5 point favorites in this match-up as of Friday evening. That’s a lot of points but I think that they will cover in their home opener as there is just too much talent on the field against the Blue Hens.

Indiana (0-1) (-3) @ Virginia (1-0), Saturday 3:30 p.m. on ESPNU

Justin Cates: Indiana wins.

The Hoosiers looked very strong for three quarters against Ohio State. Richard Lagow is a good player and you’ve got to love a quarterback who wears number 21. Virginia is still pouring the concrete for the foundation of a rebuild so this one should tilt IU’s way.

Jeff Greenberg: Indiana wins.

One of the more interesting Power 5 match ups of the weekend. If Indiana can play like they against Ohio St then they will leave Virginia with a victory.

Grant Atkinson: Indiana wins.

Indiana had a much better game against Ohio State than the final score showed. Richard Lagow is going to make them a tough out for anyone (410 passing yards, 3 TDs against OSU), especially a UVA team that just hasn’t performed well against Power 5 opponents lately. Indiana wins on the road.

Mike McDaniel: Indiana wins.

Indiana quarterback Richard Lagow threw for 410 yards last week against #2 Ohio State. Virginia does not have the same defense as Ohio State, so buckle up Cavaliers. Indiana to win and cover on the road.

Middle Tennessee (0-1) @ Syracuse (1-0) (-9.5), Saturday 3:30 p.m. on ACCN

Justin Cates: Syracuse wins.

Former Orange head coach Scott Shafer returns to the Carrier Dome, this time as an opponent. It’s unlikely that his return will be successful against the potent Syracuse offense. Eric Dungey should have another big day.

Jeff Greenberg: Syracuse wins.

Syracuse could surprise some folks this season. I would be surprised if they dropped this one at home.

Grant Atkinson: Syracuse wins.

Syracuse QB Eric Dungey was impressive yet again in week one. He will certainly be a name to watch this year in the ACC, and he should not have an issue leading his team past Middle Tennessee.

Mike McDaniel: Syracuse wins.

I could see Middle Tennessee State hanging around in this game because of their defense somewhat stymying the Orange. By the way, that’ll only be for a half, because Eric Dungey and the Orange have far too much talent with their skull players to lose this game. I’ve got the Orange at home to win and cover.

Marshall (1-0) @ NC State (0-1) (-24.5), Saturday 6 p.m. on ACCN

Justin Cates: NC State wins.

State should be able to recover from a tough seven-point loss to South Carolina last week. Marshall is considerably overmatched in this contest and the Wolfpack should get back on track.

Jeff Greenberg: NC State wins.

NC State did everything right last week but win the game. They won’t make that mistake this week at home.

Grant Atkinson: NC State wins.

I said I believed NC State was overrated coming into the season, and they proved me right by losing their opener to South Carolina. Nonetheless, they have a lot of talent and experience, and they should put up big numbers against Marshall.

Mike McDaniel: NC State wins.

NC State handled South Carolina for a good portion of their game last Saturday, but bad turnovers and mental mistakes on special teams did them in despite rolling to 250 more yards of offense than the Gamecocks. I like the Wolfpack to cruise to an easy win here against Marshall.

# 13 Auburn (1-0) @ #3 Clemson (1-0) (-4.5), Saturday 7 p.m. on ESPN

Justin Cates: Clemson wins.

Auburn was close a year ago, and now they have a talented quarterback in Jarrett Stidham. I expect this to be another close game with Clemson making a few more plays. I also just can’t see them losing at home.

Jeff Greenberg: Clemson wins.

The battle of the Tigers wasn’t that exciting last year. I expect this year’s game to be a fun one to watch. Death Valley is a hard place to win for the visiting team.

Grant Atkinson: Clemson wins.

Is Clemson a little overrated at #3? Maybe. But Auburn is WAY overrated at #13. Tiger fans (mostly the Clemson kind) will be out in full force for this early season rivalry, and the home-field advantage should help lead Clemson to a big win in week two.

Mike McDaniel: Clemson wins.

This game, like many others on the schedule this weekend, is a complete toss-up. Regardless of who wins, we will learn a ton about both teams after this game on Saturday night. I have a really hard time envisioning Clemson losing a night game at home, so I’ll take Dabo and company in a tightly contested game.

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