ACC preview: opening kickoff

ACC preview: opening kickoff
August 29, 2013, 9:00 am
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ACC Week 1 preview

NCAA

Schedule
 
North Carolina at No. 6 South Carolina, Thurs. 6:00 p.m.
Presbyterian at Wake Forest, Thurs. 6:30 p.m.
Florida Atlantic at Miami FL, Fri. 8:00 p.m.
Elon at Georgia Tech, Sat. 12:00 p.m.
Villanova at Boston College, Sat. 12:00 p.m.
Florida International at Maryland, Sat. 12:30 p.m. on CSN
Louisiana Tech at North Carolina State, Sat. 12:30 p.m.
Syracuse vs. Penn State (at MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ), Sat. 3:30 p.m.
Brigham Young at Virginia, Sat. 3:30 p.m.
NC Central at Duke, Sat. 4:00 p.m.
No. 1 Alabama vs. Virginia Tech (at Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA), Sat. 5:30 p.m.
No. 5 Georgia at No. 8 Clemson, Sat. 8:00 p.m.
No. 11 Florida State at Pittsburgh, Mon. 8:00 p.m.
 
Matchup of the week: Florida International at Maryland, Sat. 12:30 p.m. on CSN
 
Maryland may have won only four games last season and six in Randy Edsall’s two seasons as head coach, but there is an unmistakable feeling that the Terrapins are headed in the right direction. Who knows what last season could have been had a single quarterback on the Terps’ roster managed to stay healthy? On Saturday the Terps will finally get a chance to show what they can do with a healthy quarterback in C.J. Brown and the always dynamic Stefon Diggs.
 
Diggs is entering his sophomore year and is emerging as one of the best playmakers in the nation. Maryland fans should expect a big time performance from Diggs against an FIU team that was ranked 96thamong FBS teams in passing yards allowed per game last season. The Panthers are a team in transition right now, entering this season with a new coach in Ron Turner.
 
With the move to the Big Ten looming it is pivotal both for the Terps and coach Edsall that the team take a major step forward this season. Saturday has all the makings of a statement game for the Terps.
 
Player to watch: Tajh Boyd, QB, Senior(RS), Clemson
 
The redshirt senior out of Hampton, Virginia enters this season as a dark horse Heisman Trophy candidate after two impressive seasons as Clemson’s starting quarterback. Clemson’s inability to win big games has caused some people to dismiss him, but the Tigers may have put the NCAA on notice with their last-second win over LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl to close out the 2012 season. Boyd will get his chance to prove both he and the Tigers are for real right of the bat as the Tigers host the Georgia Bulldogs in Death Valley opening weekend.
 
The task of beating the Bulldogs will fall squarely on Boyd’s shoulders. If he wants to be considered the best player in college football, he needs to beat the best teams in college football. Facing off against the fifth-ranked team in the nation can either catapult Boyd into the national discussion, or confirm that he is a good quarterback incapable of beating the biggest opponents.
 
Upset alert: North Carolina at No. 6 South Carolina, Thurs. 6:00 p.m.
 
Few college football fans have not heard of Jadeveon Clowney, the dominant defensive end for South Carolina. With all the talk and Heisman-hype surrounding the young star, Thursday’s game against North Carolina feels more like a coronation than a football game. If South Carolina dismisses their opening opponent, however, they do so at their own risk.
 
Head coach Larry Fedora led the Tar Heels to an 8-4 record in his first season at the helm, an achievement even more impressive given all the scrutiny surrounding UNC following an NCAA investigation into the program. This team is good, underrated, and flying under the radar. They will emerge as one of the best teams in the Coastal Division this year.
 
Obviously there is a big difference between competing in the division and walking out of Columbia, South Carolina with a win over a top ten team, but the Gamecocks will have to take UNC seriously. If they start looking ahead to their Week 2 matchup with Georgia, they may just find themselves headed to Athens with a loss under their belts.