It speaks volumes about the job David Cutcliffe has done that anyone would think of picking the Blue Devils to win by 25 points. It also says quite a bit about Cutcliffe’s fine work in raising expectations that any loss would be considered disappointing far more than an excuse to look ahead to basketball season.
But that’s what happened last weekend with a hope-crushing loss to Richmond. And now Stanford’s coming to town. And, well, basketball is less than six weeks around the corner.
The Duke misfire was one of three incorrect picks on the week (Wake Forest’s meltdown after a Tanner Price injury and Boston College’s loss to Northwestern were the others). With 10 more games this week (including Navy’s visit to Western Kentucky), let’s see if there’s any improvement.
As always, all games are Saturday and afternoon kickoff times unless otherwise noted.
* Rutgers at North Carolina (12:30, ACC Network): Tar Heels 28-23. Two fanbases are actually going to learn about their respective teams’ prospects in this one. North Carolina receives an efficient performance from new quarterback Bryn Renner against James Madison, while Rutgers shredded North Carolina Central. Neither team will cruise here, but the Tar Heels’ plethora of defensive talent should be enough to keep a Rutgers offense that was mercifully and wisely rebooted in the offseason in check.
* N.C. State at Wake Forest (3:30, CSN+): Wolfpack 27-24. Don’t feel good about this one for the Wuffies, whose defense and special teams carried them past Liberty last week. The Demon Deacons displayed a semblance of vitality in their opening loss at Syracuse before blowing a 15-point lead and falling in overtime. The lesson there was Wake could be a major pain if Tanner Price is healthy and a major pushover if he’s not under center.
State’s lost six of seven in the Dash (after going 14-4 at Wake between 1960 and 1995), and there’s a real chance the Wolfpack makes another fruitless trek across I-40 on Saturday. The pick here is Tom O’Brien finally wins a division road game at State (he’s 0-10; you can look it up), but it won’t be a romp.
* Stanford at Duke (3:30, ESPNU): Cardinal 56-17. The Andrew Luck Show comes to Durham. It will not be a fun afternoon for the Blue Devils, who will be torn asunder at home by an elite team with a Heisman candidate for the second straight year.
* Virginia Tech at East Carolina (3:30, CSN): Hokies 55-24. There’s nothing quite like seeing the East Carolina defense to bolster the stats of a rookie quarterback. At least that was the case last year when the Pirates couldn’t stop anybody. Logan Thomas should enjoy a fine afternoon as the Hokies earn Frank Beamer his 200th victory at his alma mater.
* Wofford at Clemson (3:30, ESPN3.com): Tigers 45-10. Clemson will play a bunch of freshmen and look good for about a quarter. Which quarter it is, you never can tell, because that’s just how Clemsonliness works. But the Tigers will be 2-0 entering their showdown with Auburn.
* Charleston Southern at Florida State (6, ESPN3.com): Seminoles 59-0. In a word, woof. Chuck South took a 62-0 walloping at Central Florida last weekend. Expect a similar beatdown in this one.
* Georgia Tech at Middle Tennessee State (7, ESPN3.com): Yellow Jackets 34-20. There will not be the same aerial theatrics against Middle Tennessee as there were against Western Carolina. But Georgia Tech will beat another directional school (albeit a far more talented one) as it continues to move past last year’s messy finish.
* Virginia at Indiana (7, Big Ten Network): Cavaliers 28-16. You could hear the Virginia bandwagon filling up from miles away after last week’s pounding of William and Mary. Well done, Hoos. Now go get your first 2-0 start since 2005. It’ll require winning a road opener for the first time since … 2005. Hoosiers coach Kevin Wilson’s debut (a loss to Ball State) was disappointing even by Indiana football’s modest standards. The Hoosiers will play better, but Virginia will head home a third of the way to bowl eligibility.
* Navy at Western Kentucky (7, ESPN3.com): Midshipmen 24-13. It’s safe to say both teams’ intentions are plain. Navy will run the option behind senior quarterback Kriss Proctor. The Hilltoppers will pound the ball with tailback Bobby Rainey. And the Mids will leave Bowling Green, Ky., with a 2-0 mark entering consecutive games with South Carolina and Air Force.
* Boston College at Central Florida (8, CBS Sports Network): Eagles 17-16. Sure, it’s a long season, but the odds get very steep for Boston College to get to six wins without knocking off the Golden Knights. Boston College fell at home to a Northwestern team using a backup quarterback last week, and now must contend with a visit to a team that won plenty of praise in winning 11 games last season (even though none of the teams Central Florida beat finished with a winning record, but that’s a story for another day).
In any case, it’s crucial for the Eagles to snare a victory. They could easily leave empty-handed, but the pick here is BC sneaks out of Orlando with a win behind another sound performance from Chase Rettig, even if he is without big target Ifeanyi Momah (ACL tear).
Preseason Week 2 picks changed: None
ACC record: 7-3 (1-0 conference)
Navy record: 1-0