The Washington Times - September 10, 2009, 09:37AM

The first week isn’t supposed to be such a challenge for “picks at the wire.”

Of course, William & Mary and Richmond (or is it Virginia and Duke?) combined to turn a respectable 9-2 week into an unimpressive 7-4 start.


But there’s still 12 more weeks left in the season, and that was only 11 games out of 96. There’s plenty of time left to improve upon last year’s record.

And that starts tonight. All games Saturday unless otherwise noted …

* Clemson at Georgia Tech (Thursday, 7:30, ESPN): Yellow Jackets 35-28. Could this be a follow-up to Monday night’s classic between Miami and Florida State? Quite possibly. These two have a penchant for close games, but look for Georgia Tech to hold up well in the short week.

* Duke at Army (Noon, CBS College Sports): Blue Devils 28-10. Duke outgained Richmond, didn’t commit any turnovers and in general didn’t play any near as poorly as Virginia did last weekend. Look for a bounceback in West Point.

* North Carolina at Connecticut (Noon, ESPNU): Tar Heels 24-19. Ah, two teams I don’t trust a whole lot. At least North Carolina looked pretty good last week in shredding The Citadel. The Tar Heels should win, but don’t expect anything overly impressive.

* Stanford at Wake Forest (Noon, Raycom): Demon Deacons 23-17. It’s the return of Original Hog! And Original Hogewood! Oh, how ACC fans have missed your comparisons to animals past and present and eternal optimism, respectively! The Demon Deacons can’t possibly be as bad as they looked in the first half against Baylor. Well, maybe they could be. But a rebound seems likely against a 6-6ish team from Palo Alto (which did stomp Washington State in its opener).

* Marshall at Virginia Tech (1:30): Hokies 38, Thundering Herd 10. Ten years ago, this would have been a frightful game. Now, though, it is simply a chance for Virginia Tech to fully recover from an opening loss to Alabama. This will be a game where a lot of Hokies heal some emotional wounds in advance of next week’s meeting with Nebraska.

* Kent State at Boston College (2): Eagles 31, Golden Flashes 7. That Montel Harris sure played well last week. And so did Josh Haden. And who cares if four quarterbacks played? It was a 58-0 rout of Northeastern. Expect a slightly less lopsided rout, with the appearance of at least one less quarterback against the visitors from the MAC.

* Texas Christian at Virginia (3:30, ESPNU): Horned Frogs 28, Cavaliers 13. Behold, a bit of ambitious scheduling that will come back and bite Al Groh. I know Texas Christian is a superior program this decade to Virginia. You probably know it, too. But will the however-many Virginia fans who opt to go shout “Groh Must Go” after last week’s loss to William & Mary acknowledge that reality? Unlikely.

* Jacksonville State at Florida State (6): Seminoles 42, Gamecocks 7. Jacksonville State’s tour of the ACC continues with another lopsided loss, while Florida State collects a win before a suddenly frightening trip to Brigham Young next week.

* James Madison at Maryland (6): Terrapins 20, Dukes 9. I’ve chosen this score because after watching Saturday’s game in Berkeley, it wouldn’t be stunning if this approached one of the sloppiest games I’ve ever witnessed (2000: Terrapins 20, Duke 9). Maryland should have some first-game kinks out of the way. The same can’t be said for James Madison, which will use two quarterbacks and try to figure things out after an eternally long camp.

* Murray State at N.C. State (6): Wolfpack 31, Racers 10. Take it to the bank: After looking like he was replaced by a much less skilled twin a week ago, Russell Wilson will run for N.C. State’s first touchdown of the season by the end of the first quarter.

Last week’s record: 7-4 (1-0 conference games)
Season record: 7-4 (1-0 conference)
Preseason picks record: 7-4 (1-0 conference)
Preseason picks changed for this week: None

—- Patrick Stevens