Thursday, August 30, 2007

Week 1 Preview, Part III: Must See TV

EAST CAROLINA at VIRGINIA TECH
Saturday, Sept. 1, 2007, 12:00pm...Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, VA

Series Record: Virginia Tech leads 8-4; the Hokies won the last meeting 45-28 in 2000.
Stat Watch: 4...the number of shutouts posted by the Hokie defense in 2006
Quick Overview: No, this isn't must-see because of the matchup. It's must-see because Virginia Tech hits the field for the first time since the horrors of last April, in a much anticipated and much needed cathartic release of emotion and display of school pride. Will it be overdone? Absolutely...our pals at ESPN will see to that. Nonetheless, this game will provide a clear example of what makes this sport so great...it's about having a shared, festive experience with 65,000 of your closest friends. Those kinds of vibes in the stadium will undoubtedly jack the Hokies up at kickoff, but don't count on that simply carrying them to victory. The brutal defense will see to that.
Prediction: The electric setting along with the punishing defense lead to an enjoyable Saturday afternoon. Virginia Tech 35, East Carolina 10

GEORGIA TECH at NOTRE DAME
Saturday, Sept. 1, 2007, 3:30pm...Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, IN

Series Record: Notre Dame leads 27-5-1; the Irish won last year's meeting 14-10.
Stat Watch: 44.4%...Reggie Ball's 2006 completion percentage
Quick Overview: Now that Charlie Weis has declassified his depth chart and named Demetrius Jones as starting QB, the only mystery surrounding this matchup is whether the Irish can at least make the game respectable. The brutal offensive and defensive lines of the Ramblin Wreck versus their rebuilt Notre Dame counterparts should be the story of the afternoon. The Irish are still a talented bunch and should be much better by the end of the year, but this contest is all about Tech making a big statement to wash away the bitter aftertaste of 2006's final three games, and to justify my extremely generous preseason appraisal of them.
Prediction: The Yellow Jackets prevail, but it won't exactly be all that satisfying. The ghosts in Notre Dame Stadium will keep it uncomfortably close. Georgia Tech 24, Notre Dame 20

WAKE FOREST at BOSTON COLLEGE
Saturday, Sept. 1, 2007, 3:30pm...Alumni Stadium, Chestnut Hill, MA

Series Record: tied 6-6-2; Wake won last year's meeting 21-14.
Stat Watch: 6-0...the Demon Deacons' road record in 2006
Quick Overview: The Jags Era kicks off against one of the Eagles' peskiest opponents (1-3 vs. Wake since '03), in a duel of the league's two best quarterbacks in Matt Ryan and Riley Skinner. BC's offensive line continues to be a concern heading into this game, but Wake's defense has been depleted by graduation and likely won't be able to take advantage of it. Both teams know that a loss in this one puts them squarely behind the 8-ball for the rest of the season if they hope to win the division, although a defeat here would be considerably more damaging to the Eagles since they have a much tougher overall conference slate. Nothing like turning on the pressure-cooker early.
Prediction: I've had this penciled as a Wake victory for awhile, but I'm switching horses now. This is an absolute must-win for the Eagles and they know it. Boston College 27, Wake Forest 23

FLORIDA STATE at CLEMSON
Monday, Sept. 3, 2007, 8pm...Memorial Stadium, Clemson, SC

Series Record: Florida State leads 15-5; the Tigers won last year's meeting 27-20.
Stat Watch: 2...the total number of TDs scored by FSU's offense in their three previous Labor Day contests
Quick Overview: Bowden Bowl IX gets an even brighter spotlight this season as the Noles and Tigers kick off Monday Night football for ESPN. This is old hat for FSU, who faced off with nemesis Miami in the last three Labor Day fiascos that were universally panned by anyone not wearing garnet & gold or orange & green. The debut of Jimbo Fisher's offense is the biggest storyline of the game, overshadowing the debut of Tiger QB Cullen Harper. The Seminole defense has had all offseason to prepare for the onslaught of James Davis and CJ Spiller, while Tiger OC Rob Spence has promised all new trickery involving that dynamic duo.
Prediction: Despite all the hype surrounding Fisher, Davis, and Spiller, look for both offenses to flop around, leaving the defenses to pick up the slack. Advantage: Noles. Florida State 20, Clemson 14

And thus endeth the Week 1 preview

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