Thursday, September 6, 2007

Week 2 Preview, Part I: Non-Conference Cannon Fodder

LOUISIANA-MONROE at CLEMSON
Saturday, Sept. 8, 2007, 1pm - Memorial Stadium, Clemson, SC
Series Record: First meeting
Stat Watch: 3...the number of times Clemson has started 2-0 in Tommy Bowden's previous eight seasons
Quick Overview: Until Tommy Bowden can march through a season without that dreaded "WTF?" loss, every game against a reasonably competent opponent will be looked at with a skeptical eye. ULM isn't exactly a household name, but then neither was Appalachian State last week and Michigan had six months to prepare for them; Clemson has had four days to prepare for the WarHawks. Don't be surprised if the Tigers fall behind early, but do raise an eyebrow if it's close late in the game. As we saw against FSU, Clemson is scary fast. That caliber of speed eventually kills a team like ULM.
Prediction: A post-FSU hangover is a possibility, considering the short week. They may be a bit clunky, but the Tigers will still win going away. Clemson 38, Louisiana-Monroe 14

SAMFORD at GEORGIA TECH
Saturday, Sept. 8, 2007, 1:30pm - Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, GA
Series Record: Georgia Tech leads 7-0; the Jackets won last year's meeting 38-6
Stat Watch: 1...Georgia Tech's national rank in rush defense after week 1
Quick Overview: Last week against Division II West Alabama, Samford surrendered 260 yards on the ground...think Tashard Choice might just be a wee bit productive this Saturday? The Bulldogs also provide Taylor Bennett with an excellent opportunity to get into a rhythm with his wideouts, which is crucial since Boston College visits Atlanta next week. This is as good a chance as any for the defense to hold another offense in the negative category in rushing yards.
Prediction: Choice, Bennett and the defense blow up the Bulldogs early, then let the second team play most of the second half. Georgia Tech 44, Samford 7

UAB at FLORIDA STATE
Saturday, Sept. 8, 2007, 5pm - Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, FL
Series Record:
Florida State leads 2-0; the Seminoles won the last meeting 34-7 in 2004
Stat Watch: 82...the number of yards the FSU defense held Clemson to in the 2nd half
Quick Overview: Well one thing's for sure about the Seminoles' heralded new assistants...they are damn fine at those halftime adjustments. The Blazers may not exactly be a credible opponent in which to judge the new staff's game-by-game tinkering, but anything less than a comfortable win should be cause for a bit of panic in Tallahassee. If a formerly John L. Smith-infected Michigan State team can do what they did to UAB last week, the Seminoles should be able to match it, at least in terms of tempo and overall control/domination of the game.
Prediction: Thanks to just four day's rest, the Noles won't be quite as crisp as the faithful would like...but a comfortable win should be assured. Florida State 35, UAB 6

NORTH CAROLINA at EAST CAROLINA
Saturday, Sept. 8, 2007 - Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville, NC
Series Record:
North Carolina leads 8-1-1; the Heels won the last meeting 28-17 in 2003
Stat Watch: 10...that's how many years it's been since UNC started a season 2-0
Quick Overview: OK, so this isn't exactly an out-of-conference mismatch considering recent history, but rest assured that the Tar Heels scheduled this game thinking it would be a comfortable victory. Butch Davis faces a personal nemesis in the Pirates, who not once but twice (1996 and 1999) beat him when he was at Miami. His luck is unlikely to change as his success this Saturday largely relies in the hands of freshman QB TJ Yates. ECU held the normally potent Virginia Tech rushing attack to all of 33 yards on the ground, and the Tar Heels only managed 100 rush yards against 1-AA James Madison last Saturday. On the plus side, the uninspiring Sean Glennon managed to fling it around for 278 yards against the Pirates, so the young Yates has a chance to lead the way with his arm.
Prediction: Vegas says a Tar Heel win would be an upset (ECU -4.5). I concur. East Carolina 23, North Carolina 14

MARYLAND at FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL
Saturday , Sept. 8, 2007 - FIU Stadium, Miami, FL

Series Record:
Maryland leads 1-0; the Terps won last year's meeting 14-10
Stat Watch: 35...the number yards FIU out-gained Maryland by last season
Quick Overview: Upon further review of last year's narrow escape against the Panthers, the Terps' 14-10 nailbiter against an eventually 0-12 FIU squad should be placed into context. At the time of the game, FIU was more of snake-bitten team, coming in 0-3 after one-point losses to Middle Tennessee State and USF, along with a five-point loss to Bowling Green. The suspensions following the brawl with Miami a few weeks later destroyed them personnel-wise and they were routed in every game after that. So in retrospect, not as ugly a win as many (including me) have previously believed. That said, FIU is a much worse team this year and I'm not sure yet about Maryland (whether they're better or worse than last year, that is).
Prediction: Talent-wise, the Terps should probably win by five touchdowns, but it's been three years since they've won that handily and I'm not picking them to change that this Saturday. Maryland 28, Florida International 10

Previews of the remaining five ACC-oriented games this Saturday will appear tomorrow

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