Inside the ACC: Opportunity time for Virginia, Miami; no rest for Wolfpack

jgiglio@newsobserver.comSeptember 6, 2013 

Observations

•  Remember when Duke’s own lawyers argued in a Kentucky circuit court it was the worst program in college football? Since David Cutcliffe has made the Blue Devils respectable, Memphis is easily one of the programs that could slide into their former spot.

The Tigers are 9-39 since losing to South Florida in the St. Petersburg Bowl in 2008.

Duke (1-0) beat the Tigers, who were off last week, 38-14 last year in Durham.

•  You usually don’t empty the playbook against a lower-level Division I team, and not with the No. 4 team in the country next on the schedule, but N.C. State doesn’t really have the luxury of playing it safe against Richmond.

The Wolfpack (1-0) needs to make sure Pete Thomas and backups Josh Taylor and Bryant Shirreffs are up to speed and playing with confidence, so that when Clemson arrives in 12 days, they’ll be mentally prepared.

There’s also the matter of Richmond’s history of winning in the Triangle (three times at Duke since 2006), which means the Wolfpack can’t be passive or overlook the Spiders (1-0).

•  Did Syracuse (0-1) join the ACC or the Big Ten? After opening the season with a 23-17 loss to Penn State, the Orange travels to No. 19 Northwestern. The Wildcats probably won’t have QB Kain Colter, but that didn’t stop them from beating Cal 44-30 on the road last week.

New Syracuse coach Scott Shafer is sticking with new quarterback Drew Allen (16 of 37, 189 yards) after a shaky debut and hoping for better results against a weaker Northwestern defense.

Three to watch

1) No. 12 Florida at Miami, noon (ESPN)

How Florida’s retooled defense handles Miami sophomore RB Duke Johnson, the most dynamic player in the ACC, will be as big of a factor in this one as the south Florida heat.

2) No. 2 Oregon at Virginia, 3:30 p.m. (ABC)

The high-powered Ducks (1-0) haven’t played an ACC team since a 38-17 loss to Wake Forest in the 2002 Seattle Bowl. This is their first regular-season game against an ACC opponent.

3) Middle Tennessee at UNC, 12:30 p.m. (CW22)

The Blue Raiders (1-0) have had success against the ACC, but the sledding will be significantly easier this week for the Tar Heels (0-1) and their potent offense.

Number to know

1985 Florida beat Miami 35-23 at the old Orange Bowl in the opener that year. The Hurricanes proceeded to win their next 58 home games, the longest streak in Division I history.

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