Week 1 Game Picks
No more preseason. No more hypothetical. We have a full slate of real football games this weekend. The ACC has a beautiful schedule with 12 games over 5 days beginning with the Backyard Brawl Thursday night and being capped off with Clemson and Georgia Tech on Labor Day. This year, I'm bringing you a new weekly segment where me and one of my long-time friends, "Woodrow's Winners", will be picking every ACC game head-to-head against the spread and giving a quick breakdown of the matchup. He and I have been talking football since we were about 8 years old, breaking down George Wythe High School football on Friday nights and the Hokies on Saturdays. He remains a big Hokie fan, while I shifted to the Good side, but that rivalry just brings a fun spiciness to our football banter. The article will essentially look a lot like what our text messages do every Saturday during the fall, but we hope you enjoy it, and I can't wait to beat him.
*Note: we will be using early week lines which can and will change by the time you read this*
West Virginia at Pittsburgh (-7.5)- Thursday 7:00 PM ESPN
Woodrow's Winners: JT Daniels vs Kedon Slovis is a low-key hilarious QB matchup. Both have fallen off tremendously since they both got the early USC buzz we've seen so often. Slovis has at least shown he has what it takes to put together a good season at the P5 level. QBs on their third stop don’t inspire much confidence and Narduzzi has Pitt humming recently—Panthers win by double digits.
The ACC Guru: I absolutely love that the Backyard Brawl is back. I'll be glued to the TV for this one tomorrow. Pitt's defense is better than what WVU is used to in the Big 12. I'm with WW on this one, give me Pitt.
VMI at Wake Forest (-31.5)- Thursday 7:30 PM ACCN
Woodrow's Winners: VMI has become a respectable FCS program over the past few seasons and with Sam Hartman out, I think there is a chance they can cover here. Wake is such a tough team to defend and regardless of who is behind center they’ll put up points, but give me VMI here as Wake stumbles out of the gate and just can’t catch a big number in the second half.
The ACC Guru: I absolutely love Scott Wachenheim and what he's done at VMI. Making the playoffs at VMI in any year is a huge accomplishment, but I don't expect this team to be as good as the one from a couple years ago. Wake on the other hand has tons of talent, but a question at QB. I think the system prevails and Wake can still cover.
Virginia Tech (-8.5) at Old Dominion- Friday 7:00 PM ESPNU
Woodrow's Winners: Brent Pry SZN gets underway this week and he’s brought a toughness back to Blacksburg we haven’t seen since the Beamer era. Grant Wells is an upgrade at QB and he has a few weapons in his arsenal in Kaleb Smith (Red Zone target) and Da’Wain Lofton. 2021 Breakout running back Malachi Thomas is out for the first few weeks, but there is enough talent around Wells to put up points on the road at ODU. The Monarchs offensive coordinator resigned in fall camp which is never a good sign. I’ll take the Hokies and the points in Pry’s debut.
The ACC Guru: I'm on record saying that VT has the right guy in Pry, but I don't think the success comes this year. This is a terrible position for the Hokies to have to open up on the road against an in-state G5 team. The Hokies might win this one, but I expect ODU to keep it within a TD.
Temple at Duke (-7)- Friday 7:30 PM ACCN
Woodrow's Winners: Duke was so bad last year they finally had to part ways with David Cutcliffe. I have no idea what to expect out of the Blue Devils, but imagine an improved defense has to be on the cards with Mike Elko. God knows what Temple is going to put out there, so I’ll cautiously take the Blue Devils but this is the lowest confidence pick of the bunch.
The ACC Guru: I'm with WW saying that there is no confidence with this game, but I have no confidence for Duke to do anything this year. The Blue Devils are 119 (out of 131) in the country in the SP+ preseason rankings (Temple is actually 124), but I think this pillow fight will be a field goal game either way. Give me Temple and the points.
NC State (-11) at East Carolina- Saturday 12:00 PM ESPN
Woodrow's Winners: The Wolfpack return tons of production and are some people’s sleeper in the ACC and nationally. I really like Devin Leary and he has the potential to be the ACC POTY. What I hate is any team going on the road, to a little-brother type rivalry game to open the season. ECU returns over 70 percent of their overall production and most importantly their QB. Taking the Pirates ATS and while I think NC State wins outright, a little sprinkle on the money line for a home double digit dog never hurt anyone.
The ACC Guru: NC State is a team with a ton of hope, but again, having to open on the road to an in-state G5 team is a bad combo. NC State is 1-3 all time in Greenville. I'm temped to take the Pirates outright, but I think Leary bails them out late. NC State to win, but ECU to cover.
Rutgers at Boston College (-7)- Saturday 12:00 PM ACCN
Woodrow's Winners: Phil Jurkovec and that BC toughness should be enough to cover a touchdown at home against Rutgers. Sleepy noon kickoff in Chestnut Hill makes this “must miss” TV but BC handles their business before a big trip to Blacksburg next week.
The ACC Guru: I completely agree with WW on this one. Boston College has the toughness in their program that Greg Schiano wishes he had at Rutgers. The Eagles take care of business at home.
North Carolina (EVEN) at Appalachian State- Saturday 12:00 PM ESPNU
Woodrow's Winners: Our third P5 on the road against the little brother game of the weekend. This one falls more in line with ECU than it does ODU. App is notoriously hard to beat in Boone and UNC is notoriously flimsy on defense. Chase Brice had a great 2021 and fully expect them to feed off a home crowd. App State wins.
The ACC Guru: This is the 3rd straight game that I agree with WW, and another spot where the big boy has to go on the road to an in-state G5 team. I think this is the game I'm looking to most all weekend. I wish I could be in Boone Saturday, it's going to be an absolute party. App State outright with the home field advantage.
Richmond at Virginia (-25)- Saturday 12:30 PM RSN/ESPN3
Woodrow's Winners: Brennan Armstrong will come out and put up points. The biggest question for UVA this season is can their defense stop anyone? That was a resounding no last season. Richmond wasn’t great in 2021 and UVA should win this comfortably—25 points comfortably? I think so.
The ACC Guru: I'm very interested to see the schematic changes made to UVA's offense and defense from last year. One thing that is major known commodity that is back is Brennan Armstrong and his ability to put points on the board. I think this is a great game for UVA's inexperienced O-line to get their feet wet. The Hoos should have the better talent across the roster; although, I think the Spiders will have a sneaky good offense this year. UVA by 4+ TDs.
Bethune-Cookman at Miami (-45.5)- Saturday 3:30 PM ACCN
Woodrow's Winners: Canes 1H, game and team total. Don’t believe that the U is back, but back enough to make easy work of Bethune-Cookman.
The ACC Guru: Canes BIG. Tyler Van Dyke starts off his Heisman campaign with 5 touchdowns. This number can't be big enough.
Louisville at Syracuse (+4)- Saturday 8:00 PM ACCN
Woodrow's Winners: Will not be touching this game with a ten foot pole with my actual bets this week, but there is just something about Syracuse as a home dog that I love--but not today. Garrett Shrader is an interesting QB with a lot of P5 experience, but he just isn’t Malik Cunningham. Give me the better QB in this one and Louisville covers, just barely.
The ACC Guru: I'm with WW again on this one. Syracuse is always a tough out in the Carrier Dome (I know it's not the Carrier Dome anymore, but it will also always be the Carrier Dome), but they don't have Malik Cunningham. It doesn't hurt that Louisville has quite a few guys that will be playing on Sundays sprinkled across their roster. Louisville by a TD.
Florida State (+3) at LSU- Sunday 7:30 PM ABC
Woodrow's Winners: FSU hasn’t been able to compete with the big boys since Jimbo left. While I think this is the best team they’ve had since then, I just can’t trust them. LSU has some QB issues and starting outside the Top 25 for the first time in what feels like forever, but FSU hasn’t won a marquee season opener since 2016 (under Jimbo!). Trend continues as LSU covers.
The ACC Guru: FSU actually won their opener of any kind last week against Duquesne, but WW is right about the Noles not showing up in marquee games since the Jimbo days. I thought FSU and their running game looked great last week, but I still expected this to be a TD plus line. This line stinks. I'm taking Florida State even though my brain tells me otherwise.
Clemson at Georgia Tech(+21)- Monday 8:00 PM ESPN
Woodrow's Winners: QB is still a big question mark for Clemson, but they can’t have two bad seasons in a row. 10 wins should be back on the table, especially with Notre Dame being their big out of conference game. This is Geoff Collins’ last chance at GT and I think they have a talented QB in Jeff Sims. He’s entering his third year in the ACC and has to take that step forward. They weren’t as bad as their record made them out to be and were completely useless with Sims missing the last few games. Give me Clemson here in a game to send a message to the rest of the conference that they are indeed back to regularly scheduled programming.
The ACC Guru: Dabo came out this week and said that this is still DJ Uiagalelei's team. I don't know if that's actually true or he's just trying to instill some confidence in his QB. Either way, Clemson is the way better team. They have better weapons, bigger and more talented linemen, and maybe the best defense in the country, but Georgia Tech found a way to keep it close last year with way less talent. I'll take the Jackets to cover, but Clemson to win by 2 TDs.