Around the ACC Week 13 Preview

  • Miami @ Pittsburgh, Friday 12 p.m. on ESPN2
  • Louisville @ Kentucky, Saturday 12 p.m. on SEC Network
  • #1 Clemson @ South Carolina, Saturday 12 p.m. on ESPN
  • Virginia Tech @ Virginia, Saturday 12 p.m. on ESPNU
  • Georgia @ Georgia Tech, Saturday 12 p.m on ESPN2
  • Boston College @ Syracuse, Saturday 12:30 p.m. on ESPN3
  • Duke @ Wake Forest, Saturday 12:30 p.m. on ESPN3
  • #14 North Carolina @ N.C. State, Saturday 3:30 p.m. on ABC
  • #13 Florida State @ #12 Florida, Saturday 7:30 p.m. on ESPN


Miami (7-4, 4-3) @ Pittsburgh (8-3, 6-1)

An interesting match up kicks off the ACC’s holiday weekend with two teams generally trending up. Pitt has rebounded from the team’s first ACC loss and is looking to solidify an upper-tier bowl invitation, while Miami is trying to finish the regular season 4-1 under interim coach Larry Scott who has done a tremendous job of rallying the troops in south Florida. The styles will contrast a bit with Miami looking to pass heavily and Pitt looking to run the football, control the clock, and play great defense. Qadree Ollison cracked the 1,000-yard mark last week (1,011) and his strong running gives the Panthers an advantage over a Hurricane running game that’s somewhat by committee and enters as just the 112th best rushing attack nationally.


Louisville (6-5, 5-3) @ Kentucky (5-6, 2-6)

This is the first of the rivalry games we’ll preview that has a team fighting for a bowl berth. Kentucky is in this spot because of three close losses. The Wildcats fell to Vanderbilt by four, Auburn by three, and Florida by five points early in the season. They’re not a bad team but clearly they’ve had issues closing games. Louisville still doesn’t have a starting quarterback as evidenced by pulling Kyle Bolin last week in favor of Lamar Jackson. The Cardinals are going to a bowl regardless of the outcome, but frankly it’s difficult to have much confidence in a team that still has questions at the most important position on the field.


#1 Clemson (11-0, 8-0) @ South Carolina (3-8, 1-7)

South Carolina is a really bad football team. They’ve lost four straight including a rock-bottom home loss last week to The Citadel. It’s still hard to believe that the gamecocks opened the season with a win over North Carolina. That eight losses and one head coach ago though it seems like longer. Clemson has to be wary of the dreaded look-ahead factor, but a road game against their biggest rival should provide plenty of focus. I have a feeling Dabo is going to pile on the points if he gets the chance.


Virginia Tech (5-6, 3-4) @ Virginia (4-7, 3-4)

This could be Frank Beamer’s last game if the Hokies can’t pull off the program’s 12th consecutive victory in the battle for the Commonwealth Cup. Sheer odds tell us that UVA has to get a win one of these days, and the Cavaliers have been playing much better in recent weeks. The game is approaching a sellout, though many of those late ticker buyers are Hokies trying to see Beamer win one more time in Charlottesville. These are evenly matched teams that should provide a close game.


Georgia (8-3, 5-3) @ Georgia Tech (3-8, 1-7)

It’s laughable that Mark Richt could be coaching for his future with a likely second place finish in the SEC East and a shot to win 10 games still on the table. Proof positive that SEC fans are absolutely nuts. Georgia Tech is playing for pride, but it’s hard to have much motivation the way things have been going this season. The Yellow Jackets are extremely young, and even at the end of the season that’s still a factor when it comes to managing emotions in big games. I won’t be shocked if this game is close, but I can’t see Georgia Tech pulling this one off especially with the uncertain health of quarterback Justin Thomas.


Boston College (3-8, 0-7) @ Syracuse (3-8, 1-6)

The winner in this one will at least finish in a tie for ‘not last’ in the Atlantic Division depending on what Wake Forest does Saturday. Syracuse fired its head coach this week when Scott Shafer was let go, but he’ll prowl the sidelines one final time for the Orange after losing eight straight. BC has only lost seven straight, but it would be splitting hairs to say one team is playing noticeably better than the other. The Eagles do have a chance to do something unthinkable if they can finish the season as they stand now with the No. 1 defense in the country, and the 127th (last place) offense statistically speaking. Advantage goes to the Boston College defense in this one if the Eagles can make some field goals.


Duke (6-5, 3-4) @ Wake Forest (3-8, 1-6)

The wheels have completely come off for Duke since falling in heartbreaking (and controversial) fashion to Miami on that outrageous return in the closing moments back in October. They still have more talent than Wake and Duke is a better team, but the negative momentum is strong. The Demon Deacons play some tough defense, particularly against the pass where they rank 31st nationally. Duke needs to establish the run and not just in the form of quarterback Thomas Sirk who is the team’s leading rusher (591 yards, 5 touchdowns). Shaquile Powell and Jela Duncan need to get it going for the Blue Devils to right the ship.


#14 North Carolina (10-1, 7-0) @ N.C. State (7-4, 3-4)

The Wolfpack still have the 13th best total defense in the nation despite allowing 56 points to Clemson and 34 to Florida State in recent weeks. That’s a highly-inflated number padded by a weak early schedule, but the squad is certainly capable. If they can find a way to pressure Marquise Williams the way Virginia Tech did last week while still defending the run however, they could pull a shocker in Raleigh. The Tar Heels just have to keep on keepin’ on so to speak, even if it takes another close win to stay in the playoff picture, theoretically at least. A win here and a win over Clemson in the ACC title game would make it awful tough for the committee to keep UNC out without a riot and demands for an expanded playoff field (yes please).


#13 Florida State (9-2, 6-2) @ #12 Florida (10-1, 7-1)

This game suddenly became like the good old days when both teams were highly ranked and the stakes were high. Much like Carolina, Florida is on the outside of the playoff looking in with a chance for rapid advancement. If they can find a way to win at home this weekend and then win the SEC title game the following week, there’s no way they’re watching the national semifinals on television. Dalvin Cook wasn’t listed on the Seminoles’ injury report this week, but he’s been very banged up down the stretch. Sean Maguire has played well since becoming the starting quarterback and while he isn’t flashy, he seems to have provided some stability for a Jimbo Fisher offense that’s just been missing something this season. Either way, this should be the game of the weekend out of this list.

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