ITA Staff Picks: Week Five

The standings are tighter than ever after a wild week of ACC football. Everyone lost on Virginia’s impressive road win at Boise State. Only Justin correctly picked NC State’s upset over Florida State which ties him for the staff picks lead with Grant.

Grant Atkinson: 39-5

Justin Cates: 39-5

Mike McDaniel: 36-8

Jeff Greenberg: 35-9

This week we’ve got some outstanding match ups including a big test for undefeated Duke Friday night against Miami. Saturday night, Virginia Tech and Clemson will meet in a top 15 rematch of last year’s ACC Championship Game. It should be another great weekend for the conference.

On to the picks!

#14 Miami (2-0) (-6.5) @ Duke (4-0, 1-0), Friday 8 p.m. on ESPN

Justin Cates: Duke wins.

I’ve been on the Duke bandwagon all season so I’m not hopping off just yet. I’m not sure how confident I am, but Daniel Jones gives them a chance to beat just about anybody.

Jeff Greenberg: Miami wins.

This game has the makings of a classic. Duke’s defense will be quite the challenge for Miami’s new QB. The real question though is can Walton break through the Blue Devils rush defense? In the end, I think it’s Miami’s front 7 on D that wins this game.

Grant Atkinson: Miami wins.

If this game had been last week, Duke probably would’ve won. Now that Miami has had a chance to shake off the rust and Duke looked lackluster against the Tar Heels, I see the Canes winning.

Mike McDaniel:  Miami wins.

We’re going to learn a lot about both teams in this football game. Duke has the better quarterback, but Miami might have the best 21 starters after that. I like the Hurricanes to take this one over in the second half and win comfortably.

North Carolina (1-3, 0-2) @ Georgia Tech (2-1, 1-0) (-10), Saturday 12 p.m. on ESPN2

Justin Cates: Georgia Tech wins.

Carolina has been absolutely decimated by injuries, and they were struggling before the latest rash struck. I envision the Yellow Jackets making this one a cakewalk.

Jeff Greenberg: Georgia Tech wins.

This game should go to the favorite, unless two things happen. If the Yellow Jackets turn the ball over like last week, then UNC has a chance. If Georgia Tech takes the Tar Heels lightly, then UNC has a chance. My upset picks have not gone well so I’ll play it safe.

Grant Atkinson: Georgia Tech wins.

North Carolina looked as if they may pull off the upset last week for a minute there. Then, they went back to their old selves. Georgia Tech will run wild on this weak Tar Heel defense.

Mike McDaniel:  Georgia Tech wins.

North Carolina’s run defense is suspect, and Georgia Tech has one of the nation’s best rushing attacks. I’ll take the Yellow Jackets to roll.

Rice (1-3) @ Pittsburgh (1-3) (-20.5), Saturday 12 p.m. on ACCN Extra

Justin Cates: Pittsburgh wins.

Rice isn’t very good, so Pitt has a chance to work on some of the many issues that have cropped up so far. Whichever quarterback has a better day really needs to start the rest of the way. Confidence is key.

Jeff Greenberg: Pittsburgh wins.

This game won’t cross my mind again after I make this pick.

Grant Atkinson: Pittsburgh wins.

Pitt is another team that has looked really bad to start the season. For the sake of the ACC Coastal saving face, I hope they et back on track this week.

Mike McDaniel:  Pittsburgh wins.

Pittsburgh is a bad football team, but they are nowhere near as bad as Rice. Pittsburgh should take this one by a couple of touchdowns to pick up their second win.

Syracuse (2-2) @ NC State (3-1, 0-1) (-13), Saturday 12:20 p.m. on ACCN Extra

Justin Cates: NC State wins.

This is tricky. The Orange played great at LSU last week and State knocked off Florida State. I’ll take State in another close one. I think they have just enough defense and plenty of offense for a quickly improving ‘Cuse squad.

Jeff Greenberg: NC State wins.

Is this NC State team ready to take the next step? Yes, usually that would refer to game against the likes of Clemson. But after a big win against FSU, this is the type of game the Wolfpack have lost in recent years. Home field advantage and their defensive front will carry them through this time.

Grant Atkinson: NC State wins.

These are both teams that had a chance to stun some people in the ACC Atlantic Division. So far, Syracuse has been underwhelming, whereas State picked up a resume boosting win over Florida State last week. The Wolfpack will ride that momentum into this game.

Mike McDaniel:  NC State wins.

NC State is coming off one of the biggest wins in program history last weekend against Florida State. Will they ride the momentum to an easy victory against Syracuse, or will the Orange hang around and pick up an unlikely upset? I like Syracuse to play this one close but NC State should win.

Central Michigan (2-2) @ Boston College (1-3) (-7.5), Saturday 1 p.m. on ACCN Extra

Justin Cates: Boston College wins.

The Eagles’ defense is playing well, they just need the offense to back them up. The D held Clemson in check last week and the game was tied at seven heading into the fourth quarter. BC just needs a little offense and they’ll be scary.

Jeff Greenberg: Central Michigan wins.

Which BC team shows up? I can’t trust them either way so my upset pick this week is Central Michigan.

Grant Atkinson: Boston College wins.

Last Saturday, Boston College sacred the bejesus out of me. I thought they were about to upset Clemson and ruin the hype of one of the biggest games on the ACC schedule. Clemson ended up pulling away, but BC finally showed that solid defense we were expecting. Look for that to continue into this week.

Mike McDaniel:  Boston College wins.

Boston College put up a respectable showing against Clemson last week. If they play anywhere near that level on Saturday they should beat down Central Michigan. I don’t see BC playing quite as well as they did last week, so Central Michigan should hang around. However, I like BC to pick up the win in this spot.

Murray State (1-3) @ #17 Louisville (3-1), Saturday 3:30 p.m. on ACCN Extra

Justin Cates: Louisville wins.

This will be a major Lamar Jackson showcase. Something positive for Cardinals’ fans who had a bad week sports-wise.

Jeff Greenberg: Louisville wins.

This game will give Louisville fans a brief moment to focus on football. And I mean brief, because this game will be over quickly.

Grant Atkinson: Louisville wins.

Louisville scheduled themselves a cupcake filled non conference season. They will once again easily take care of an inferior opponent.

Mike McDaniel:  Louisville wins.

Will the Cardinals cover a SEVEN TOUCHDOWN SPREAD?!?! That’s the only question.

Florida State (0-2) (-7.5) @ Wake Forest (4-0, 1-0), Saturday 3:30 p.m. on ACCN Extra

Justin Cates: Wake Forest wins.

This may be a risky pick, but the Demon Deacons are better than people are giving them credit for. James Blackman showed plenty of promise last week, but he’s so small that he can’t keep taking so many hits. FSU needs to get the o-line fixed before another QB goes down.

Jeff Greenberg: Florida State wins.

Wow. Not easy to pick this one. FSU’s new QB had too much “throw-to-one-guy-itis” last week. If he does that again then the Demon Deacons will win. I think FSU will try harder to run their way to victory.

Grant Atkinson: Florida State wins.

I do’t expect Florida State to get upset two weeks in a row. I believe they were rusty last week, not to mention the fact that they lost their QB. While Wake has a chance to hang tight for a while in this one, I see FSU pulling away late.

Mike McDaniel:  Florida State wins.

The nation is off of the Florida State bandwagon after an uneven 0-2 start due to the loss of Deondre Francois at quarterback. There is zero question that Florida State is much more talented than Wake Forest, and they should take care of business against a solid (by Wake Forest standards) Demon Deacons squad on Saturday.

#2 Clemson (4-0, 2-0) (-7) @ #12 Virginia Tech (4-0), Saturday 8 p.m. on ABC

Justin Cates: Virginia Tech wins.

I’ve waffled on this game as well. I think there’s a distinct possibility the Hokies could be overly excited, but they seemed perfectly fine after a slow start in the ACC title game. The BC game gave me a lot of pause regarding Clemson. I still think they’re great, but they have work left to do. This will be an outstanding game.

Jeff Greenberg: Clemson wins.

Game of the week. Gameday in town. Enter Sandman is already playing. The Clemson D will be the first real test for the Hokies’ young QB. A test that may be too hard to pass. Clemson in a low scoring game sounds right here.

Grant Atkinson: Clemson wins.

Blacksburg is going to be absolutely rocking this Saturday night. College GameDay will be in town for the time in 10 years, and Lane Stadium will see its first Saturday night game of the Fuente era. Clemson is just too stacked for me to pick the Hokies, but I do think Virginia Tech will cover.

Mike McDaniel:  Clemson wins.

As an alum of the school, I want to pick Virginia Tech to win this game so bad. They should keep it close in Lane Stadium, and if they hold the Tigers to under 20 points, they could end up upsetting Clemson. However, at the end of the day,  Clemson has more depth and talent across the board, which should be enough to push them over the top on Saturday night in Blacksburg.

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