ITA Staff Picks: Week Six

After tying Grant for first place following week four, Justin got brazen and went upset crazy last week. As Jeff attempted to warn him, that’s not usually the best strategy. The results were predictably bad and he went just 5-3. Grant and Mike both posted perfect weeks and Jeff only lost once.

Editor’s Note: I maintain that life isn’t worth living if you can’t be reckless on occasion. I stand by my crazed selections. -Justin

Grant Atkinson: 47-5

Justin Cates: 44-8

Mike McDaniel: 44-8

Jeff Greenberg: 42-10

This week presents the first Thursday night game with 17th-ranked Louisville and newly ranked No. 24 NC State. Florida State and Miami will attempt to finally play their game, though inclement weather once again threatens Florida, this time in the panhandle.

On to the picks!

#17 Louisville (4-1, 1-1) (-3.5) @ #24 NC State (4-1, 2-0), Thursday 8 p.m. on ESPN

Justin Cates: NC State wins.

It’s hard to ever count Louisville out with Lamar Jackson running the show, but he doesn’t have much help. The Wolfpack are playing well behind a somewhat surprising offense and an outstanding defensive line. #Tuffy logo for the win.

Jeff Greenberg: Louisville wins.

This could be the best game in all of college football this weekend. The atmosphere will be electric in Raleigh. I think Lamar Jackson will shine the brightest though. Louisville wins.

Grant Atkinson: NC State wins.

After a shaky start, NC State seems to be hitting its stride at the right time. This should be a high scoring affair, and I expect the home field to give the Wolfpack the edge.

Mike McDaniel:  NC State wins.

NC State’s got a weak secondary, but an excellent front seven. If the Wolfpack defensive line and linebackers can exploit an underwhelming Louisville offensive line, I like the chances of NC State defensively to slow down Lamar Jackson. Plus, the NC State offense is beginning to catch fire and they should roll a Louisville defense that has struggled so far.

Wake Forest (4-1, 1-1) @ #2 Clemson (5-0, 3-0) (-22), Saturday 12 p.m. on ESPN2

Justin Cates: Clemson wins.

This was nearly an unexpected match up of unbeaten squads, but Florida State outlasted the Demon Deacons in a close one last week. Clemson will do their thing as usual, but Wake is hardly a pushover.

Jeff Greenberg: Clemson wins.

Wow, I’d love to tell you that Wake Forest will shock the world here. What was more shocking to me was the ease of Clemson’s win in Blacksburg.

Grant Atkinson: Clemson wins.

After seeing them up close last weekend, here’s my observation: Clemson is absolutely incredible on defense. Kelly Bryant isn’t an elite passer yet, but honestly they don’t need him to be. The Tigers’ defense will help them keep pace with anyone in the nation.

Mike McDaniel:  Clemson wins.

Clemson should win this game comfortably, but don’t be surprised if Wake Forest’s defense keeps them competitive for a bit in this game.

Duke (4-1, 1-1) @ Virginia (3-1) (-2), Saturday 12:20 p.m. on ACCN Extra

Justin Cates: Duke wins.

Duke looked pretty bad against Miami, but that wasn’t enough for me to jump off the bandwagon. Virginia is much improved in year two under Bronco Mendenhall, but I don’t think they’re all the way back yet.

Jeff Greenberg: Virginia wins.

I don’t get why Virginia is favored. So I’m calling this one my upset pick.

Grant Atkinson: Duke wins.

Both of these teams have impressed me so far with only 1 loss each. However, it’s going to take a lot more for me to believe UVA will every be average or above again. I am not convinced yet.

Mike McDaniel:  Duke wins.

This is a true toss-up game for me, so I’ll take the Blue Devils because they have the better quarterback in Daniel Jones. However, if they struggle to protect up front once again, I think Virginia may have enough offense to beat them at home.

Pittsburgh (2-3, 0-1) @ Syracuse (2-3, 0-1) (-3.5), Saturday 12:30 p.m. on ACCN Extra

Justin Cates: Syracuse wins.

This will not be a wild barn-burner like last season. Pittsburgh is really struggling to move the ball consistently and the defense isn’t great. Syracuse hasn’t been amazing but they’re more than solid enough to take this one.

Jeff Greenberg: Syracuse wins.

I think the Orange are better than their record. Pitt is not. Dino Babers’ crew wins this week.

Grant Atkinson: Syracuse wins.

This is pretty much the exact opposite situation as the previous game, as both Syracuse and Pittsburgh have looked really bad this season. The team that avoids mistakes will win, so I’ll pick Syracuse at home.

Mike McDaniel:  Pittsburgh wins.

Pittsburgh is going to win this game because they have better players across the board at the skill positions outside of the quarterback. It’ll be a toss-up, and I don’t love the match-up of Pitt’s secondary going up against a pass-heavy Syracuse offense. With that being said, I think the Orange may make a couple of mistakes that could open the door up for Pittsburgh to seize control.

#13 Miami (3-0, 1-0) (-3) @ Florida State (1-2, 1-1), Saturday 3:30 p.m. on ESPN

Justin Cates: Miami wins.

Malik Rosier has been much better than I expected so far this season. Mark Walton is an absolute beast and the Canes’ defense has a number of playmakers. Florida State will be much more dangerous after another game or two of experience for James Blackman.

Jeff Greenberg: Miami wins.

Total loss trying to figure this game out. FSU’s rookie QB looks better but I can’t depend on the rookie.

Grant Atkinson: Florida State wins.

After having two games to shake the post-hurricane rust off, the Seminoles will face a different kind of Hurricane this weekend. I think that between the rivalry and Florida State underachieving so far, the ‘Noles will be out to prove themselves.

Mike McDaniel:  Miami wins.

Florida State can’t throw the football AT ALL right now. Until they get that whole thing figured out, it’s going to be tough for me to pick the Seminoles, especially against a Miami front seven that has done a good job so far this season of stopping the run.

#21 Notre Dame (4-1) (-14) @ North Carolina (1-4), Saturday 3:30 p.m. on ABC

Justin Cates: Notre Dame wins.

I’m not really sure how good Notre Dame is this season with a weak first half schedule. However, given Carolina’s situation I’m not sure it matters much here.

Jeff Greenberg: Notre Dame wins.

The injuries are too much to pick the underdog. Stranger things have happened in football, for instance if Brandon Wimbush doesn’t go for the Irish.

Grant Atkinson: Notre Dame wins.

Notre Dame has done a great job making a quick turnaround from a rough season last year. Meanwhile, UNC is riddled with injuries at virtually every position. This one could get ugly.

Mike McDaniel:  Notre Dame wins.

Notre Dame’s 7th-ranked rushing offense (301+ ypg.) is going up against North Carolina’s 113th-ranked rushing defense (220+ ypg.). That’s a bad match-up for an injury-riddled Tar Heels club, plus I don’t love their offense against an improving Notre Dame defense. The Irish should roll in this spot.

#16 Virginia Tech (4-1, 0-1) (-16.5) @ Boston College (2-3, 0-2), Saturday 7:15 p.m. on ESPN2

Justin Cates: Virginia Tech wins.

This won’t be a blowout like last season’s 49-0 Hokie romp. The BC defense should prove strong enough to keep things reasonable. I wouldn’t even be shocked if the Eagles cover. We’ll learn a lot about how Tech handles this game.

Jeff Greenberg: Virginia Tech wins.

Dangerous game for the Hokies coming off the emotional let down against Clemson. Boston College at home is always unpredictable. But, I’m going with the Hokies to win an ugly game.

Grant Atkinson: Virginia Tech wins.

The Hokies finally got another shot at the national stage last week, and honestly, they didn’t look quite ready for it. Nonetheless, they are well on their way towards major improvement, and they will look for a bounce back win in Chestnut Hill this Saturday.

Mike McDaniel:  Virginia Tech wins.

The Hokies will be looking to rebound after a tough loss in Blacksburg to #2 Clemson last weekend. The Hokies are simply the better team, and will be out looking for revenge against an underwhelming Boston College team in Chesnut Hill. I like the Hokies.

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