Our staff standings have tightened all the way through after a nice 6-1 week by Jeff. Grant continues to lead, but everyone has a chance to rally for the mythical championship.
Grant Atkinson: 52-7
Justin Cates: 50-9
Mike McDaniel: 49-10
Jeff Greenberg: 48-11
This week No. 11 Miami has another good test against Georgia Tech and a number of struggling teams hope to get important conference wins in match ups like Florida State-Duke and Boston College-Louisville.
On to the picks!
#2 Clemson (6-0, 4-0) (-22.5) @ Syracuse (3-3, 1-1), Friday 7 p.m. on ESPN
Justin Cates: Clemson wins.
I think the Orange will hang around at least for a while. Clemson is far too talented to drop one at the Carrier Dome, but I think Syracuse will cover.
Jeff Greenberg: Clemson wins.
Coach Babers said Clemson’s DL is “OMG”. He’s right and they will help the Tigers win in the road.
Grant Atkinson: Clemson wins.
Clemson has definitely made a case for themselves as No. 1 with their marquee wins this season. This isn’t exactly a resume builder, but it’s another win nonetheless.
Mike McDaniel: Clemson wins
This is an excellent opportunity for Syracuse to show what they’re made of against one of the nation’s top teams. Clemson enters this game beaten up on a short week, but they’re still Clemson, ranked 2nd in the country. I like Clemson to win this game, but would not be surprised in the slightest if the Orange keep this one close.
#20 NC State (5-1, 3-0) (-11) @ Pittsburgh (2-4, 0-2), Saturday 12 p.m. on ACCN Extra
Justin Cates: NC State wins.
The Wolfpack are playing the best football of the Dave Doeren era right now. This would be a classic trap game, that is if Pittsburgh wasn’t so bad. It should be a fairly straight-forward win for #TeamTuffy.
Jeff Greenberg: NC State wins.
NC State’s defense is the perfect unit to play when you’re trying to figure out your offense. Wait, no it isn’t.
Grant Atkinson: NC State wins.
At the beginning of the year, I predicted State would lose to the Gamecocks, which they did. However, I also said they were overrated, and they seem to be proving me wrong. They have really bounced back since that game and look like a very solid team. I see their momentum continuing against an underperforming Panthers team.
Mike McDaniel: NC State wins.
NC State is ROLLING right now, and that should continue on Saturday against Pittsburgh. The Panthers defense is one of the worst units against the pass in the country, and they face Ryan Finley who is one of the nation’s most efficient passers. Wolfpack should win this one in a runaway.
Florida State (1-3, 1-2) (-7) @ Duke (4-2, 1-2), Saturday 12 p.m. on ESPN2
Justin Cates: Florida State wins.
Both of these teams are struggling right now, but Florida State appears much closer to turning things around. James Blackman is getting more comfortable for the Seminoles while Daniel Jones looks like a freshman again.
Jeff Greenberg: Florida State wins.
Both of these teams come limping into this one after high expectations a few weeks ago. This biggest disappointment here is the Blue Devils’ offense. FSU’s defense is good enough to keep that disappointment going. Seminoles win.
Grant Atkinson: Florida State wins.
Florida State looked pretty good last week but simply lost to a talented Miami team. Duke, on the other hand, played in one of the ugliest games I’ve seen all season against UVA. Until Duke learns how to defend the pass, they are going to have a hard time beating anybody.
Mike McDaniel: Florida State wins.
It would be fun to pick Duke in an upset, but their offensive line has been terrible and the Florida State front seven has been one of the team’s few bright spots. I think FSU wins ugly, barely covering the touchdown spread.
Boston College (2-4, 0-3) @ Louisville (4-2, 1-2) (-21.5), Saturday 12:20 p.m. on ACCN Extra
Justin Cates: Louisville wins.
Lamar Jackson against the tough Eagles’ defense is an interesting match up. Anthony Brown and the BC offense absolutely have to make some noise, but I’m not expecting it. Jackson with a much-needed ACC win.
Jeff Greenberg: Louisville wins.
Louisville is better than they played in Raleigh. They will show it this week at home.
Grant Atkinson: Louisville wins.
Boston College is a team that will always hang around. They have a solid defense, and they are just hard to blow out no matter what the stats say> For this reason, I think the line is a little high, but Louisville should still win with no problem.
Mike McDaniel: Louisville wins.
I like the Cardinals in this spot against Boston College, but the Eagles should be able to cover. I don’t see Lamar Jackson running wild to the point where they cover three touchdowns, and because of that I think the Eagles can hang around a good bit thanks to their defense.
Georgia Tech (3-1, 2-0) @ #11 Miami (4-0, 2-0), Saturday 3:30 p.m. on ABC
Justin Cates: Miami wins.
This should be a great game between Coastal contenders. The Canes lost Mark Walton, but I’m confident Travis Homer will pick up the slack. Taquon Marshall will have to make plays against the best defense the Yellow Jackets have played.
Jeff Greenberg: Miami wins.
This game is an enigma. For once, the Yellow Jackets are the team that had a bye before a big game in the ACC. Miami will be tested here. I think Miami pulls it out in the fourth quarter.
Grant Atkinson: Miami wins.
The Coastal division may not be as talented as the Atlantic, but they have three very good football teams, and even a fourth with a shot at the division. Two of those teams face off in the first big interdivisional matchup. It should be a good one.
Mike McDaniel: Georgia Tech wins.
Everyone wants to proclaim that Miami is back, but then you remember that Malik Rosier has been largely underwhelming this season, and the Hurricanes are without stud running back Mark Walton for the rest of the season. Add a questionable Ahmmon Richards to the mix at receiver and all of a sudden it is solely the Braxton Berrios show for Miami. I think Georgia Tech could sneak in and surprise the Hurricanes here on the road, as their offense has been fantastic so far, and the defense has been improving every week.
Virginia (4-1, 1-0) (-4) @ North Carolina (1-5, 0-3), Saturday 3:30 p.m. on ACCN Extra
Justin Cates: Virginia wins.
North Carolina is heavily injured and searching for answers. Virginia is riding high after already matching the most wins the program has had since 2014. Expect them to knock out another one in Chapel Hill.
Jeff Greenberg: Virginia wins.
Virginia is off to its best start in a while. Now they have to show it on the road in a conference game. UVA in a close one.
Grant Atkinson: Virginia wins.
In the past, I would have said something about this game such as, “Can I root for a meteor to hit the stadium?” As that is probably frowned upon, I will just say that UVA will win a game between two teams that I really am not a fan of. At all.
Mike McDaniel: Virginia wins.
The Cavaliers are quietly becoming one of the most underrated teams in the ACC. Gone are the days of 2-10, in are the days of potential bowl eligibility. I like Virginia to win this game here and cruise by 10+ points in doing so, as they have become stout on defense and have improved their running game steadily throughout the season.