Another crazy conference week leaves the standings as tight as ever after rough records across the board.
Grant Atkinson: 59-12
Justin Cates: 56-15
Mike McDaniel: 55-16
Jeff Greenberg: 54-17
On to this week’s picks.
Florida State (2-4, 2-3) (-4) @ Boston College (4-4, 2-3), Friday 8 p.m. on ESPN
Justin Cates: Boston College wins.
I have a good feeling about BC which may be misplaced. A newfound offensive punch has got things headed in the right direction. Anthony Brown threw for 275 yards and three touchdowns against a good Virginia defense. The Seminoles could be in trouble.
Jeff Greenberg: Boston College wins.
I’m hopping aboard the Boston College train! Upset time in Chesnut Hill.
Grant Atkinson: Florida State wins.
If Florida State wants to make a bowl, this is a must win game. Assuming that they will lose to Clemson, they have to win the other four in order to become bowl eligible.
Mike McDaniel: Florida State wins
I feel good about this one. This will finally be the week that Florida State covers a spread (they have not done so all year). Boston College has scored 86 points the last two weeks and feel great about themselves, but given the track record of the Scot Loeffler offense, it is sure to come to a screeching halt against a defense as good as Florida State’s.
#8 Miami (6-0, 4-0) (-20) @ North Carolina (1-7, 0-5), Saturday 12 p.m. on ESPN2
Justin Cates: Miami wins.
UNC has a few bright spots like freshman running back Michael Carter (403 yards, seven touchdowns), but Miami will cruise to a win in this one. That’s something they could use after some close finishes.
Jeff Greenberg: Miami wins.
UNC to Miami(Crocodile Dundee voice)…”That’s not an injury report. THIS is an injury report.” Miami wins.
Grant Atkinson: Miami wins.
I’m still not completely sold on Miami, but UNC is just falling apart. The Heels might not win another game this season.
Mike McDaniel: Miami wins.
Pray for North Carolina.
Louisville (5-3, 2-3) (-3) @ Wake Forest (4-3, 1-3), Saturday 12:20 p.m. on ACCN Extra
Justin Cates: Louisville wins.
The Cardinals showed enough life to get things done last week. As long as they give Lamar Jackson any kind of help (far from guaranteed) that should be enough for a win. Wake is in a bit of a rough spot right now.
Jeff Greenberg: Wake Forest wins.
The revenge of WakeyLeaks? I think so. Wake Forest in a squeaker at home.
Grant Atkinson: Wake Forest wins.
I thought Louisville’s defense was really bad because of their performance against BC, but then the Eagles put up 40+ points again. Still, I think Louisville is very thin on talent, and Wake has the home field.
Mike McDaniel: Wake Forest wins.
Wake Forest’s defense will do just enough to contain Lamar Jackson and John Wolford and company should find a way offensively to manufacture enough points in this spot.
Virginia (5-2, 2-1) @ Pittsburgh (3-5, 1-3) (-3), Saturday 12:30 p.m. on ACCN Extra
Justin Cates: Virginia wins.
The Hoos fell flat a week ago against a lesser opponent, we’ll see what they learned in that one. Pitt looked decent in a surprising win last week, so it goes without saying there are no more gimmes left on the schedule.
Jeff Greenberg: Virginia wins.
Both teams had surprising outcomes last week. UVA got their wakeup call.
Grant Atkinson: Virginia wins.
Virginia, who was beginning to receive some hype, got knocked down a peg after losing to BC this week. I look for them to have bounce back game at an empty Heinz Field.
Mike McDaniel: Virginia wins.
This will be the week that they finally reach bowl eligibility. ‘Hoos win outright.
#14 NC State (6-1, 1-2) @ #9 Notre Dame (6-1) (-7.5), Saturday 3:30 p.m. on NBC
Justin Cates: NC State wins.
Notre Dame has failed to defeat the Wolfpack in the school’s previous two football meetings including last year. The Irish are also a running team going against a stout defensive front that ranks 6th overall against the run (91.3 YPG). Both teams will have to have success in the air and that favors State.
Jeff Greenberg: Notre Dame wins.
National game of the week. A TON on the line for both teams, both figuratively and literally. Whoever wins the matchup between the Irish offense and the Wolfpack defense will win the game.
Grant Atkinson: Notre Dame wins.
This is a very intriguing matchup. For the first time this year (in my opinion), the Wolfpack have a real chance to prove themselves. Notre Dame is probably the better team, and while State might cover, I don’t seem them knocking of the Irish. However, since I hate ND and how they basically take advantage of the ACC, I hope I’m wrong.
Mike McDaniel: Notre Dame wins.
Much has been made about NC State’s 6th-ranked rushing defense going up against Notre Dame’s 6th-ranked offense, and rightfully so. However, I think Notre Dame’s defense, which has been one of the top defenses in all of college football this season, will be the difference in a hard fought game in South Bend.
Duke (4-4, 1-3) @ #13 Virginia Tech (6-1, 2-1) (-15.5), Saturday 7:15 p.m. on ESPN2
Justin Cates: Virginia Tech wins.
The Hokies went off on an injury-riddled Carolina program last week, this time it’s limping Duke coming to town. The Blue Devils have lost three consecutive games by a touchdown, so while this should be somewhat close the Hokies have the edge.
Jeff Greenberg: Virginia Tech wins.
It’s simple. The Hokies are rolling now. The Blue Devils are tumbling.
Grant Atkinson: Virginia Tech wins.
Rain is in the forecast, Cutcliffe has had success against the Hokies, and Virginia Tech is looking ahead to a huge matchup at Miami next week. That said, this game may not be particularly pretty. I still think the Hokies will win, but the line seems too high.
Mike McDaniel: Virginia Tech wins.
Virginia Tech wins and covers here but Duke should ugly it up enough with their defense to keep things interesting, especially if the rain becomes a factor and the Hokies have trouble running the football.
Georgia Tech (4-2, 3-1) @ #7 Clemson (6-1, 4-1) (-14), Saturday 8 p.m. on ABC/ESPN
Justin Cates: Clemson wins.
This pick doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. Both of these teams are strong but have shown weakness in recent weeks. The bye week came at the right time for the Tigers however and they should be geared up for the option attack.
Jeff Greenberg: Clemson wins.
Will the Clemson defense rebound from the Syracuse letdown? They’ll need to if they want to beat the Yellow Jackets.
Grant Atkinson: Clemson wins.
Georgia Tech is better than their record shows, but not better than Clemson. That’s especially true since Clemson’s last game was a shocking loss and they had a bye week to think about. Clemson will come out very sharp and focused, and the Yellow Jackets will have to play a near perfect game to give themselves a chance.
Mike McDaniel: Clemson wins.
I like Clemson here, but they better be careful. Georgia Tech is well-coached and perfectly capable of winning the time of possession battle, which more often than not prevents blowouts.