ITA Staff Picks: Week 11

Grant Atkinson: 66-17

Mike McDaniel: 63-20

Jeff Greenberg: 63-20

Justin Cates: 62-21

Things are starting to get messy after everyone tossed a 2-3 week. I’m looking for less staff unity, and more variety. The people want excitement and that’s what they’ll have.

On to the picks.


North Carolina (1-8, 0-6) @ Pittsburgh (4-5, 2-3) (-9), Thursday 7:30 p.m. on ESPN

Justin Cates: Pittsburgh wins.

This is not a very enticing game to Thursday night casuals or ACC diehards. Pitt has been playing much better as of late and Carolina is still heavily injured. With games remaining against Miami and Virginia Tech, this is a must win if a bowl game is in the cards.

Jeff Greenberg: North Carolina wins.

This is very tough for me. I really believe in the curse of the Carrier Dome, and yet Wake has really impressed me this year. With Dungey not 100%, I’m going with Wake.

Grant Atkinson: Pittsburgh wins.

Pittsburg has looked a lot better during the second half of the season. Outside of maybe the Miami game, UNC has not. Their woes will continue.

Mike McDaniel:  Pittsburgh wins

Anyone want to tell me why I should pick 1-8 UNC that’s ravaged with injuries? That’s what I thought.


#23 NC State (6-3, 2-3) (-3) @ Boston College (5-4, 3-3), Saturday 12 p.m. on ABC/ESPN2

Justin Cates: NC State wins.

NC State has let me down a couple weeks in a row now, and BC has been tough at home. I think BC will qualify for a bowl game some other day. State needs a rebound and they’ll get it by bringing the Eagles’ offense back to Earth.

Jeff Greenberg: Boston College wins.

Before the FSU game I said that I was all aboard the BC train, and they delivered. This is a crazy trap/hangover game for NC State. I’m still on the train.

Grant Atkinson: NC State wins.

NC State has got to be pretty disappointed coming off of last week where, in my opinion, the refs gifted the game to Clemson. State is the better team, and needs to avoid a letdown in Chestnut Hill.

Mike McDaniel:  NC State wins.

Boston College’s offense has caught fire, but I know better than to trust a Scot Loeffler-led offense. They have to come back to earth at some point, and I think Saturday is the day that it happens. I’m taking the ‘Pack.


#17 Virginia Tech (7-2, 3-2) (-3) @ Georgia Tech (4-4, 3-3), Saturday 12:20 p.m. on ACCN

Justin Cates: Virginia Tech wins.

The Hokies will have to get back to playing disciplined defense. A game of strict, assignment football might be a good thing. The Yellow Jackets are just kind of hanging around the lobby of the ACC, not really bothering anybody.

Jeff Greenberg: Virginia Tech wins.

Wow, give me this game in Blacksburg and I pick the Hokies easy. But in Atlanta, with Paul Johnson backed into a corner? Makes this a tough game to pick. My heart says the Yellow Jackets, my brain says Hokies. Virginia Tech wins but won’t be surprised if they don’t.

Grant Atkinson: Virginia Tech wins.

Well, I look like an idiot for picking the Hokies last week. They were barely ever in the game, and that was the worst offensive performance I’ve seen in a long time. If they are going to bounce back, they’ll need their receivers to do a much better job gaining separation outside. Against my better judgement, I’m picking them anyways.

Mike McDaniel:  Virginia Tech wins.

This should be a hard-fought game against two solid ACC teams. Georgia Tech has lost three games by a combined six points, lending them to be much better than their record may indicate. However, the Hokies have been great against the run all year, and I believe it will continue on Saturday, allowing Tech to escape in a close one on the road.


Duke (4-5) (-3) @ Army (7-2), Saturday 12 p.m. on CBSSN

Justin Cates: Army wins.

I did see part of Army’s early-season victory of Buffalo, so I’m not completely blind here. They’re a good team that runs the option well. They should pose problems for David Cutcliffe’s group. Just hang on to the football Daniel Jones.

Jeff Greenberg: Duke wins.

Oh boy, well, Duke is due, right? Blue Devils win in their pre-Georgia Tech option offense warm-up game.

Grant Atkinson: Duke wins.

This could be a really interesting game. Duke doesn’t have a very good run defense, and all Army does in run the ball. None the less, I think Cutcliffe will have his guys giving everything they can out there as they fight for bowl eligibility.

Mike McDaniel:  Army wins.

I think this was meant to be a tune-up game for Duke, as Army’s offense is very similar to the one that the Blue Devils will face against Georgia Tech a week from now. Joke is on the Blue Devils though, because Army is a good football team, and I think they will beat Duke on Saturday.

Wake Forest (5-4, 3-1), (-2.5) @ Syracuse (4-5, 2-3), Saturday 3 p.m. on ACCN Extra

Justin Cates: Syracuse wins.

This could be a really good game. I expect a lot of offense. Eric Dungey is the difference here. Even if he can’t go (he’s never 100%), I just have a feeling about the Orange. It should be a good dome environment too.

Jeff Greenberg: Wake Forest wins.

Syracuse is an enigma to me. Strong at home though. But Wake Forest has been more consistent.

Grant Atkinson: Wake Forest wins.

This is very tough for me. I really believe in the curse of the Carrier Dome, and yet Wake has really impressed me this year. With Dungey not 100%, I’m going with Wake.

Mike McDaniel:  Syracuse wins.

I love Wake Forest, but I don’t think they have nearly enough firepower to catch up to one of the most exciting offenses in the ACC. I think Wake will keep it close, but ‘Cuse will pull away late and capture the W behind the arm of Eric Dungey.


Florida State (3-5, 3-4), @ #4 Clemson (8-1,6-1) (-15.5), Saturday 3:30 p.m. on ESPN

Justin Cates: Clemson wins.

Not a good afternoon national TV timeslot here. This should get ugly fairly quickly.

Jeff Greenberg: Clemson wins.

Florida State barely got by Syracuse in a game that I thought they would lose. Clemson knows what’s at stake and the home crowd will too. In the end, this defense will be too much for Blackman to handle.

Grant Atkinson: Clemson wins.

Florida State is not good. At all. This rivalry has lost most of not all of it’s allure, at least for this season. This is a blowout waiting to happen.

Mike McDaniel:  Clemson wins.

Nothing I have seen out of Florida State makes me think that they will win this game. They could hang around though, because as bad as they’ve been, they are one of the few teams in the country who can hang with Clemson’s athleticism.


Virginia (6-3, 3-2), @ Louisville (5-4, 2-4) (-11.5), Saturday 3:30 p.m. on ESPNU

Justin Cates:Virginia  wins.

Who would have expected these teams to be battling for bowl position. Louisville has its hands full just gutting out one more win from UVA, Syracuse and Kentucky. I think Virginia gets back on track. It’s sad how badly Louisville is squandering you-know-who.

Grant Atkinson: Virginia wins.

Louisville-UVA might be a little content now that they have a bowl berth, or they may be hungry for more. I think the spread is too high and UVA will cover, but not win outright.

Mike McDaniel:  Louisville wins.

I think Virginia’s front seven can get after the Louisville offensive line, but Lamar Jackson should have just enough in the tank to help the Cardinals offense sneak by Virginia in what should be a competitive match-up.


#3 Notre Dame (8-1) (-3.5), @ #7 Miami (8-0), Saturday 8 p.m. on ABC

Justin Cates: Miami Wins wins.

I feel like Miami had a breakthrough last week and is as poised as ever to keep it rolling. Should be an epic game though.

Jeff Greenberg: Notre Dame wins.

I’ve seen both of these teams in person and up close. Notre Dame was the more imposing team. The game will be decided between the Irish OL and the Hurricanes’ DL. I give that edge to the Irish.

Grant Atkinson: Notre Dame wins.

Before last week, I wasn’t sold on Miami. Even though the Hokies played awful, Miami proved to me that they are for real. In addition, I was very surprised at the large amount of fans in Hard Rock Stadium. Notre Dame is so big and physical that they should win this game, but they will have their work cut out for them.

Mike McDaniel:  Notre Dame wins.

If Miami plays like they did a week ago, this should be a fantastic game. I’m taking Notre Dame to sneak by here behind an offensive line that has been one of the best in college football all year long. I believe that the Irish rushing attack will be just enough here in one of the most exciting games of the weekend.

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