ITA Staff Picks: Week 13

Grant Atkinson: 77-24

Mike McDaniel: 75-25

Jeff Greenberg: 75-25

Justin Cates: 73-27

Good news everyone! We located the mislaid pick from Jeff and there’s an email chain that proves he in fact posted another W last week. That’s good news for those who don’t enjoy asterisks. I’m looking at you baseball fans.

We’ve got plenty of rivalry goodness for your holiday weekend and these picks should be delicious.



#2 Miami (10-0, 7-0) (-14) @ Pittsburgh (4-7, 2-5), Friday 12 p.m. on ABC

Justin Cates: Miami wins.

Miami has unlocked ‘vintage Hurricane mode’ and they’ve rocketed up to No. 2 in the College Football Playoff rankings. Let’s all say it together even if it’s through gritted teeth for some…The U is back baby! Who has tic-tacs?

Jeff Greenberg: Miami wins.

Man, this game could get interesting if Miami comes out flat again. It will be a cold weather game the Hurricanes haven’t dealt with before. But Miami still wins.

Grant Atkinson: Miami wins.

As predicted, Miami came out a little flat last week against UVA. Yet, they stayed resilient and won after scoring 30 unanswered points. As long as Miami avoids a disastrous loss against Pittsburgh, I will be forced to apologize for all my “U is back” jokes and admit that I was wrong about the Canes.

Mike McDaniel:  Miami wins

Miami had a bit of a wake up call last week as they stormed back from two touchdowns down to beat Virginia in their home finale. Despite being in a look ahead spot with the ACC Championship Game looming next week, I believe the Hurricanes will come out and play well on Friday against Pittsburgh, leaving little doubt in the outcome of the contest.


#25 Virginia Tech (8-3, 4-3) (-7) @ Virginia (6-5, 3-4), Friday 8 p.m. on ESPN

Justin Cates: Virginia Tech wins.

Sheer probability dictates that Virginia will win this game again, and this is the best chance in some time. The only thing about this game which I’m fairly confident in is that it will be competitive and probably a bit chippy. I’ll side with the better program.

Jeff Greenberg: Virginia Tech wins.

The Hokies are not playing inspired football right now. Of course, that goal line stand last week may have woken them back up. As much as it this smells of an upset, I think the Hokies will win.

Grant Atkinson: Virginia Tech wins.

Virginia Tech has beaten UVA 13 years in a row. As a Hokie, this is the most nervous I remember being during the streak. Tech’s offense is really struggling, and Kurt Benkert has looked pretty good. I’m still picking the Hokies, but the game is going to be close, and while I’m sitting in the stands, I’m going to be pretty stressed.

Mike McDaniel:  Virginia Tech wins

This will be a nail biter for Hokies fans, but Virginia Tech is the better team here and should win this one if they play to their capabilities on offense. Virginia is gritty and should hang around, but it’s hard to pick them until they show me that they can finally win in this rivalry game.


#7 Georgia (10-1) (-11) @ Georgia Tech (5-5), Saturday 12 p.m. on ABC

Justin Cates: Georgia wins.

Bulldog faithful have to have mixed feelings right now. They’re in the midst of a great season, and yet their former coach is having an even better one. Kirby Smart can only control what’s in front of him and the Yellow Jackets may be in for a long day Saturday.

Jeff Greenberg: Georgia wins.

Two week’s ago my pick may have gone to the Yellow Jackets. But that second half against Duke was awful. Bulldogs roll in this one.

Grant Atkinson: Georgia wins.

Georgia Tech got rolled by a Duke team last week that frankly has no business rolling anyone. Georgia may be looking ahead to a match-up with Alabama and a potential trip to the Playoff, but this is still a rivalry game, meaning Georgia should have no problem getting hyped for it.

Mike McDaniel:  Georgia wins

Georgia Tech is hosting #7 Georgia, their rivals, in a battle for bowl eligibility. Georgia Tech should come out locked in, especially after laying an egg last Saturday against Duke. It’s all or nothing for the Yellow Jackets and their bowl hopes on Saturday, but Georgia will simply be too much on both sides of the ball. I think the Bulldogs roll here.


Florida State (4-6) (-5.5) @ Florida (4-6), Saturday 12 p.m. on ESPN

Justin Cates: Florida State wins.

Man, this game has fallen a long way. Florida State probably has the better team, but this game stands to be a war of attrition. If James Blackman can avoid mistakes like he has lately —one interception in his last three games— then FSU should be in the clear.

Jeff Greenberg: Florida State wins.

This game is all sorts of ugly. The Seminoles are less ugly than the Gators. Florida State wins in a tune-up for their pivotal game against Louisiana-Monroe.

Grant Atkinson: Florida wins.

Everyone knows Florida has been a mess, and FSU knows they have to win out to make a bowl. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking (wanting FSU to lose because I’m tired of their fans talking about their unrecognized bowl streak), but somehow I think Florida has a good chance. Despite a disappointing season, this is still rivalry game at home, and hopefully the fans will show up.

Mike McDaniel:  Florida State wins

This is a battle of two awful football teams who are sitting at 4-6. There is no reason why anyone, outside of the respective fan bases, will be watching this football game. Florida State still has their head coach and a chance to make a bowl game with a win against Florida and a victory in an impromptu rescheduling of their Louisiana-Monroe game on ACC Championship weekend. Since the Seminoles have something to play for other than pride, I like them in this spot.


Louisville (7-4) (-10) @ Kentucky (7-4), Saturday 12 p.m. on SECN

Justin Cates: Louisville wins.

Lamar Jackson is the best player in the country. I don’t care what anyone says, the reigning Heisman winner has single-handedly won seven games for his club and has them in good position to win nine games. The man is an absolute magician.

Jeff Greenberg: Louisville wins.

One team is hot. One is not. Lamar Jackson is on fire and I’m riding him this game. The real question; is Bobby Petrino following Jackson out the door? Cardinals win.

Grant Atkinson: Louisville wins.

Just like Virginia and Virginia Tech, this is another rivalry that will be closer than it has been in a while. Kentucky wasn’t great this year by any means, but they improved from last year. Louisville was a complete letdown outside of Lamar Jackson. Again, I’m going with the favorite, but I certainly wouldn’t put money on the cover.

Mike McDaniel:  Louisville wins

Lamar Jackson is rolling and the Cardinals defense has been better in recent weeks. They are simply the more consistent football team heading into the game on Saturday, and I think that they win this one easily, exerting some payback after a tough loss to the Wildcats at home last season.


Boston College (6-5, 3-4) (-3.5) @ Syracuse (4-7, 2-5), Saturday 12:20 p.m. on ACCN Extra

Justin Cates: Boston College wins.

I’m sure BC fans are frustrated at times with Steve Adazzio, but overall I think he’s done a fine job with limited resources in Chestnut Hill. He’s got the Eagles headed to their fourth bowl game in five seasons and with a win here, they should be in a solid game. The Orange are lost with QB issues.

Jeff Greenberg: Boston College wins.

This game would have been a great one. But if Dungy is out? No chance. Boston College will ride the Dillon train to a win.

Grant Atkinson: Boston College wins.

Boston College is bowl eligible, and Syracuse is eliminated from bowl contention, so there won’t be any motivation on that front. However, BC should be out to prove that they really are a decent team. Even after a drubbing of Florida State, many continue to doubt the Eagles. If they win this and go 7-5, I think people will be forced to admit that they are a solid team.

Mike McDaniel:  Boston College wins

Syracuse should keep this competitive if Eric Dungey were to play, but if it’s Zack Mahoney once again for the Orange, it becomes a game that Boston College should win by a touchdown or two in my opinion. A.J. Dillon has been very good on the ground, and Syracuse’s defense has struggled mightily since basically the beginning of time. I like the Eagles to win comfortably.


Duke (5-6, 2-5) @ Wake Forest (7-4, 4-3) (-12), Saturday 12:30 p.m. on ACCN Extra

Justin Cates: Wake Forest wins.

Wake is playing about as well as anyone on offense right now (31st nationally in passing), and the defense has always been solid. Duke has a chance to earn a bowl berth, and after upsetting Georgia Tech last anything’s possible. I’ll side with the hot-handed John Wolford and Co.

Jeff Greenberg: Wake Forest wins.

Raise your hand if you had Wake Forest finishing in the top four in the ACC? Don’t lie. That’s what they can do with a win over Duke. The Demon Deacons have been “Clawesome” this year in big games.

Grant Atkinson: Wake Forest wins.

I’m not sure what’s gotten into Wake’s offense, but it’s pretty darn impressive. Over their last four games, they have averaged 43 PPG and are 3-1, with their only loss coming to a top 10 Notre Dame team. Wake is red hot, and sadly for Duke, I think the ‘Deacs will end their bowl hopes this weekend.

Mike McDaniel:  Wake Forest wins

Duke played their most consistent game of the season last Saturday, but I’ll consider their blowout win over Duke to be an aberration. The Blue Devils haven’t been consistent all year, and Wake Forest is playing great football right now. Give me John Wolford and the ‘Deacs to win a close game.


North Carolina (3-8, 1-6) @ NC State (7-4, 5-2) (-16.5), Saturday 3:30 p.m. on ESPNU

Justin Cates: NC State wins.

The Wolfpack has had an interesting season and despite some disappointment, they still have plenty to play for. Nine wins is still on the table and even if this one is competitive at first, Look for State to pull away.

Jeff Greenberg: NC State wins.

Throw the records out. The favored team has lost this game more than not the last ten years. The road team has won the last four. But the home team has the most experience this season.

Grant Atkinson: NC State wins.

I’ll admit that UNC has looked better during the past few weeks, but still not great. NC State had a really tough loss last week, and that can deflate a team. But let me tell you: NC State does NOT like the Tar Heels. This game is probably the most important one on the schedule to Wolfpack coaches and players, and I expect them to come out ready.

Mike McDaniel:  NC State wins

NC State will win here. They have the better team, and most notably, the better front seven. They’ll get after a UNC offensive line that has struggled all year and should force a couple of turnovers that will end up being the difference in the outcome.


#3 Clemson (10-1) (-14) @ #24 South Carolina (8-3), Saturday 7:30 p.m. on ESPN

Justin Cates: Clemson wins.

I’m looking forward to this one. It’s been a few years since this game was as competitive as state law would hope for. I think it’ll be a fine contest and I have no idea why the Tigers are favored by nearly two touchdowns. I envision a close game.

Jeff Greenberg: Clemson wins.

Surely Clemson is ready, right? They won’t let the Gamecocks hang around like FSU did, right? This game is dangerous for Dabo’s guys.

Grant Atkinson: Clemson wins.

ESPN has done a great job trying to hype up this game, but the truth is that it’s not going to be close. South Carolina snuck into the latest CFP rankings, but they really have no business being there. I think this game is going to get out of hand pretty fast.

Mike McDaniel:  Clemson wins


South Carolina is no joke this year, and is playing host to the #3 Tigers. South Carolina will be ready to play, but I think the Tigers will escape to set up a huge match-up in next Saturday’s ACC Championship Game.


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