InsideTheACC Staff Picks: Week Three Predictions

A few things before we dive into the picks this week.

First off, the ACC schedule is abbreviated this weekend due to the impending hurricane heading towards the Carolinas. Football is far from the most important thing happening this weekend in that region, so first and foremost for the readers out there in that area….please STAY SAFE this weekend.

Second, with two weeks of results in, it feels like a good time to update the people on our individual records are so far on our picks this season. Note that these records are reflective of our picks straight up, not against the spread. IT IS REAL TIGHT IN THE EARLY GOING….

Grant: 22-5

Joey: 22-5

Justin: 22-5

Mike: 22-5

Jeff: 20-7

Now, on to our Week Three picks. As mentioned, it’s a shorter slate this weekend due to the cancellations, but we’ll make it work as best we can. East Carolina vs. Virginia Tech, UCF vs. North Carolina, and West Virginia vs. NC State have all been cancelled for this weekend.

Here’s our best guess of the games that remain as we head into Week Three.

Here we go…

Thursday, September 13th

Boston College (2-0, 0-0 ACC) (-6) at Wake Forest (2-0, 0-0 ACC), 5:30 PM ET on ESPN

Grant: This game is moved up to 5:30, but it’s still going to be played, which is great news. Between Greg Dortch and AJ Dillon, this matchup features probably the two most prolific play makers in the ACC. I think BC is really underrated, and I expect them to get a win in a good game tonight.

Jeff: Hurricane prepping here in North Carolina, so these will be brief on my end this week…BC wins.

Joey: I’m going to have a hard time picking Wake Forest here, given their continued defensive struggles and Boston College’s dominant run game. Combine all of that with the windy conditions forecasted thanks to Hurricane Florence, which will impact Wake Forest’s ability in the passing game, and this is just really feeling like a win for Boston College. The D-Train continues to roll here.

Boston College 38, Wake Forest 28
Justin: I like both of these teams so this is a tough call. I’ll take BC, though I’m leery of their early returns being fools gold against inferior competition. The offense should be at least good enough though.

Mike: This is pretty simple for me…I trust Boston College and their ability to stop Sam Hartman and the Wake Forest offense a little bit more than I trust Wake Forest’s defense and their ability to stop All-ACC RB A.J. Dillon. Boston College wins here on the road and covers…barely. It should be highly entertaining at the very least.


Saturday, September 15th

Georgia Southern (2-0) at #2 Clemson (2-0, 0-0 ACC) (-33), 12 PM ET on ESPNU

Grant: Well, the Tigers proved me wrong last week, but not in a good way. I said they were going to kill Texas A&M, and they found a way to let the Aggies hang in until the very last second. Clemson will win this one, but they have some areas to clean up for sure.

Jeff: Clemson.

Joey: As of this writing, this game is (apparently) still going to be taking place, just earlier in the day. I’m not really sure how, but…sure. Clemson rolls here, but I’m going to take the points and play for a low-scoring game that’s heavily impacted by weather.

Clemson 34, Georgia Southern 3

Justin: Clemson got challenged in an instant classic week two match-up at Texas A&M. This week will be the opposite of that. Tigers win.

Mike: Clemson minus anything. I don’t care what the forecast says…they’ll cover with their dual quarterback system that has been quite effective through two games.


#21 Miami (1-1, 0-0 ACC) (-10.5) at Toledo (1-0), 12 PM ET on ESPN2

Grant: Last week when Miami won by 77 points, I thought that meant they had bounced back from a tough first game. Vegas, on the other hand, seems to think that Savannah State is just really bad, as evidenced by the fact that Miami is a relatively small favorite this week. I expect Miami to win, and I hope we will learn a little more about who they are this week.

Jeff: Miami

Joey: Miami pays a return visit to last year’s MAC Champions after the Rockets had one of their 3 losses of 2017 in Coral Gables. Toledo is a good team that won 9 games by double-digits last year on their way to an 11-3 finish. Despite all of that, they struggled to give the Hurricanes a decent game last year, and lost by 22 points. Miami has struggled of late, going 1-4 in their last 5 games, though 3 of the 4 losses have been against top-15 teams. I’m a bit wary of the team having negative momentum in general, but they’re just too talented to have this game sneak up on them. This is the only true road game in the first half of the schedule for Miami. I think they’ll be just fine here, but give me Toledo’s potent offense with the back door cover.

Miami 41, Toledo 33

Justin: Toledo will probably put up a fight, but Miami should be able to pull things together this week. Right?

Mike: This is an interesting little road test here for the Hurricanes as they head on the road to take on Toledo. Miami struggled with the Rockets at the outset last season before pulling away in the second half, and I would not be surprised to see the game this year follow a similar blueprint. Give me Miami to win, but until Malik Rosier proves otherwise, I’m not going to pick the Canes to cover any point spread.


Florida State (1-1, 0-1 ACC) (-2.5) at Syracuse (2-0, 0-0 ACC), 12 PM ET on ESPN

Grant: I will start by saying that I don’t think Florida State is really as bad as they have looked in the past two games. I think they were ill-prepared for a well-coached Virginia Tech team, and then they had a hangover from that on Saturday. That said, Syracuse has put up crazy amounts of points so far, and this game is the Carrier Dome. Syracuse wins

Jeff: Syracuse

Joey: Florida State has looked dreadful on offense in their first two games. While Syracuse’s defense isn’t particularly difficult to score on, the ‘Noles had a huge talent advantage over FCS Samford last week and struggled to score anyways. Not to mention, that game was at home, and not on the road in a Carrier Dome environment that has claimed bigger victims than this year’s FSU.

Going back to the start of last year, Florida State hasn’t really been the same since Deondre Francois went down in the second half against Alabama. I kept thinking they would get right last year, and it took them until Thanksgiving to do so. Now it’s looking like they’ve reverted to old form. I’m going to learn my lesson from last year and fade the ‘Noles. Give me the Orange and the points, and let’s take Syracuse to win in a STRAIGHT UPSET!
Syracuse 31, Florida State 27

Justin: This feels like the obvious “upset” pick this week. I think Syracuse can pull off their yearly upset at the Dome against a scuffling FSU squad. 

Mike: Everybody loves Syracuse this week, but I don’t love Syracuse’s defense…at all. Florida State’s offense is taking strides, even if it was in an unenthusiastic effort last Saturday against FCS-foe Samford. Florida State has too much talent, and everybody loves the Orange here. That’s why I’m taking Florida State to win, cover comfortably, and get things back on track.


Georgia Tech (1-1, 0-0 ACC) (-4.5) at Pittsburgh (1-1, 0-0 ACC), 12:30 PM ET on ACC Network Extra

Grant: Both these teams are coming off pretty disappointing losses last weekend. Georgia Tech was at least closer to winning than Pitt, but of course, the Yellow Jackets had a much easier opponent. I’m going to pick Georgia Tech because they have showed the ability to move the ball, but anything can happen at Heinz Field.

Jeff: Georgia Tech.

Joey: After last week’s loss to USF, Georgia Tech has now lost 5 straight true road games, and 7 of their last 9. More concerning is that, of those 5 road losses, they’ve held double-digit leads in 4 of them. I do think that Georgia Tech is a better team than Pittsburgh, and a home game would probably turn out similar to last year’s 35-17 result. Unfortunately, this is being played at Heinz Field. Maybe this is just emotional hedging, but I’m going to fade TaQuon Marshall and the Yellow Jackets on the road until they prove they can get it done away from home.

Pittsburgh 38, Georgia Tech 34

Justin: I don’t really like these teams right now. Trouble aplenty for both groups last week. Georgia Tech seems slightly more competent to me right now. 

Mike: This is one of the true toss-ups of the weekend in the ACC, as I really don’t think we know nearly enough about either of these two teams. Both teams self-destructed against their respective opponents last Saturday, so what are we really dealing with here? In a coin flip, I’m taking GT, even though they will be playing their first game without starting B-Back KirVonte Benson.


Duke (2-0, 0-0 ACC) at Baylor (2-0) (-6), 3:30 PM ET on FS1

Grant: It’s hard not to fell bad for Duke this week. After a very promising start to the season, they lose star CB Mark Gilbert for the season, and QB Daniel Jones is out indefinitely with a broken collarbone. It’s hard to imagine that he will be ready for the Blue Devils’ conference opener in just two weeks, and Duke will feel the absence of these players as Baylor wins this one.

Jeff: Baylor.

Joey: I said here (and on the Basketball Conference podcast) last week that I was sticking to my guns about Duke splitting the Northwestern and Baylor games. I was ready to eat crow and back off of that after they took care of business on the road against Northwestern, but the news about Daniel Jones and Mark Gilbert have me going back to my original prediction. I think Duke will keep this one close for a while, but unfortunately I think Baylor ends up winning this at the end of the day.

Baylor 31, Duke 20

Justin: Duke’s situation has taken a nosedive with the injuries to Daniel Jones and Mark Gilbert. It’s a major bummer that benefits Baylor with a win.

Mike: Duke is likely without quarterback Daniel Jones for the rest of the year. While Quentin Harris is capable, I’m not sure he will have enough in his first start to get Duke over the hump on the road. Baylor wins, Duke covers.


Ohio (1-0) at Virginia (1-1, 0-0 ACC) (-3.5), 4:30 PM ET on ESPN2

Grant: In an interesting weather twist, this game will now be played in Nashville at Vanderbilt’s stadium. I think this will be an advantage for Ohio, because if you thought this game would be ill-attended in Charlottesville, it will be that much worse in Tennessee. I probably would have picked Ohio even if it was in Charlottesville, but now I feel more confident in the Bobcats winning.

Jeff: UVA.

Joey: This game has been moved to Nashville, which adds a whole new set of complications when trying to pick against the spread. Ohio is a solid MAC program (finishing 9-4 and nearly winning the conference a year ago), but Virginia’s offensive production and identity have impressed me so far this year. I’m going to try not to overthink this one too much. Hoos get back on track in this home game, being played at a neutral site.

Virginia 31, Ohio 21

Justin: Virginia struggled against Indiana but should get on track this week.

Mike: IF, and a very BIG IF, Virginia gives 15 or more carries to running back Jordan Ellis, they win. If they don’t and instead try to rely on the inconsistent Bryce Perkins passing game, they’ll lose. I’m taking Virginia here, but it’ll be inside a field goal. ‘Hoos win, Ohio covers.


Western Kentucky (0-2) at Louisville (1-1, 0-0 ACC) (-22.5), 7:30 PM ET on ACC Network Extra

Grant: I can’t say I’ve had chance to watch Western Kentucky play this year, but I’m surprised that they are underdogs by such a large margin. Louisville has not really shown the ability to blow out anyone, including Indiana State. I still think the Cardinals will win, though, and maybe they will prove me wrong and put up 50 points.

Jeff: Louisville.

Joey: I would be a lot more concerned about Louisville in this game if Western Kentucky showed any semblance of being the program that was built there by Willie Taggart, Bobby Petrino, and Jeff Brohm. Mike Sanford has shot up through the coaching ranks and is a second-year FBS head coach at only 35 years old, but is looking like he’s going to take some time to build up the Hilltoppers after a (nice) 6-9 start to his tenure at WKU, most recently featuring a 31-28 home loss to FCS Maine that saw them blow a 21-0 lead. I’m still questioning how good the Cardinals will be this year, and while they should easily handle their business here against a Western Kentucky team that’s shaping up to be pretty bad — I’m still taking the points. (Apologies to my dad for disparaging his alma mater at the expense of his hometown team.)

Louisville 38, Western Kentucky 17 

Justin: Western Kentucky just lost a squeaker to Maine. I think Louisville’s got this.

Mike: A good amount of people are out on Louisville quarterback Jawon Pass. I am not one of those people. It is tough to judge a guy as a passer who faced Alabama (a top three defense) in the opener and Indiana State in a torrential rainstorm in the first two starts of his career. I think he gets back on track here, and more importantly, I think the Cardinals win and cover.

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