It’s already Week Four and we are starting to move into conference play for many teams around the ACC. There are still more questions than answers for the conference at this point, as a handful of teams are readying themselves to play just their third game of the season due to the hurricane cancellations a week ago. There are a few pretty interesting games this weekend in the ACC, so let’s get rolling. But first, an update on the standings…
Mike went bold and picked Florida State last week (LOL), which is a mistake he will not be making again this week, even against a mediocre Northern Illinois team. Jeff has life stuff happening and couldn’t get his picks in this week, so we will catch up with him in Week Five. But for now, let’s take a look at this weekend’s slate.
Here we go…
Saturday, September 22nd
#8 Notre Dame (3-0) (-6.5) at Wake Forest (2-1, 0-1 ACC), 12 PM ET on ABC
Grant: This is one of the sneakier games of the week. Notre Dame is obviously the better team, but they have been letting other opponents hang around too long. Do that with Wake, and it may come back to bite them. I am picking the Irish to win, but they should not overlook this game.
Joey: The Irish haven’t looked great on offense so far this year, while the Demon Deacons have shown they can score points. Then again, Notre Dame’s defense is outstanding, and Wake Forest’s true freshman quarterback throwing into that defense is a recipe for disaster. Let’s take Wake and the points, but Notre Dame survives Winston-Salem with a win.
Justin: The Irish have looked pretty inconsistent so far. Brandon Wimbush leaves me underwhelmed and I love this Wake team. I see an upset on Tobacco Road.
Mike: The Irish have labored through their last two games after a huge victory in the opening weekend at home against Michigan. If Wake Forest can stop the run and force Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush to throw, things could get very interesting in Winston-Salem. Will Brian Kelly play two quarterbacks more often in the football game? What will Notre Dame’s offense look like? Most importantly, will Wake Forest freshman quarterback Sam Hartman avoid making a costly mistake against a very good Notre Dame defense? This will be a fun one, but I think Hartman turns the ball over one too many times for Wake to pull out the upset. They WILL cover though in another nail-biting win for ND.
#23 Boston College (3-0, 1-0 ACC) (-6.5) at Purdue (0-3), 12 PM ET on ESPN2
Grant: I am finally sold on Boston College. They have looked better and better every week, and it looks like they have an actual QB to go along with their All-ACC RB. The Eagles win here and cover the spread, which is too low in my opinion.
Joey: Boston College comes off of a big Thursday night road win over Wake Forest and now heads to Lafayette to take on a Purdue team that has disappointed so far this year. The Eagles seem to have figured things out on both sides of the ball and are really playing at a high level. They’ll be a road favorite here, but playing at home hasn’t yet really benefited Purdue this year — they’re 0-3, with all three losses coming at home. Boston College rolls here.
Justin: I think Purdue is improved but so is BC. The Eagles keep rollin’.
Mike: Purdue could easily have two wins already but have let mistake cost them in a couple of early season games. Rondale Moore is a star at wide receiver and can break the game wide open at receiver for Purdue. However, BC is rolling right now on offense, and I’m not sure Purdue can stop them. Give me BC to win and cover on the road.
Pittsburgh (2-1, 1-0 ACC) (-3.5) at North Carolina (0-2, 0-0 ACC), 12:20 PM ET on ACC Network Extra
Grant: UNC benefitted from an unforeseen bye week as well, but they will still have some key players suspended for this matchup. Pittsburgh is coming off a good win against Georgia Tech, even if it wasn’t always pretty. I fear this could be another somewhat ugly one, but the Panthers get the win.
Joey: I don’t imagine this game being much of a sight for sore eyes. Pittsburgh beat my Yellow Jackets last week, but only after Georgia Tech shot themselves in the foot in the first half and gave the Panthers a chance to build a 21-0 halftime lead. They hung on to win 24-19, but from watching the second half, it just didn’t feel like the better team won. Pitt travels to Chapel Hill, which is home to a football team having some really big problems lately. I might not think particularly well of the Panthers right now, but I damn sure don’t feel better about UNC. Pitt wins and covers here.
Justin: Neither of these teams appear to be particularly good. Pitt wins on a coin flip and because they have a quarterback.
Mike: Give me a reason to pick North Carolina right now…I’ll wait. Pitt wins.
Louisville (2-1, 0-0 ACC) at Virginia (2-1, 0-0 ACC) (-5.5), 12:30 PM ET on ACC Network Extra
Grant: I have been heavily doubting UVA, but they are starting to prove me wrong. I’m not saying they’re going to go challenge Clemson or anything, but they are cementing themselves as a solid middle tier team, and the offense looks pretty good with Bryce Perkins at the helm. Louisville is basically hanging on by a thread, so I expect a Cavs win at home.
Joey: A month ago, I probably would’ve said that this spread looks right, except backwards. Given what we’ve seen since then, it’s actually entirely sensical. The ‘Hoos have shown some progress in developing offensive identity this year with Bryce Perkins at QB, while the Cardinals have struggled hard without Lamar Jackson. At this point, I have a lot more faith in Virginia. Cavaliers win and cover.
Justin: Louisville is back on the Bobby Petrino quarterback carousel which spells disaster for this season. Virginia should pull this off at home.
Mike: Louisville is still trying to figure out what they are doing at quarterback, although at this point it seems like Malik Cunningham is the guy for the Cardinals. Will that yield more production in the passing game? Let’s find out together. I trust Virginia’s offense at home much more than I trust Louisville right now. Cavaliers win.
#13 Virginia Tech (2-0, 1-0 ACC) (-27.5) at Old Dominion (0-3), 3:30 PM ET on CBS Sports Network
Grant: The Hokies are one of a few teams to be coming off of an unexpected bye week. This is definitely going to be the biggest game the Monarchs have ever hosted, but I can hardly say I expect a super raucous environment. I think there will be a lot of Hokies there, and Tech will win and cover the spread.
Joey: The Hokies continue to roll through the soft part of their schedule here. They might go OVER the 52.5 total by themselves.
Justin: This game won’t be close. The Hokies will cruise in another tune-up for ACC play.
Mike: Old Dominion has some talent along the defensive line, but outside of that, they don’t have much to offer in the way of stopping the Hokies’ offense in this football game. I like Virginia Tech here to win big, and likely cover after their hurricane-induced bye week last Saturday.
#3 Clemson (3-0) (-16) at Georgia Tech (1-2, 0-1 ACC), 3:30 PM ET on ABC
Grant: Georgia Tech is simply not very good. There’s not much else to say about a team coming off losses to USF and Pitt. In fact, the Yellow Jackets were never really in the game against Pitt, and it wasn’t as close as the score indicates. I expect more of the same this week, as the Tigers win in a blowout.
Joey: Georgia Tech is the largest underdog they’ve ever been under Paul Johnson, coming in getting 17 at home…but, against Clemson. Given the disorganization and ineffectiveness we’ve seen the last two weeks from Georgia Tech, I don’t think they’re in position to pose a real threat to Clemson. The only reason I’d take Georgia Tech to cover here is the possibility that Clemson will get out to a lead and cruise, enabling the Yellow Jackets to make the back door cover. I won’t bank on that though. This one will be ugly. Clemson covers in Atlanta, long removed from when Tiger fans considered Bobby Dodd Stadium a house of horrors.
Justin: Clemson will win and pull into a tie for first place in the Atlantic division with…Syracuse and Boston College. Strange times.
Mike: I really worry about this Georgia Tech offensive line holding up against Clemson’s defensive front. In addition, TaQuon Marshall is going to have to throw the football in this game for the Yellow Jackets, which has not been a fruitful endeavor to-date. Clemson wins and covers a massive spread on the road.
Florida International (2-1) at #21 Miami (2-1) (-26), 3:30 PM ET on ESPN2
Grant: Well, Miami did not fulfill my request. In other words, I don’t really know anything more about them than I did last week. The offense looked good at times and bad at others, and the defense had some holes that Toledo exposed. The Canes will win this last cupcake game, and we’ll have to wait for next week to see what they do against Power 5 competition.
Joey: Florida International hasn’t been awful this year and can score some points. Not to mention, their players will be extremely hyped up to play against some South Florida friends and foes. Miami shouldn’t have any issues here, but this is too many points for me to give up. FIU covers, but Miami still wins easily.
Justin: Miami shouldn’t have to strain too hard for a W here.
Mike: Only part of this game in question is what the final spread will be. I think Miami covers.
NC Central (1-1) at Duke (3-0) (NL), 3:30 PM ET on ACC Network Extra
Grant: Duke has taken hit after hit to their depth, and yet they haven’t missed a beat. They pretty much dominated a Baylor team to whom they were six point dogs. Duke should win big here, and they could sneak into the Top 25 before next week’s ACC opener against Virginia Tech.
Justin: There’s no line and no compelling reason to watch. Duke by many.
Mike: I was very impressed with Duke QB Quentin Harris last week in his first start as Daniel Jones’ replacement. I expect the success to continue here in a tune-up game before next Saturday’s home showdown against Virginia Tech.
Northern Illinois (1-2) at Florida State (1-2, 0-2 ACC) (-11), 3:30 PM ET on ESPNU
Grant: I’m not sure anyone has been so deep in the doghouse in so little time as Willie Taggart is at FSU. It’s not just the losses. It’s the overall lack of life that the Seminoles have shown basically all season. I am picking Florida State to win here for the sake of Taggart’s job, but Northern Illinois will probably cover.
Joey: Hope y’all like punts. Both of these teams feature defenses that are much better than their offenses. We know by now that Florida State, especially on the offensive line, is having massive issues and not really showing signs of pulling out of it. I’m going to keep fading them until they prove me wrong.
Justin: I don’t know much about NIU, but favoring Florida State by double digits seems like a losing proposition at this point. Take FSU and the under until they find an offense…and a defense.
Mike: FADE FLORIDA STATE. Northern Illinois has a defensive line containing players with arms and legs. That should be enough against an atrocious Florida State offensive line. Huskies win.
UCONN (1-2) at Syracuse (3-0, 1-0 ACC) (-28.5), 4 PM ET on ESPN News
Grant: I said at the beginning of the season that Syracuse needed injury-prone Eric Dungey to stay healthy this year. Sure enough, he left the FSU game after favoring his elbow and taking a hit to the head. But then, to my surprise, Tommy Devito stepped in and looked just as good. Dungey or no Dungey, this Syracuse team is better than I expected, and they will continue their winning ways this week.
Joey: Syracuse wins easily here against one of the worst teams in FBS, but damn is this a lot of points to give up. I’m going to do it, but not feel great about it.
Justin: I was at a wedding last weekend in Connecticut and saw UConn on TV in a shootout…with Rhode Island. That’s a bad sign and this is a bad game. Orange crush it in this one.
Mike: Eric Dungey is back! But Tommy DeVito looked good in relief of Dungey last week as the Orange offense didn’t miss a beat. They might break UCONN here. Syracuse wins and covers.
NC State (2-0) (-6) at Marshall (2-0), 7 PM ET on CBS Sports Network
Grant: NC State is not getting the respect they deserve this year. I know they played a tight one against JMU in Week One, but JMU is a good team. The Wolfpack have arguably the best QB in the ACC, and they have a lot of experience. Not only will they win this week, they will cover the spread with room to spare.
Joey: Weird place to play, after a week where the Wolfpack didn’t play and probably dealt with a lot of off-field distractions? This feels like a recipe for disaster. I’m going to roll with NC State, but this is another one I don’t feel great about.
Justin: This has upset vibes, but I’ll take State in a close one. Ryan Finley keeps living up to the hype.
Mike: I don’t really understand this line at all, but I think that NC State is the better team here. Wolfpack win and cover.