I’m told tomorrow is a holiday of some sorts, which is sort of funny because when you work on enough of them they tend to get devalued a little bit.
I’m guessing that’s just one of the weird ways my mind works. Of course, I’ll be writing and blogging tomorrow, though it’s probably a pretty futile effort. After all, who’s reading a college sports blog when they’re spending time with their families.
Anyway, that’s the long-winded way of saying I’m moving the week’s picks up by a day, since it seems unlikely many people will take time to check in here over the next 48 hours or so.
So here are the regular season’s last eight picks after a lackluster 2-4 week sunk when Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia (mostly on offense for the Cavaliers) opted not to show up for their home finales.
All games are on Saturday
* Georgia Tech at Georgia (Noon, CBS): Bulldogs 28-24. You know who they liked Between the Hedges? Chan Gailey. Why? Because Georgia flat-out owned Gailey.
Who know who they won’t own? Paul Johnson. But with this one in Athens, with Georgia having two full weeks to prepare and with the Bulldogs playing to lock up a New Year’s Day bowl slot, the Yellow Jackets will have to wait for next year’s game in Atlanta to break through in this rivalry.
* Virginia at Virginia Tech (Noon, ESPN): Hokies 21-7. If there’s any justice, this game will feature more defensive and special teams touchdowns than offensive points. And chances are, that’s what will happen as Virginia Tech plays for its second straight Coastal Division crown.
Frank Beamer’s gotten the better of Al Groh time and time again in the Commonwealth Cup. The Cavaliers, meanwhile, have dropped three straight in November since running the table in October. Virginia is making a plethora of mistakes, and the Hokies will happily cash in those miscues to make up for the fact neither Tyrod Taylor nor Sean Glennon is going to generate much of an offense.
* South Carolina at Clemson (Noon, ESPN2): Gamecocks 17-14. Clemson needs to win to become bowl eligible, and the Tigers have won two straight. Trouble is, they beat reeling Duke and Virginia the last two weeks, and now get a Steve Spurrier-coached team that is coming off a 50-point thumping.
Take that ugly loss at Florida out of the equation, and the Gamecocks have played just about everyone close. At this stage, they’re probably a little better, and with an extra week to get ready should probably escape with a tight victory,
He’s also the best second baseman playing ACC football, but that’s a discussion for another day.
The bottom line is a few weeks ago, State had the potential to ruin the seasons of one, maybe two of the last four teams it played: Duke, Wake, North Carolina and Miami. They’ve gone ahead and seriously spoiled the first three, so why not the Hurricanes as well?
Miami was due a loss last week at Georgia Tech. And without too much to play for and with the Wolfpack looking to secure bowl eligibility, the Hurricanes are probably due another one this time around.
* Maryland at Boston College (3:30, ABC or ESPN2 regional): Eagles 20-10. Look, I have very little reason to believe Boston College’s offense is going to generate much, whether it was the injured Chris Crane or the newly elevated Dominique Davis under center.
But since their defense is superlative, and since an ACC title game trip is at stake, Boston College should upend a Maryland team left to scratch for bowl positioning. That said, Maryland will probably respond with one of its best games. It usually does after an embarrassing loss.
Still, with all the factors at play – site, weather, stakes, a fortress-like rushing defense – it’s tough to go against BC.
* Florida at Florida State (3:30, ABC or ESPN2 regional): Gators 27-21. Believe me, this one took a lot of thought. The Seminoles looked sooo good Saturday, and certainly has a chance to upend Florida. But given just how good the Gators have been over the last couple months, it’s really hard to see an up-and-down Florida State team staying as sky-high as they were last week. The Seminoles need to, and they’ll probably play well.
Just not well enough.
* North Carolina at Duke (3:30, ESPNU): Tar Heels 20-17. It’s Victory Bell time along US 15-501. Duke can win five games in David Cutcliffe’s initial season with a victory, and reports out of Durham suggest Thaddeus Lewis will play. But Carolina needs this more than you’d think; if the Tar Heels fall to 3-5 in the league, they’ll be locked behind all of the 5-3 teams in ACC bowl selection. That could limit Carolina’s upside to a trip to Charlotte for the holidays.
* Wake Forest at Vanderbilt at Wake Forest (7, ESPNU): Demon Deacons 9-6. First to double digits wins.
Last week’s record: 2-4 (2-4 conference games)
Season record: 58-30 (24-20 conference)
Preseason picks record: 55-31 (24-20 conference)
Preseason picks changed for this week: Miami-N.C. State, Florida-Florida State