Picks at the wire: Week 11

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The picks at the wire typically come on Thursday morning around 9.

Hopefully, I’ll be past Front Royal at that point and well on my way to Blacksburg.

And since this blogging system does not permit the magic of time-stamping things in advance, well, this will just have to be done now.

Of course, this also includes a rewind of my dreadful 1-3 performance last week. A couple fumbles not lost, however, and that record is 3-1.

It’s thatclose in the ACC.

Hopefully, there will be some improvement in the predictions this week. However, Maryland is playing, so chances are that’s one loss on the ledger to start with.

Onward to this week’s no doubt dubious selections (all games Saturday unless otherwise noted)…

* Maryland at Virginia Tech (Thursday, 7:30, ESPN): Hokies 24-17. Let’s just say the injuries all cancel each other out. That way, there’s no need to belabor that point.

Beyond all the Thursday night hoopla, there’s this: Virginia Tech is still pretty good on defense. And that figures to be the difference in Blacksburg.

Will Maryland lay an egg? I wouldn’t count on it. In this game, the Hokies will simply be better.

* Georgia Tech at North Carolina (Noon, Raycom): Tar Heels 34-24. Hmm. The Yellow Jackets are suddenly giving up points now that they’re playing good teams. Carolina had the benefit of a bye. Kenan Stadium is suddenly much less hospitable. And Hakeem Nicks is emerging as the likely ACC player of the year.

I know better than to count out Paul Johnson. But in this de facto Coastal Division elimination game, Carolina looks like the smart pick.

* Clemson at Florida State (3:30, ABC regional): Seminoles 26-17. That was a nice season-saving victory for the Tigers up at BC last week. However, their slim ACC title hopes get officially dashed as this series enters its post-Bowden Bowl phase.

The Seminoles have the defense to contain C.J. Spiller from repeating his crazy day from a week ago.  And after losing a few too many times to the Tigers, it would be appropriate for Papa Bowden to get a much-needed victory over his son’s old team.

* Virginia at Wake Forest (3:30, ESPNU): Cavaliers 17-13. Sure, Virginia’s winning streak came to an end last week. But the Cavaliers still played superb defense – and they get to face a team that has one impressive offensive outing in the last five games.

The guess here is Wake’s outburst against Duke is a bit of a mirage, and that the Demon Deacons will go back to struggling when the Cavaliers come into Winston-Salem. The winner becomes bowl eligible, so someone will be especially happy around 7 p.m. Saturday.

* N.C. State at Duke (3:30, ESPN360): Blue Devils 20-17. At some point, the Wolfpack’s lousy luck has to change. It just has to. They’re not nearly as bad as their 2-6 record, but they’re also not as good as the 4-4 Blue Devils.

In the preseason, this seemed like a ripe opportunity for Duke to finally snap its ACC losing streak. Instead, the Blue Devils took care of that problem against Virginia in their league opener. But with bowl eligibility still a possibility, this looks like a distinct opportunity for ACC Win No. 2 – assuming State quarterback Russell Wilson can be contained.

* Notre Dame at Boston College (8 p.m., ESPN): Eagles 28-21. Notre Dame has done a lot of losing this decade – much more than its many fans would like to admit.

The Irish have been especially bad against Southern Cal, dropping six straight, they’ve also lost five in a row to Boston College (2001-04, 2007).

I won’t lie, I was surprised to discover that little nugget. But there it was, backed up by scores of 21-17, 14-7, 27-25, 24-23 and 27-14.

(I wouldn’t want to omit the Irish’s five losses to Michigan State since 2000 from this discussion, either).

Fact is, Notre Dame is 3-7 since late in the 2006 season away from South Bend. Don’t let a blowout of Washington fool you; there’s a good chance the Eagles will extend their mastery over Charlie Weis‘ boys.

Last week’s record: 1-3 (1-3 conference games)
Season record: 49-22 (16-12 conference)
Preseason picks record: 46-25 (16-12 conference)
Preseason picks changed for this week: Clemson-Florida State

Patrick Stevens

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