The Washington Times - October 16, 2008, 09:16AM

The abbreviated ACC schedule helped lead to a 5-for-5 week in the prognostication column.

About time.

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Perhaps things will remain on that track this week with six league games to work with. It could be a little dicey, especially with a few true toss-up games in the mix.

But here’s a whirl anyway (all games Saturday unless otherwise noted)…

* Florida State at N.C. State (Tonight, 7:30, ESPN): Seminoles 23-14. Did you know Chuck Amato has been on the winning side 14 out of 18 times in a Florida State-N.C. State meeting? He was 2-0 as a player (1965 and 1967), 7-1 as a Florida State assistant in the 1990s and 4-3 as the Wolfpack’s head coach. Back in Tallahassee as the executive head coach last year, the Seminoles won by 17.

Oh, and Florida State is the better team this game.

* Georgia Tech at Clemson (Noon, ESPN): Tigers 17-16. For years, this game was a stone-cold lock to be close. It’s been ugly the last few years – 31-7 Clemson in 2006, 13-3 Tech last year – but things should tighten up this time around.

The obvious subplot is the debut of interim coach Dabo Swinney. If he can make the offensive line respectable and then do what most coaches would have long ago done and commit to a dominant run game, the Tigers have a chance to begin their attempt to salvage their season sans Tommy Bowden.

Perhaps it can’t be, and starting redshirt freshman Willy Korn at quarterback against a ravenous defensive front won’t help.  But it wouldn’t be a surprise for Clemson to produce an enthusiastic performance after trudging through the first half of its schedule.

* Wake Forest at Maryland (Noon, Raycom): Terps 14-13. That’s it. I give up on seriously trying to project Maryland games. It’s an exercise in futility, because you don’t know which team will materialize. This selection comes along with the guarantee that however the Terps fare this week, I will pick the opposite result next week when N.C. State visits. A victory over Wake followed by a loss to the Wolfpack would come as no surprise at all for the Bizarro Terps.

* North Carolina at Virginia (3:30, ABC regional): Cavaliers 21-13. No, past performance does not ensure future results, but between the Tar Heels’ drought when playing at Thomas Jefferson’s university (no wins in C-ville since 1981) and Virginia’s typically extreme home/road split, I’ll stick with a preseason pick of the Cavaliers.

As for a rational reason to go with Virginia, Carolina eventually has to have a game where quarterback T.J. Yates‘ absence is costly. Toss in wideout/kick returner Brandon Tate’s season-ending injury, and the Tar Heels’ offense doesn’t look quite as good as it might have a month ago.

* Miami at Duke (3:30, ESPNU): Hurricanes 27-10. Duke was, as they say, not good two weeks ago against Georgia Tech. Miami wasn’t much better on offense against Central Florida last week, but still won.

The loser of this game faces a steep climb to bowl eligibility; Duke still must play Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Clemson and Virginia Tech on the road, and Miami still must deal with Wake Forest, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech before the season is through.

* Virginia Tech at Boston College (8, ESPN2): Hokies 31-28. Time to learn a little something about the Eagles. Can they put together a good offensive performance (like they did against N.C. State) and a solid defensive performance (as they generally did in their first four games) together on the same day?

This is the start of a crucial two-game stretch for the Hokies, who go to Tallahassee next week. Get these two in the bank, and the schedule turns decidedly in their favor. Here’s guessing they drop one, but it’s tough to say which of the two it will be.

Last week’s record: 5-0 (1-0 conference games)
Season record: 41-14 (8-5 conference)
Preseason picks record: 38-17 (8-5 conference)
Preseason picks changed for this week: Florida State-N.C. State, Wake Forest-Maryland

Patrick Stevens