Picks at the wire: Week 11

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Last week’s show of faith in Duke and Maryland backfired, but it was an otherwise effective effort in the guessing department.

Amazingly, this is the only week all season with six conference games. That just means it should be a little more difficult to figure things out than usual.

This is, after all, the ACC.

All games are Saturday:

* Clemson at N.C. State (Noon, Raycom): Tigers 35-28. This really does have all the markings of a game that makes up Clemsonliness. The Tigers are playing well and can collect a division title with two straight victories. It’s the perfect time stumble. Of course, N.C. State is no defensive juggernaut, and Clemson should be able to outpace the Wolfpack in a high-scoring affair.

* Georgia Tech at Duke (Noon, ESPN2): Yellow Jackets 28-10. After another 60 minutes, it’ll be game-set-match in the Coastal Division. Georgia Tech got its scare against a Tobacco Road school out of the way last week. The Blue Devils don’t quite have the personnel to keep up, meaning the Yellow Jackets will gradually wear down Duke like so many other opponents.

* Florida State at Wake Forest (Noon, ESPNU): Demon Deacons 31-20. Two of the immutable laws in the ACC over the last three years are (a) Jim Grobe owns Florida State and (b) Riley Skinner managed to write happy endings to nearly every single storyline for Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons need to close out the season with a pair of victories to reach a bowl game, and the Seminoles are starting redshirt freshman E.J. Manuel at quarterback for the first time. Advantage: Skinner and Wake.

* Virginia Tech at Maryland (1): Hokies 24-13. Virginia Tech away from Blacksburg is not a pretty thing this season. There’s the loss to Alabama on a neutral field, an uncomfortably close win at Duke, a loss at Georgia Tech and last week’s 16-3 defeat of East Carolina. So the guess here is it isn’t a blowout. Of course, the Terps have lost four straight and six of seven, and there’s a decent chance Jamarr Robinson will make his first career start. Virginia Tech is high on the list of teams a first-time starting QB would be better served not facing. Even if it’s unsightly, look for the Hokies to extend Maryland’s misery.

* Miami at North Carolina (3:30, ABC/ESPN regional): Tar Heels 24-23. Despite consecutive victories against Virginia Tech and Duke, it’s difficult to be enamored with anything related to the North Carolina offense. But the Tar Heels’ defense, while not picking off everything in sight and scoring or setting up short TD drives once a game, is substantially better than last year’s lauded unit. Carolina still has a stupid loss (read: at N.C. State) in them, but it would come as no surprise for the Tar Heels to hold serve at home and dash Miami’s BCS at-large chances.

* Boston College at Virginia (3:30): Eagles 21-10. It is true the Eagles have yet to win on the road this season. It’s also true that Al Groh’s teams don’t quit and are incredibly difficult to bury. But BC had a bye week, it still has much to play for in the Atlantic Division and the Cavaliers have counteracted a three-game winning streak with a three-game skid. This one tilts toward Montel Harris and the Eagles.

Last week’s record: 4-2 (3-2 conference games)
Season record: 52-25 (19-14 conference)
Preseason picks record: 51-26 (19-14 conference)
Preseason picks changed for this week: Clemson-N.C. State, Florida State-Wake Forest, Boston College-Virginia

Patrick Stevens

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