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Picks at the wire: Week 10

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The more nonconference routs, the better. Boston College, Clemson and Georgia Tech all scored easy victories last week, bolstering the overall record for the season and continuing a relatively decent run of late.

Let’s see if it holds up for another set of games, all of which will be played Saturday unless otherwise noted.

* Virginia Tech at East Carolina (Thursday, 7:30, ESPN): Hokies 31-23. OK, so the Hokies trotted out their trademarked Offensive Clunker at the time it was least expected – on a Thursday night at home against an equally inept offensive team. Tonight, they’ll deal with a decent offense and a team that toppled them last year in Charlotte. Expect a bounceback game for the Hokies, who will likely need to win out to extend their streak of 10-win seasons.

* Virginia at Miami (Noon, Raycom): Hurricanes 31-12. The warm and fuzzy feelings – well, warm and fuzzy for Al Groh, anyway – in Charlottesville proved temporary, and the Cavaliers have dropped back-to-back home games to create a precarious position. One thing’s for sure – they won’t go to Miami and shut out the Hurricanes like two years ago. With Miami coming off a pair of tight games, a blowout is due.

* Maryland at N.C. State (1): Terrapins 29-28. Welcome to a bowl eliminator game, one that won’t draw a whole lot of attention regionally or nationally. But when Maryland’s sputtering offense gets a crack at N.C. State sieve-like defense, it’ll be curious which of the two movable objects holds its ground. This looked like a good opportunity for the Terps to pick up a win in the preseason. At this point, it’s clearly Maryland’s best chance to collect a victory the rest of the season.

* Wake Forest at Georgia Tech (3:30, ABC/ESPN2 regional): Yellow Jackets 31-20. Georgia Tech’s offensive juggernaut rolls along, easily leading the ACC in scoring, third-down conversions and time of possessions, among plenty of other things. The Demon Deacons won’t roll over – they’ve lost their last two by a combined four points – but their bowl hopes will shrink considerably with a loss in Atlanta.

* Duke at North Carolina (3:30, ESPNU): Blue Devils 27-17. The scheduling gods have been kind to Duke this season. The Blue Devils caught N.C. State off a draining loss to Wake Forest, reeling Maryland off a frustrating loss to Virginia and then Virginia off a setback against Georgia Tech when the Cavaliers couldn’t get the ball. All the sudden, the Blue Devils are 5-3 and in need of a split in November to reach a bowl. Maybe catching North Carolina off an emotional win isn’t the greatest thing, but Duke has the goods to bring the Victory Bell back to Durham.

* Florida State at Clemson (7:45, ESPN): Tigers 34-31. Yes, the Seminoles should be happy they’ve righted their ship with consecutive wins against North Carolina and N.C. State. Still, those wins came against North Carolina and N.C. State. The Seminoles still have yielded 183 yards a game on the ground. C.J. Spiller and the Tigers say hello. Unless this is a time machine game – like Florida State pulled with a vintage defensive performance at Maryland last year – Clemson should have the upper hand.

Last week’s record: 5-2 (2-2 conference games)
Season record: 48-23 (16-12 conference)
Preseason picks record: 46-25 (15-13 conference)
Preseason picks changed for this week: Duke-North Carolina

Patrick Stevens

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