Picks at the wire: Week 7

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Oh, wacky ACC. When someone tries to out-think you, you merely produce a relatively shock-free weekend.

Of course, don’t tell N.C. State that.

Going with Maryland and Florida State backfired, though if the Seminoles could be coached up to force Georgia Tech to punt on occasion (or at all), that might have turned out different. Tough to say picking Duke to lose was regrettable; history was absolutely on my side.

This week, Florida State and Duke can’t gum things up, since they’re on the bye. But there are other games left to deal with.

* Wake Forest at Clemson (Noon, Raycom): Tigers 28-24. By definition, Clemsonliness takes on not just a penchant for horrific losses that ignite a hysterical fan base, but also provides some hope for said fans before wresting it away. The Tigers are coming off a bye, and have played sound defense much of the season. As good as Riley Skinner’s been the last two weeks – and he’s been insanely productive – he’ll be facing a far superior secondary. Look for defense and special teams to tilt it to the Tigers.

* N.C. State at Boston College (3:30, ABC regional): Eagles 24-20. What a tough one. The Eagles have demonstrated they’re better than average and bad outfits at home, and worse than superior opponents on the road. The Wolfpack has shown nothing to suggest they’re any better than average, and this one is in Chestnut Hill. At the start of the season, this seemed like a good chance for N.C. State to swipe a road victory. It still could, but a slight edge to BC for now.

* Virginia at Maryland (4, ESPNU): Cavaliers 27-21. Nobody rocks October like Al Groh, and Virginia is rolling in the middle of the season yet again. Meanwhile, the ever-enigmatic Terrapins’ bowl hopes would be crippled with a loss at home to a sub-.500 team. The problem this week won’t be defense, but offensive variety. Maryland can’t gain yardage on the ground with its running backs, and Groh’s defense is its usual competent self. Until the Terps can establish a credible, multi-dimensional offense, it’s going to be hard to forecast many victories.

* Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech (6, ESPN2): Yellow Jackets 31-28. Four conference games this week, and all of them are incredibly difficult to forecast. The Hokies dismembered Boston College last week and have been on a roll ever since losing to Alabama in the season opener. Georgia Tech has shown some warts along the way, and was quite fortunate to escape Tallahassee with a victory after yielding 44 points a week ago. The Hokies’ path to a perfect ACC record (and a chance to sneak into the national title game) is less daunting after this week, but it won’t matter if the Yellow Jackets can effectively run their offense yet again.

* Miami at Central Florida (7:30, CBS College Sports): Hurricanes 31-10. Miami’s nonconference respite continues, this time with a bus trip up to Orlando. The Hurricanes won’t help their overall profile much with a victory, but this could be a chance for injured tailback Graig Cooper to get reacclimated after missing last week. This shouldn’t be particularly noteworthy, which would obviously be good for Miami.

Last week’s record: 4-3 (1-3 conference games)
Season record: 35-18 (8-8 conference)
Preseason picks record: 36-17 (9-7 conference)
Preseason picks changed for this week: N.C. State-Boston College, Virginia-Maryland

Patrick Stevens

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