Last week’s five-game schedule in the ACC seemed as difficult to pick as any. Besides Miami’s inevitable romp against Central Florida, there were a whole lot of tossup games and no sure way to differentiate the teams.
Naturally, that meant a 5-0 record for the week here. Go figure.
Time to see if that can hold up for another set of games. All games Saturday unless otherwise noted, and both N.C. State and Virginia Tech have their byes this week:
* Florida State at North Carolina (Thursday, 8, ESPN): Seminoles 28-17. Yes, the awful Tar Heels offense against the dreadful Seminoles’ defense is a matchup to turn your nose up at. Florida State, at least, has played a bunch of good teams. North Carolina ranks last in the conference in scoring offense despite two games against I-AA teams. Florida State could have beaten Miami and Georgia Tech. North Carolina was nowhere near Georgia Tech and Virginia. The nod goes to Florida State.
* Georgia Tech at Virginia (Noon, Raycom): Cavaliers 21-20. Few teams handled the Yellow Jackets’ triple option attack last year as well the Hoos, who left Atlanta with a surprise October victory (really, that’s an oxymoron where Virginia is concerned). Perhaps someone should start making “Groh Knows Defense” shirts. It’s a great marketing opportunity for someone. Anyway, the Yellow Jackets have a legitimate chance to win out if they can leave Charlottesville with a victory for the first time since 1990. That “win out” stuff was being applied to Virginia Tech this time last week. Look for the upset.
* Maryland at Duke (1:30): Blue Devils 28-21. Duke is better, its senior quarterback is on fire, it is well-coached and it is coming off a bye week. People snickered when this upset was called in the preseason. Now, the Blue Devils are favored. Even if Maryland wasn’t reeling, this would look like a substantial task. But the Terps are, and it’ll be difficult to topple a Duke team that’s already halfway to its first bowl berth since 1994.
* Boston College at Notre Dame (3:30, NBC): Fighting Irish 27-24 (OT). It’s never smart to pick against the Eagles when facing that other Catholic school. But based on the evidence to date, it’s not smart to pick the Eagles whenever they venture outside of Chestnut Hill. Still, Notre Dame’s tendency is toward close games and lots of them, so this one looks like a coin toss.
* Wake Forest at Navy (3:30, CBS College Sports): Demon Deacons 31-24. It’s an EagleBank Bowl rematch, and more importantly for Wake a chance to pull within a victory of bowl eligibility for the fourth straight season. Why’s that important? Well, Miami, Georgia Tech, Florida State and Duke remain on the schedule after this week. Riley Skinner should rebound after an off week, but Navy (whether Ricky Dobbs plays or not) will not be dispatched easily. The Mids rarely are.
* Clemson at Miami (3:30, ABC/ESPN): Hurricanes 24-12. Clemson is the Atlantic Division’s flavor of the week. Naturally, the Tigers will lose. That’s just the way things work. Miami, meanwhile, finds itself in the catbird’s seat in the Coastal Division after Virginia Tech’s loss last week. This is one of the Hurricanes’ toughest remaining games, and they should emerge with a victory and move a step closer to a division crown.
Last week’s record: 5-0 (4-0 conference games)
Season record: 40-18 (12-8 conference)
Preseason picks record: 39-19 (11-9 conference)
Preseason picks changed for this week: Boston College-Notre Dame