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Picks at the wire: Week 6

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Last week was a truly ugly 3-4 display here. Sure, calling the Miami victory helped salvage the week, but Boston College, Maryland, Virginia and Wake Forest demonstrated the usual wackiness that is the ACC.

Maybe this week, things get easier. But there’s two or three too-close-to-call contests, and after BC, Maryland and Wake all won at home last week, maybe it’s just time to go with the team playing on or near campus.

And for the most part, the picks or these seven reflect that:

* Boston College at Virginia Tech (Noon, Raycom): Hokies 24-13. Is it wrong to still be looking at the Eagles with suspicion, especially after they’ve won division games back-to-back weeks. Well, maybe. Boston College’s defense is fine (as usual) and it’s offense really isn’t that much worse off than last year. It’s just that it wasn’t great shakes for much of last year, and it’s still a team vulnerable against competent, well-coached defensive outfits. Virginia Tech qualifies in that category.

* Georgia Southern at North Carolina (3:30): Tar Heels 35-10. Can the Tar Heels’ offense get well? Quite possibly this week. A little set of numbers: North Carolina is averaging 35.5 points in nonconference home games and 7.3 points the rest of the time. This one’s at Kenan, and Carolina should roll to a victory that won’t mean much since it already has one Division I-AA victory.

* Indiana at Virginia (3:30): Cavaliers 28-16. Lord Groh channels Reggie Jackson (has won 10 of 11 in October) but not Derek Jeter (has lost nine of 12 in November). No doubt thankful the Big Ten loaned its resident punching back to TJ’s university for the weekend, Virginia will continue its annual midseason resurrection. No promises, though, it lasts past Halloween.

* Duke at N.C. State (4, ESPNU): Wolfpack 31-24. What to make of either of these teams? The over/under on touchdown passes thrown should be six, what with Thaddeus Lewis and Russell Wilson involved. It might be the most watchable game in the conference this weekend.

* Maryland at Wake Forest (6:30): Terrapins 21-20. Just when you think they’re out, they pull you right back in. Such is the topsy-turvy nature of Maryland’s football program, which seemed dead a week ago and could be looking at dealing a second straight division foe its second conference loss. This is really a coin flip, and the Demon Deacons don’t help anyone guessing since all four of their games against major-college teams have been decided by a touchdown or less. An interesting stat: Maryland is 16-4 all-time in what once was called Groves Stadium, and has not lost back-to-back games in Winston-Salem since 1967-68.

* Florida A&M at Miami (7): Hurricanes 27-7. This could be interesting, considering the Rattlers have surrendered five touchdowns in four games. It would be no surprise if they get Jacoryed, though. After all, Miami (3-1) is in far better shape after its season-opening death march than anyone would have guessed. The ‘Canes aren’t stumbling this week.

* Georgia Tech at Florida State (8, ESPN2): Seminoles 31-28. The circus arrived in Tallahassee this week. Then Florida State had to go play a game, which is really an afterthought with the unrest over Bobby Bowden. Nothing is permanent, whether it’s grip of a legend on his job or the desire to dislodge him. Nothing quiets folks quite like a victory over a ranked team, especially those who come dressed in black as a protest. Some postgame awkwardness at Doak Campbell would be awful fun, and the Seminoles’ results to date suggest a sort of schizophrenic nature that could lead to nearly any outcome.

Last week’s record: 3-4 (1-4 conference games)
Season record: 31-15 (7-5 conference)
Preseason picks record: 32-14 (8-4 conference)
Preseason picks changed for this week: None

Patrick Stevens

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