Hard as it is to believe, this is the last week of the season with six ACC conference games.
Granted, that’s not saying much – last week was the first – but it seems like there should be one of them on the penultimate weekend of the season.
(For what it’s worth, there are five league games that weekend, with Boston College and Miami stepping out of league play).
It’s also the first of five straight weeks with a Thursday or Friday conference game. So that’s an interesting element.
As for the picks, a 9-2 record in ACC games over the last two weeks is solid. Time to see if that extends for another set of picks. As always, all games Saturday unless otherwise notes.
* Virginia at Miami (Thursday, 8, ESPN): Hurricanes 27-14. Last week settled it: Miami has got its act together after its suspension-riddled September. A near-upset at Virginia Tech followed by defeats of North Carolina and Georgia Tech have firmly cemented Al Golden’s team as a Coastal Division contender. With games against Virginia and Duke up next, Miami should have a four-game winning streak when it enters Tallahassee next month. Expect the Hurricanes to be plenty wary of a Virginia bunch that upset them a year ago.
* N.C. State at Florida State (Noon, ESPNU): Seminoles 42-17. N.C. State needs three victories to become bowl eligible, and it has three logical opportunities to win over its final five games. This just isn’t one of them. The Seminoles rediscovered the existence of a running game on Saturday against Maryland, and should be able to fare well on the ground against a Wolfpack bunch giving up 165 rushing yards per game. Oh, and one other reminder: Tom O’Brien is 0-11 in division road games as State’s head coach. The round number remains after this trip to Doak.
* Virginia Tech at Duke (12:30, ACC Network): Hokies 38-17. The average score in the seven seasons since ACC expansion in this series is Virginia Tech 36.7-9.6. With Virginia Tech down leading tackler Bruce Taylor, look for something a bit closer. Nonetheless, the Hokies should haul a four-game winning streak into their bye.
* Boston College at Maryland (3, CSN): Terrapins 31-21. Given Saturday’s weather forecast (rain and snow showers possible with a high of 47), 3121 might also be the number of people who sit through the entirety of a game featuring teams with a combined 3-11 record. Not to make too big of a deal of this for Maryland, but the reeling Eagles make this the most winnable game remaining on the Terps’ schedule. A faster start than usual would help, but even without an early lead this is still a game Maryland should win. It certainly needs it for its bowl hopes.
* Wake Forest at North Carolina (3:30, ESPNU): Demon Deacons 31-28. Someone’s leaving Chapel Hill with bowl eligibility. The Tar Heels are 5-3 and haven’t exactly overwhelmed along the way. Not that Wake Forest played all that well in escaping Duke with a victory last week. In any case, anoint the winner of this one as the end-of-October favorite to represent the ACC in the Belk Bowl in Charlotte.
* Navy at Notre Dame (3:30, NBC): Fighting Irish 41-21. Much of the attention in Annapolis this week is on Trey Miller, who will make his first career start Saturday for Navy. But the Mids have some other issues, namely a leaky defense scorched for 35, 63, 21 and 38 points in its last four games (all losses). Assuming Notre Dame can hold onto the ball – hardly a given for a team ranked 119th nationally in turnover margin – it should be able to deal Navy its sixth loss of the season.
* Clemson at Georgia Tech (8, ABC regional): Tigers 38-28. Hanging half a hundred in consecutive weeks is enough to ease concerns that Clemson will go Clemson anytime soon. Georgia Tech has dropped back-to-back games – both on the road – after a 6-0 start. The Yellow Jackets’ second-half correction (the prediction here was 8-4 to start the season, and that still seems about right) will continue as Clemson reaches its bye week unbeaten.
Week 8 record: 5-2 (5-1 conference)
ACC record: 50-14 (18-6 conference)
Navy record: 4-3
Preseason Week 9 picks changed: Wake Forest-North Carolina
Preseason ACC record: 45-19 (14-10 conference)