Picks at the wire: Week 3

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Week 2 was the sort of efficient set of picks you come to expect early in the season.

Collect on the anticipated blowouts (even if they weren’t blowouts – ahem, Florida State and to a lesser extent Maryland), figure out the toss-up games and wind up with an 10-0 record to pad the overall mark.

Let’s see if that can happen again. All games Saturday unless otherwise noted:

* Georgia Tech at Miami (Thursday, 7:30, ESPN): Yellow Jackets 34-27. The ACC has done very well with its prime-time league games so far, and this one could be just as good as the high-profile conference openers both of these teams won. It’s difficult to forget just how silly the Yellow Jackets made the Hurricanes look last year. That is a major, major issue. Miami has closed the gap some, but not enough to earn Coastal Division front-runner status.

* Boston College at Clemson (Noon, Raycom): Tigers 24-13. The Eagles’ defense has looked great and its offense efficient in their first two games. Those games were also against Northeastern and Kent State. Clemson is much better, and there’s a good chance we see exactly what a lot of folks suspect BC will be about this year: Solid defense, one-dimensional offense. That won’t cut it in Death Valley.

* Duke at Kansas (Noon, Versus): Jayhawks 45-20. Yes, Todd Reesing is still in school. Yes, he still slings it all over the field. Yes, Duke is overmatched in this one. No reason to overthink this game.

* East Carolina at North Carolina (Noon, ESPN2): Tar Heels 21-20. It’s still sort of befuddling why the Tar Heels are ranked, but at the same time it wouldn’t be much of a shock if they somehow got to 6-0 this season. That will require two very good weeks in succession, starting with this visit from the Pirates. East Carolina has a surprising victory in them, and it didn’t come last week at West Virginia. It very well might happen at Kenan Stadium on Saturday.

* Nebraska at Virginia Tech (3:30, ABC regional/ESPN2): Hokies 24-17. Remember, Tyrod Taylor played pretty well against the Cornhuskers in Lincoln last year. In a rare display of offensive virility, Virginia Tech tossed up 35 points in that game. Even better, the Hokies are coming off a 600+-yard performance against Marshall. Virginia Tech should win this one in Blacksburg – and give the ACC its best nonconference victory to date (passing defeats of Connecticut, Middle Tennessee and Stanford).

* Middle Tennessee at Maryland (3:30): Terrapins 31-30. Maryland just isn’t going to be on the right side of a blowout victory this season. OK, maybe once, because you never say never. But comfortable wins aren’t going to be this team’s thing, and the Terps need to demonstrate they can hold someone to less than five touchdowns before predicting them to surrender less than 20 points. The Blue Raiders could easily topple the Terps for the second straight year.

* Virginia at Southern Mississippi (3:30, CBS College Sports): Golden Eagles 27-10. This decade, the following schools have lost in Hattiesburg: Oklahoma State, Illinois, N.C. State and East Carolina. Granted, some of those were particularly bad teams. Of course, Virginia is particularly bad, too. The complaints will grow louder on the Central Virginian Plain by the end of the weekend/

* Gardner-Webb at N.C. State (6): Wolfpack 51-6. Not much to see here.

* Elon at Wake Forest (6:30): Demon Deacons 24-14. This will be tighter than anticipated. The Phoenix are a reputatable program from the former Division I-AA, and Wake Forest doesn’t seem to be quite as good as in recent seasons.

* Florida State at Brigham Young (7, Versus): Cougars 20-13. It would seem a visit to Y Mountain is more unpleasant now than at any point in the last decade or so. Brigham Young already has a neutral-field upset of Oklahoma and a road rout of Tulane. If the Cougars get this one, then the BCS talk can begin in earnest – even if it does come against a Seminoles outfit that barely defeated Jacksonville State last week.

Last week’s record: 10-0 (1-0 conference games)
Season record: 17-4 (2-0 conference)
Preseason picks record: 17-4 (2-0 conference)
Preseason picks changed for this week: Florida State-BYU

Patrick Stevens

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