The Washington Times - October 23, 2008, 09:08AM

Promises are promises.

And that’s why I’m picking N.C. State to beat Maryland this week.


You might recall that out of exasperation last week, I promised to pick the opposite of Maryland’s result against Wake Forest for its home game against N.C. State.

The Terps won, so now I feel compelled to pick them to lose.

Do I think they really will lose? I’m not inclined to.

Do I think think they can lose? To answer that question with a question: Have you been watching this team all season?

So while the Bizarro Terps continue to confound, here’s the full rundown this week:

* Boston College at North Carolina (Noon, Raycom): Tar Heels 23-21. Time for a little coachspeak

BC coach Jeff Jagodzinski said after the Eagles upended Virginia Tech —- a game in which Chris Crane had four turnovers, “I’ll tell you what: he’s a winner. What’s he as a starter right now? He’s a winner.”

Right. When you can’t rationalize how an outcome occurred, just toss around some intangible quality no one can definitively prove one way or another. That’ll do it. It’s not like presidential candidates don’t debate in the same way.

The point of this isn’t Crane, who has accounted for 12 touchdowns (five passing) and nine interceptions in The Impossible Role As Matt Ryan‘s Replacement. It’s that he’ll be no more or less “a winner” if and when Boston College fades out of the Atlantic Division race.

Given the look of the schedule, that decline could start on Saturday —- especially now that the Eagles have lost linebacker Brian Toal.

* Wake Forest at Miami (Noon, ESPNU): Hurricanes 21-14. The sooner Miami turns to Jacory Harris, the better. The Canes might have trouble scoring against Wake, but it’s not like the Demon Deacons’ offense is functional right now, either.

In three conference games, Wake has one touchdown and six field goals. Somehow, despite only having 24 points, the Deacons are 2-1. If they fall back to .500, it might be time to press the panic button.

* Duke at Vanderbilt (3): Commodores 17-14. The Blue Devils’ chances for collecting six wins dwindle by the week. It’s not that it’s the same old Duke, but it looks more and more like the folks in Durham might have to settle for a 4-8-type season —- which isn’t bad by Duke standards.

* Virginia at Georgia Tech (3:30, ESPNU): Yellow Jackets 31-14. As if it isn’t said here every week, Virginia is a ridiculously extreme home/road team.

The Cavaliers are 4-1 at home, the loss an excusable blowout against Southern Cal. They’re 0-2 on the road, pretty much barely showing up at Connecticut and then not having their offense show up at Duke.

If this was in Charlottesville, I’d like Lord Groh‘s chances at a conquest. But since the Cavaliers are going somewhere else, they’re probably going to lose.

* Virginia Tech at Florida State (3:30, ABC regional): Seminoles 21-16. The Hokies provide less and less reason for optimism by the week. They have virtually no pass offense, and they didn’t generate a touchdown on offense last week against Boston College.

Then again, who knows what you’re going to get with the Seminoles.

A bold prediction: The winner of this game will wind up in the ACC title game. OK, not such a bold prediction. But seriously, the Hokies’ road gets substantially easier if they can just get to 3-1 and move along.

* N.C. State at Maryland (3:30, ESPN360): Wolfpack 16-13. State’s without linebacker Nate Irving, and ranks in the triple digits in total offense and total defense nationally. Sounds like the perfect sort of team for Maryland to lay an egg against.

That said, the Terps have won five straight at home, and arguably played their best games of 2006 (except possibly the Champs Sports Bowl against Purdue) and 2007 (unquestionably) against the Wolfpack. So there’s no reason Maryland shouldn’t win.

Other than that it’s Maryland.

Last week’s record: 4-2 (4-2 conference games)
Season record: 45-16 (12-7 conference)
Preseason picks record: 40-21 (10-9 conference)
Preseason picks changed for this week: N.C. State-Maryland

—- Patrick Stevens