Already well behind on a lot of stuff for today and the week, so on to the weekly picks. All games Saturday and with p.m. start times …
* North Carolina at Clemson (Noon, ESPN): Tigers 35-24. Clemson went Clemson for a half and still won. North Carolina, meanwhile, couldn’t come back from a huge first-half hole last week against Miami. Despite the Tar Heels’ staunch defensive rep, their pass defense ranks 92nd nationally (Carolina is also 81st in pass efficiency defense). Bank on the Tigers dialing up Tajh Boyd-to-Sammy Watkins enough to create some separation.
* Wake Forest at Duke (12:30, ACC Network): Demon Deacons 42-34. Of course this game is the regionally televised game of the week in the conference. Wake-Duke has been a JP/Lincoln Financial/Raycom/ACC Network choice in seven of the last nine years. The only thing more common in that stretch is a Wake Forest victory over the Blue Devils. Look for it to happen again, even if Josh Harris is limited or sidelined.
* Boston College at Virginia Tech (3, CSN): Hokies 35-10. A pick that needs no explanation. Frank Spaziani‘s career 0-5 record against ranked teams will not improve with a trip to Blacksburg.
* East Carolina at Navy (3:30, CBS Sports Network): Midshipmen 38-24. It would be too melodramatic to say the Mids’ season is completely at stake, but their chances of bowl eligibility become much more harrowing if they can’t beat the Pirates (or, quite frankly, Troy at home in two weeks as well). Navy won’t match its point total from last year’s meeting —- 76 —- but should do enough to slip past an East Carolina bunch that’s had its struggled this fall as well.
* Georgia Tech at Miami (3:30, ESPN): Hurricanes 26-24. Trickiest game of the week, by far. Had the Yellow Jackets not had such an obvious stumble last week, this would have looked like a fantastic opportunity for Al Golden to collect a victory that would create a little bit of a frenzy in south Florida. Instead, beating a 6-1 Georgia Tech team will have to do. Georgia Tech’s schedule was always backloaded —- Clemson, Virginia Tech and Georgia are all still to come —- and this game should serve as part of the correction on the way to a solid 8-4ish season.
* N.C. State at Virginia (3:30, ESPNU): Cavaliers 27-17. This is a preseason pick that seemed a little off-kilter at the time but actually looks like it will be right now. Virginia is two wins from bowl eligibility in coach Mike London‘s second season, and last week’s upset of Georgia Tech makes that aim look especially possible. The Wolfpack are coming off a bye, which should have provided some time to mend a bruised and injury-riddled defense.
* Maryland at Florida State (3:30, ABC regional/ESPN2): Seminoles 38-20. Maryland is 0-10 all-time in Tallahassee, and the Terrapins will need to slow down a now-healthy E.J. Manuel to finally win at Doak Campbell Stadium. Given the increasingly thinning defensive depth chart, that seems a bit unlikely. Some hope: Each of Maryland’s last three visits to Florida State have been decided by eight points or less.
Week 7 record: 4-2 (4-1 conference)
ACC record: 45-13 (13-5 conference)
Navy record: 4-2
Preseason Week 8 picks changed: None
Preseason ACC record: 40-18 (9-9 conference)
—- Patrick Stevens