The ACC has plenty of storylines this week. Can Clemson bounce back? Will Florida State keep their focus following their biggest win of the season? Can Duke finally beat a ranked team and put themselves on the map? Take a look at our predictions for what should be a pretty fun week of football:
Wake Forest @ #7 Miami (FL) – 12pm (ET)
The Demon Deacons are coming off two straight impressive victories (28-13 vs NCSU, 34-10 vs Maryland), but they face a much tougher test on the road in Coral Gables. The Hurricanes have been strong on both sides of the ball this year, with star running back Duke Johnson (92 carries, 655 yards, 4 TDs) leading the way. While Wake Forest has improved since last year’s 5-7 campaign, they still have plenty of issues.
Wake Forest 17 – Miami 35
Georgia Tech @ Virginia – 12:30pm (ET)
The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets are fresh off of a 56-0 victory over the Syracuse Orange at home. Virginia brings to the contest a four-game losing streak, including a 35-22 loss to Duke in a game where the Cavs lead 22-0. Virginia’s strong defense is going to keep them alive in this one for awhile, but I don’t see their perpetually disappointing offense doing enough to win against a feisty Yellow Jacket defense. Can Mike London survive another loss?
Georgia Tech 28 – Virginia 10
Pittsburgh @ Navy – 1:00pm (ET)
Pittsburgh has been one of the more up-and-down teams this season. Through six games, the Panthers’ offense has scored 35+ points on three occasions and 19 or less points on three occasions. Fortunately for Pittsburgh, Navy’s defense has been trending downwards as of late; the Midshipmen have allowed a combined 80 points in their last two contests. When you also factor in Pittsburgh’s 33rd ranked rushing defense, things don’t look promising for Navy and their triple-option offense.
Pittsburgh 27 – Navy 17
North Carolina State @ #2 Florida State 3:30pm (ET)
Life has been tough for North Carolina State in the post-Mike Glennon era. The Wolfpack currently rank 87th in passing efficiency, as starting quarterback Pete Thomas has eight interceptions and just three touchdown passes on the year. NCSU’s injury report has Thomas listed as questionable for the game, only further adding to the offense’s problem. Meanwhile, Florida State boasts one of the strongest offense and defense in the country. Freshman QB Jameis Winston is this year’s breakout star, and he has been consistently brilliant all year. It would take a ton of things breaking the Wolfpack’s way for them to even keep it close.
NCSU 7 – Florida State 52
#9 Clemson @ Maryland – 3:30pm (ET)
Clemson is coming off an embarrassing 51-14 loss to Florida State last week, and they’ll be desperate to pick up a win and get back on track. Maryland-who won their first four games of the season-has played their worst football of the season these past three weeks, and a pathetic performance in a 34-10 defeat against Wake Forest left this team with all sorts of question marks. Their 25th ranked defense should be able to keep them in the game, but whether or not they can pull out a victory will come down to Sophomore QB Caleb Rowe. I have this game pegged as the ACC’s best game of the week. Can Maryland slow down star QB Tajh Boyd enough to topple Clemson?
Clemson 28 – Maryland 17
Boston College @ North Carolina – 3:30pm (ET)
North Carolina might be one of the best 1-5 teams I’ve ever seen. Aside from a 55-31 loss to East Carolina, they’ve been very much alive in every game they’ve played. In last week’s 27-23 loss to Miami, the Hurricanes had to rally in the 4th quarter to pull off the victory. In their 28-20 loss to Georgia Tech at home, the Tar Heels led 20-7 midway through the second quarter. To put it simply, this is a much better team than they appear to be on paper, and I guarantee they are very desperate for a victory. Boston College, meanwhile, has made a habit of sticking with the opponent this season, regardless of who they’re playing. Clemson and their high-powered offense only managed to beat the Eagles 24-14 and Florida State needed two fourth-quarter touchdowns to put them away. Senior quarterback Chase Rettig, while not the biggest of playmakers, has been incredibly valuable as a game manager and field general, completing 64.1% of his passes and throwing 10 touchdowns. While we won’t see any significant implications come out of this matchup, it should be a pretty close game that comes down to the wire.
Boston College 20 – North Carolina 21
Duke @ #14 Virginia Tech 3:30pm (ET)
The Duke Blue Devils carry a three-game winning streak into Blacksburg, where the Virginia Tech Hokies look to extend their own winning streak to seven. While the Hokies haven’t had the strongest of offenses this season, QB Logan Thomas has looked much sharper the last three weeks and the defense is guaranteed to put them in a position to win, regardless of offensive output. This game will likely come down to someone making a big mistake, be it a late pick-six or a fumble on the tail end of a drive. Regardless, Duke faces a brutal challenge in going on the road against a defense as talented and as deep as this one. While it very well could happen, part of me thinks Duke is going to have to wait another year before they pick up a big, signature win against a ranked squad.
Duke 14 – Virginia Tech 17