A solid slate of ACC football games is bookended by two of the season’s most pivotal matchups. Outside of the “big two”, North Carolina and Florida State try to get their seasons back on track while Wake Forest and NC State try to establish themselves as legitimate contenders. Pitt and Boston College play also.
Miami (2-0) at Duke (4-0), 7PM (Friday)
Statistically you have one of the best offenses in the league going against one of the best defenses, but it’s hard to rely on stats in this one because Duke has played nobody (Northwestern, Baylor and UNC) while Miami has run the gauntlet of Bethune-Cookman and Toledo. At least that’s what Joey Galloway said on ESPN last night with a straight face. This is an everything-to-gain vs everything-to-lose game as Miami’s “backness” is on the line while Duke has a big opportunity to send a message about the state of its program. Duke doesn’t have to be perfect to win, but they’re going to have to be better than they were in Chapel Hill a week ago.
Prediction: Duke 34 – Miami 24
Why? Because experience matters, and just like we saw with Duke this year, there was a bit of an adjustment when speedy Baylor came to town. Miami has a losing record in games against their first Power 5 opponent since joining the ACC, and Duke is a big step up from Bethune-Cookman and Toledo in terms of physicality and speed. Miami’s the more talented team, but it’s helpful that Duke had games against Baylor and UNC to prepare them.
North carolina (1-3) at georgia tech (2-1), 12PM
The good news for UNC is that they dismantled Georgia Tech the last time they played. The bad news is they’re 0-6 against Power 5 schools since then. The Tar Heels have an injury list that’s more like what you’d see AFTER playing Georgia Tech’s offensive line, and with a line and a group of linebackers that struggled to stop Duke’s running attack last week, this is not a good matchup. At all.
Prediction: UNC 41 – Georgia Tech 30
Why? For no other reason than UNC has to win sometime, and Larry Fedora has seemed to be pretty good throughout his career when things seem lost. If they do lose though? Hoo boy.
rice (1-3) at pitt (1-3), 12PM
Prediction: Pitt 31 – Rice 10
syracuse (2-2) at Nc state (3-1), 12:20PM
Stop with the “NC State shit”, it’s not a real thing unless you believe it is. And hopefully the football team doesn’t believe in it because they should easily be able to run past Syracuse in this one. So keep your “it would be the most NC State thing ever” takes while predicting a let down loss to the Orange. It’s not happening.
Prediction: NC State 37 – Syracuse 13
Why? Because State’s good. Just go be good.
central michigan (2-2) at boston college (1-3), 1PM
I care less about this game than I do about Rice at Pitt.
Prediction: Boston College 17 – CMU 13
murray state (1-3) at Louisville (3-1), 3:30PM
After a tough week of fighting the FBI, I guess Louisville was due a cupcake opponent.
SportsChannel8 Theatre proudly presents:
an operetta pic.twitter.com/dUQvorhsdh
— [SportsChannel-8] (@SportsChannel8) September 28, 2017
Prediction: Louisville 64 – Murray State 10
florida state (0-2) at wake forest (4-0), 3:30PM
Call me crazy here, but Wake Forest has a defense that’s every bit as good as NC State’s defense. And they’re not afraid to throw the ball downfield either, so the opportunity is there for big plays that can get the ball rolling for the Deacs. Just like Duke and Miami, Wake doesn’t have to be perfect, but they have to be good. Unlike Duke/Miami, Wake might need some help from FSU as well, but the Noles looked every bit the team that’s willing to offer up that help last week against NC State.
Prediction: Wake Forest 23 – Florida State 21
Why? Because after what we’ve all been through in 2017, we deserve 5-0 Wake and 5-0 Duke. Oh, and that NC State shit I mentioned earlier? It is real. And the most NC State thing ever wouldn’t be losing to Syracuse. It would be Wake beating FSU.
Clemson (4-0) at Virginia Tech (4-0), 8PM
If it’s even possible, Clemson somehow looks better than they did a year ago when they won the national championship. Virginia Tech has looked great as well, but if Duke’s not getting a pass for playing Baylor, UNC and NC Central, the Hokies aren’t getting a pass for playing ECU, Old Dominion and Delaware. If the Hokies can move the ball against Clemson, I’ll believe.
Prediction: Clemson 27 – Virginia Tech 13
Why? As much as we might want to crown Fuente’s Hokies, this is a be careful what you wish for game. Clemson is that scary.