Please excuse me while I continue to play this broken record. The ACC and Big East teams have not been what you would call “quality” conferences this year. Not one of the six computers have the ACC ranked higher than fifth, or the Big East higher than seventh out of the 11 conferences and group of Independents. Currently, just three ACC teams are ranked in the BCS Top 25.
Not much can be said for these two groups of schools, other than they need to play better on the field. With that said, the races for the respective conference titles are extremely close.
No. 16 Florida State (4-0) currently leads the ACC Atlantic division, but has yet to play the three teams that are directly on its heels–North Carolina State (2-1), Maryland (2-1), and Clemson (2-2). A slip up against one of those teams paired with said team winning out would send it to the conference title. Over in the Coastal division, No. 23 Virginia Tech (4-0) is the leader with No. 22 Miami (FL) (3-1) right behind it. Georgia Tech (3-2) would need to win out to take the division, meaning it would need to defeat Virginia Tech next Thursday, followed by wins over Miami and Duke. It certainly would not be an understatement to say that the majority of the ACC teams are in survival mode right now.
The Big East teams currently find themselves in a similar boat, but to be fair there is a lot more football to be played amongst them. Pittsburgh (2-0) is presently wearing the conference crown, but five teams are behind the Panthers with a lone loss, most notably Syracuse (5-2, 2-1). While this weekend’s slate of games may not make you smile or get you excited, they will certainly clear up the BCS picture for the time being.
Clemson at Boston College (12:00 ET)
THE LINE: Clemson -7
THE PLOT: Oh, the tale of two stories. These two teams have brought us a lot of great games the last few years. While an exciting game may still be within the realm of possibility, it is unlikely.
Boston College is riding its worse losing streak since 1998, having lost its past five games since opening 2-0 with wins over Weber State and Kent State. The Eagle offense will likely be dismal on Saturday, seeing as it’s currently 112th in the nation right now. If Boston College wants to win this game, it will need the nation’s fourth ranked rush defense to pressure Tiger quarterback Kyle Parker to make every play…
…which will probably not be enough. Clemson has played tremendous football and may be one of the nation’s more underrated teams. The Tigers lost by just three points to the No. 1 team in the country back in Week Three in an overtime thriller. The other two losses for Clemson came from No. 22 Miami (FL) and at North Carolina by 14 total points.
THE PICK: I fully expect Clemson to reciprocate what it did last weekend against Georgia Tech: shut down the run completely, limit scoring opportunities, and make the opposing quarterback pass the football –Josh Nesbitt had 19 pass attempts last week for the Yellow Jackets, marking that his fourth highest total in 28 career games. Boston College cannot throw the football, so running it will be the Eagles sole option, which they aren’t great at either.
With the emergence of Andre Ellington, Parker may not need to be Clemson’s top player on Saturday. The Tigers get their first road win this weekend.
THE SCORE: Clemson 24, Boston College 13
No. 22 Miami (FL) at Virginia (12:00 ET)
THE LINE: Miami (FL) -15
THE PLOT: Other than the ‘Canes’ two big losses, Miami has played perfect football. Randy Shannon has his squad lined to be in its first ACC title game ever.
The Cavaliers are 1-4 against FBS opponents this year with its best game being a
48-21 win over Eastern Michigan 14-17 loss at USC. Virginia is 0-3 in ACC play, losing the three games by an average of 22 points.
THE PICK: Miami’s next big game is a November 20th home game against Virginia Tech. It’s way too early for the ‘Canes to be looking ahead and get caught in a trap game. Miami takes this one easily and Jacory Harris regains the attention of a few analysts.
THE SCORE: Miami 38, Virginia 7
Louisville at Pittsburgh (12:00 ET)
THE LINE: Pittsburgh -9
THE PLOT: Pittsburgh’s play the past two weekends has been impressive. The Panthers outscored their first two Big East opponents–which entered their game with Pittsburgh with a combined record of 8-3–by a combined score of 86-35. Dave Wannstedt has people in Pennsylvania forgetting all about the first three weeks of Pittsburgh’s season; something that seems to have been mastered by the Wannstache.
Louisville, on the other hand, has been rather consistent all season. The Cardinals are sitting at 4-3 with a 1-1 conference record, but could easily be undefeated. First-year coach Charlie Strong‘s efforts have been magnificent, considering the Cardinals have won just 15 total games the past three years. Louisville’s three losses have been a seven-point drop to Kentucky to open the year, a seven-point margin at No. 25 Oregon State, and an eight-point loss to Cincinnati two weeks ago.
THE PICK: This game will be the closest since 2007, with the team playing the best football coming out on top. That team is Pittsburgh.
THE SCORE: Pittsburgh 24, Louisville 20
Syracuse at Cincinnati (12:00 ET)
THE LINE: N/A
THE PLOT: This Big East matchup features two teams that have literally switched spots in the conference standings since last year. I must have said that a few times now, so why don’t I trade mark it?
Cincinnati fans and team members alike have got to be disappointed with its season this year. Watching Brian Kelly bolt for Notre Dame was not terrifying. The Bearcats still had Zach Collaros…Now Cincinnati sits at 3-4 with a 1-1 conference record.
Syracuse may be the best story in college football this year–sorry Auburn. The Orange are second in the Big East standings at 2-1, and 5-2 overall. Doug Marrone has put together Syracuse’s best season since 2004 in just his second year. The Orange’s great season was highlighted with a 19-14 win over then-No. 20 West Virginia last weekend. With a win like that on its resume, Syracuse proved it can win any of the games left on its schedule, especially following a 45-14 beat down.
THE PICK: I like Syracuse a lot, and I do think they can win a few more games this year. I cannot argue that the Orange have played a better season of football than Cincinnati thus far, but for some reason I cannot give this one to Marrone’s group.
Cincinnati still possesses one of the better dual threat quarterbacks in the country. The one question will then be, “What is the status of Collaros since his injury against South Florida?” If he is healthy and plays, I think the Bearcats win this one. If Collaros i
s a no-go, then Syracuse
might steal its second consecutive tough road win, but that’s still a tall order.
THE SCORE (With/without Collaros): Cincinnati 31/20, Syracuse 14
LAST WEEK Straight up: 1-2Vs. spread: 1-2
OVERALLStraight up: 21-7 Vs. spread: 11-16-1
(I failed to predict scores before Week One, but if you would like to count my predictions on Week One from an outside source, you can add the following: Straight up 2-1, Vs. spread 0-3.)
(Odds courtesy of SportsBook.com by way of our friends at NBCSports.com.)