If you have noticed a slip in my selection of picks as of late, it’s for a good reason. I figure since I am the ACC and Big East guy, I would adopt the two conferences’ styles of play: unproductive and unimpressive. I digress.
The Big East decided to take the week off with just four teams playing. South Florida defeated Rutgers on a rare Wednesday night game 28-27. The scoring came by unusual means, though. Rutgers’ Mason Robinso returned a punt 60 yards for a score. There were also four field goals and a safety. The Bulls’ (2-2) win actually put them in third place in the conference behind Pittsburgh (3-0) and Syracuse (3-1). Speaking of Syracuse, they will be taking on Louisville in the other Big East game Saturday at noon.
Over in the ACC, we’ve got some great matchups. I use the word matchup in a literal sense. A Jacory Harris-less Miami (3-2) squad is playing against Maryland (3-1), Virginia (1-3) will be taking on Duke (0-4), and Boston College (1-4) plays Wake Forest (1-4). Georgia Tech nearly defeated No. 20 Virginia Tech in a crazy game Thursday night. The Hokies remain the only unbeaten team in the ACC, with its remaining games including road bouts with North Carolina and Miami, and a home game against Virginia.
Let’s jump into Saturday’s action…
No. 23 North Carolina State at Clemson (12:00 ET)
THE LINE: Clemson -3.5
THE PLOT: I am not too sure what Clemson is playing for anymore this year. The Tigers would need N.C. State, Florida State, and Maryland to lose out in order to possibly reach the conference title game. That would require Clemson to beat the two former teams. Is it out of the realm of possibility? No. Is it unlikely? You better believe it.
Clemson has loss some really tough games, including an overtime thriller against Auburn, a nine-point scratch against North Carolina, and road games in Chapel Hill to North Carolina and Chestnut Hill to Boston College.
THE PICK: I was hesitant to jump on the North Carolina State bandwagon, but Russell Wilson is incredible. I motion for the Wolfpack — and/or Syracuse — as college football’s best story this year.
I had some pretty high praise for Tiger running back Andre Ellington, too. But he has been sidelined for at least two games, which leaves Dabo Swinney with limited options behind quarterback Kyle Parker.
I don’t think Clemson’s defense is enough to get it done this week, as the Wolfpack have shown they can manipulate different defenses and win tough ball games.
THE SCORE: N.C. State 33, Clemson 24
Louisville at Syracuse (12:00 ET)
THE LINE: Syracuse -6
THE PLOT: Syracuse is playing some fantastic football this year in one of the school’s best seasons since, well, Donovan McNabb. The Orange have played so well, in fact, that they are lined to head to a bowl gamehaving eclipsed bowl eligibility with a win over Cincinnati last weekend. Head coach Doug Marrone has done an absolutely unprecedented job in just his second year at the school.
And if you want to stay on the topic of young coaches, we need not look further than Syracuse’s opponent on Saturday in Louisville.
Charlie Strong has put his team in position to win games. The Cardinals sit at just 4-4 (1-2 Big East), but have lost three games by 22 total points.
THE PICK: This pick would be difficult, but Louisville will be missing its two best offensive players in quarterback Adam Froman and running back Bilal Powell. Five of Syracuse’s last eight games were on the road, including the last two big upset wins. The Orange will be glad to be home in the dome.
THE SCORE: Syracuse 28, Louisville 10
North Carolina at No. 24 Florida State (3:30 ET)
THE LINE: Florida State -10.5
THE PLOT: Talk about a must-win game. As crazy as the ACC has been all year, the path to the title game is still wide open. Florida State currently sits atop the Atlantic division, but that’s just because the Seminoles have four conference wins to North Carolina State’s three, which owns the tie-breaker over Jimbo Fisher’s group. If the Seminoles want to win a conference title, they will need to win out and hope the Wolfpack drop another game.
The same goes for the Tar Heels. If No. 20 Virginia Tech goes down, North Carolina can win the tie-breaker over the Hokies with a 24-point win on November 13th, or a win and another Miami loss. (A ‘Canes loss actually doesn’t seem out of the question considering the play of Miami’s quarterbacks last weekend against Virginia, and that Maryland is 6-2.)
THE PICK: We have seen what teams that can run have done to Florida State’s defense. Hell, North Carolina State’s Russell Wilson had to break mold and scatter for three scores as opposed to tossing them just to beat the Seminoles. On Saturday, North Carolina will need some sort of similar performance from T.J. Yates–second in the ACC in passing efficiency, third in passing yards–to win.
If you did not catch Florida State’s crumbling loss last week, then you missed some crucial video–you can check out five seconds of it here, the last five seconds. The clip was about 15 seconds longer at the end of the actual footage. A weeping Christian Ponder was consoled by a Seminole coaching staff member. Ponder knew right after his fourth quarter fumble that he cost Florida State their season. Hopes of reaching the conference title game and possibly a BCS bowl game were tossed to the wind.
I think North Carolina shows up big time and stuns Florida State in Tallahassee.
THE SCORE: North Carolina 20, Florida State 17
Straight up: 1-3
Vs. spread: 0-4
Straight up: 22-10
Vs. spread: 11-20-1
(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.)