ACC: Georgia Tech-Va. Tech leads weekend
When: 7:30 p.m. (Thursday)Where: Bobby Dodd Stadium
When Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech get together, the winner generally wins the Coastal Division. In fact, it's happened all but once — 2012, when the loser (Georgia Tech) won the Coastal instead.
Georgia Tech is 1-4 against Virginia Tech under head coach Paul Johnson, but this might be the best team he's had in Atlanta. Conversely, it might be the worst Hokies offense the Jackets have faced.
Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas is struggling, along with the rest of his offense, while the defense is back to normal after a down year last year. But will the short week be enough time to prepare for Georgia Tech’s option attack? And will the Hokie offense be able to score?
Regardless of their momentum coming in, Georgia Tech-Virginia Tech always ends up being a close game somehow. Since Johnson's arrival in 2008, all but one game has been decided by seven points or less (Virginia Tech has outscored Georgia Tech by an average of just 3.8 points despite having four wins in that five-game span).
(Side note: Georgia Tech's powerful offense has never broken the 30-point barrier against the Hokies.)
Prediction: Georgia Tech, 27-23
When: 12:30 p.m. (Saturday)
Where: Kenan Stadium
Breakdown: Labeling this a "must-win" game may be a little strong, but the Tar Heels could sure use a victory with a trip to Virginia Tech and home tilt against Miami looming. UNC really needs to get some confidence, particularly on offense, but an improved ECU team won't make that easy.
Prediction: North Carolina, 27-14
When: 3:30 p.m. (Saturday)Where: Memorial Stadium
Breakdown: Clemson escaped N.C. State with a road win last Thursday, which means the Tigers are eager to prove they're still among the nation's elite teams. This is bad news for Wake Forest, one of the region's weaker teams to date.
Prediction: Clemson, 51-13
3:30 p.m. (Saturday)Where: Alumni Stadium
Breakdown: Boston College has shown improvement this season, and Saturday marks just the second road test for FSU frosh Jameis Winston. BC's defense will get some pressure on him, but will it matter? Nothing has seemed to bother Winston so far, or this Florida State team. Also, the Seminoles gave won the last two meetings by a combined score of 89-14.
Prediction: Florida State, 45-20
12:30 p.m. (Saturday)Where: Heinz Field
Breakdown: Who knew it would be Pitt's offense and Virginia's defense leading the way for the respective programs? (Well, the latter was probably more likely.) The Cavaliers haven't yet faced a struggling FBS defense (BYU and Oregon both have pretty stout units), and the Panthers haven’t encountered a defense playing this well since FSU.
But Pitt's at home, and its receiving tandem of Devin Street and Tyler Boyd might be the best in the league.
Prediction: Pittsburgh, 36-27
12 p.m. (Saturday)Where: Raymond James Stadium
Breakdown: South Florida's defense is actually pretty good. Too bad the Bulls offense is spectacularly bad. And Miami's defense has shown itself to be a much-improved unit this year. This game has given the Hurricanes some trouble in the past, but the U is totally back! SWAGGER!
Prediction: Miami, 31-3.
3 p.m. (Saturday)Where: Wallace Wade Stadium
Breakdown: The Duke offense is still figuring itself out with Brandon Connette at quarterback, and there were some high and low moments last weekend in the narrow home loss to Pitt. Troy, though, is no Pitt. The Trojans can score points, but they've lost two in a row while allowing an average of 51.5 points.
Prediction: Duke, 44-27
3:30 p.m. (Saturday)Where: Carter-Finley Stadium
Breakdown: The Wolfpack will be looking for a bounce-back after a disappointing loss to Clemson. Even though Central Michigan was a formidable MAC foe for Dave Doeren when he was at Northern Illinois, the Chippewas are not so good this year, and the Wolfpack should win handily.
Prediction: NC State, 41-17