Welcome to Week 4 of the college football season, also known as what was supposed to be the biggest matchup in conference play all year, as the Florida State Seminoles travel to take on the Clemson Tigers. Prior to the season, this had the potential to be a battle of top-10 teams, with Florida State entering the year at No. 14 and Clemson at No. 8.
For those two teams, the start of the season couldn’t have been more opposite than initially expected. The Tigers fell immediately to the Duke Blue Devils and tumbled out of the AP Top 25 while the Seminoles jumped all the way up to No. 4 in the country ahead of this game. While the dream of an FSU vs. Clemson matchup in play (aka the ACC Championship Game) isn’t dead just yet, Florida State has a real chance to essentially end its rival’s hopes of making it there this week.
But enough rambling about that game, as this college football ACC Week 4 slate of games is loaded up with some great matchups that make it even more appealing when taking a deep dive. Let’s kick things off with the first game of the week, a Friday night matchup in Charlottesville between North Carolina State and Virginia.
Back the Pack: NC State Gets it Done
Primetime road games under the lights can create a tough spot for the road teams, but the Friday Night matchup this week between NC State and Virginia is screaming not to let the bright lights blind you from looking past a far superior road team in football ACC picks. Although NC State is just 2-1 and its sample size of victories is small, the ability of quarterback Brennan Armstrong to get it done both with his arm and his legs needs to be a talking point.
There’s also the fact that Virginia is 0-3 and has been run over by two of three opponents, with the third being a game against James Madison in which the Cavaliers blew a late lead. NC State’s defense is incredibly talented and allowing 45 points to one of the best teams in the nation in Notre Dame isn’t something worth factoring into this matchup.
Virginia has given up 451.7 yards per game this season — 260.7 per game through the air and 191 on the ground. Armstrong has thrown for 260-plus yards in back-to-back games (one against Notre Dame) while scoring four touchdowns in that stretch. He’s going to make life miserable for the Cavaliers.
- College football Pick: NC State -9.5 (-110)
- College football Bonus pick: NC State team total over 29.5 (-110)
Virginia has a pair of dynamic receivers and multiple defensive players to watch for when NC State travels to Charlottesville.
Here’s a look at 5 to know for the Cavaliers:https://t.co/st6ablL4n2
— Pack Pride (@PackPride) September 19, 2023
Buying Stock in FSU
The Florida State and Clemson offenses will put up points and their defenses will have struggles at times and give up plenty of big plays. But when looking at the stats alone, it can be a bit misleading.
FSU and Clemson have averaged 462.7 and 489.3 yards offensively per game, respectively, this season, with almost identical passing yards per game. Clemson’s rushing average per game is slightly better at 216.7 vs. 189.7.
But on paper, the glaring difference in yards allowed per game should point to Clemson as the Seminoles have allowed 391.3 per and the Tigers clock in at just 246.7. Unfortunately for the all-statistics-based bettors, this glaring difference isn’t surprising when factoring in the opponents of each team.
Clemson: Duke, Charleston Southern, Florida Atlantic
Florida State: LSU, Southern Miss, Boston College
Southern Miss and Boston College obviously aren’t on the level of LSU, but Clemson hasn’t faced anything remotely close to the Seminoles’ offense. And while Tigers QB Cade Klubnik has played much better in the two most recent games in comparison to the Duke loss, Florida State on all levels is going to be a dramatically tougher test, even if just evaluating the magnitude of the game.
Unless Clemson truly has turned a corner, I’m not buying into this team derailing Florida State’s College Football Playoff hopes. In arguably one of the biggest ACC college football predictions of the year thus far, I’d roll with FSU on the moneyline at -130, but also don’t mind the over 55. If you want to play it safer, teasing FSU down to +4.5 and taking the over on 48 makes sense as well.
- College football Pick(s): Florida State (-135) and/or Florida State 7-point tease to +4.5 and over 48.5
Virginia Tech Skid Continues
The Hokies high to start the year is officially a thing of the past. After Virginia Tech’s offense showcased some upside in its opener, a 36-17 victory over Old Dominion, the Hokies came crashing back down to earth in a 24-17 loss to Purdue and followed that up with a 35-16 loss to Rutgers. But there is one interesting side note to this for the Hokies — starting quarterback Grant Wells was injured against Purdue, which led to backup Kyron Drones stepping in.
Drones looked decent in the loss, but it’s hard to argue that either Hokies team we saw with the two different signal-callers won’t be in for tough sledding against Marshall this week. Virginia Tech is allowing 212 rushing yards per game while the Thunder Herd enters this game averaging 138 yards on the ground.
Marshall junior running back Rasheen Ali is in position to make this matchup a nightmare for the Hokies. He’s been a force this season, totaling 222 yards and five touchdowns while averaging 6.2 yards per attempt.
The Hokies 127th Nationally ranked Rush Defense gets to face Marshall RB Rasheen Ali on Saturday 🎉 pic.twitter.com/JfyBrEWPSB
— օ×ѵէ (@OX_VT) September 20, 2023
But if that’s not quite enough to persuade you to lean toward the Thundering Herd, their defense has also been great, allowing no more than 17 points in any game while giving up an average of just 284.5 yards of total offense to opponents. Marshall has allowed 158.5 yards through the air, so this up-and-down Virginia Tech offense is going to have tough sledding here.
- College football Pick: Marshall -5 (-110)