It’s the time of year when seasons are normally are close to ending, but in this pandemic season, there is still a full month of college football regular-season games to be played. We’re only past the midpoint. ACC teams have a lot of work to do before they call it a year. Let’s see what comes up in this next weekend of intriguing games.
Miami Hurricanes vs Virginia Tech Hokies
- Odds: Virginia Tech -2.5
Let’s admit it without trying to ignore it or hide from it: ACC football has been extremely unpredictable in 2020. Teams are bad one week and good the next, with little consistency or stability in the conference. Virginia Tech solidly defeated North Carolina State, while Miami played poorly against North Carolina State but rallied late to win. Virginia Tech just lost to Liberty at home, the kind of loss a higher-tier ACC team should not suffer.
A few weeks ago, Miami barely beat a Virginia team that had multiple safeties out of the lineup due to injury. Neither the Hurricanes nor the Hokies have shown an inclination to be steady and reliable this season, so it’s anyone’s guess as to which team will come out on top. The big advantage Miami has, however, is that its quarterback, D’Eriq King, is the best player on the field. King single-handedly rescued the Hurricanes against North Carolina State. He can make improvisational plays out of the pocket and can run for first downs if the pass isn’t there. He can do it all, and he can make an offense succeed even when the offensive line play isn’t especially strong. Virginia Tech has to find a way to contain King; if it can’t do that one thing, it is highly unlikely to prevail.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons vs North Carolina Tar Heels
- Odds: North Carolina -13.5
This is a game between an overachieving but inferior team and an underachieving but far more talented group. Wake Forest regularly manages to punch above its weight in the ACC. This doesn’t mean the Demon Deacons are an elite team, only that they have less talent than most of the teams in the conference but usually manage to carve out a record close to .500, which – under the circumstances – is impressive. Coach Dave Clawson is doing something similar this year with a group of athletes that simply doesn’t overwhelm.
North Carolina was a trendy preseason pick to thrive in the ACC, but the Tar Heels have already lost twice – once to a weak Florida State team, and once to a Virginia team that is not as good as it was last year. The North Carolina defense has turned into a complete disaster. Basic tackling and assignment-oriented football have eluded the Tar Heels, who have an elite offense but are squandering an opportunity to make the ACC Championship Game. North Carolina figures to win this game, but Wake Forest has a knack for being more competitive than the experts might first think.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs Boston College Eagles
- Odds: Notre Dame -13.5
When Notre Dame finished No. 2 in the country in the 1993 season, the Irish beat a No. 1-ranked ACC opponent and then lost the next week to Boston College. Notre Dame didn’t lose another game that season, but finished below Florida State in the polls. Will something similar happen this year? Notre Dame beat ACC favorite Clemson, at the time the top-ranked team in the country. Will a Boston College letdown occur again, 27 years after the first time that happened, or will the Irish — clearly possessing the talent and toughness of a national title contender — remain on the right track? Keep in mind that Boston College quarterback Phil Jurkovec is a Notre Dame transfer. He wants this game badly.
Louisville Cardinals vs Virginia Cavaliers
- Odds: Virginia -3
The Louisville Cardinals and Virginia Cavaliers are a lot like the rest of the ACC. One doesn’t know how these teams will perform from week to week. Sometimes they’re way up, as Louisville was when it thrashed Florida State and Virginia was when it upset North Carolina. Sometimes they’re way down, as Louisville was in a miserable performance against Virginia Tech and as Virginia was in a stink-bomb at home versus North Carolina State. Which is the real Louisville? Which is the real Virginia? It’s hard to know when teams are so inconsistent. Not to mention that the football season is being played against the backdrop of a pandemic and its uncertainties. The sportsbook has seen all kinds of ups and downs all year for this reason.
Pittsburgh Panthers vs Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
- Odds: Pittsburgh -6.5
The Pittsburgh Panthers were a bad team earlier in the season, but they might be figuring things out. They went into Tallahassee and dismantled Florida State. This happened in spite of the fact that Paris Ford, the star of their secondary, opted-out of the season. Pittsburgh will try to carry its Florida State-based momentum into this contest against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech started the season brightly with wins over Florida State and Louisville but has regressed. Can Pitt sustain its upward trajectory, and can Georgia Tech reverse a downward slide? Those are the questions worth asking here before getting down to online betting.
Florida State Seminoles vs North Carolina State Wolfpack
- Odds: North Carolina State -7
The Florida State Seminoles joined the ACC in the early 1990s and dominated for 15 years. They struggled for a handful of seasons but then, in 2010, began another period in which they were ACC royalty. After the 2016 season, however, the program has lost its way, and this time, a four-year period of struggle shows no signs of ending anytime soon. This is the darkest period for Florida State football since the early 1970s. FSU has been lost and adrift in the first season of Coach Mike Norvell’s tenure. Even though North Carolina State lost its best quarterback, Devin Leary, to injury earlier this season, the Wolfpack are still touchdown favorites over Florida State with backup Bailey Hockman under center. That tells you all you need to know about the condition of Florida State right now.