It’s Week 14 of the college football season, and the ACC has reshuffled its schedule, with Florida State not playing this week and not likely to play any more games. Let’s take a look at the upcoming games as well as the online betting odds.
Western Carolina Catamounts at North Carolina Tar Heels
Odds: North Carolina -49.5
The North Carolina Tar Heels fell short in their recent big game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. They are obviously far better than Western Carolina, an FCS school that is trying to get a paycheck in exchange for receiving a blowout on the field. Yet, North Carolina is probably depressed after failing to beat Notre Dame. The slight-to-moderate case of reduced team morale won’t affect who wins or loses this game, but it might prevent North Carolina from winning by 50 points.
Syracuse Orange at Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Sportsbook Odds: Notre Dame -34.5
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish learned earlier this week that they will not have an ACC game on Dec. 12. This means that they are safely in the ACC Championship Game as they anticipate a reunion with the Clemson Tigers, whom they defeated a month ago. If Clemson loses to Virginia Tech, Notre Dame would face Miami instead of Clemson, but as long as Clemson wins, it will beat out Miami for the second spot in the ACC title game. Notre Dame should have absolutely no problem with Syracuse, regarded by most as the worst team in the 15-team ACC. Syracuse lost at home to Duke earlier this season in a battle of ACC bottom-feeders. Notre Dame will keep the playbook short and simple before the Clemson game, and it won’t matter at all. The Irish should dismantle the Orange.
Boston College Eagles at Virginia Cavaliers
Odds: Virginia -4
Boston College and Virginia are both hard teams to figure out, largely because the ACC is so hard to figure out. The ACC has Notre Dame and Clemson at the top. Syracuse and Duke are bad. In the middle of the conference, however, it is hard to separate one team from another. Boston College and Virginia are part of that group. Virginia lost at home to North Carolina State but defeated North Carolina. Boston College nearly beat North Carolina, was competitive at Clemson but squeaked by Syracuse and Louisville. It is difficult to know what versions of each team will show up each week. Boston College-Virginia has the makings of a close game, but in a weird and mysterious ACC, this game could break big for one side, and it wouldn’t be that much of a surprise.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at North Carolina State Wolfpack
College Football Odds: North Carolina State -7
The North Carolina State Wolfpack have overachieved. They struggled in 2019 and entered 2020 with a lot of questions, but a win here would give them an 8-3 record, far better than most preseason prognostications. Starting quarterback Devin Leary was injured midway through the season, precisely when the Wolfpack were rolling along and playing their best football. Many people inside the program and outside the team’s inner circle both thought the season would spiral downward at that point, but backup quarterback Bailey Hockman has enabled the Wolfpack to continue to win. More than Hockman, the defense has come up big. It stifled the high-powered Liberty Flames’ offense a few weeks ago and has held the team together while the offense was dogged by injuries. North Carolina State doesn’t play aesthetically attractive games; the Wolfpack go through a lot of ups and downs within the course of most games. However, the Pack has been winning close games with timely plays in the fourth quarter. The defensive front has been very impressive; it maintains control of the line of scrimmage and has stabilized nearly all of N.C. State’s wins this season. As long as Hockman doesn’t commit big mistakes, North Carolina State — which has been a few notches better than Georgia Tech all season long — should be able to take control in this contest.
Clemson Tigers at Virginia Tech Hokies
Odds: Clemson -22
The Clemson Tigers have a loss on their belt, which means that if they lose a second time, their season will be ruined. They wouldn’t qualify for the ACC Championship Game. They would be knocked out of the College Football Playoff race. Yet, Clemson has been in this situation before under Dabo Swinney, and every time the Tigers have faced a must-win ACC game in the past five years, they have won it. They have won the last five ACC championships and made the playoff five straight seasons. If they can go into enemy territory and handle an erratic Virginia Tech team, Clemson will once again go to the ACC Championship Game, this time to face Notre Dame and get revenge on the Irish for the loss the Tigers suffered a month ago. Virginia Tech has a good offensive line, but the skill players — particularly quarterback Hendon Hooker — have struggled mightily in 2020. Virginia Tech needs to hit downfield pass plays against an average Clemson secondary to have a realistic chance of winning this game, but nothing the Hokies have done on offense this year suggests that is likely to happen.
Miami Hurricanes at Duke Blue Devils
Odds: Miami -15
This is a rescheduled game created in response to COVID-19 situations at Florida State and other ACC schools.
The Miami Hurricanes are hoping Clemson trips up against Virginia Tech. If Clemson loses and Miami can take care of business against Duke, the Hurricanes would face Notre Dame for the ACC Championship on Dec. 19 in Charlotte. While no one expects Clemson to lose, the mere possibility of facing Notre Dame for a conference title should be all the motivation Miami needs in this game. Miami quarterback D’Eriq King has been the long-sought answer Miami needed at quarterback. His dazzling dual-threat talents have made plays previous UM quarterbacks have failed to make. This is not a complete Miami team, but King’s greatness has compensated for this team’s weaknesses and lifted the Canes to a much higher standing in the ACC and the college football world. King has carried this team on his back; as long as he’s there, Miami has a chance against anyone… and it should bury inferior teams such as the Duke squad the Canes face on Saturday.