Week 5 moves us into the heart of the ACC season with 5 conference games that will shape the Atlantic and Coastal Division races.
As always, we'll split this week's games into categories.
1) Wide spreads
Clemson is a 13.5-point favorite on the road at Syracuse
Boston College is an 11.5-point favorite at home against Army
Clemson continued its roll last week by throttling Wake Forest to move to 2-0 in the ACC Atlantic Division. The Tigers will eventually get tested in ACC play, but I doubt it's this week. Syracuse fans could rock the Carrier Dome if the Orangemen keep it close, but I think it will be a rude awakening for the 'Cuse as they start ACC play.
Boston College should beat Army. Steve Addazio's team has shown too much heart this season to let up against an Army squad that's facing a talent deficit. But the bigger story here is whether the game will actually get played. The Department of Defense put athletics at the service academies on hold because of the government shutdown in Washington, so it's unsure whether the Black Knights will take the field this weekend. It would be a shame, in my opinion, to penalize the service academy athletes because of the government's current dysfunction.
2) Closer spreads
Virginia Tech beat East Carolina on the road. East Carolina stomped UNC in Chapel Hill. So VT shouldn't have much trouble with the Heels, right? Maybe so. The transitive property doesn't always work when it comes to athletics, but this is shaping up like another game that Virginia Tech should win. There's still only a small sample size, but Tech looks like the "tougher" football team this year.
NC State should easily handle Wake Forest in Winston-Salem, and there should easily be more State fans than Wake fans in attendance.
Virginia...sheesh....what can we say? This is a must-win game for the Wahoos, but Mike London's squads have struggled with smaller conference opponents during this tenure. The 'Hoos lost to Southern Miss in 2011, struggled to beat Idaho that same year, and then fell to Louisiana Tech in 2012. Ball State comes in at 4-1 and Virginia is the only BCS school on their schedule. There's no doubt the Cardinals will be pumped at the opportunity to pull the upset. Here's hoping Virginia's offense can score some points.
3) Two big conference battles
Florida State is 15.5-point home favorite against Maryland.
Miami is a 5.5-point home favorite against Georgia Tech.
Maryland has gotten off to its best start in almost a decade and has garnered a Top-25 ranking in the process. Can the Terps take down the Seminoles? Vegas doesn't seem to think so. This is the most intriguing ACC game of the week in my opinion. Win this one, and Maryland could realistically be playing for a division title when it hosts Clemson at the end of the month. No one would have predicted that early on.
Miami looks like the class of the ACC Coastal, and they can deliver a significant blow to Georgia Tech's title hopes by holding serve at home. My gut reaction to this line was that it was a little low. Given GT's offensive struggles last week and Miami's relatively strong defense this season, I would have expected the 'Canes to be favored by more. I still look for Al Golden's squad to pull out the victory this weekend.
4) Opponent specials
BYU is a 6-point underdog on the road at Utah State.
Oregon is a 39-point favorite on the road at Colorado.
After losing to Utah, BYU bounced back last week against Middle Tennessee. The Cougars won't want to fall to another in-state rival this weekend. Utah State is 2-0 in the Mountain West this season. Oregon, meanwhile, looks to continue the party that is their 2013 season...this time on the road in Boulder. Running back De' Anthony Thomas is hurt and won't play Saturday...but I doubt it will matter. Ducks win in a romp again.
Until next week...