The ACC had a mixed bag of results in Week 3. Virginia Tech suffered an embarrassing loss at the hands of East Carolina, but Boston College shocked the nation with an upset of Southern Cal. Louisville saw its reputation fall with a loss at Virginia, while the Cavaliers forced their way into the national media with their upset of the Cardinals. Georgia Tech survived yet another scare, while Pitt looked shaky early against FIU. All that said, nothing that has happened in the first three weeks of the season is as important as what happens in Week 4 when Clemson travels to Tallahassee. Here's what Vegas thinks about the Tiger-Seminole matchup and the rest of the ACC's Week 4 games:
1) The Big Game
Florida State is a 20-point favorite at home against Clemson.
If the ACC makes a run at the first-ever College Football Playoff, it will be on the back of one of these teams. Florida State looked a little shaky in its opener against Oklahoma State. Clemson, meanwhile, laid an egg against Georgia. The Tigers are going to need to come out hot and successfully trade blows with the 'Noles in the early going to have any shot at pulling an upset. If FSU gets up big early, I'd look for them to cover.
2) The Other Conference Game
Virginia Tech is an 8-point favorite at home against Georgia Tech.
Two teams in need of confidence boosts will clash in Blacksburg in a game that has traditionally gone a long way in deciding the ACC Coastal race. The Hokies badly need to bounce back after being upset by ECU, and the Yellow Jackets badly need to beat a quality opponent. The loser of this one falls towards the bottom of the pile in the ACC Coastal. I've been down on Georgia Tech all season. No reason to stop now.
3) Significant Non-Conference Games
Pitt is a 4-point favorite at home against Iowa.
Syracuse hosts Maryland, and the game has been declared a "Pick 'Em."
Miami is a 7-point UNDERDOG on the road against Nebraska.
North Carolina is a 2-point UNDERDOG on the road against East Carolina.
Virginia is a 14-point UNDERDOG on the road against BYU.
The ACC has a chance to distance itself from the Big Ten in the conference pecking order as Pitt, Miami and Syracuse face Big Ten foes. ACC fans will be cheering vehemently for an Orange win against the Terps. Syracuse looked solid in last week's win over Central Michigan. Meanwhile, Miami gets its second chance to make a statement. A win against Nebraska would silence a lot of Al Golden's critics and help make up for the Labor Day debacle against Louisville. Finally, Pitt could continue to raise eyebrows this week if it can hold serve at home against Iowa.
The other two non-conference games feature ACC teams with quickly changing images. Virginia gained some respect with the win over Louisville. The Hoos will need another strong game to have any chance in Provo. The line seems high to me, but make no mistake...Virginia is the underdog against BYU. North Carolina, meanwhile, has teetered in both of its wins this season. The Heels face a scheduling gauntlet after this weekend. They badly need to beat ECU in Greenville to keep their season on-track.
4) Not-so-significant Non-Conference Games
Duke is a 17-point favorite at home against Tulane.
Wake is a 2.5-point UNDERDOG at home against Army.
Louisville is a 27-point favorite on the road against FIU.
Duke wraps up its diet of non-conference cream puffs in what should be a rout of Tulane. Wake desperately needs a win and could get one at home against Army. Louisville will take out some frustration on FIU.
5) Games against FCS schools
NC State hosts FCS-school Presbyterian. No line has been placed on the game.
Boston College hosts FCS-school Maine. No line has been placed on the game.
Boston College gets a pass here for playing an FCS team. The Eagles just beat Southern Cal in what will be one of the best moments of the 2014 college football season. And Maine is no slouch as far as FCS programs go. On the other hand, NC State's schedule is an embarrassment. The Wuffies could very well go 4-0 out of conference and 0-8 in conference.