It’s rivalry week, and while there’s a full slate of ACC games, only one game matters. Will the Hoos finally get over the hump, or will Lucy move the football once again? Here are the picks.
Honestly, I have no idea about this game. Every sign points to Virginia. Advanced metrics, check. Quarterback play, check. Home field, check. But as we all know in this game, none of that matters. Virginia has been the better team before, but Virginia Tech just seems to find something extra for this game. I’ve long held that until the Hoos have a significant talent advantage, they won’t win this game. It just means more to Tech. It means more to their fans, it means more to their players. That however changed last year when the Hoos left Blacksburg in heart break. I think Bryce Perkins, though he didn’t grow up in the rivalry, in particular took the loss very hard and he’s going to do everything in his power to ensure it doesn’t happen again. The question is, will it be enough? As a Hoos fan beaten down by two decades of futility, I don’t feel good about it.
Pick: Virginia Tech -2.5
Let’s see. 6-5 SEC team that came into the year ranked in the Top-20 hosting a 7-4 ACC team many picked to finish last in their division. Yeah, rivalry or not, these two teams seasons are polar opposites. Louisville will look to finish strong against their rival, while Kentucky is figuring out what went wrong against Evansville.
Pick: Louisville +3
I’ve made a good living this year taking Clemson to cover. Just like Kentucky, South Carolina is just wanting this season to be over. Clemson can still use style points for College Football Playoff seeding, so I expect them to take it to their rival. The Tigers have been covering 30 and 40 point spreads with ease, so four TDs shouldn’t be a problem.
Pick: Clemson -27
Just as I’ve made money taking Clemson, I’ve made just as much fading Georgia Tech. But the Jackets haven’t been 28 point dogs in any of those game. Georgia Tech is frisky enough to lose 24 and Georgia hasn’t really been blowing teams out. Ultimately though, the implied total is 37-9, so if Georgia comes close to covering, the game likely goes over.
Pick: Over 46.5
Duke did us a massive favor two weeks when they lost to Syracuse 49-6. It gave the books a glimmer of hope that the Orangemen can compete with teams in the ACC. Betting against that “momentum” would have served you well as the Orangemen fell 56-34 at Louisville. Fortunately for us, the books didn’t adjust and we get Wake Forest as a short favorite, despite being on the road. You have to imagine Syracuse and their fans are ready to hibernate (read: watch basketball) for the winter and Wake Forest is still playing for the bowl hierarchy. Demon Deacons roll.
Pick: Wake Forest -3.5
All season, I’ve thought of Pitt as a gritty defensive squad. And that’s been the case when teams they play have a semblance of a defense. However, when they other team wants to get up and the field, the Panthers will run with them. Well, Boston College likes to get up and down the field and it appears that their strategy for getting the ball back from their opponents is to let them score. I think Pitt will run and there will be plenty of points to be had.
Pick: Over 51.5
Raise you hand if you can predict the Hurricanes this year. Now put your hand down. After a shocking loss at the hands of Georgia Tech, Miami appeared to be rolling with wins over Pitt, Florida State, and Louisville. Then Florida International happened. The same could be said for Duke. After starting the year 4-2 including a demolition of VaTech, Duke has lost five in a row and only been competitive in one of those game. At least you can say Duke is somewhat more “predictable.” Miami still has a talent advantage, they’re the heavy favorites, but this the ACC Coastal, so Duke probably rolls.
Pick: Duke +9
All signs point to these two teams putting up some points against another. However, an interesting trend may be at play here. In their games against the other ACC state rivals, Duke and Wake Forest, only NC State’s loss to Wake Forest went over 50 points and that’s mostly because the Demon Deacons tallied 44. With an implied total of 33-23, the over may be hard to get here. The Wolfpack have scored more than 24 points in an ACC game only once this season. And given North Carolina’s penchant for playing close game, I don’t see them running away from the Pack.
Pick: Under 56
Florida shouldn’t have any trouble with the Seminoles. The key here is the points. 17.5 appears on paper to be a few too many in a rivalry game with the level of talent both teams can field (on paper). However, the Gators should be able run it up. In similar games, the Gators won by 11 on the road against South Carolina, and they romped Tennessee at home 34-3. Florida State isn’t appreciably better than Tennessee.
Pick: Florida -17.5