It's that time once again. With every team in action against another ACC team, week 8 is a big one for the conference. My record, unfortunately, was less than stellar last week (2-3). The Yellow Jackets decided they didn't want to appease the majority, and Virginia Tech didn't fall for the upset bug. Hey, at least I didn't pick Duke over Florida State. Now, let's get on with this weeks matchups.
Well, Virginia Tech showed me. With a great victory over Wake Forest, the Hokies put themselves in a great position heading into the final stretches of the season. This week, they face a Boston College squad coming off their bye. Sitting at 1-5, the Eagles know that it is do-or-die time for their 2011 season. Boston College will have to do everything in their power to even have a chance at sniffing a bowl game. Unfortunately, I don't think that path gets any easier this Saturday. While BC could put up a bit more of a fight than some might think, VT will win this one easily enough.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 31, Boston College 17
Heather Dinich had too much faith in the Blue Devils last week, and I had too much faith in the Demon Deacons. Both squads are coming off of tough losses against good teams. Getting back to a bowl game, however, is still not that much to ask for either of these teams. After getting off to a 4-1 start, Wake Forest knows that their chances to make a bowl game at this point are looking great. However, don't count out what the Blue Devils can do. It was a tough loss against Florida State, but Duke still has the capacity to play well against some of the better teams in the conference. I feel that this game may go a long way in determining which of these two teams eventually makes a bowl game, and right now I think Wake Forest is just a bit closer to that level.
Prediction: Wake Forest 27, Duke 21
Maryland certainly tried last week, didn't they? In what may have been the most fun matchup of the ACC last week, Maryland lost what was eventually a close shootout with conference opponent Clemson. Florida State, on the other hand, showed that there is still some life in them as they gave a nice beatdown to the Blue Devils. Both of these teams fully realize that a loss here pretty much eliminates them from the Atlantic Division race (assuming anyone has the capacity to catch Clemson at this point). This being a home game for FSU, and my personal belief that the shock is wearing off in terms of teams having to face a QB they haven't seen much of before, I'm going to take FSU in this one (although I doubt it will be the blowout Heather Dinich believes it to be).
Prediction: Florida State 38, Maryland 27
Now sitting at 4-2 on the season, Virginia made a big statement last week by pulling off the big upset against Georgia Tech. Now, the Cavaliers have to back it up. Last year, they managed to pull off a similar feat in the ACC season, defeating the Miami Hurricanes, who were ranked at the time. However, that ended up being the only win in the ACC for the Cavs last season as they went on to a 4-8 finish. The Cavs are guaranteed to finish better than that this year, but right now, NC State would love to continue their recent success. Coming off of a win two weeks ago and a bye last week, it's now or never for the Wolfpack. Sitting at 3-3 on the season, NC State will have to start winning now if they want to make a bowl game. Conventional wisdom is telling me to go with the Cavs in this game, but between UVA possibly not coming down from the euphoria of last week, and State's much needed bye, I think the Wolfpack gets away with a small upset.
Prediction: NC State 31, UVA 24
Does Clemson perhaps have a shot at the national championship? To this point in the season, Clemson has put on an Auburn-esque run, going undefeated throughout their first seven games. Not necessarily without any trouble, mind you. Maryland managed to expose some of the holes in Clemson's defense that we all long knew existed and managed to make a game against Clemson, which no one expected. Meanwhile, it was a great start for the Tarheels of North Carolina, but there has got to be a bad taste in the mouths of their fans. With both of their previous ACC games ending in close losses, North Carolina is quickly being forced to the edge. With teams like Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech still sitting with only one loss, going into Death Valley to face an undefeated Clemson team is not what UNC needed. It's going to be a good one, folks, but home field advantage makes me take Clemson in this matchup.
Prediction: Clemson 38, UNC 28
Now it's time to take a look at what I feel will be the game of the week in the ACC. It is officially do-or-die time for both Georgia Tech and Miami. The Hurricanes got a huge boost in the Coastal race with their victory over UNC, and now they look to do the same vs. the Yellow Jackets.
A win here would put Miami in second place in the Coastal division with only VT ahead of them. The Jackets, on the other hand, have to be sickened. After their best start in 45 years, the prolific GT offense only managed two touchdowns against UVA, and allowed the Cavs to run all over them. This doesn't bode well when facing perhaps the best running back in the ACC in Lamar Miller. But you know what? I'm still taking the Jackets in this one. Call it foolishness, call it optimism, but we all know that this is the same Georgia Tech team capable of having an offensive explosion against anyone. Perhaps a loss is exactly what they needed to snap back into reality. Add in the fact that Miami is fielding a mostly new defensive staff, and the addition of two starting GT linebackers back into the mix, and I don't think the Jackets are ready to go down just yet.
Prediction: Georgia Tech 35, Miami 31
Week 8 predictions in the ACC are officially in the books. Last week roughed me up a bit, putting me at 7-4 overall in two weeks. Hopefully that turns around this week—and as always, enjoy the games this weekend, and see y'all next week.