In the interest of staying in the loop with what's going on around the ACC, every week we'll be previewing the conference games that don't involve our Syracuse Orange. Believe it or not, other teams in the league do play football, and some of them are actually pretty good at it. Others compete at an equal level of mediocrity to us as well. All will be detailed below.
ACC Featured Game of the Week: Week 11
Virginia Tech Hokies (6-3) (3-2) at Miami Hurricanes (7-1) (3-1), 7 p.m. ET, ESPN: Both of these teams are reeling from losses last week. The Hokies, fresh off a home upset against Duke, proceeded to drop a second straight game to Boston College and are now playing for their Coastal Division lives. Miami's latest loss against Florida State was expected, but the loss of star halfback Duke Johnson sure wasn't, which is where the concern comes in for Miami. Dallas Crawford's proven he can carry the load before, but can he do it against the Hokies' ridiculously talented defense? If the 'Canes win, the division is theirs to lose. But if Tech manages an upset, this thing breaks wide open with a glut of two-loss teams atop the standings. Prediction: Miami 26, Virginia Tech 21
The Rest of the Slate (in order of start time)
Florida State Seminoles (8-0) (6-0) at Wake Forest Demon Deacons (4-5) (2-4), noon ET, ABC: In past seasons, this matchup has been looked at as an upset special, but not so this time around. As we know, Wake Forest is pretty banged up, and without Michael Campanaro, they have no semblance of an offensive attack whatsoever. Florida State, on the other hand, boasts one of the country's most powerful offenses and one of its most charismatic stars in Jameis Winston. This game will be over by halftime. Pray they get it all out of their system before Syracuse heads down to Tallahassee next week. Prediction: Florida State 56, Wake Forest 3
Virginia Cavaliers (2-7) (0-5) at North Carolina Tar Heels (3-5) (2-3), 12:30 p.m. ET, ESPN 3/College Gameplan: The Heels may be all but eliminated in the conference race, but they're making a whole lot of headway toward getting back to the postseason after a rocky start. A tough early schedule absolutely leveled UNC, but in recent weeks, we've seen a team that's resurgent on defense, even while they still try and figure themselves out offensively. With Bryn Renner out at QB, the onus will be on Marquise Williams to get the job done, and against a porous UVa defense that shouldn't be much of an issue. Prediction: North Carolina 30, Virginia 13
Boston College Eagles (4-4) (2-3) at New Mexico State Aggies (1-8), 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN 3/College Gameplan : This game is laughable. Laughable that BC ends up finding itself lost in a hell hole known as Las Cruces, NM. Laughable that the Eagles are a pretty competent team and will likely trounce the Aggies. And laughable that this is a game that is on any sort of network. Still, the Eagles need this win for bowl eligibility, and should be able to wrap it up early behind the strong running of Andre Williams. I'll be the first to admit I did not see this sort of season coming from the senior back, but he's been as impressive as any offensive player in the ACC not named Jameis Winston. Prediction: Boston College 42, NMSU 14
NC State Wolfpack (3-5) (0-5) at Duke Blue Devils (6-2) (2-2), 4 p.m. ET, ESPNU: There's a lot at stake here for Duke. Yes, they're already bowl eligible, but that's not the ultimate goal. The Blue Devils want to establish in-state superiority (they close with three of four against fellow North Carolina schools). They want to lock up their first winning season since 1994. They want to prove that this is a team worthy of contending for a division title (they're still very much in the Coastal race, by the way). NC State's been overmatched throughout ACC play, and it'll be no different on Saturday. Chalk up another win for a program that Syracuse should be better than (and yet, isn't). Prediction: Duke 34, NC State 26
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (7-2) at Pittsburgh Panthers (4-4) (2-3), 8 p.m. ET, ABC: No more annual series for these two after this season, since the new ND-ACC agreement won't allow for it. If you'll recall, Pitt nearly derailed the Irish's National Championship hopes in November last season, before a few missed field goals handed Notre Dame a very close win. This Fighting Irish team is trying to play its way into a BCS bowl game once again (no comment), and I just don't see the Panthers on an even playing field with them. If Pitt miraculously figure out their offensive issues, then great. But that's tough to visualize against one of the better defenses in the country.