It was a rough week for John Garcia Jr. and CuseNation.com premium member homedawg last week, going a combined 1-9. Mike McAllister took advantage with a 4-1 week to regain the lead atop the standings. Here are this week’s picks.
Garcia Jr: 59-24
Garcia Jr: Don't be fooled by the records when these two tangle. Much like we saw last weekend in Miami with the Seminoles in town, rivalries change everything, and this one is just as bitter on the gridiron as it is on the court. The only difference is that people will actually be tuned into this year's tilt, primarily for Duke -- imagine that. Much like FSU vs. The Ville earlier this year, the underdog will make some noise, but the better team will figure things out late. Cutcliffe adjusts after Fedora's hot start and the Blue Devils get that much closer to a date in Charlotte, 30-28.
McAllister: In basketball, this is one of the premier matchups every year. In football, not so much. Still, there is plenty of intrigue in this one. After a surprising home loss to Virginia Tech and struggling with Syracuse the week before, Duke has come back down to earth after some strong performances. They will rebound in this one as the Tar Heels defense is too porous, and the Duke receivers are open all night long. Duke 38 UNC 27.
homedawg: This Thursday's ACC match up could be a shootout. Defense has been optional for the Heels all season. Their offense has been pretty solid in its own right, but I don't think it will be enough to slow down the Blue Devils, who have their eyes set on the divisional crown, and another appearance in the ACC Championship game. Duke in a wild one, 49-42.
Virginia Tech at Wake Forest
Garcia Jr: Both defenses can flash, but Wake's been the more consistent between the two. Each offense has showed the ability to be the league's worst, so the home team gets a default edge early, but Frank Beamer can't go down to Wake on top of everything else that has happened this year, right? Right. Hokies find a way, 24-14.
McAllister: This looks like Wake’s best chance to get a conference win this season, but it is not to be. After a big road upset last week to keep bowl hopes alive, the Hokies strong defense will shut down arguably the worst offense in division one football. Virginia Tech 27 Wake Forest 6.
homedawg: If Virginia Tech wants to make sure they go bowling this year, they better take care of the lowly Deacs this week in Winston-Salem. This is a decent match up for the Deacs. Virginia Tech's offensive ineptitude should keep the score low, which is a good thing for Wake's equally as bad offense. I'm going to call the upset just because the whole ACC is pretty crazy, and I don't think the team has yet to give up on Clawson. Wake shocks the world 13-7.
Syracuse at Pittsburgh
Garcia Jr: Power offense against a tough defense makes half of this matchup intriguing television for ACC fans, but the other battle (Cuse O vs. Pitt D) may lead to some mid-afternoon naps. It'll be cold, and good offense generally finds a way over good defense, so the Conner/Boyd train continues and Pitt pulls one out at home, 20-14.
McAllister: The bye week was much needed for the Orange, as they hope to get some reinforcements back along the offensive line and at quarterback. A.J. Long is back running the offense, which should give them a boost. Pitt’s defense has really struggled of late, and while their offense has the pieces, they are turnover prone. The Orange defense keeps it close again, and force a key turnover late as Syracuse pulls off the upset on the road, ending the Panthers’ bowl hopes. Syracuse 24 Pitt 23.
homedawg: Talk about 2 disappointing seasons. The Orange are already out of bowl contention, and the Panthers are barely hanging on. At the beginning of the year I thought this would be a huge match up, and possibly the start of a more intense rivalry. Now it's just another game on the schedule. Since the Orange can stop the run, and the Panthers really can't stop anything, I’ll go with the Orange 21-17.
Garcia Jr: Georgia State doesn't recruit its own city (Atlanta) as well as Clemson does. Even the Cole Stoudt-led Tigers shouldn't have much trouble here, 38-10.
McAllister: No Deshaun Watson is a big problem for Clemson the rest of the way, but not this week against the undermanned Georgia State Panthers. Clemson 31 Georgia State 7.
homedawg: Clemson gets their annual 4th virtual bye week of the season when they face a 1-9 Georgia St. Even Cole Stoudt should look good this weekend. Clemson 66-0.
Garcia Jr: Tyler Murphy will give FSU problems like seemingly every team has early in games, but he'll be out-dueled by Jameis Winston over the final three quarters and the Noles will actually look the part for most of the game this time around despite Steve Addazio's tough team. Defending champs 34, Up-and-comers 17.
McAllister: Florida State trails early and ends up winning by double figures with a dominant second half. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Florida State 38 Boston College 20.
homedawg: This could be a danger game for the Noles. They've needed 3 miracle come from behind victories in a row. They can't keep tempting fate against decent competition, or they will eventually get burnt. BC has already shown they came play a physical brand of ball, and be successful....just ask USC. Thankfully for the Noles they are at home, or I’d definitely have them on upset alert. Hell, I’ve picked against FSU 3 straight times, and have been burnt each time. I'm sure since I don't do it this time they will finally get burnt. We'll see, but for now I’ll take FSU in another close one FSU 31 BC 28.
Garcia Jr: Explosive offense against a monster defense makes this one a fun watch. The Golson vs. Holliman matchup alone could have NFL implications, but the other offense will steal the show in this one. Which Irish defender can keep up with DeVante Parker? I'll wait....Cards 36, Irish 35.
McAllister: The Irish will bounce back after a bad loss at home to Northwestern. Everett Golson will turn it over a couple of times, but Notre Dame’s defense will provide some takeaways of their own. The Cards offense will struggle to consistently move the ball, though DeVante Parker’s presence does pose a problem. Notre Dame 31 Louisville 28.
homedawg: Notre Dame is reeling. After getting exposed by Arizona St, they unexpectedly laid an egg against Northwestern. Louisville will present a tough defense, and a stud receiver in Davante Parker, who has picked right up where he left off last year since returning from injury. I think the Irish downward spiral continues, Cards 27 ND 23.
Miami at Virginia
Garcia Jr: A good set of defenses will tangle near the Tidewater with plenty on the line. Mike London's group may have saved his job with its 2014 effort, and a win over The U would probably ensure that fate. On the other side, Miami's explosive offense turned plenty of heads against FSU last week and that was without connecting on some open looks. The frosh stud Kaaya won't duplicate those plays and the Canes will cruise, 37-17.
McAllister: Oh so close to pulling off the upset for the ‘Canes against FSU last week. After such an emotional game, they are due for a bit of a letdown. You can’t do that against a strong Virginia defense. The Cavs pull this one out at home. Virginia 24 Miami 21.
homedawg: Miami was oh so close last week against their hated rival FSU. Will this week be a letdown game, or will they take the positives and build? It should help that UVA is who we thought they were at the beginning of the season.....a talented, but poorly coached team. The U wins on talent alone, ending UVA's bowl hopes, Miami 37 UVA 31.