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THB Staff ACC Predictions: Week 9

I knew the interesting times wouldn’t last.

NCAA Football: Pittsburgh at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

So last week definitely lived up to the interest I talked about, huh? Syracuse nearly pulled it out against Clemson, easily beating a multiple-score spread, Virginia and Georgia Tech played a true Sickos(TM) game with turnovers galore and an outcome that was indeterminate until the final whistle, Louisville proved me right against the consensus of all my colleagues and beat Pittsburgh by multiple scores, and Duke shellacked Miami in their own stadium, creating a new anti-Miami celebration while doing so:

Dazz Newsome, for one, approves.

Unfortunately, it couldn’t last, and while we’ve got more ACC action this week than we have in the past couple of weeks with a bunch of teams getting their weeks off, three of this week’s seven games have a team favored by more than a touchdown, and three more feature a ranked team and an unranked team whose odds seem to be close simply because nobody wants to anoint anybody in the ACC as a sure thing other than Clemson. I can’t really blame them, but us writers don’t have such trouble. Or, at least, we’ve got a much lower opinion of the ACC’s unranked teams than Vegas does. Here’s what we’ve got lined up this weekend:

NC State and Florida State are both favored by multiple touchdowns against the ACC’s two worst teams, so it’s no surprise we’ve all gone with the favorite there. Boston College has its rivalry out-of-conference game against UConn, an opponent they’ve never lost to, so even though the Eagles aren’t good, that’s a game that we’re not really doubting. The rest of the games are where Vegas thinks it will get interesting, but for the most part, we don’t really seem to agree. Personally, I’m surprised that Syracuse are only 2.5-point favorites at home against Notre Dame, especially after the fight they put up against Clemson. I guess Notre Dame’s brand is strong enough to make their lines closer than they should be, because in their last action, they lost to a Stanford team that had only won one other game this season. As for our writers, if I have to guess, the three who picked Notre Dame either are predicting a letdown game after the disappointment of last week or they’re remembering the UNC-Notre Dame game as proof that the Irish can compete.

Virginia looks like they might be in their second Sickos Committee battle in a row this weekend, hosting a Miami team that’s in absolute shambles: after losing to Duke in a game where they turned the ball over 8 (?!?!?!?!?!?) times, they’ve now got to go at least a few games, probably, without their starting quarterback. Miami’s favored by two points because UVA is also very bad, and I think we all probably assume there’s no way Miami can give the ball away that many times again. Wake Forest is on a pretty relentless tear that’s vaulted them into the Top 10, while Louisville, though they’ve got Malik Cunningham back, are still probably a step behind them. Again, just a 4-point spread seems low for as good as the Deacs are this year, and our unanimity isn’t surprising. And finally, for the night game, we’ve got our Heels’ homecoming game against Pittsburgh, trying to beat the Panthers for the first time since Mack Brown took over for his second stint. Pittsburgh entered the season with high expectations and have quite a ferocious defense, but their offense has taken a major step back with the departures of Kenny Pickett and Jordan Addison, coupled with Pat Narduzzi’s baffling abandoment of the high-flying offense that won the ACC last year for a ground-and-pound approach — but worse offenses have found magic against UNC’s defense this year, and that’s scary enough for Douglas, at least, to pick against our homerism.

I’ll finish by briefly addressing the standings. Al’s made a couple of timely picks the past couple of weeks that have taken him from just behind the podium up into a tie for first place with Tanya, which will remain intact for a week because they’ve got identical picks this week. Two games behind them sits Matt, and then nearly everybody else is a game or two behind Matt, after some shuffling the past two weeks that’s brought the peloton, so to speak, closer together. Poor Brandon brings up the rear, as he just hasn’t quite gotten the pulse of this season. With only a few weeks left to go, things are getting spicy. Let us know your thoughts below!