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THB Staff ACC Predictions: Week 5

Conference matchups aplenty, but interesting ones afew

Syndication: The Greenville News Ken Ruinard / USA TODAY NETWORK

If last week was our introduction to the ACC Slate, this is the week it gets into full swing, with every ACC team except for Syracuse facing a conference foe. For the purposes of our little game, this is where catching up is going to start getting harder, because the number of games we have to gain on the front-runners has pretty much just halved. In future weeks, that difficulty might get offset by in-conference matchups being closer-matched than out-of-conference ones, which are literally scheduled by the majority of Power 5 schools to add wins to the schedule — but that latter part hasn’t really been true this year (hello, Virginia Tech and Miami) and the former part, at least if you look at our predictions, doesn’t seem to be taking shape:

The conference’s two ranked matchups are also the only ones drawing any intrigue from our staff. First, Wake Forest will travel to Tallahassee to take on a resurgent Seminoles program that looks like it’s gotten rid of pretty much all the demons that plagued it during the 2010’s and is playing really good football. On the other hand, Wake Forest just took Clemson to double overtime and made their vaunted defense look absolutely silly, in just Sam Hartman’s second game back from blood clot-induced inaction. Both teams are exciting and their showdown figures to be a barnburner, and while we’ve got more believers in Wake than Florida State (probably because Wake was also good last year), it’s as polarizing a game as we’ve got.

The other point of dissension on the schedule is the primetime top-10 matchup between Clemson and N.C. State. Clemson, as mentioned, needed double overtime to beat Wake Forest, but D.J. Uiagaleilei looked better than he ever has, especially late, and if he can recapture the promise that made Clemson fans think they might not even see a drop-off after Trevor Lawrence, this Clemson team becomes a legitimate contender. State will see their first real competition after struggling against ECU and then walloping three hapless opponents — their defense is extremely legit, but a much-hyped offense has left much to be desired thus far. Most of us are buying Clemson more than we’re buying State, but Brandon and Matt, maybe to add insult to the injury that is this UNC team or maybe just because they trust State to recapture last year’s offensive magic more than they trust DJU to be a good quarterback two weeks in a row, are thinking Wolfpack.

Everything else seems pretty straightforward. Georgia Tech has already fired its coach and probably won’t be competitive the rest of the season, and Boston College and UVA are the ACC’s non-GT worst teams going up against two teams that have looked pretty good. Syracuse faces an FCS opponent, and it looks like the staff, even after the snakebite that was last week, doesn’t think UNC’s defense is bad enough that Virginia Tech will be more than the offense can outscore. Fingers crossed that Hurricane Ian cooperates...

Do you agree with our consensus picks? Disagree? Have thoughts on the more interesting matchups? Let us know!