We’ve made it to the final weekend of competition before the ACC Championship Game. It almost seems surreal that we’ve made it to this point in the “Covid 2020” season.
Thankfully for Seminoles Nation, as well, the Noles will get to play two additional games this season. The first being against Duke this weekend then traveling to face Virginia on December 19th.
And with the ACC Championship Game locked up between Notre Dame and Clemson this weekend will merely be a slate of contests that help a team further their offseason recruiting and hopefully get a good jumpstart to the 2021 season.
Let’s take a look at a couple match-ups we’re excited for.
#10 Miami (8-1) vs #17 North Carolina (7-3) Preview
Miami might have a gaudy record and a slew of fun playmakers including an elite quarterback, but they haven’t had to deal with a whole lot of high-end offenses.
The Canes gave up 550 yards to Clemson, over 500 to Louisville, and over 400 to NC State. They won two of them, but now they have to deal with the most balanced and dangerous attack outside of Clemson’s.
Sam Howell threw for 550 yards and six touchdowns in the win over Wake Forest, the running game rolled for over 300 yards three times and averages 218 yards per game, and now Miami’s D has to deal with all of it.
On the other side – to be fair, partly because of QB D’Eriq King running around making plays – Miami allows the most tackles for loss of anyone in the ACC. North Carolina’s defense isn’t amazing, but if it can just do enough to hold serve once in a while, the offense will do the rest.
King is just that good.
He might not be putting up the massive numbers he did when he was rolling at Houston a few years ago, but he’s hitting 64% of his passes, has started bombing away more and making more deep shots, and he has thrown 20 touchdown passes with just four picks – all four coming in two games.
He doesn’t do enough running, but when he had to against NC State, he pulled out the win.
North Carolina might have the high-powered offense, the balance, and the veteran playmakers, but if King is the best player on the field, that’s enough to carry the Canes.
For all of the good things North Carolina does, it doesn’t make a ton of plays behind the line. It generates sacks, but not a whole lot of tackles for loss.
There’s still a battle with Georgia Tech to deal with for Miami, and this is it for North Carolina.
There’s no way the Tar Heels can be the third-best team in the ACC standings without a win and two straight Canes losses, but the highest-ranked available team in the ACC standings goes to the Orange Bowl. If Notre Dame and Clemson both get to the College Football Playoff, and No. 17 North Carolina beats No. 10 Miami convincingly, it could be the Tar Heels who get the big bowl.
King will be magnificent, the two teams will go back-and-forth in a wild shootout, and the Canes will end up pulling it out at home with a late drive after blowing a late second half lead.
Miami vs North Carolina Broadcast
Date: Saturday, December 12
Game Time: 3:30 ET
Venue: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL
Florida State (2-6) vs Duke (2-8) Game Preview
The Blue Devils might be struggling overall, but Florida State hasn’t played in close to a month.
So what’s going right for Duke during this rough run with just one ACC win?
They’re taking the ball away enough to matter. Oddly enough, one of their two wins came in the only game when they didn’t force a takeaway – against Syracuse – but they’ve been able to come up with multiple turnovers in five of the last eight games.
Florida State hadn’t had a huge issue with turnovers after a rough start, but before not being able to go, it turned it over five times in the final two games and is a -5 overall in turnover margin.
For a Blue Devil team struggling way too much in all phases, it needs the help.
The Seminoles are having way too many problems in too many areas, but they should keep it simple. Run, run some more, and wait for Duke to screw up.
FSU isn’t taking the ball away enough to matter, but Duke can’t stop screwing up. The O has turned it over a whopping 35 times on the season, the team is -17 in turnover margin, and the glitch isn’t even close to being fixed with five giveaways last week against Miami.
The Blue Devil run defense hasn’t been anything great, and while the Noles aren’t rumbling on the ground, they have to give it a shot to control the game – and then take advantage of any and every opportunity.
Florida State’s offense isn’t moving, but the defense is the bigger overall problem. It’s a disaster on third downs and the secondary has been lit up way too easily. Duke’s offense might not be consistent, but it’ll be able to throw.
Just when it seems like the Blue Devils will start to take over, the turnovers will kick in. The team just can’t stop screwing up, the defense is struggling too much, and FSU is – on the positive side after all this – rested.
And just remember: Florida State has never lost to Duke in football. Ever.
Florida State vs Duke Broadcast
Date: Saturday, December 12
Game Time: 4:00 ET
Venue: Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, FL
Network: ACC Network
Thursday, December 10th
|Georgia Tech vs Pittsburgh||PITT 31, GT 27|
Saturday, December 12th
|Louisville vs Wake Forest||WAKE 37, LOU 35|
|#10 Miami vs #17 North Carolina||MIA 34, UNC 30|
|Florida State vs Duke||FSU 26, DUKE 21|
|Virginia Tech vs Virginia||VT 31, UVA 29|
Last Week’s Picks: 6-0
Year-to-Date Record: 61-19 (76.25%)
We’re keeping our fingers crossed for a great slate of games and we’ll check back in next week and hopefully not cringe at the results.
And if you missed it, check out our latest episode of the “Laces Out” series here.
If you’ve signed up for our weekly ESPN College Pick ‘Em challenge then don’t forget to get your picks locked in. Top entry at the end of the season will get a nominal cash prize!
Information for this post was obtained from College Football News.