Graphic Courtesy: The ACC.com

So Florida State secures their first win of the season.  Kudos to them.

Yes, it was against an FCS opponent but don’t let that fool you.  Any team stands the chance of beating you on any given day if you don’t play every down.

Does that mean they magically stand a chance against the Irish?  Highly doubtful but we’ll dive into that later on.

There are some rather great games on the slate this weekend.  We’ll be on the road heading east to Sioux Falls so we won’t be able to catch much of them, minus the highlights. But let’s dive into the ones that could start make-or-break some team’s standings in the conference…

#8 North Carolina (2-0) vs #19 Virginia Tech (2-0) Game Preview

The Tar Heel defensive front has been fantastic, allowing a nation-low 108 yards so far in the two games – Syracuse and Boston College combined to average just two yards per carry.

Granted, those two teams don’t have big-time ground games, but the pass rush has been dominant, the tackles for loss are coming in waves, and the defense as a whole has been able to come through when needed.

The offense might be a tad erratic, but it’s moving the chains well and has a decent balance. As long as the O can do a better job of putting the biscuit in the basket – there are a few too many empty drives for all the talent on this team – it’ll put the pressure on a Virginia Tech offense that’s still trying to get the passing game going, but Hendon Hooker is back.

The Hokie star quarterback missed the first few games after being in quarantine, but now he’s a full-go. Braxton Burmeister has been fine, but he’s only hitting 44% of his throws. Now the offense has options, but it’ll still be about handing the ball off.

UNC might have a terrific run defense, but it hasn’t faced anything like this. Burmeister has run well, but it’s been Kansas transfer Khalil Herbert who’s been the star, averaging over 12 yards per carry with 311 yards and three scores, and Rutgers transfer Raheem Blackshear is adding pop, too.

On the defensive side, the Hokies lead the nation in sacks. Emmanuel Belmar and company have 13 sacks so far, and now they should generate pressure on Tar Heel QB Sam Howell.

The winner will be the clear No. 3 team in the ACC pecking order behind Clemson and Notre Dame.

Virginia Tech hasn’t been fully healthy so far, but it’s getting there. North Carolina hasn’t been fully sharp so far, but it’s getting there. The Hokies have the firepower, the defensive pressure, and now it has its star quarterback in the mix to go along with the great running game.

It’ll be a blast of a back-and-forth firefight – the last team with the ball wins.

North Carolina vs Virginia Tech Broadcast

Date: Saturday, October 10
Game Time: 12:00 ET
Venue: Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, NC
Network: ABC

#5 Notre Dame (2-0) vs Florida State (1-2) Game Preview

Florida State isn’t right yet.

It’s making a quarterback change – more on that in a moment – and it was able to wake up in time to beat Jacksonville State with ease, but there’s absolutely no pass rush, there’s little production in the backfield, and the secondary is giving up plays in chunks.

Miami ran for 200 yards, and it could’ve been a whole lot uglier. All three teams on the slate so far – including that Jacksonville State team from the FCS, and a Georgia Tech team that’s not exactly Kansas City winging it around – he thrown for 244 yards or more.

Notre Dame has only played two bad teams before having to take a few weeks off, but the defense was dominant against both Duke and USF. Neither team was able to move the ball on third downs, and neither one was able to get the passing game going.

All the Irish have to do is don’t turn the ball over, pound away with the strong offensive front right away, and do what Miami did and run, run, and run some more.

But FSU can stand a chance to make it interesting.

Okay, Jordan Travis. Let’s see if you can get this thing moving.

James Blackman is a decent passer but he doesn’t take off and run. It’s not like head coach Mike Norvell’s offense needs a mobile quarterback, but there has to be some rushing element to the mix.

That’s Travis, who hit 13-of-20 passes for 222 yards and a touchdown with a pick, and he’s been able to step in and run a bit in the first three games.

Yeah, Notre Dame has been dominant so far, but again, Duke and USF aren’t very good at college football this year, and don’t discount what it did to the program to not be able to play over the last few weeks.

The FSU offense has actually moved a bit – and not just against Jacksonville State – but the drives aren’t going anywhere. If the defense can holdup against the Irish running game, make Ian Book throw to win, and hope Travis can be special on the other side.

So how will this thing turn out?

Florida State needed that second half against Jacksonville State. Don’t discount just how important it was to simply find something positive to build off of after problem after problem since Norvell took over.

This certainly isn’t going to be 1993 when it comes to the powerhouse nature of the matchup.

This is a talented Seminole squad that underachieved over the first three games. The defensive front isn’t going to be able to hold up against a Notre Dame team that will be sluggish for three quarters before finally taking over late.

Notre Dame vs Florida State Broadcast

Date: Saturday, October 10th
Game Time: 7:30 ET
Venue: Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame, IN
Network: NBC

#1 Clemson (3-0) vs #7 Miami (3-0) Game Preview

Business as usual in this contest.

Oklahoma is already knocked out of the College Football Playoff chase. LSU got whacked around by Mississippi State. Alabama and Georgia have been fine so far, but the two have a few issues.

Clemson hasn’t had to break a sweat to go 3-0.

It’s biggest problem? It was only up 27-17 in the third quarter against Virginia last week, and once it got that close, Trevor Lawrence and company answered with an easy touchdown drive to effectively put the game away.

The defensive front has been great over the first three games – the run D is allowing just 2.3 yards per carry – and it’s got the speed and athleticism at linebacker to keep Miami QB D’Eriq King from taking off and making big things happen.

The Tiger D will get into the backfield, but Miami is going to bring the house to get Lawrence and Travis Etienne.

The pass rush hasn’t quite been as devastating so far as expected, but the talent is there on the line to at least provide the pressure that Clemson hasn’t seen so far this year. Not that Lawrence and this team isn’t used to dealing with everything, but Miami is about to turn the heat up on the campaign.

This has to be King’s game, though, if Miami hopes to come away with a win.

Cam’Ron Harris has rushed for 311 yards and five scores in the first three games behind an offensive front that’s been a killer, but King has his moment to make the 2020 college football season all his.

He’s been close to flawless so far. He’s creative, he’s experienced, and he’s the exact type of quarterback who can be a gamechanger.

Miami has the ACC’s No. 1 offense, it has the swagger, and now it gets to test the waters at Clemson.

It’s not fair to suggest that Clemson is bored or wasn’t taking the first part of the season seriously, but now it’s time to flip the switch in primetime.

This is a Miami program that’s looking for its – arguably – most important win since surviving the 2002 regular season finale against Virginia Tech to cement a spot in the BCS Championship against Ohio State.

Miami will have a few good early drives, and Clemson will flex its muscles with the defense rising up and stopping the Hurricane offense in the second half.

Clemson vs Miami Broadcast

Date: Saturday, October 10
Game Time: 7:30 ET
Venue: Memorial Stadium, Clemson, SC
Network: ABC

That’s a lot of great football coming up this weekend.  Are you ready for it?

Here’s our picks, and hoping we can finally secure our first perfect weekend as we get so close each and every week.

Friday, October 9th

Match-UpOur Prediction
Georgia Tech vs LouisvilleLOU 37, GT 31

Saturday, October 10th

Match-UpOur Prediction
#8 North Carolina vs #19 Virginia TechUNC 34, VT 31
Virginia vs NC StateUVA 31, NCST 21
Syracuse vs DukeDUKE 31, SYR 28
Boston College vs PittsburghPITT 28, BC 21
#5 Notre Dame vs Florida StateND 38, FSU 17
#1 Clemson vs #7 MiamiCLEM 37, MIA 27

Last Week’s Picks: 5-1

Year-to-Date Record: 21-5 (80.77%)

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 first revamp 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.

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