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This Week in ACC Football: Week 8 (2020)

Our run-down for this week’s #ACCFootball games which sees a lengthy series game continue with the Irish and Jackets as well as how good the Tigers will be without their star QB.

Graphic Courtesy: The ACC.com

This Week in ACC Football: Week 8 (2020)

We have no words.

After FSU put together an impressive performance against North Carolina the week before instead of continuing the trend set in the 1st half they kept up the inept play of the 2nd half and let that carry over to their road trip to Louisville.

We won’t go into detail on it too much as you can see our entire rant about this game in our latest edition of “Laces Out”.  We’ll save you the trouble of clicking any links and just post the video at the end of this article.

So now that we’ve got that off our chest (and FSU has a Bye Week to figure things out before playing Pitt) we’ll jump onto a few key games in the ACC this weekend.

Virginia Tech (3-2) vs Louisville (2-4) Game Preview

When the Hokie running game is on, forget it.

It seems to be just this simple. Run for over 300 yards, win. Don’t, and lose. Virginia Tech is 3-0 when it hits three bills and 0-2 when it’s under.

Overall, the Louisville run defense and defensive front have been okay, but it’s been getting progressively worse over the last four games including allowing 265 yards to a generally punch-less Florida State last week after getting hit for 232 yards by Notre Dame.

On the other side, the Virginia Tech defense has been great at getting behind the line, and now it gets to hammer on a Louisville offensive front that’s among the worst in the nation in tackles for loss allowed.

There’s a flip side to the running game, though, as Virginia Tech’s run defense has been spotty.

It’s 3-0 when allowing fewer than 140 yards on the ground and 0-2 – coinciding with the lack of 300-yard rushing excellence on its own side – when giving up more, getting ripped up by North Carolina for almost 400 yards and Wake Forest for 206.

Louisville has rushed for over 240 yards in two of the last three games.

The offense has been hit-or-miss, but the pass defense has been solid, the attack scores whenever it gets deep into opposing territory, and it’s coming off one of the best games of the year by QB Malik Cunningham.

The weapons are there to keep up.

But wait.  This is the first time these two teams have played as members of the ACC? How is it even possible that schools just 350 miles apart – that’s a driver/3-wood in college athletic travel – haven’t played since the 2006 Gator Bowl and only met seven times?

Virginia Tech is 5-2, by the way.

Be mad if this isn’t fun.

Louisville’s offense has been stunningly mediocre on the road, but now it’s at home again after rolling by FSU last week. Virginia Tech has been great at home and just okay on the road, with both of its losses coming away from Blacksburg.

Virginia Tech is the stronger team, but Louisville’s defense is playing better lately.

It’s going to be a fight that comes down to a late drive. Virginia Tech will be +2 in turnover margin – that will be enough.

Virginia Tech vs Louisville Broadcast

Date: Saturday, October 31
Game Time: 4:00 ET
Venue: Cardinal Stadium, Louisville, KY
Network: ACC Network

#4 Notre Dame (5-0) vs Georgia Tech (2-4) Game Preview

It might not be splashy, and it might not be all that exciting, but Notre Dame has been tough as nails, especially on third downs.

Don’t get caught up in the lack of a big passing game – that worked just fine last week against Pitt. Don’t get into a twist over the lack of takeaways. The Irish lead all ACC teams in third down defense, and the offense is hitting 52% of its chances – only Clemson is better.

Georgia Tech has the ACC’s worst third down defense, the run D is giving up close to 200 yards per game, and it’s about to get hammered on by the strong Notre Dame offensive line and a ground attack that’s averaging over five yards per carry.

Can Georgia Tech somehow start forcing takeaways from the start?

The Georgia Tech defense hasn’t exactly been a brick wall – giving up 121 points over the last two games – but it’s been able to take the ball away. It didn’t do it against Boston College in last week’s loss, but it generated two takeaways or more in four of the other five games.

Offensively, for the first time in years, the passing game is working for the Yellow Jackets. A lot is coming from an attempt to keep up, but at least the yards are there with 244 or more in four of the six games. Georgia Tech hit the 200-yard passing mark in three times in the previous 47 games.

Notre Dame doesn’t seem to be able to play the same type of game twice, but it’s been effective. On the plus side, the Irish are adaptable to the flows of games.

Georgia Tech’s defense isn’t doing enough in any way, but Notre Dame isn’t going to get crazy here. Run, control the tempo, control the clock, own third downs, and then it’s on to Clemson Week for the Irish.

Notre Dame vs Georgia Tech Broadcast

Date: Saturday, October 31
Game Time: 3:30 ET
Venue: Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, GA
Network: ABC

#1 Clemson (6-0) vs Boston College (4-2) Game Preview

Well hello, running game.

Boston College relied on Phil Jurkovec and the high-powered passing attack in the first five games, and then it committed to the ground game against Georgia Tech – and it worked.

It tried to run against Duke to start the season, and noting happened. It tried against Pitt, and it really didn’t happen. For the first time all year, BC finally hit the 100-yard mark, cranking out 264 yards.

Clemson’s defense has been incredible, but it’s possible to run a little bit against this group. BC won’t do that – it’ll try winning with Jurkovec – but at least it can give it a shot.

But wait, here comes the pass rush.

Boston College hasn’t been great in pass protection – it’s part of the reason why the rushing numbers aren’t any good – and it allows way too many plays behind the line.

Clemson didn’t do much to get to the quarterback against Syracuse last week – bizarre, considering the Orange O line is totally miserable – but it’s been great at flying into the backfield on a regular basis. Get to Jurkovec, and it’s going to get ugly.

The Clemson offense continues to be a machine, having few problems scoring when it needs and wants to. There hasn’t been any stress, and that’s because the team is hitting on the big plays early on and coasting from there.

Except against Syracuse.

The Orange kept this interesting in the second half, but when it was time to end it, Clemson did.

And now everything just took a big turn with Trevor Lawrence testing positive for the coronavirus.

Clemson has a future superstar in DJ Uiagalelei waiting and ready to go, and the football team should be fine, but obviously the dynamic changes.

In a right-offense-right-coaching-right-quarterback-right-day sort of way, Boston College has a shot to pull off something quirky.

Clemson isn’t close to being a program that looks ahead, but the Notre Dame showdown is up next, and BC has enough of a passing attack to make this scary. No one has totally blowtorched the Eagle secondary, but generating the big plays down the field hasn’t been a problem.

One burst of first half points will do it for Clemson and the running game will take over, but it’ll still be at least a wee bit of a game in the third quarter.

Clemson vs Boston College Broadcast

Date: Saturday, October 31
Game Time: 12:00 ET
Venue: Memorial Stadium, Clemson, SC
Network: ABC

There are a decent slate of games on the docket for this weekend.  How do things look to wrap-up for the month of October?  It seems that the teams atop the conference will continue their winning trend while other teams are hoping to battle it out for potential bowl-bids at this point.

We cringe to post this after last week’s disappointing results but here are our Week 8 picks to round out the month.

Saturday, October 31st

Match-UpOur Prediction
#1 Clemson vs Boston CollegeCLEM 54, BC 14
Syracuse vs Wake ForestWAKE 34, SYR 21
Georgia Tech vs #4 Notre DameND 41, GT 21
Louisville vs Virginia TechVT 31, LOU 27
Duke vs CharlotteDUKE 31, CLT 21
Virginia vs #15 North CarolinaUNC 31, UVA 20

Last Week’s Picks: 4-3

Year-to-Date Record: 34-14 (70.83%)

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.  We need our rough picking trend to get bucked.

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.

Raised to bleed Garnet and Gold, Mike’s first passion will always be Florida State football. Though he does enjoy watching just about any sporting event if given the opportunity.

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