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This Week in ACC Football: Week 9 (2020)

Our run-down for this week’s #ACCFootball games which include a Top 5 Tilt between #1 Clemson and #4 Notre Dame.

Graphic Courtesy: The ACC.com

This Week in ACC Football: Week 9 (2020)

So close to a perfect weekend but then Virginia had to come along and spoil things for us, and give the Tar Heels another loss to a sub-par team.

But going 5-for-6 in last weekend’s picks is nothing to be ashamed of either.  And couple that with the fact that FSU didn’t lose is another bonus.  Just because they didn’t play bears no weight on that last statement.

So what does the ACC have to look forward to this weekend?

Virginia and Louisville have already postponed their game due to a large number of positive COVID tests among the Louisville players.  Ten players tested positive and five others are on quarantine.  The Cardinals were already without nine players, mainly on defensive line, in last weekend’s game against Virginia Tech.  This game is tentatively being rescheduled to November 14th.

There is a Top-5 match-up on Saturday between the Tigers and Fighting Irish which should provide for some great entertainment.  How will the Tigers fair after a scare against Boston College last weekend?  Was it due to their star QB being sidelined due to COVID?  Let’s dive in…

#1 Clemson (7-0) at #4 Notre Dame (6-0) Game Preview

Notre Dame has one of the nation’s best pass defenses. It has allowed just two touchdown passes so far, hasn’t given up more than 260 yards to anyone, has limited the deep plays, but…

It hasn’t played anyone other than Louisville’s Malik Cunningham who can throw a forward pass reasonably well, and it certainly hasn’t seen anything like what’s coming.

Trevor Lawrence was out against Boston College, and all DJ Uiagalelei did was complete 30-of-41 passes for 342 yards and two scores to go along with 25 yards on the ground and a touchdown. He handled the pressure of the comeback win just fine, the Tiger offensive front continues to be a killer, Travis Etienne is only the greatest running back in ACC history – at least yardage-wise – and It’s Clemson. The program is used to massive games like this, and when it’s focused, forget it.

And again, along with the issue of not facing too many great quarterbacks, has Notre Dame actually beaten anyone?

Duke, USF, Florida State, Louisville and Georgia Tech are all almost certainly going to finish with losing records (or around .500 at best), and Pitt might have to push for a winning campaign. Miami, and arguably Boston College and/or Wake Forest as all as good or better than anyone the Irish have deals with so far.

Is anyone on Clemson healthy?

Lawrence is out as he battles through the coronavirus, star defensive tackle Tyler Davis has a nagging ankle problem, linebackers James Skalski and Mike Jones are out, and the team was generally beaten up after the BC game.

Meanwhile, the Irish have been building for this moment with a bunch of semi-interesting battles with vastly inferior teams.

Yeah, okay, so Notre Dame hasn’t dealt with a killer schedule yet, but in this crazy season with wild upsets and strange performances left and right, the team has done exactly what it was supposed to do against mediocre competition. It was sort of challenged by Louisville, but not really, and that’s it.

The team has been terrific from the start. It played an okay schedule, and it’s just that good – the two things can be true at once.

The six games until now allowed the passing game time to develop a little more, the running attack continues to be great, and outside of 17 first quarter points against Florida State, the D hasn’t allowed much of anything.

The Irish are allowing just 98 rushing yards per game, and the pass rush should be a bother for Uiagalelei from the start.

Which side of history do you like?

Is this going to be one of those home statement moments for Notre Dame, like the classic 1988 “Catholics vs. Convicts” win over Miami, the 1993 epic over Florida State and Charlie Ward?

Or is this going to be about Clemson rising to the occasion once again? What did it do after it’s close-call win over North Carolina last year? It rim-rocked Florida State by 41.

What did the Tigers do after surviving a mega-scare from Syracuse in 2018? It beat Wake Forest by 60.

Notre Dame is very, very good, but it hasn’t been flashy.

It has the toughness on the lines, the run defense has been outstanding, and at some point, Ian Book will get credit for being a solid above-average quarterback.

But not it has to step up to the big-time against a Clemson team that might be banged up, but will rely on Etienne, a good-enough game from Uiagalelei, and a brilliant performance from a defense that’s going to be challenged by the coaching staff after a bad first half last week against BC.

Enjoy Round 1. The second time around will come in the ACC Championship with a College Football Playoff spot on the line.

Clemson vs Notre Dame Broadcast

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

Another fun match-up, maybe only for us, is Pitt traveling to the friendly confines of Doak Campbell Stadium.  How will FSU use their Bye Week after an embarrassing loss to Louisville the week before?  Here’s how things may shake out…

Florida State (2-4) vs Pitt (3-4) Game Preview

Florida State’s defense continues to be just okay.

The offense is starting to play a little bit better, but the D has allowed well over 550 yards a game in each of the last three, getting destroyed on the ground by Notre Dame and through the air against North Carolina. But against Pitt, if you can’t stop the pass rush, forget it.

The Seminole offensive line has been better than past years, but it’s still a major problem and it’s still allowing too many plays behind the line. The Pitt defensive front continues to be a killer, leading the nation in tackles for loss and remains second in sacks.

However the Pitt offense has gone bye-bye without QB Kenny Pickett, who’s still iffy at best for this. The Panthers are on a four-game losing streak with no running game whatsoever – they haven’t hit 100 yards in any of the last four games – and the passing attack isn’t making up for it.

On the flip side, the FSU offense has been a whole lot stronger over the last four games. The all-around playmaking ability of QB Jordan Travis has been a big help, the running game is now averaging close to 200 yards per game, but no one’s running on Pitt. The Panthers have allowed more than 100 yards on the ground three times and haven’t given up more than 115 yards to anyone so far. Travis will pass well, but the Pitt pass rush will take over as the game goes on.

The struggling Pitt offense will do just enough to get by – Pickett is still a possibility to go – and the defense will take care of the rest.  But we still see a late game rally by the home team to steal a much needed victory.

Florida State vs Pitt Broadcast

Date: Saturday, November 7
Game Time: 4:00 ET
Venue: Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, FL
Network: ACC Network

So there are some fun and interesting games on the slate this weekend.  While one of the potential match-ups has already been postponed we still feel we can come away with our first perfect weekend of the season.

Hopefully our predictions hold up when the dust settles Saturday night.

Friday, November 6th

Match-UpOur Prediction
NC State vs #11 MiamiMIA 35, NCST 21

Saturday, November 7th

Match-UpOur Prediction
Virginia Tech vs #25 LibertyVT 42, LIB 25
Duke vs North CarolinaUNC 31, DUKE 21
Syracuse vs Boston CollegeBC 35, SYR 20
Florida State vs PittsburthFSU 27, PITT 24
#4 Notre Dame vs #1 ClemsonCLEM 28, ND 24
Virginia vs LouisvillePostponed

Last Week’s Picks: 5-1

Year-to-Date Record: 39-15 (72.22%)

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.

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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