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ACC Rooting Guide: Week 4

Miami isn’t playing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sit back and enjoy a week’s worth of football.

Syndication: The Greenville News Ken Ruinard via Imagn Content Services, LLC

The Miami Hurricanes are 3-0, 2-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and most importantly, 1-0 against Florida State in 2020. UM will not have the chance to be 4-0 this weekend, as the annual bye week ritual will be practiced in Coral Gables.

But this is not the week to keep the TV sets off and find something else to do. As a fan, I find bye weeks relaxing and enjoyable, with the thought of football all day without the stress of another opponent to be a pleasant one. There is no shortage of interesting matchups this weekend in the ACC or beyond, so get your popcorn ready.

Friday, October 2

Campbell Camels (0-3) @ Wake Forest Demon Deacons (0-2, 0-2 ACC), 7:00 p.m., ACC Network

New Era Pinstripe Bowl - Michigan State v Wake Forest Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images

In a battle of winless teams, one side will come out of Friday night’s contest with their first win.

That team won't be Campbell. Losers to Georgia Southern, Coastal Carolina and Appalachian State, the Camels won’t find it any easier to play teams from the ACC instead of the Big South.

Wake Forest may have losses to Clemson and North Carolina State, but they have shown the ability to move the ball led by quarterback Sam Hartman and receiver Jaquarii Robertson. As always in these contests, root for the underdog to make it interesting for as long as possible, but don't count on any Friday night fireworks in this one.

Saturday, October 3

North Carolina State Wolfpack (1-1, 1-1 ACC) @ No. 24 Pittsburgh Panthers (3-0, 2-0 ACC), 12:00 P.M., ACC Network

Louisville v Pittsburgh Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

North Carolina State was the second best team in the ACC Atlantic division just two years ago. Now, the defense seems to have lost a step, having allowed 45 points to both Wake Forest and Virginia Tech. Still, quarterback and former FSU player Bailey Hockman has been a bright spot in Raleigh.

Pittsburgh comes into the contest meanwhile as a defensively-minded team, having allowed just 15 points per league game against Syracuse and Louisville. Quarterback Kenny Pickett was completed around two-thirds of his pass attempts, but also has two interceptions to go along with five touchdown throws.

The Panthers are still undefeated through and present a bigger threat to UM in the conference title race than the Wolfpack are. So in this noon kickoff matchup, take NC State.

No. 12 North Carolina Tar Heels (1-0, 1-0 ACC) @ Boston College Eagles (2-0, 1-0 ACC), 3:30 P.M., ABC

Syracuse v North Carolina Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

North Carolina comes into this matchup with only their season-opening win against Syracuse, with a non-conference bout against Charlotte having been cancelled due to a COVID-19 outbreak on the 49ers roster. Quarterback Sam Howell will look to continue where he left off freshman year and the 2020 opener and the defense will hope to replicate the kind of afternoon they had against the Orange as well.

Boston College is still unbeaten partly due to a one-sided win at Duke, but the Eagles also just barely hold on to beat Texas State at home a week ago.

There is little doubt that although BC is in a much better place as a program than they were a half-decade ago, they aren't going to run with the Canes in the conference standings week in and week out. The Tar Heels on the other hand, remain one of the top contenders in the league, and Hurricanes fans should hope they suffer an early loss.

Jacksonville State Gamecocks (0-0) @ Florida State Seminoles (0-2, 0-2 ACC), 4:00 P.M., ESPN3

Florida State v Boston College Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images

This game shouldn't be close on paper. Power 5 teams should always take care of their FCS opponents, and with ease.

Jacksonville State’s Ohio Valley Conference isn't even sponsoring a fall football season. Instead, the Gamecocks are playing a four-game, non-league schedule that commences Saturday and will supplement a planned spring conference slate.

There are always a few sizable upsets each year in college football that fans don't see coming. If there is anything Miami fans could take away from the 52-10 win over the Seminoles a week ago, it’s that FSU has a long way to go before they resemble anything threatening to even a solid Power 5 team.

Still, don't be surprised if the ‘Noles have few issues putting this game away relatively early. JSU has had some good teams in recent years however, and even took a Rhett Lashlee Auburn offense to overtime in 2015.

FSU is the favorite in this one, but root for the Gamecocks to shock the world and send the program in Tallahassee to a new rock bottom.

Virginia Tech Hokies (1-0, 1-0 ACC) @ Duke Blue Devils (0-3, 0-3 ACC), 4:00 P.M., ACC Network

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 31 Belk Bowl - Virginia Tech v Kentucky Photo by John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Duke had the lead in the fourth quarter a week ago at Virginia. But despite their best outing of 2020, the Blue Devils fell to 0-3. The Hokies meanwhile kicked off their season with a win last week after a long COVID disruption with a victory against NC State.

Quarterback Chase Brice was the backup for Clemson and is playing like one for Duke as well, completing just over half of his passes for just two scores and six interceptions. Hokies quarterback Braxton Burmeister wasn't asked to do much against the Wolfpack, but did log a 144.6 QBR in the win.

A win by the underdog Duke here would be meaningful to Miami because it hands rival fellow league contender VT a league loss.

Virginia Cavaliers (1-0, 1-0 ACC) @ No. 1 Clemson Tigers (2-0, 1-0 ACC), 8:00 P.M., ACC Network

College Football Playoff National Championship - Clemson v LSU Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

There isn't much to break down about Clemson other than the fact that they have been the conference’s and the nation’s most consistent program over the past number of years. Teams in the ACC and beyond has been playing catch up with them ever since Hunter Renfrow’s TD catch catapulted the Tigers over the hump to glory.

People who aren't UVA fans won't watch this game to watch the Cavaliers. Clemson is the near sole attraction in this Death Valley, primetime matchup. But Miami fans have to consider that Virginia has been a pesky thorn in UM’s side over the past decade and have frustratingly finished a number of seasons above the Hurricanes in the standings.

Plus, if Virginia pulls off the major upset, much of next week’s fun is suddenly taken away. Both a win or a loss at Clemson then suddenly looks much worse. Root for Clemson to win this one and remain undefeated for next week’s blockbuster.