The race for the ACC Championship Game is getting a little clearer. Clemson appears to be well on the path to being one of the teams, but North Carolina, Miami, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech and NC State are all competing for the other spot in the game.
Now, with most teams nearing or already halfway through the season, ACC matchups are getting more and more important, and this week is no exception.
Saturday, October 24
Syracuse Orange (1-4, 1-3, ACC) @ No.1 Clemson Tigers (5-0, 4-0 ACC), 12:00 P.M., ACC Network
Syracuse might be one of the worst Power 5 teams in the country this season, and after losing at home last week to Liberty the Orange will just be hoping to avoid total embarrassment this weekend when they visit Clemson. The Tigers are again one of the best teams in the country, and they seem destined for another appearance in the ACC Championship Game if they can get a win against third-ranked Notre Dame in a few weeks.
Clemson is who to root for here. They are the ACC’s best, and the Tigers staying undefeated also helps Miami’s reputation after the Hurricanes loss a few weeks ago.
No.23 NC State Wolfpack (4-1, 4-1 ACC) @ No.14 North Carolina Tar Heels (3-1, 3-1 ACC), 12:00 P.M., ESPN
NC State has been one of the most surprising teams in the ACC so far this season. The Wolfpack are 4-1 with their only loss coming to a talented Virginia Tech team. This will be their toughest test of the season so far, a road trip to a very, very good rival in UNC. A win this week would firmly put NC State into the ACC Championship Game conversation, especially since the Wolfpack avoid playing both Clemson and Notre Dame this season.
North Carolina is coming off a bad loss on the road against FSU. The Tar Heels’ talented offense couldn’t score until late in the second quarter against Florida State’s defense and Sam Howell and the rest of his unit will be looking to improve this week. The UNC defense also has room for improvement, allowing 31 points against what had been a struggling FSU offense. NC State’s offense will be a tougher test for a unit that needs to respond this week.
Root for UNC in this game. Miami plays both this season and so the Hurricanes will have a chance to beat them and hand each team another conference loss. However, NC State doesn’t play either Clemson or Notre Dame, so outside of UNC and Miami there are less chances for them to have another conference loss.
Florida State Seminoles (2-3, 1-3 ACC) @ Louisville Cardinals (1-4, 0-4 ACC), 12:00 P.M., ESPN3
Florida State and Louisville have both disappointed so far this season, but the Seminoles are hoping they’ve turned things around after beating North Carolina last weekend. After a bad start to the year, an opportunity for Mike Norvell and his team to get back to .500 this weekend is very important for his first year. At Louisville, the Cardinals are hoping to stop a four-game losing streak that started in the second week of the season.
Root for FSU in this game, a win for them benefits Miami’s strength of schedule more than a win for Louisville.
No.3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (4-0, 3-0 ACC) @ Pittsburgh Panthers (3-3, 2-3 ACC), 3:30 P.M., ABC
Notre Dame has risen into the Top 5 in the rankings over the last few weeks despite having not played a team with a winning record yet this season. The Irish face their toughest challenge of the season so far on the road Saturday, facing a Pitt team with a talented defense. UND has a great rushing game again, but the passing game is still struggling to get into rhythm, and if they can’t get it going this weekend they could face a serious upset threat.
Pitt is coming off of three straight rough losses, two of which were lost by only a single point, and the other in which they were missing starting QB Kenny Pickett. It’s unclear if Pickett will be back this weekend, but a talented Panthers defense should keep them in this game.
Root for Pitt. A conference loss for Notre Dame helps Miami in the race for a spot in the ACC Championship Game.
No.19 Virginia Tech Hokies (3-1, 3-1 ACC) @ Wake Forest Demon Deacons (2-2, 1-2 ACC), 3:30 P.M., ESPN3
Virginia Tech has quietly been one of the better teams in the ACC this year. The Hokies played a close game against UNC despite being down 15 players, and they’ve won by a touchdown or more in all their other contests. Wake Forest has been solid this year, and they’ll have some momentum coming into this game after a 17 point win against Virginia last week. However, VT will be their toughest test so far this season besides Clemson.
Root for Virginia Tech in this game, a win for them would help them stay as another ranked opponent on Miami’s schedule.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (2-3, 2-2 ACC) @ Boston College Eagles (3-2, 2-2 ACC), 4:00 P.M., ACCN
Georgia Tech has been very inconsistent this year, which comes with a young team. Good wins against FSU and Louisville show that if they were consistent GT would have potential, but blowout losses to Clemson, Syracuse, and UCF are reminders of how far the program has to go. Boston College has been good in Jeff Hafley’s first season, with their only two losses coming against ranked opponents North Carolina and Virginia Tech. The Eagles are looking for another solid win tomorrow.
Georgia Tech is who to root for here, Miami plays the Yellow Jackets this season and doesn’t play Boston College, so a win for GT helps the Hurricanes strength of schedule.
Virginia Cavaliers (1-3, 1-3 ACC) @ No.11 Miami Hurricanes (4-1, 3-1 ACC), 8:00 P.M., ACCN
Miami rebounded well with a win over a solid Pittsburgh team last weekend after a tough loss to Clemson. This week, the Hurricanes offense is looking to get back on track after a tough two weeks against two very good defenses. Miami’s defense has looked solid so far this season, but they’ll face a challenge this weekend as Virginia might play multiple quarterbacks with different styles of play against the Hurricanes this weekend.
Virginia has had a rough start to the year. In week one UVA beat Duke to move to 1-0, but since then the Cavaliers have taken three straight double-digit losses. Additionally, QB Brennan Armstrong is in the concussion protocol, and it’s unclear whether or not he’ll be able to play Saturday night.
It’s easy to see who to root for here. A win for Miami, especially with a good offensive performance, would be a good confidence booster for the Hurricanes heading into a bye-week and then two straight road games against ranked opponents in NC State and Virginia Tech.
The ACC Championship picture is getting clearer week by week. Some potential upsets this weekend could change the outlook for the conference heading into the second half of the season.