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ACC Rooting Guide: Week 12

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A full slate of games this holiday weekend bring entertainment and possible conference championship implications.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 01 ACC Championship Game - Pitt v Clemson Photo by Dannie Walls/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Happy Thanksgiving weekend, Canes fans! Hopefully you slept well last night (with the aid of tryptophan) and are ready for a big slate of games.

Some leagues are heading into their rivalry weekend. Others are seemingly still on the front nine of games. The Atlantic Coast Conference meanwhile still has a conference title race that is unsettled. While Miami isn't in action this week, what happens on Friday and Saturday still may have an effect on UM’s ultimate 2020 fate.


Friday, November 27

No. 2 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (8-0, 7-0 ACC) @ No. 19 North Carolina Tar Heels (6-2, 6-2 ACC) 3:30 P.M., ABC

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 28 Camping World Bowl - Notre Dame v Iowa State Photo by Joe Petro/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Irish are ranked higher now than at any point since their national championship appearance against Alabama in 2012. Sitting at 8-0, having defeated Clemson, and with an inside track to the ACC Championship and College Football Playoff, now is a great time to be in South Bend.

But it can’t be forgotten who Notre Dame plays Friday. They’re traveling to Chapel Hill to take on North Carolina—themselves a top 20 team after starting the season ranked sixth.

The quarterbacks will be on full display in the Tar Heel State; Ian Book has thrown for 1818 yards and 11 touchdowns this year, with just a single interception. UNC QB Sam Howell has also been electric, throwing for 2631 yards and 23 scores in 2020. Both teams also come in scoring an average of more than 37 points per game.

It’s unlikely that Notre Dame will lose the two games needed to fall behind Miami in the ACC standings. However, if they were to fall at North Carolina, there would be an extra glimmer of hope in Coral Gables and an extra amount of pressure on the Irish. So root for the Heels to outscore Notre Dame in this contest.

Saturday, November 28

North Carolina State Wolfpack (6-3, 5-3 ACC) @ Syracuse Orange (1-8, 1-7 ACC) 12:00 P.M., ACC Network

NCAA Football: North Carolina State at Virginia Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Wolfpack were the first ACC team to knock of Liberty in non-conference play last week, after two league teams were unsuccessful in trying to beat the upstart Virginia program.

One of those teams to lose to the Flames was Syracuse, who fell by multiple scores. It was one of eight losses for the Orange, who've really struggled in 2020. Against a Louisville defense who has struggled to stop anyone this year, Syracuse failed to score a point.

NC State meanwhile, comes into the game scoring north of 31 points a game. They have fallen to Miami but defeated Florida State in their last two conference matchups.

Neither team will be going to the conference title game. So while there won't be any league-wide implications in this contest, it may be worth rooting for NC State in this one to make Miami’s win look just a tad better.

Pittsburgh Panthers (5-4, 4-4 ACC) @ No. 3 Clemson Tigers (7-1, 6-1 ACC) 3:30 P.M., ABC

NCAA Football: Clemson at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Clemson has a lot to prove in this game.

It's crazy to think that the Tigers may be overlooked. But after star QB Trevor Lawrence’s absence, their loss at Notre Dame, and their 11th hour cancellation at FSU, the ACC’s preeminent power is now “only” ranked third nationally.

It’s very possible that all this will light a fire underneath Dabo Swinney’s team. They need an impact performance to prove to the country that they're back and ready to compete for another national title.

But on the flip side, another loss by Clemson would drop them to third in the conference and allow Miami to rise to second. This would be a shocking development, but hey, crazier things have happened in the world of football. How does a Miami vs. Notre Dame ACC Championship Game sound?

Don't get your hopes up though. Clemson is likely to take care of business. But it can't hurt to hope for the improbable.

Louisville Cardinals (3-6, 2-6 ACC) @ Boston College Golden Eagles (5-4, 4-4 ACC) 4:00 P.M., ACC Network

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Boston College Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Louisville finally got back into the win column last week with a 30-0 win over Syracuse, where the offense played to its potential and its defense pitched a shutout against one of the conference’ struggling teams.

Boston College has played well in 2020 under head coach Jeff Hafley. They still have a ways to go in order to be competing for conference titles, but 2020 will be looked upon as a building block for the program in Chestnut Hill.

Neither side threatens Miami in the standings, nor even has UM on its schedule the rest of the season. This is a game where the average Canes fans won't have a rooting interest, so if you do find this game on a TV near you, simply root for a close and exciting matchup.

Duke Blue Devils (2-6, 2-5 ACC) @ Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (2-5, 2-4 ACC) 7:00 P.M., ESPN3

NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Boston College Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Like the matchup above, this game will have no effect on Miami’s ultimate fate in the conference horse race.

Both programs here were hoping for better seasons. Georgia Tech is still rebuilding under second year head coach Geoff Collins, but Duke had to have higher expectations in 2020 under David Cutcliffe.

Because Miami still is yet to face the Yellow Jackets, root for them to beat Duke and make a possible UM win over them in two weeks just a bit stronger.

Virginia Cavaliers (4-4, 3-4 ACC) @ Florida State Seminoles (2-6, 1-6) 8:00 P.M., ACC Network

NCAA Football: Abilene Christian at Virginia Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Both teams have already played (and lost) at Miami this season. Both sides have long out of conference championship hunt, and both programs may just be playing for pride at this stage of the season.

But Canes fans should never miss a chance to root against the Seminoles. The 2-6 ‘Noles are mentally on to 2021, with a boatload in injuries and out-outs overshadowing their on-field product this fall. Who knows what the future holds in Tallahassee. But on Saturday, look for UVA to move above .500 against FSU.

That’s it for Week 12! Let’s hope for an enjoyable week of action before Miami is back in action next week at Wake Forest.