One week is behind us in Atlantic Coast Conference play. The first game jitters and butterflies are out the window, and the thick of league play has arrived for the bulk of teams.
This week’s slate of matchups include a marquee matchup among a pair of teams in the Top 25, a Group of Five upstart looking to knock off an established ACC program, and a number of guaranteed wins for conference teams.
A pair of previously scheduled games will not occur this weekend due to COVID concerns. Virginia Tech had been scheduled to host Virginia in Blacksburg, but that game will be rescheduled for a later date.
Also, the non-conference game between North Carolina and Charlotte was been called off due to a single positive test on the 49ers’ roster. Contract tracing has put much of the offensive line into quarantine for precautionary reasons, and keeping the team as a whole from being able to cohesively play.
All Games are Saturday, September 19
Syracuse Orange (0-1) @ No. 25 Pittsburgh Panthers (1-0), 12:00 P.M., ACC Network
The Orange and the Panthers will square off in the steel city Saturday afternoon. Syracuse quarterback Tommy Devito struggled in a 31-6 loss at UNC a week ago, while Pitt is a week removed from a thrashing of FCS opponent Austin Peay. The home team here is the better team on paper, and the 21.5 point spread reflects this.
However, Pitt is a bigger threat to make noise in a crowded ACC field this season, so root for the Orange to pull off the upset.
Boston College Eagles (0-0) @ Duke Blue Devils (0-1), 12:00 P.M., ESPN3
Boston College will open their season at a Duke team that fell a week ago at Notre Dame. Former Clemson backup quarterback Chase Bryce threw for 259 yards on 20-37 passing for the Blue Devils in South Bend last week, while the Eagles look to improve off a 6-7 mark a season ago.
Neither team is a major threat to come in the top two of the conference, but Duke is a six-point favorite. So to make it fun, root for the underdog, which in this case, is BC.
South Florida (1-0) @ No. 7 Notre Dame (1-0), 2:20 P.M., USA
Both teams won their season openers a week ago, still, it is clear who the better team is here. Notre Dame beat Duke 27-13 while USF beat The Citadel 27-6. The Irish are also a 26-point favorite over the Bulls in this one, which may be generous to the Tampa program.
However, given that Notre Dame is a threat to make noise, and more importantly, a rival we love to hate, root for South Florida in this one to pull the major upset. It may not happen, but we’ll all be on ‘upset alert’ push notification standby in case things get interesting.
No. 14 Central Florida Knights (0-0) @ Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (1-0), 3:30 P.M., ABC
For all too long now, the major Florida football programs (Miami, Florida and Florida State) have been put into fantasy matchups with Central Florida. The Knights went undefeated twice in recent years, and have itched for a shot to compete with the traditional powers.
UCF isn't playing either of the ‘Big Three’ Florida schools Saturday. But with Georgia Tech following a huge win over FSU with a date with UCF means fans will be able to directly compare the Knights and the ‘Noles via the transitive property.
Root for UCF in this one. If Georgia Tech rolls here, it means the Yellow Jackets have been quietly really good, making FSU’s loss last week look a lot better. But if UCF wins or better yet, wins by multiple scores, then it confirms that the Seminoles’ loss a week ago was really, really bad.
The Citadel Bulldogs (0-1) @ No. 1 Clemson Tigers (1-0), 4:00 P.M., ACC Network
If you watch this game, you are watching to see how quickly Clemson can put the game out of reach, not because you are wondering who will win. There may not be any doubt who will come away victorious, but the Bulldogs’ triple option has given power programs fits in recent years, even going into halftime at Alabama tied at 10 in 2018. Heck, the military college even beat South Carolina straight up in 2015.
But Clemson will be a different animal, and the result shouldn't keep anyone in suspense. There isn't a spread in this game, meaning Vegas knows how one-sided this one can get. If you watch this game, savor the old-school offensive approach The Citadel takes. But don't expect a nail-biting finish.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons (0-1) @ North Carolina State Wolfpack (0-0), 8:00 P.M., ACC Network
The Wolfpack open 2020 Saturday a year removed from a disappointing 2019 campaign when then went 4-8. Wake Forest, on the other hand, appears to be a program that may be on the upswing in spite of an opening-night loss to Clemson.
If you’re a Canes fan, you won't be watching this game as it will be played at the same time UM takes on Louisville Saturday night. Vegas likes NC State by just 1.5 points. The game is likely the most evenly matched league contest of the week when excluding Miami’s game, so neither possible result would come as a surprise. Ultimately, Hurricane fans do not necessarily need to pick a team to strongly root for in this one.
That does it for the second week of ACC play, or Week 3 nationally. Next week, college football will take a big step forward with the return of the SEC, as well as Florida State-Miami.