The Miami Hurricanes may be off this weekend, but there are still some important games scheduled this weekend across the ACC. The conference has gotten off to a chaotic start, with just four teams remaining undefeated in conference play and one team remaining that is undefeated overall, Wake Forest.
Saturday, October 9
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (2-3, 1-2 ACC) vs Duke Blue Devils (3-2, 0-1 ACC), 12:30 p.m., ESPN 3
Georgia Tech travels to Duke after a two game stretch in which they dominated UNC to earn their first conference win of the season but followed it up with a terrible performance against Pitt in a 52-21 loss. The Yellow Jackets have been very inconsistent this year, but still stand a strong chance of reaching a bowl game this season with winnable games against Virginia, Miami, Virginia Tech, and Saturday’s matchup with Duke remaining. The Blue Devils opened their season with a horrible loss to Charlotte but are 3-1 since; including wins over Northwestern and Kansas. Their defense, which is allowing more than 400 yards and 28 points per game, will have to improve as the middle of the season approaches, but a manageable schedule to end the season is keeping Duke’s hopes for a bowl game alive.
This game is unlikely to affect the outcome of the ACC, but it could play a huge role in determining if either team makes a bowl game. Root for Georgia Tech in this game so that Duke is handed another conference loss.
Virginia Cavaliers (3-2, 1-2 ACC) vs Louisville Cardinals (3-2, 1-1 ACC), 3:00 p.m., ACC Network
Virginia had lost two conference games in a row before defeating Miami last Thursday and their defense had allowed more than 35 points in each of those losses. However, against the Hurricanes the Cavaliers defense got back on track, allowing less than 100 yards of offense against the Hurricanes in the first half and sacking Miami quarterback Tyler Van Dyke four times. Louisville comes into this game after a heartbreaking three point loss to Wake Forest last weekend. The Cardinals have been much improved in 2021 with their only losses coming to Ole Miss, which has been in the Top-20 for much of the season, and the Demon Deacons, who are the favorites to win the ACC.
Root for Louisville in this game. Virginia plays in the Hurricanes division and the Cavaliers also now hold a tiebreaker over the Hurricanes after defeating them last week.
No.19 Wake Forest Demon Deacons (5-0, 3-0 ACC) vs Syracuse Orange (3-2, 0-1 ACC), 3:30 p.m., ESPN 2
Two of the most surprising teams in the country face off in a key week six matchup in the ACC. Wake Forest entered this season with bowl game expectations and hopes for at least an eight win season, but after five weeks they find themselves undefeated and the favorite in the ACC. The Demon Deacons average more than 38 points per game while allowing just 18, and they won’t have to face NC State or Clemson until late November. It looks like there’s a strong chance Wake Forest will travel to Charlotte for the first time since 2006 in the first week of December.
Syracuse has been one of the most improved teams in the country this season, but the Orange lost some momentum last weekend after losing to FSU on a last second field goal after a few controversial decisions by the officials. Syracuse will hope to get back on track this week, but they face a tough challenge against a tremendous Demon Deacons defense that has allowed less than 20 points in four of their first five games.
This game doesn’t affect the outlook of the Hurricanes’ season very much, but root for Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons are the last undefeated team remaining in the ACC, and without their strong performance the ACC would be on track to have one of the worst overall seasons by a Power Five conference in recent memory.
Florida State Seminoles (1-4, 1-2 ACC) vs North Carolina Tar Heels (3-2, 2-2 ACC), 3:30 p.m., ESPN
While Syracuse and Wake Forest play in a matchup of two teams that have exceeded expectations, Florida State will travel to take on UNC in a game between two teams that have failed to live up to expectations. The Tar Heels entered this season with College Football Playoff hopes, but a week one loss to Virginia Tech got things off on the wrong foot and mistakes from Sam Howell made things worse against Georgia Tech a few weeks ago. Florida State started the season with a strong performance against Notre Dame, but things have been a disaster for the Seminoles since, with FSU winning their first game of the season in the first week of October after starting a season 0-4 for the first time since Bobby Bowden was in charge.
Both teams are looking to get things headed in the right direction on Saturday afternoon. Hurricanes fans most likely don’t want to root for either team, but an FSU win would probably benefit the Hurricanes the most in the conference standings.
No.14 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (4-1) vs Virginia Tech Hokies (3-1, 1-0 ACC), 7:30 p.m., ACC Network
Virginia Tech started their season on a high note with a 17-10 home victory over North Carolina. Justin Fuente’s Hokies come off of a bye this weekend looking for their second big home win of the season against Notre Dame. Virginia Tech’s defense has been excellent this season, allowing just 15.3 points per game, but Braxton Burmeister and the offense have been sputtering. The Hokies offense has scored more than 30 points just once this season (35 against Middle Tennessee State in week two) and they average just 331 yards per game so far in 2021.
Notre Dame comes into this matchup after a home loss to Cincinnati in a Top-10 matchup last weekend. The Fighting Irish have been dealing with an injury to starting quarterback Jack Coan, and Coan and backup Drew Pyne will likely both play on Saturday night. Notre Dame enters this game at 4-1, but they’ve been in danger of losing every game they’ve played and are looking to quiet some doubters on the road.
Virginia Tech is the team to root for in this game. This would be an important out-of-conference win for the ACC, which has just two teams ranked in the Top 25 in the sixth week of the season.
The competition for the ACC Championship is wide open through the first half of the 2021 season, but a few key matchups this weekend could change the trajectory of the conference, or put the conference favorites in even better position.