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ACC Rooting Guide: Week 11

The conference race has gotten tighter over the last few weeks, with plenty left to play for.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 06 Clemson at Louisville Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In the wake of Pittsburgh’s 30-23 overtime win over North Carolina Thursday night, the Miami Hurricanes’ chances of reaching the ACC title game certainly lowered. However, the Hurricanes still have a realistic path to Charlotte. Miami will need Virginia to beat Pittsburgh and then lose to rival Virginia Tech, or Pittsburgh to beat Virginia and lose to Syracuse in the last weekend of the season. The Atlantic Division remains wide-open as well, with the division’s most important game, NC State vs Wake Forest, scheduled for Saturday night.

Saturday, November 13

UConn Huskies (1-8) vs Clemson Tigers (6-3, 5-2 ACC), 12:00 p.m., ACC Network

UConn has been one of the worst programs in college football over the last few seasons, but the Huskies hired Jim Mora, a former coach of UCLA, to take over the program this week. Clemson, meanwhile, enters this game on a two game winning streak in which the Tigers have played much better. Clemson’s thirty point performances in their last two games are their only two of the season, and they’ll hope to continue that against a UConn defense that allows 36 points and more than 430 yards per game. The Tigers’ defense continues to be dominant, allowing just 16 points per game this season.

Clemson is the team to root for in this non-conference game. The Tigers will be focused on the outcome of another game, NC State vs Wake Forest, a game they likely need Wake Forest to lose.

Syracuse Orange (5-4, 2-3 ACC) vs Louisville Cardinals (4-5, 2-4 ACC), 12:00 p.m., ESPN 3

Syracuse has had an extremely strange season. The Orange entered conference play at 3-1 with an impressive win over Liberty, but three straight conference losses put Head Coach Dino Babers back on the hot seat. Since then, however, Syracuse has won back-to-back games over Virginia Tech and Boston College, and the Orange have a very good chance of reaching bowl eligibility. Meanwhile, Louisville has lost two consecutive games heading into Saturday afternoon’s game; including a heartbreaking loss last weekend when the Cardinals were four yards short of a game-winning touchdown against Clemson.

This game won’t impact Miami, so root for whichever team you prefer. Both teams have a tough remaining schedule, so this game will be vital in determining if either reaches a bowl game.

Boston College Eagles (5-4, 1-4 ACC) vs Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (3-6, 2-5 ACC), 3:30 p.m., ESPN 3

Boston College received a huge boost last weekend when quarterback Phil Jurkovec returned from an injury he suffered early in the season. Jurkovec led the Eagles to a 17-3 win over Virginia Tech in his return, Boston College’s first conference win of the season. The Eagles will play their second Coastal Division foe in two weeks on Saturday when they take on the Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech enters this game after nearly upsetting Miami last weekend. The Yellow Jackets fought back from a 14-0 deficit in that game, and they’ll hope to build on that as a road-favorite this weekend.

Root for Boston College in this game. The Eagles play in the Atlantic Division, so if they won it would help the Hurricanes, although Georgia Tech is eliminated from the conference title race.

Duke Blue Devils (3-6, 0-5 ACC) vs Virginia Tech Hokies (4-5, 2-3 ACC), 3:30 p.m., ACC Network

After a season-opening win against North Carolina, Virginia Tech became the favorite in the ACC Coastal for a few weeks, but things haven’t gone the way the Hokies expected. Virginia Tech entered October at 3-1, but losses to Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, and Boston College in the first week of November have left the Hokies in the bottom half of the Coastal Division. Virginia Tech will hope to finish the season strong, starting with a game against Duke. The Blue Devils have lost every conference game they’ve played but one by two possessions this season. Duke will feel they have a chance for their first conference win since October 10 of last year against an inconsistent Virginia Tech team.

Duke is the team to root for here. Virginia Tech has been inconsistent in 2021, but the Hokies are just one loss behind Miami in the ACC, so a Duke win Saturday would help the Hurricanes.

No.9 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (8-1) vs Virginia Cavaliers (6-3, 4-2 ACC), 7:30 p.m., ABC

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 30 Virginia at BYU Photo by Boyd Ivey/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Notre Dame has their toughest remaining game of the 2021 season on Saturday night, a road trip to a 6-3 Virginia team that has quietly been excellent since a 2-2 start. UVA’s only loss since the fourth week of the season was a 66-49 road defeat against BYU in their last game, and Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall will be looking for a signature win this weekend. Brennen Armstrong will give his coach hope that they can find a way to earn the upset, as he’s continued his excellent play this season with 3,557 yards passing and 27 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Notre Dame, if they win this game, would likely finish the season at 11-1, with their only other remaining games coming against Georgia Tech and Stanford. The Fighting Irish remain on the outside looking in with regards to the College Football Playoff, but if Notre Dame finishes 11-1, and enough chaos occurs ahead of them, the Fighting Irish could once again find themselves in the Top-4.

Root for Virginia in this game. A UVA upset of Notre Dame would be a huge boost for the ACC.

No.16 NC State Wolfpack (7-2, 4-1 ACC) vs No.12 Wake Forest Demon Deacons (8-1, 5-0 ACC), 7:30 p.m., ACC Network

NCAA Football: Wake Forest at North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Wake Forest comes into this game, the most important of their season, after an upset loss to rival North Carolina last weekend. Fortunately for the Demon Deacons, the game against the Tar Heels was a non-conference game, and as a result Wake Forest remains 5-0 in the ACC and first in the Atlantic Division. However, the Demon Deacons’ most important two games of the season will be played over the next two weeks, NC State this weekend and Clemson next weekend, in a stretch that will determine if Wake Forest can finish their storybook run and make their second ACC Championship Game appearance.

NC State needs just a win on Saturday to take control of the ACC’s Atlantic Division. The Wolfpack already defeated Clemson earlier this season, and an NC State win on Saturday would leave the Wolfpack needing wins over Syracuse and North Carolina to secure the division title. NC State has played well, especially on defense, since a one point loss to Miami a couple of weeks ago, allowing just 13.5 points per game over the last two weeks, but they’ll be tested by a fantastic Wake Forest offense that averages 45 points per game and that scored 55 last weekend.

Root for NC State in this game. Miami played the Wolfpack earlier this season and won, so any time NC State can improve their record it can help the Hurricanes.

The biggest game of the ACC’s season so far highlights an important set of games on Saturday afternoon. This weekend could turn out to be the most important one of the season in the ACC, especially for the Atlantic Division.