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ACC Rooting Guide: Week 10

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Miami’s big upset win last weekend has set up an exciting end to the season.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 25 Richmond at Virginia Tech Photo by Lee Coleman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Miami’s massive road upset of Pittsburgh last weekend has made the ACC’s Coastal Division much closer. If the Hurricanes win out they now just need Pittsburgh and Virginia to lose one more conference game, and one of those losses is guaranteed because Pittsburgh and Virginia have not yet played each other. On the other side of the conference Wake Forest remains in control, the Demon Deacons were ranked in the Top-10 of the first College Football Playoff poll, and an undefeated season, with enough chaos, could see them sneak into the playoff.

Friday, November 5

Virginia Tech Hokies (4-4, 2-2 ACC) vs Boston College Eagles (4-4, 0-4 ACC), 7:30 p.m., ESPN 2

Virginia Tech finally got things back on track in the ACC with a 26-17 win over Georgia Tech last weekend. Braxton Burmeister played well in that game; throwing for 254 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions while adding 46 yards on the ground. If he can provide that production every game the Virginia Tech offense should find a rhythm. Boston College suffered their fourth consecutive conference loss to end October, losing 21-6 to Syracuse after allowing three consecutive touchdown drives in the second half. The Eagles were 4-0 to end September, and they’ll hope November returns to being a 4-0 month after an extremely tough October.

Boston College is the team to root for here. The Eagles are not in Miami’s division, and another conference loss for Virginia Tech would help Miami, as the Hurricanes have the same conference record as the Hokies, although the teams have not yet played each other.

Saturday, November 6

No.9 Wake Forest Demon Deacons (8-0, 5-0 ACC) vs North Carolina Tar Heels (4-4, 3-3 ACC), 12:00 p.m., ABC (Non-conference)

North Carolina v Notre Dame Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Wake Forest takes the one hour and 14 minute drive to North Carolina for what could be a pivotal conference matchup, except that this isn’t actually a conference game. Wake Forest and UNC agreed to this home-and-home series a few years ago to ensure the two rivals played each other more often, and as a result Wake Forest’s undefeated start in the ACC won’t be on the line Saturday. However, the Demon Deacons’ newfound playoff hopes could be. Wake Forest opened the initial College Football Playoff rankings ranked ninth, and were reportedly close to being ranked No.8, ahead of fellow undefeated conference-favorite Oklahoma. As a result, Wake Forest has a realistic route to the CFP, although they’ll need some help, but an undefeated season is the first step on any of the paths to that potential outcome.

North Carolina entered the season thinking they’d be in the position Wake Forest is in now, but an up and down 2021 season has left the Tar Heels at 4-4. At times North Carolina looks close to reaching their potential; the Tar Heels were extremely competitive against Notre Dame last weekend, beat Virginia by 20 points earlier this season, and held off a comeback attempt from rival Miami. However, North Carolina has had their share of shocking losses; namely a 45-22 defeat to Georgia Tech when Sam Howell was sacked eight times, and a 35-25 home defeat against Florida State the week prior to the Miami game. From week-to-week it can be hard to predict how UNC will play, but if they perform well they can be hard to beat, which is why they enter this game as a home favorite.

This game is being played out of conference, so it won’t impact Miami much, but root for Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons are the only remaining CFP contender in the ACC, and if Miami played them in the ACC Championship Game it would benefit the Hurricanes for Wake Forest to be as highly ranked as possible.

No.25 Pittsburgh Panthers (6-2, 3-1 ACC) vs Duke Blue Devils (3-5, 0-4 ACC), 12:00 p.m., ACC Network

Despite suffering an upset loss at home to division-rival Miami last weekend the Pittsburgh Panthers remain in control of their own destiny in the ACC’s Coastal Division. The Panthers are the only team remaining in the division with less than two losses, and if they win their remaining conference games they’ll travel to Charlotte for the ACC Championship Game. However, Pittsburgh still has to play Virginia, who would move ahead of them in the division with a win. Duke comes into this game after a 45-7 loss to Wake Forest last weekend. The Blue Devils have allowed 295 passing yards per game this season, and they’ll face a tough challenge against Kenny Pickett, who threw for a school-record 519 yards in the loss to Miami last weekend.

Root for Duke in this game. Miami needs Pittsburgh to lose another conference game before the end of the season, so a Duke win would massively boost the Hurricanes’ chances of winning the division.

No.19 NC State Wolfpack (6-2, 3-1 ACC) vs Florida State Seminoles (3-5, 2-3 ACC), 4:00 p.m., ACC Network

NC State responded to a 31-30 loss to Miami two weeks ago with a 28-13 win over Louisville last Saturday. The Wolfpack trailed late in the game, but three fourth quarter touchdowns gave NC State their sixth win of 2021. NC State still has a strong chance of winning the ACC Atlantic due to Wake Forest still remaining on their schedule, but this weekend will be a tough matchup against a rapidly improving Florida State team. The Seminoles nearly made it back to .500 on the season last weekend against Clemson. FSU led 20-17 with just 3:48 remaining in the game, but a late Will Shipley touchdown secured the win before the Tigers’ defense finished it off with a touchdown of their own as time expired. The Seminoles remain 3-1 in their last four games, and they’ll hope to get an upset win Saturday.

NC State is the team to root for here. Florida State is a rival, so that’s a good enough reason to root for NC State, but in the crazy 2021 season Miami could still compete for a major bowl game, so the Wolfpack finishing the year well would help the Hurricanes.

Clemson Tigers (5-3, 4-2 ACC) vs Louisville Cardinals (4-4, 2-3 ACC), 7:30 p.m., ACC Network

2021 has not gone the way Clemson planned it to, but after beating Florida State last weekend the Tigers still have a path to the ACC Championship Game. Clemson plays Wake Forest on November 20, and before then the Tigers will hope to find a way to improve an offense that has been able to score just 21 points per game this season. Clemson’s 30 points last weekend were their most in a game in 2021, and Will Shipley’s 128 rushing yards were a big reason why; he’s been the key to their offense this season. Louisville enters this week after losing to NC State in another game the Cardinals will feel like they could have won. Louisville entered the fourth quarter in the lead last weekend, and have lost to Virginia by one and Wake Forest by three earlier in 2021.

This game won’t affect Miami, as the Hurricanes play neither of these teams this season, and both are in the Atlantic Division.


November begins with several teams still competing to travel to Charlotte at the end of the season. The Atlantic and Coastal Divisions are both extremely competitive, and there will be some massive matchups as the regular season nears its’ end.