IN THE CROSSHAIRS

Conferences in the Crosshairs: ACC, Pac-12 Picks

Ken Cross

November 21, 2017 at 2:48 pm.

Nov 18, 2017; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Hurricanes running back Travis Homer (24) scores a touchdown during the second half against Virginia Cavaliers at Hard Rock Stadium. Photo Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 18, 2017; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Hurricanes running back Travis Homer (24) scores a touchdown during the second half against Virginia Cavaliers at Hard Rock Stadium. Photo Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

What seems like a quick college football season comes to a close this weekend with more rivalries and amped up national championship discussion.

The current FBS Championship model doesn’t work because it is not inclusive as it doesn’t even guarantee all the conference winners a shot at the national championship. The current set-up desperately needs to be expanded to eight, 12 (with first round byes to the top four) or 16 teams and it needs to include the winners of at least the top three of the so-called “Group of Three” squads.

For an undefeated winner of the American not to get a chance each season is a ridiculous oversite. Central Florida is going to run the table and go undefeated and get no shot at anything except a consolation bowl and the opportunity to say, “We’re Number Five.”

In addition, the bowl system is broken and was long ago when 6-6, and now 5-7, teams get bowl bids for sub-par seasons. Look at the seats in nearly all of these bowls. Absolutely no one is in the upper deck and the lower bowls are not full. Use 15 bowls every year to settle a national championship of 16 teams. It’s common sense, but when you have suits and commercial interests determining these issues, that’s when common sense takes the fall.

One last time for this season …

ACC 

Miami at Pitt – Everything is on the line once again on Friday for the Hurricanes, who scored 30 unanswered points in erasing a14-point deficit against Virginia in their 44-28 win. Playing early in the day at an all but empty Hines Field should favor the ‘Canes, who look for a fast start. Pitt has played better of late despite dropping a seven-point loss to Carolina and a 20-14 decision at Virginia Tech. The Turnover Chain comes out enough for Miami to claim another ‘W.’ Running back Travis Homer has stepped up strong in place of Mark Walton and has been a huge key in Miami becoming a national championship threat.
Hurricanes 24, Panthers (+14) 10.

Virginia Tech at Virginia – There has been immense improvement in Bronco Mendenhall’s Cavaliers, so now it is easy to pick them to beat Virginia Tech without raising eyebrows. The Cavaliers wore down in the third quarter chasing all the Miami speed in the heat and humidity of south Florida. The Hokies offense has struggled of late, so the defensive end of the field is going to be huge for both. Kurt Benkert has had a big year at quarterback for Virginia as he has thrown 25 touchdown passes and completed 60 percent of his throws. A deep wide receiver corps, led by Olamide Zaccheaus, and pass protection will carry the Cavaliers.
Wahoos (+7) 23, Fightin’ Gobblers 17.

Clemson at South Carolina – This a walking mine field for the Tigers who are still hanging around the BCS Final Four. South Carolina has had an excellent year under Will Muschamp as they are 8-3 and could easily have been 10-1 with a kicking game against Kentucky and a little more offense at Texas A&M. The Gamecocks remember the 56-7 beat down last season when Dabo Swinney called timeout with 45 seconds to go and riled up an already electric Clemson crowd. This game is at night in Columbia and a win by the Gamecocks would knock Clemson out of national championship contention.
Gamecocks (+14) 23, Tigers 20.

Georgia at Georgia Tech – The Bulldogs, like Clemson, are already in playoff mode. This feels like a game where if they hop on the Yellow Jackets early, Georgia might be able to roll to a fairly easy win. Nick Chubb and Sony Michel should have another good day after seeing Duke rush for 319 yards on 51 carries in the Blue Devils’ 43-20 win.
Bulldogs (-11) 34, Yellow Jackets 13.

Florida at Florida State – Never has a Seminoles-Gators rivalry had such little national interest. The stories are all about Chip Kelly meeting with Gators brass on Sunday, the Seminoles beating Delaware State, 77-6, and if Jimbo Fisher is interested in any other positions.
Seminoles (-5) 20, Gators 13.

Louisville at Kentucky – The Cardinals and Wildcats are both 7-4 and playing for high mid-level bowl positioning. Louisville has started rolling again behind Lamar Jackson’s heroics. The Cards had 727 total yards in the 56-10 win over Syracuse as Jackson accounted for 381 of those and four touchdowns. Kentucky is two plays away from 9-2, but Jackson on the ground should give the ‘Ville a close win in a revenge game.
Cardinals 41, Wildcats (+10) 35.

BC at Syracuse – Syracuse has trouble with physical running attacks and with Anthony Brown and AJ Dillon leading the surge at BC, the Orange may find even more trouble at home. Dillon has rushed for 1,239 yards and 10 touchdowns and will have a big day as the Orange have dropped four in a row and have given up 45.5 points per game in those four. The Orange hasn’t won since upsetting Clemson.
Eagles 33, Orange 19.

Duke at Wake Forest – The Blue Devils finally put it together with the resounding home win against Georgia Tech, and must win to become eligible for one of those lower tier bowls. The Demon Deacons are too physical and have too much offense. At 7-4, Wake has gotten better as the season has gone on and John Wolford has completed 65 percent of his passes with 23 touchdowns and only four picks.
Demon Deacons (-12) 35, Blue Devils 17.

North Carolina at NC State – Wins over Western Carolina and Old Dominion have pushed the Tar Heels stats in what has been a forgettable year in Chapel Hill. Don’t expect the Wolfpack to be forgiving. They have free-fallen since losing at Notre Dame. There is a huge mismatch in talent this season between these two teams and it will be shown on the field.
Wolfpack (-16) 38, Tar Heels 10.

Pac-12 

Washington State at Washington – As Mike Leach took over at Washington State, this rivalry has taken off to epic levels. The Huskies can’t win the Pac-12 North title, but they can knock rival Washington State out in the Apple Cup. If Washington wins, Stanford represents the North. Luke Falk is going to be a key with a steady passing game at Husky Stadium. Washington’s defense has not been on point as the season has unfolded and with Leach dissecting this defense, Wazzu seems like the pick.
Cougars (+9) 38, Huskies 35.

Notre Dame at Stanford – The physicality in this game at the line of scrimmage will determine the winner. Bryce Love led Stanford to a tough 17-14 win over Cal as he rushed for 101 yards on two injured ankles. Whether he plays in this game remains to be seen. The Irish are still in the playoff picture and need a win here at The Farm. Josh Adams against the Stanford run defense is a key matchup.
Fighting Irish (-2 1/2) 23, Cardinal 19.

Colorado at Utah – This game could be a physical matchup with two strong running games, led by Philip Lindsey of Colorado and Zack Moss of the Utes. Utah took Washington to the wire in a 33-30 loss and lost a 7-point lead late as the Dawgs scored 10 points in the last minute of the game. The Buffs had a bye week as the Utes lost a physical heartbreaker. The winner gets a lower tier bowl and the loser is mercifully out of a disappointing season.
Buffaloes (+10 1/2) 27, Utes 20.

Oregon State at Oregon – The Ducks became bowl eligible with a 48-28 win over Arizona as Justin Herbert returned to the quarterback position and threw for 235 yards. Oregon State finishes as the Beavers look to enter the fray to hire a new coach who can lead the Beavers back to respectability.
Ducks (-25 1/2) 47, Beavers 20.

Cal at UCLA – The Bruins unnecessarily dumped Jim Mora after the loss to USC. What no one is talking about is this defensive unit has been ravaged with injuries which put even more pressure on the offense to go out and perform. Josh Rosen should be able to throw up numbers against the Cal pass defense. He comes off a strong performance, throwing for 341 yards in the loss to USC.
Bruins (-& 1/2) 42, Bears 31.

Straight Up
Last week – 8-2
Overall – 101-42

Vs. the Spread
Last week – 4-6
Overall – 70-68

Follow Ken on Twitter @KennyBuckets333 or @CollHoopsWatch

 

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