IN THE CROSSHAIRS

Conferences in the Crosshairs: ACC, Pac-12 Picks

Ken Cross

November 14, 2017 at 1:02 pm.

Nov 11, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets quarterback TaQuon Marshall (16) breaks a tackle by Virginia Tech Hokies cornerback Greg Stroman (3) to score a touchdown during the first quarter at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Photo Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 11, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets quarterback TaQuon Marshall (16) breaks a tackle by Virginia Tech Hokies cornerback Greg Stroman (3) to score a touchdown during the first quarter at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Photo Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Miami circled the wagons, surrounded the fort, took prisoners … use any idioms you choose to describe the Hurricanes’ 41-8 desecration of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Saturday night. Now, the ‘Canes can look at the biggest picture of all as the FBS National Championship is a possibility.

My numbers were very mediocre last week. The tale of note was picking the Hurricanes outright, which many did not.

Oh yeah, and it’s Crosstown Rivalry week in Los Angeles. The Southern California Trojans, who can find themselves once again playing in the Pac-12 Championship Game, battle the UCLA Bruins in what is one of college football’s top 3-4 rivalries.

ACC 

Virginia at Miami – There is no potential national championship picture if the Hurricanes, now a prohibitive favorite over Virginia and next week at Pitt, stub their collective toes. Miami has upped its game dramatically in the past two weeks with resounding wins over Notre Dame and Virginia Tech. The Cavaliers are bowl eligible as Bronco Mendenhall is starting to reverse the fortunes in Charlottesville. Miami just needs to focus on the task at hand and play solid, error-free football in what is a mismatch.
Hurricanes 31, Cavaliers 10.

Syracuse at Louisville – The Cardinals exploited Virginia’s defense last week with that 38-21 win. Meanwhile, the Orange led Wake 38-24 at halftime time before Deacons quarterback John Wofford hammered the Syracuse in the second half as Wake outscored the Orange 40-5 for an improbable 64-43 win. Wolford’s stock is rising as he once again had video game numbers in accounting for 479 total yards. Lamar Jackson must be licking his chops at the idea of facing the SU defense. The key will be for Louisville to keep its foot on the pedal. The Cardinals’ defense has been generally inefficient all season.
Cardinals 47, Orange 39.

Pitt at Virginia Tech – The Panthers are going to catch the Hokies in an angry mood after Virginia Tech was handed its second loss in a row, 28-22, at Georgia Tech. Virginia Tech will exit the season into a second tier bowl once again. Pitt must establish a running game behind the rising Darrin Hall. The Panthers come off a tough loss at home to then North Carolina (1-8 at the time), so who knows where their psyche will be.
Fightin’ Gobblers 27, Panthers 16.

Georgia Tech at Duke – These two teams are playing for lower tier bowl bids as Duke fell to 4-6 after losing at Army when it was not being able to stop the Black Knights’ triple-option attack. The Yellow Jackets’ TaQuon Marshall has had a strong season and beat Virginia Tech with his arm last week. The Jackets stay on the ground and win this one on the road.
Yellow Jackets 28, Blue Devils 21.

NC State at Wake Forest – This is a really good matchup that is going to fly under the radar. As mentioned earlier, Wolford’s heroics are feeding into what has been an improving Wake Forest offense. The key matchup is Wolfpack quarterback Ryan Finley against that active Wake Forest front. Syracuse kept the ball between the tackles in the running game, but had to throw once Wake started getting the game going downhill. The pass rush will be huge in keeping Finley off base as NC State’s running game is struggling with the injury to Nyheim Hines.
Demon Deacons 31, Wolfpack 27.

Pac-12

UCLA at USC – The struggling UCLA defense is in immense trouble in this matchup as Sam Darnold has thrown for 904 yards and seven touchdowns with only one interception in his last three games. The key hope is that the Bruins can turn this into a shootout as Josh Rosen is back behind center and had a nice return in throwing for 381 yards in the Bruins’ 44-37 win over Arizona State. The Trojans just have too many weapons for the undermanned UCLA defense.
Trojans 42, Bruins 17.

Oregon at Arizona – The Wildcats running game behind Khalil Tate and J.J. Taylor could put up massive numbers against the struggling Ducks’ rushing defense. He had 206 yards and two scores as he averaged 9.7 yards per carry in last week’s 49-28 win over Oregon State. Oregon has struggled offensively since Justin Herbert left three games ago with an injury and hasn’t returned. Braxton Burmeister has two touchdown passes against six picks.
Wildcats 45, Ducks 23.

Cal at Stanford – The Cardinal all of a sudden have the inside track to a potential Pac-12 North title if they can beat the Bears and then Washington knocks off Washington State next week. Bryce Love is the epicenter of everything the Cardinal does and then quarterback K.J. Costello is improving into a vaunted position of successful Stanford signal callers. The win over the Huskies showed lots of moxie after the three-point loss to Washington State. The Bears are looking for two wins to nail down a lower tier bowl in Justin Wilcox’s first season.
Cardinal 38, Bears 7.

Arizona State at Oregon State – The Beavers’ troubles are well chronicled with Matt Wells’ firing at midseason. Cory Hall has given them life, but it is a lack of talent across the boards that sees them at this depth in the Pac-12. Arizona State is a much better football team across the boards. This could be a tough game if the Sun Devils do not get off to a good start in what is a colder environment in a game that they should win on paper.
Sun Devils 24, Beavers 20.

Utah at Washington – Staying the course is key for Washington after that 30-22 loss at Stanford. The Huskies can win out and finish 10-2 and still get into a higher tier bowl. They must have a Cal win over Stanford to have a shot to return to the Pac-12 Championship Game. The Utes have struggled with injuries all season and will need to keep the ball on the ground behind Tyler Huntley and Zack Moss. This Huskies run defense has averaged giving up only 81 yards per game against the rush before Bryce Love went for 166 last week. That doesn’t happen again as it takes the most elite backs to run with success against UW.
Huskies 31, Utes 12.

Straight Up –
Last week – 6-5
Overall – 93-40

Vs. the Spread –
Last week – 5-6
Overall – 66-62

Follow Ken on Twitter @KennyBuckets333 or @CollHoopsWatch

 

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