Conferences In the Crosshairs: ACC, Pac-12 picks

Ken Cross

October 24, 2017 at 1:51 pm.

Oct 5, 2017; Raleigh, NC, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack quarterback Ryan Finley (15) looks to pass during the second half against the Louisville Cardinals at Carter-Finley Stadium. The Wolfpack won 39-25.  Photo Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 5, 2017; Raleigh, NC, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack quarterback Ryan Finley (15) looks to pass during the second half against the Louisville Cardinals at Carter-Finley Stadium. The Wolfpack won 39-25. Photo Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

For all the bragging I did about beating the spread consistently the three weeks before this past weekend, karma threw a curve. Don’t look at the record at the end of the column vs. the numbers. It’s too embarrassing.


Georgia Tech at Clemson – Never fear, Clemson, the Tigers had a loss to Pitt last season and went on to win the national championship, so everything is still intact for now. The Tigers come off the bye week after that loss at Syracuse and are going to be more than motivated at home with a national TV audience. The Yellow Jackets are known for production in the running game, but they also feature a Top 20 defense. Kelly Bryant’s availability will be a major key as Clemson is going to need a steady passing game. Georgia Tech’s two losses are by one-point each, but the Clemson rush defense will be up to the task after getting gashed at Syracuse.
Tigers 33, Yellow Jackets (+15 1/2) 24.

Miami at North Carolina – If Miami executes offensively, this could get ugly quickly. Malik Rosier and his deep wide receiving corps are set to put up video game numbers against a North Carolina defense that has struggled all season and gave up 59 points last week at Virginia Tech. The Hurricanes must continue working on executing more consistently in the middle of games and keep coming up strong in the clutch; now if Ahmmon Richards could hold on to some footballs.
Hurricanes (-20 1/2) 40, Tar Heels 17.

NC State at Notre Dame – A great matchup of two physical and stingy defenses. The question for Notre Dame is if the Fighting Irish can put away the win over USC and move on to a formidable opponent which has designs on and ACC title game appearance and more. Wolfpack quarterback Ryan Finley has yet to throw an interception this season. He averages 317 yards per outing and has three tall and athletic targets in Kelvin Harmon, Stephen Louis and Jakobi Meyers. This game comes down to the running game where Nyheim Hines and Josh Adams on the ground and it is a push.
Wolfpack (+ 7 1/2) 27, Irish 24.

Louisville at Wake Forest – Lamar Jackson continues to be my favorite for the Heisman Trophy as his numbers and efficiency are ascending. Once again, he led the Cardinals to a key 31-28 win at FSU. Jackson gained 178 yards on the ground on 23 carries as he passed for a score and ran for a touchdown. Wake Forest led Georgia Tech for much of the evening although they gave up 427 yards on the ground. Jackson could be in for another big game as Wake Forest has lost three in a row and given up 31 points per game over those three.
Cardinals (- 2 1/2) 34, Demon Deacons 27.

Virginia at Pitt – The Cavaliers were decimated at home against improving Boston College as the Eagles took the fight to the Cavaliers behind emerging quarterback Anthony Brown. Meanwhile, Pitt came into the 24-17 win over Duke averaging 113 rushing yards per game and then rushed for 335. Darrin Hall had scoring runs of 79 and 92 yards as the Panthers showed their own physicality. How Virginia rebounds mentally will be a key here. The Cavs’ schedule picks up in November and they need that sixth win beforehand.
Panthers (-3) 31, Cavaliers 17.

Duke at Virginia Tech – The Fightin’ Gobblers are playing at the highest of levels right now despite an injury to sensational wide receiver Cam Phillips. Quarterback Josh Jackson threw three touchdown passes as Virginia Tech scored on an interception, a fumble and a punt return in that thorough win over Carolina. Duke has lost its last three games, all by a touchdown as they have struggled to find any offense in the process.
Hokies (-16 1/2) 35, Blue Devils 17.

Florida State at Boston College – The Eagles are playing their best football of the season after wins on the road vs. Virginia and Louisville. The BC power running game will be a key here, as will the dynamics of Anthony Brown. Not saying Brown is close to Lamar Jackson, but here’s betting Steve Addazio will use Brown to create similar situations as Louisville did with Jackson last week against the struggling Seminoles.
Eagles (+3 1/2) 24, Seminoles 17.


USC at Arizona State – The Sun Devils are on the march as the defense grew up and brought confidence in holding Washington to 230 yards in a 13-7 win two weeks ago. Correlate that with 265 yards at Utah in a 30-10 win on Saturday. USC had lots of trouble with the physicality of Notre Dame on both lines because of so many injuries on both fronts. This could be another tough matchup for USC, but the passing game will be just enough for a thrilling win. The Sun Devils are in a three-way tie with USC and Arizona for first in the Pac-12 South.
Trojans (-3) 24, Sun Devils 20.

Washington State at Arizona – Getting the Cougars out of the Palouse is a recipe for an adventure that ended in peril for Wazzu as they were mauled 37-3 in entering the Bears’ den at Cal two weeks ago. Defending ultra-dynamic quarterback Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate will be interesting for WSU defensive coordinator Alex Grinch as his the Cougars come off a 28-0 shutout of Colorado. Tate has had a touchdown of 70 or more yards for the third week in a row and the Wildcats are averaging 46 points per game over their last three.
Wildcats (+3) 31, Cougars 27.

UCLA at Washington – The Huskies had a bye week and are licking their chops to face a UCLA rush defense that gives up 303 yards on the ground. Myles Gaskin will have a big day on the ground while the real question is how Josh Rosen performs against the nation’s number two defense. The Huskies can win out and still should be in the College Football Playoff.
Huskies (-17) 35, Bruins 13.

Stanford at Oregon State – The Cardinal should have an easy evening on a Friday night matchup if the team can maintain its focus and take care of business early. Bryce Love should still be in the top three candidates for the Heisman Trophy ballot. He has 1,385 yards on 137 carries in seven games.
Cardinal (-21 1/2) 42, Beavers 7.

Cal at Colorado – Justin Wilcox has the Bears in line for a bowl bid in his first season as he is totally remaking the defense which is now better than it was at any point during the last two seasons. Don’t argue the 45 scored by Arizona in last week’s game because the Wildcats are putting up in ball numbers on everyone. Colorado is at home and smarting after the shutout at Washington State where Steven Montez was benched at quarterback. Buffs’ running back Phillip Lindsay bounces back after a tough game at Washington State.
Buffaloes (-4) 27, Bears 21.

Utah at Oregon – The Utes may have left their season at the LA Coliseum when the Trojans stopped them on a game-winning two-point conversion in the waning moments of their first loss of the season. They came out flat against inspired Arizona State and never recovered. The Utes need to regain their physicality in the running game behind running back Zack Moss. Oregon only allows 119 yards per game rushing and if they clean up the turnovers, this could be an interesting game.
Utes (-3) 21, Ducks 17.

Straight Up
Last week – 6-5
Overall – 70-28

Vs. the Spread
Last week – 3-8
Overall – 47-46

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