In the Crosshairs: ACC, Pac-12 Week Eight Picks

Ken Cross

October 17, 2018 at 10:26 pm.

Sep 22, 2018; Atlanta, GA, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) throws a pass against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the first half at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Photo Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 22, 2018; Atlanta, GA, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) throws a pass against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the first half at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Photo Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Atlantic Coast Conference

(16) NC State @ (3) Clemson – One of the nation’s premier games this weekend is a battle of the ACC’s top teams. A win for the Wolfpack could push them into the national championship race.  The Tigers’ renowned defensive front will test any and all pass protection schemes of NC State’s offensive line as it will attempt to protect streaking Ryan Finley. The Wolfpack has only allowed three quarterback sacks, while Clemson surprisingly only has seven sacks in their six wins. The key? Clemson running back Travis Etienne has carried 81 times for 763 yards and 11 touchdowns. The Tigers’ ability to control the clock wins an exciting football game.

Tigers 31, Wolfpack (+17) 21

Virginia @ Duke – The Cavaliers posted the biggest win of the Bronco Mendenhall era when they took out Miami, 16-13, in Charlottesville last week. Now, at 4-2, they take a trip to 5-1 Duke where the winner is squarely in position to take the ACC Coastal and the trip to Charlotte on the first Saturday of December. Bryce Perkins and his mobility is an issue for any defense. He is elusive and could cause trouble for a Duke defense that gives up 174.5 yards rushing. A defensive game ensues and favors the home-standing Blue Devils.

Blue Devils 21, Cavaliers (+7 1/2) 17

North Carolina @ Syracuse – The Tar Heels held a 19-14 lead when Michael Carter fumbled on the goal line with about 6:20 to play in last week’s lost to Virginia Tech. The Hokies then drove 98 yards in 18 plays for the win. North Carolina’s mindset going into this game could be broken or at least fragile. That’s not a good look when going up against such a productive offense in the Orange. Eric Dungey with his run-pass skills and an effective and underrated fleet of receivers, led by Jamal Curtis, will end this one early.

Orange (-10) 42, Tar Heels 20

Wake Forest @ Florida State –  Both of these teams are looking for stability as they enjoyed last week’s bye week and now try to reboot for the second half. Wake Forest’s defense has still not stopped anyone who has a stellar passing game. Surprisingly, the Seminoles have no running game with Cam Akers, but Deondre Francois will make enough plays in the passing game to pull out a close win.

Seminoles 38, Demon Deacons (+10) 31

Pac-12 Conference

(12) Oregon @ (25) Washington State – The winner could be a player in the national championship race. The Pac-12 North, in particular, is full of land mines and going to Pullman, Wash., for anyone is a tough assignment. Let’s note up-front that Washington State – Yes the Cougars – lead the Pac-12 in total defense, yielding only 314 yards per game. The Ducks have that bounce-back week after a thrilling overtime win over Washington. The Cougars have had two weeks to prepare for resurgent Oregon which is bourgeoning behind quarterback Justin Herbert, who has thrown for 17 touchdowns against five picks. Mike Leach has the ace-in-the-hole in Gardiner Minshew, an ECU transfer who has resurrected his career. Minshew leads the nation’s No. 1 pass offense with a 68.7 percent completion rate.

Cougars (-3) 44, Ducks 39

Arizona State @ Stanford – Both teams come off the bye-week after Stanford was lashed, 38-17, at Notre Dame, while the Sun Devils have lost three of their last four, each by seven points.  Turnovers have played a major role in the Devils’ losses, so if they can clean those up, a strong finish is possible. A great coaching matchup with David Shaw and Herm Edwards on the sidelines

Cardinal (-2 1/2) 23, Sun Devils 20

USC @ Utah – The Utes look to be massively improving after a pair of eye-catching wins over Stanford and Arizona. Meanwhile, the Trojans asserted themselves well in a 31-20 win over Colorado as wide receivers Michael Pittman and Tyler Vaughns are helping J.T. Daniels and his learning curve in the quarterback position. USC only rushed for 51 yards against Colorado and that could be a precursor for the matchup in Salt Lake City against a tough Utes rush defense.

Utes (-6 1/2) 24, Trojans 17

Colorado @ (15) Washington – The Huskies are out of the national championship run with two losses now, so Chris Peterson has to exude even extra motivation this week. The Buffaloes lost their first game last week to USC, so they have a different type of motivation – rebooting after their first loss and the mentality that running the table could still get them in position to play in the Pac-12 title game and maybe more.

Huskies 26, Buffaloes (+15 1/2) 17

Arizona @ UCLA – The Bruins looked close to a Chip Kelly production in his first win there last week which was a 37-7 beat down of Cal. Dorian Thompson-Robinson and running back Josh Kelly were able to use the offensive line to control the Bears at the point of attack as they combined for 323 total yards. This type of dominance will give struggling Arizona a long afternoon at the Rose Bowl.

Bruins (-7) 30, Wildcats 14

Cal @ Oregon State – The Bears have yet to scratch in the Pac-12 with an 0-3 record and losing decisively to UCLA last week was a tough dose of reality. Oregon State is involved in a massive rebuild and are looking for a Pac-12 win as well, as they are also 1-5. The Beavers are 128th in the nation as they allow 541.3 yards per game. The Bears should get in gear starting with their running game as three quarterbacks are their top three rushing leaders.

Bears (-6 1/2) 40, Beavers 27