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

Ken Cross

October 24, 2018 at 11:17 am.

Oct 20, 2018; Pullman, WA, USA; Washington State Cougars quarterback Gardner Minshew (16) throws a pass during a football game against the Oregon Ducks in the second half at Martin Stadium. The Cougars won 34-20. Photo Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 20, 2018; Pullman, WA, USA; Washington State Cougars quarterback Gardner Minshew (16) throws a pass during a football game against the Oregon Ducks in the second half at Martin Stadium. The Cougars won 34-20. Photo Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Atlantic Coast Conference

No. 2 Clemson at Florida State – Running back Travis Etienne is the catalyst of what Clemson’s offense can do and Trevor Lawrence can throw because of the success of the running attack. The Seminoles’ run stop is eighth in the nation as it allows only 100.4 yards per game. The Seminoles are (-5) in turnover margin and will have to bowl nearly a perfect game to knock off the Tigers – even in Tallahassee.

Tigers (-17) 34, Seminoles 14.

Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech – Both teams were off last Saturday as the Yellow Jackets are now generally playing for a bowl bid at 1-3 in the ACC, while the Hokies come in at 3-0 with the inside shot at the Coastal Division. This game will be won at the line of scrimmage as Georgia Tech’s offensive line needs to keep a consistent surge on an active Hokies’ defensive front.

Hokies (-3) 23, Yellow Jackets 16.

Miami at Boston College – The Hurricanes get another gut check and in a tough way against the Eagles at Chestnut Hill on a Friday night in autumn. Mark Richt seems torn between N’Kosi Perry and Malik Rosier at quarterback. Perry is still learning as a redshirt freshman and Richt didn’t have confidence that he could pull out a win in the loss at Virginia two weeks ago.  Miami’s rushing defense will be a major impetus of importance after they were dominated by LSU in the opener. A.J. Dillon has missed the last two games and even with that, this feels like the Eagles will be okay.

Eagles (+ 3 1/2) 27, Hurricanes 19.

Wake Forest at Louisville – These two defenses are two of the worst in the nation against the pass and Wake Forest is 124th overall as the Deacons yield nearly 500 yards per game. It’s a down year for the Cardinals, in general, as they have struggled offensively, as well. Bobby Petrino is a master playcaller, but has seen struggles out of the quarterback position where Jawon Pass is still breaking in.

Cardinals (-2 1/2) 30, Demon Deacons 26.

North Carolina at Virginia – Bronco Mendenhall is orchestrating a turnaround in Charlottesville as the Cavaliers’ 5-2 record with only one ACC loss puts them in the thick of the Coastal Division race. Virginia proved its growth by going on the road and taking a 28-14 win at Duke after the emotional home win against Miami two weeks ago. The Tar Heels are struggling as they have two consecutive losses, each by three-points. It will be interesting to see how much gas is left in the tank against the resurgent Cavaliers.

Cavaliers (-9) 31, Tar Heels 17.

Duke at Pitt – The Panthers’ passing game is a non-entity, so Qadree Ollison and the rushing attack need to be up to speed against a tough Duke defense, led by the run-stop. This will turn into the defensive game and I like the Devils’ defense – even on the road.

Blue Devils (-2 1/2) 23, Panthers 20.

No. 22 N.C. State at Syracuse – The Orange, like Virginia, are a resurgent squad who can become bowl eligible at 6-2 with a win over the Wolfpack. N.C. State has to be reeling after last week’s 41-7 loss at Clemson, so how they put that game behind them and move forward is a key story. Tommy DeVito replaced Eric Dungey again last Sunday, so questions about a quarterback controversy have come up to coach Dino Babers.

Orange (+2) 31, Wolfpack 27.

Pac-12 Conference

No. 23 Utah at UCLA – Chip Kelly has the Bruins on what seemed like an improbable two-game winning streak, so now the Bruins are believing and have a chance to rise up even further against a Utes team with designs on the Pac-12 South after a solid win over USC. The Bruins are tied in the loss column with the Trojans, Utes and Colorado, so that adds to their motivation.  Utes quarterback Tyler Huntley continues to roll after 341 passing for yards and accounting for five touchdowns in last week’s win.

Utes (-10) 33, Bruins 21.

Arizona State at USC – The Trojans have to rebound after Utah ravaged their defense a week ago as they put their 19-game home winning streak on he line against an improving Arizona State squad under first year coach Herm Edwards. ASU will need a consistent pass rush against J.T. Daniels and his wide receiving corps as the Trojans are now tied in the loss column with UCLA, Utah and Colorado for the Pac-12 South lead.

Trojans (-6 1/2) 34, Sun Devils 27.

Oregon State at Colorado – At 1-6, the youthful Beavers’ on-the-job training makes for a tough 2018 season, but hopefully for them, there will be better results in the next two years. The Buffaloes’ offense will put this away early behind Laviska Shenault, Jr. and quarterback Steven Montez, who are one of the top passing combos in the nation.

Buffaloes (-24) 45, Beavers 7.

No. 15 Washington at Cal – The Bears broke a three-game losing streak last week as they rolled to a 49-7 win over Oregon State. The Huskies have gotten a ton of mileage out of Jake Browning and Myles Gaskin throughout their careers. It’s a tough matchup for the Bears if they can’t quell the turnovers against the opportunistic Huskies defense. Cal has a minus-1.22 turnover ratio.

Huskies (-12) 40, Bears 21.

No. 14 Washington State at No. 24 Stanford – A trap game for Mike Leach and his pride of Cougars after last week’s eye-opening win over the Oregon Ducks. Amidst the brilliance of Leach’s pass offense, which seems to just plug in quarterbacks, is a defense that allows only 315 yards per game. Stanford’s offensive struggles continue without injured running back Bryce Love.

Cougars (+3) 31, Cardinal 27.

No. 19 Oregon at Arizona – The Ducks need to see this matchup, but have to be careful on the road. Oregon’s loss at Washington State took it out of the national title picture, so the Ducks need to win out and potentially force tie-breakers to get a shot at a Pac-12 title. Look for a big day from running back CJ Verdell, who averages 5.4 yards per carry and faces a Wildcats’ defense that gives up 196 yards per game on the ground.

Ducks (-9 1/2) 48, Wildcats 22.