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

Ken Cross

September 27, 2018 at 9:58 pm.

Sep 1, 2018; Clemson, SC, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) hands the ball off to Clemson Tigers running back Lyn-J Dixon (23) during the third quarter at Clemson Memorial Stadium. Photo Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 1, 2018; Clemson, SC, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) hands the ball off to Clemson Tigers running back Lyn-J Dixon (23) during the third quarter at Clemson Memorial Stadium. Photo Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Atlantic Coast Conference

UNC at (16) Miami – Finally, an ACC matchup on a Thursday night as the Tar Heels head to South Beach with a hit of momentum after last week’s win over Pittsburgh. Miami found its quarterback in N’Kosi Perry last week as he was solid and showed more command of the offense in the win over Florida International. Perry has a fleet of wide receivers, led by Jeff Thomas and Lawrence Cager, who will be a matchup nightmare for the Carolina pass defense.
Hurricanes 41, Tar Heels (+18) 28.

Syracuse @ (3) Clemson – Last year’s upset at the Carrier Dome is revisited as the two undefeated teams match up in an intriguing contest. Trevor Lawrence takes over as the starting quarterback, as Kelly Bryant is benched. Bryant expressed intention to transfer out of the Tiger program, which could become an issue in the Clemson locker room. The Orange has a shot to get national attention and put themselves in the middle of the ACC race with a monumental upset. The deep threat of Amari Rodgers, plus the rushing attack from Travis Etienne, keep the Tigers balanced. Tigers 42, Orange (+24) 24.

Va. Tech @ Duke – In its shocking loss to Old Dominion, the Monarchs may have found a blueprint for the ACC in accentuating a passing game after backup quarterback Blake LaRussa threw for 495 yards. Duke’s Quentin Harris seems to have stabilized the quarterback slot and wiley wide out T.J. Rahming will be a nightmare for the Hokies to corral. Blue Devils 28, Hokies (+5) 24.

Virginia @ NC State – We get to see if the Wahoos are for real as they are 3-1 and are playing behind solid leadership from quarterback Bryce Perkins. The Cavaliers haven’t faced anyone with a solid passing game and NCSU quarterback Ryan Finley and his fleet of receivers will be too much on Saturday. Wolfpack (-5 1/2) 35, Cavaliers 24.

Florida State @ Louisville – The Cardinals offense has struggled more than any in coach Bobby Petrino’s career as inexperience at quarterback and injuries have been a huge issue. The Seminoles come in with quarterback Deondre’ Francois back in the pocket as he completed 53.5 percent of his passes, but already has five interceptions. Seminoles (-6) 34, Cardinals 19.

Pitt @ (13) Central Florida – The juggernaut that is the UCF Golden Knights host the Panthers in another showcase game for Heisman candidate McKenzie Milton, who accounted for six Knights touchdowns last week in their 56-35 win over Florida Atlantic. It looks like a physical team and a solid rushing game could give the UCF defense trouble as the Panthers’ Quadree Ollison and Darrin Hall could give the Panthers an opportunity to sustain long drive. In the end, too much Milton; too much Golden Knights against a porous Pitt pass defense. Golden Knights 48, Panthers 34.

Temple @ Boston College – The Eagles come back after an embarrassing 30-13 loss at Purdue where they were whipped in all three phases of the game. The Owls are taking small steps getting back near the top in the American. Eagles (-13) 45, Owls 20.

Rice @ Wake Forest – Wake Forest’s defense has been gashed the last two weeks in giving up 97 points and 1,090 total yards in losses to Notre Dame and Boston College. This led to the firing of defensive coordinator Jay Sawvel after the Loss to the Irish. Rice has a myriad of defensive issues as well. Look for Wake wide receiver Greg Dortch to have a career day. Demon Deacons (-26) 52, Owls 14.

Bowling Green @ Georgia Tech – The Yellow Jackets have lost three in a row and could get a test from the Falcons, who run a balanced attack with quarterback Jarret Doerge. The Jackets ground game will be too much as they amass 5.9 yards per carry in Paul Johnson’s option-style attack. Yellow Jackets 38, Falcons (+28 1/2) 16.

Pac-12 Conference

UCLA @ Colorado – The Bruins are off to a miserable start and whispers of an 0-12 record have started to accumulate with the depth and talent in the Pac-12. Michigan transfer Wilton Speight is back at quarterback for the Bruins who need a boost from him to resuscitate this struggling offense. CU is 3-0 and a Pac-12 South sleeper who has to be focused on the task at hand as so much talk has surrounded the plight of these Bruins. Buffaloes (-9 1/2) 35, Bruins 17.

Utah @ Washington State – A huge difference in dynamics with physical and unrelenting defense of the Utes against Mike Leach’s Air Raid offensive system. How well the Utes can establish ball control behind running back Zack Moss can be the difference. The Cougars have four wide receivers who have over 200 receiving yards, while Gardner Minshew has completed 71 percent of his passes with 11 touchdowns. Cougars (+1 1/2) 27, Utes 23.

(6) Stanford @ (7) Notre Dame – The Cardinal took advantage of several Oregon miscues and came from 17 down to defeat the improved Ducks. That’s going to be a big task two weeks in a row against tough competition. The key is for Stanford to come in and take control of this game early. Notre Dame seems to have found its quarterback in Ian Book after last week’s surprisingly easy win over Wake Forest. Cardinal (+5 1/2) 23, Irish 21.

(20) BYU @ (11) Washington – The Cougars have much more athleticism and depth than they have had in the Kalani Sitaki era. They will obviously have the Huskies’ attention with their win over Wisconsin and a close loss to the Cal Bears. Washington’s defensive athleticism will be the difference. With that, it’s interesting that Washington has only one interception and seven sacks in its 3-1 start. Huskies 34, Cougars (+17 1/2) 23.

Oregon State @ Arizona State – The Sun Devils were never be accused of not giving all their effort under Herman Edwards, even though a couple of near misses against San Diego State and Washington have left them at 2-2. Rebuilding Oregon State comes to the desert at the right time as Arizona State can reboot itself and move forward. Edwards is looking for more out of the running game as Eno Benjamin and Nick Ralston are moving forward with stability.
Sun Devils (-21 1/2) 44, Beavers 17.

(19) Oregon at (24) California – Justin Wilcox is fashioning the Golden Bears’ defense into an opportunistic unit that can dominate up front. Their seven interceptions are second in the nation, with Jaylin Hawkins picking up three of those. In addition, they have allowed their first three opponents to score only nine times on 43 combined drives. Oregon has to reinvent its psyche after Saturday’s meltdown against Stanford. Ducks quarterback Justin Hebert comes off an impressive outing against the Cardinal where he completed 25 of 27 passes in regulation.
Bears (+ 3 1/2) 30, Ducks 27.

USC @ Arizona – The Trojans are such a young team that you never know what you will get week by week, half by half, or even quarter by quarter. They stayed the part in blocking a late field gal to beat Washington State, 39-36, last week. Now, they face the Wildcats who have had a tough start and a win here would right the ship for both teams. The point of emphasis for the Trojans is stopping elusive J.J. Taylor, who has turned into one of the top running backs in the nation. USC has given up 179.5 yards per game rushing and five yards per carry. Trojans (+2 1/2) 33, Wildcats 31.