Mike McAllister and John Garcia Jr. continue to stay close, but Mike has taken a one game lead after last week’s slate. Week eight features three top-10 ACC teams in action, including the matchup of the year.
Garcia Jr.: 50-11
No. 10 Miami at North Carolina (Thursday)
McAllister: North Carolina might be the most disappointing team in the conference through the season’s first half. The Hurricanes come in a roll and continue their stellar play with a 38-14 win.
Garcia Jr.: Miami has been firing on all cylinders of late and they are somehow an under-the-radar top 10 team in America. I think it's a perfect storm for The U (pun intended) and they cruise into Chapel Hill and snag a win over an inconsistent Tar Heel squad. Duke Johnson ups his NFL Draft stock on the national stage in leading the Canes to a 31-17 victory.
Syracuse at Georgia Tech
McAllister: One of the most intriguing matchups of the week features a team who just won on the road, and three of four overall, against a team on a three game slide. Two strong rushing attacks face off, but the Orange have the advantage up front. Three or four total players could go over 100-yards in this one, but Syracuse wins their second straight away from home. Syracuse 31 Georgia Tech 24.
Garcia Jr.: Tech has lost three straight, soon after looking like the third-best team in the conference early in the year. They need a win this week as bad as any ACC contender, and their triple-option, which is a foreign concept even for a very good Orange defense against the run, will help them get back on track. SU's offense will also run the ball well and keep things close, but the Jackets defend their home turf with Vad Lee and David Sims each flirting with 100 yards in a 27-21 win.
Maryland at Wake Forest
McAllister: Maryland has more talent but Wake has been playing better of late. After being blown out by Florida State, the Terrapins struggled against an underwhelming Virginia Squad. The Deacs pull the upset at home 27-26.
Garcia Jr.: Both of these programs have been up and down all season long, but Maryland has too much talent to lose at this stage of the season to a team like Wake. Both rosters are young, but the Terps only blip on the radar was against FSU, who will be a blip on plenty of radars this season. They rebounded with a one-point win over UVA, so they should remain on upset alert. This will be closer than what it appears on paper, but Maryland will eek out another one, 28-20.
Duke at Virginia
McAllister: Strength versus strength and weakness versus weakness makes for an intriguing matchup. Duke’s offense will struggle to move the ball against a game Virginia defense, and the Cavs offense does just enough after a solid performance against Maryland. Virginia 27 Duke 23.
Garcia Jr.: Speaking of inconsistent programs, this one is a battle of weaknesses. Duke's defense has left a lot to be desired as has Virginia's offensive group. Each opposing unit should have some success, but it may not wind up as evenly as it appears on paper. The Cavs are the more desperate program with or without Mike London on the hot seat, so they pull a small upset at home, 34-31 in a fun one.
Old Dominion at Pittsburgh
McAllister: Pittsburgh has been playing good football and their defense is coming together a little bit. While Old Dominion will give them a fight, the Panthers are simply the better team. The Panthers win 37-13.
Garcia Jr.: ODU has won four straight FCS games, but was handled in two games against FBS opponents early in the campaign. Pitt may have the best offense the Monarchs have seen this season, and it will show on the scoreboard. Tyler Boyd should have a field day as he continues his frosh All-America run in a 42-17 rout.
No. 5 Florida State at No. 3 Clemson
McAllister: The biggest game of the conference slate in 2013, and one of the most anticipated on the national landscape. Two big time quarterbacks battle it out as the freshman sensation Jameis Winston and Heisman hopeful Tajh Boyd each live up to the hype. But Winston’s inexperience in these types of situations shows on the road. Clemson pulls out a narrow victory in a classic contest. Clemson 31 Florida State 28.
Garcia Jr.: The game of the year in the ACC will likely determine the conference's best chance to make it to the national title game. Many will build this one up as Tajh Boyd vs. Jameis Winston, but each defense is much better than given credit for. With speed on both sides, five-stars on each unit on display, it should be a tight one no matter what. Last season's game was a shootout with the Noles coming out on top and I see a similar result, but each defense will make a statement on Saturday night. FSU inches closer to a title with a 24-17 win, which is a win-win for the conference.