Key stretch: at Clemson, at Virginia Tech, Miami (Oct. 23-Nov. 13)
Analysis: The road trip to Death Valley should be one of the ACC’s better games this season (grudge match, if you will), as Clemson will be looking to redeem itself from two losses to the Jackets last year, including the ACC championship game. And the Coastal Division will be on the line the following two weeks. It doesn’t get much more “key” than that. Georgia Tech will have the bye week to prepare, but don’t forget -- so will the Hokies.
Prediction: Lane Stadium is one of the most unforgiving college venues on a Thursday night. Overall, Virginia Tech has a 60-32-5 record in games played on Thursdays, and are 9-3 at home in ESPN Thursday night broadcasts. And Virginia Tech is going to want to avenge last year’s loss. This is going to be a tough one for the Jackets to win. Miami, however, must travel to Atlanta, and the last time the Canes were there, they forgot to bring their defense. One of Miami’s biggest problems has been consistency, as the Canes have come unraveled at the end of the season. By this point in the year, Georgia Tech’s defense should be running much more smoothly in the new scheme. As for the Clemson game, it will be up to the Tigers’ defense to do what they couldn’t last December -- make the stops in the fourth quarter. You know what they say about payback, and Virginia Tech and Clemson will both be looking for some. The Jackets will be 0-for-2 in this stretch heading into a must-win against Miami, but they're not going to get three strikes. If they don't beat Miami, they'll beat Clemson -- again. But not Virginia Tech.
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