Last week was a humbling experience. Just as I was bragging about my SEC-like winning percentage, I go 6-3 in the Week 4 picks, with strikes on Miami, Maryland and Virginia. If you picked any or all of those teams to lose, you must be a sheer joy to hang around, a ray of eternal optimism. Nonetheless, they didn’t get it done, and as a result, my picks record fell to 31-9 this season for a 77.5 winning percentage.
This week isn’t any easier, and there is one upset lurking on the schedule:
Clemson 21, Virginia Tech 17: Look, I know Virginia Tech fans out there want more credit for their defending ACC champs, and I promise you I’ll give it to them -- as soon as they beat Clemson. I just don’t see it happening. Clemson’s offense is the real deal. Weaknesses in Virginia Tech’s offense have been exposed by inferior competition. The Tigers will stun the Hokies on their home field.
North Carolina 24, East Carolina 21 (OT): The fact that this is a night game and at ECU almost made this an upset pick. Almost. North Carolina is coming off a let-down loss against Georgia Tech and now they have to face a hostile in-state crowd. But the Tar Heels are better up front, they’ll get what they need out of their defense, and tailback Giovani Bernard will gash the Pirates’ soft defense for another 100-yard performance.
Virginia 31, Idaho 10: Robb Akey is 18-36 in his fifth season at Idaho, and this season’s team is one of the statistically worst in the country, ranking 109th in total offense and 102 in scoring defense. Virginia quarterback Michael Rocco is healthy enough to play, but the Hoos shouldn’t have a problem putting points up in this one.
Miami 48, Bethune-Cookman 10: The Hurricanes are trying to rebound from their surprising loss to K-State and they’ll take out their frustrations on an FCS opponent. Both teams are coming off games in which replay overturned original rulings of go-ahead touchdowns in the final minute. Miami running back Lamar Miller will continue to pad his stats, and the defense will win the game up front.
Georgia Tech 38, NC State 28: If you think this is going to be a blowout, think again. No, NC State’s defense isn’t very good, and there are too many injuries to keep track of, but the Wolfpack will play with a purpose and Georgia Tech will be fortunate to leave Raleigh with a win.
Duke 28, FIU 24: This road trip should be even tougher than the ACC game at Boston College. It’s a critical game for David Cutcliffe, as FIU upset Louisville and Central Florida earlier this season. Golden Panther receiver T.Y. Hilton had seven catches for 201 yards and two touchdowns against Louisville. You don’t hear this often, but Duke’s defense will be the difference.
Maryland 45, Towson 3: The Terps were embarrassed by last week’s loss to Temple, and they should be. Unfortunately for Towson, they’ll be the punching bag. Maryland is 9-0 against FCS opponents, and they’ll continue that streak on Saturday. Towson has the best scoring defense in the FCS, though, so don’t take the little guys too lightly.
Wake Forest 28, Boston College 17: The eyeball test says the Deacs are the better team right now, and the statistics say they’ve got the better quarterback in Tanner Price. The Eagles will give Wake its best shot, and they’ll be more confident from their Week 4 win over UMass, but BC’s linebackers won’t be able to do it all.